I’m sitting here at my desk this morning trying to make sense of things. This is not the first time this has happened but this is the closest one to me. See, I found out last night that an old buddy of mine had fallen to PTSD, taking his own life yesterday morning. I’m not going to mention his name right now because a lot of people still don’t know so I’ll call him “Broseph”.
I could hardly go to sleep last night cause I was so sick to my stomach. The last time I talked to him was in January and I had texted with him a couple times since then. Attending Boulder Crest Retreat changed/saved my life back in February and I had reached out to Broseph in March and a couple times after for him to attend. I first met him around 1992 here back home when we were roughly 17 years old. We had both joined the Army and stayed in touch a bit over the years. We were never really close but I’d say we were pals; having a lot in common and being from the same area as well as being in the same social network. Broseph was a helluva shooter and I always thought he was wise beyond his years. I always enjoyed visiting with him. His parents are great people whom I have always respected. Life takes people in different directions. Its times like this that you wish you would have kept in touch a little better.
Back in 2009 I was at Ft. Bragg for some Army stuff and met his wife and kids in person the first time. I had to make some photocopies of my orders and even though he was overseas somewhere he had told me, “If there’s anything you need while you’re at Bragg, just call my wife”. That’s huge cause there’s an old saying in the military, “Army (insert branch) buddies, trust em with your life but not your money or your wife”. She came and picked me up from the barracks I was staying in, took me to their house, made my copies, and took me back. That was much appreciated and I’ve never forgotten that. Fast forward to 2010 and I found out from his dad that he was in Afghanistan. I reached out to Broseph to try to find out exactly where he was. I told him I was at a small outpost in western A-stan in a small town we called F-town. He said, “No way! I’m at F-town”! He said, “If you’re really here, meet me at the gate to the flight line at 1900”. At 1900 I was standing at the gate and sure as shit, here he comes. We laughed and hollered and gave each other big ole bro hugs. We hung out just about every day after that for the next month when I would rotate back home.
We stayed in contact over the next couple years but contact would break as life took us our own ways again. I spoke to him on the phone this past January. I had heard that he was struggling. I was struggling at the time as well. We both agreed that when he got out of the Army in April that he’d come back home and we’d get together. I texted with him a bit over the next couple of months, especially after my Boulder Crest Retreat experience. I tried to get him to go and would text him a couple books to check out. I told him to call me but he never did.
Since I found out about this yesterday I tried to look back on my phone to find my last text to him but it must’ve gotten removed when I got my new phone. Oh how I wish I had those text messages. I have a picture of us together in F-town. I don’t even know what to say to his parents. I can’t and don’t want to let this get me down. See, in the military, as warriors, we don’t usually have time to mourn. In combat, shit happens but you gotta keep moving. I didn’t realize it was OK to cry until my time at BCR in February. I’ve never been much of a crier. Now, I’m just sitting here in my chair, not really knowing what to say. This is one of my favorite quotes and the reason I enjoy writing.
“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” ― Flannery O’Connor
I say all this to say, PLEASE reach out to a brother if you’re being sucked down into the hate spiral. Broseph took his own life right here in my town where I am sitting right now and I never knew he was back home. He was suffering alone. PTSD is a mother trucker. It secludes you. It’s a weighted black cloud that hangs over you and does not let you escape. Only through specific and targeted therapy is the escape possible. I have been blessed to be trained how to escape it. I know that feeling all too well. That web of depression and hate is attacking me at this moment but I won’t let it capture me and pull me to into its crater of sorrow. If any of my brothers are reading this and have been ensnared by that black widow of depression, hopelessness and feeling of living life with no purpose please reach out to me. My rope is tethered to the tree of life. I will rappel down into that crater to hook up to you and pull you back to the light. You just have to send up the smoke signal to let your brothers know you’re down and need help.
I’m going to add one last thing. If the VA or someone else has prescribed you meds for PTSD, please reach out to me. I know a lot of guys and have visited with a lot of folks with PTSD who are taking meds or USED to take meds. Run from them. Especially if the VA pushes them on you. That will send you down the rabbit hole. There are alternatives to the meds. I will continue to walk through life in the light. Every day I will seek out positivity and like minded individuals. I’m on a walk seeking out those who need help in life. I am on a rescue mission. That is my purpose. To impact lives and offer help to those seeking it. I love you all.