Home > Uncategorized > Exhuastion, Trauma, and Veterans

Exhuastion, Trauma, and Veterans

Welp, it’s 2:25am and once again, I can’t sleep. Chalk it up to a very long day combined with crashing on my bed at about 8:30pm and waking up at 11:00pm.

It started with work. The volume was frustrating and at such a high level that it prevented me from getting anything accomplished. Which is part of the reason for…well, I’ll get to that in a bit.

After work, I had to go to Siena’s library to retrieve writing samples from their archives. Again, more on why in a little bit. Driving there, I was dreading stepping foot onto the campus again. I’d been on the campus before for a meeting or two, but just having to go into one building that’s directly off the main parking lot and actually walking through the main quad is an entirely different experience. Whereas before I felt like a ghost, this time it was…well, “traumatic” is really the only word I can use to describe it.

Walking through the quad and cutting across the lawn to reach my destination, I started to tear up a little bit. At the time, I found it a bit odd. I’m able to attend the areas where I had some of my less than glorious moments as a raging alcoholic, and I’m fine.

This was much different. It was also perplexing, weird, but perhaps ultimately rewarding.

Siena College, for me, is the site of such miserable failures (contributing to the gigantic failure that ultimately came to epitomize my personal and academic collapse) that I feel a bit of shame even stepping foot onto it. Then there were the memories of what I was and, more importantly, what I allowed myself to become while I was there. I did what I always do once I got to the library – I put on a good face and nobody noticed. I was spotted by a couple of administrators who stared. Not intently, but they were definitely trying to figure out where they recognized me from. One in particular finally did seem to hit that realization, and seemed like she was going to approach but was with a group of Trustees and as such was a bit distracted. I also didn’t bother flagging her down, since I didn’t know what the Hell I’d really say to her after all this time.

“What’re you up to?”
“Oh, not much. Just having this really traumatic episode and trying to wrap my head around why it’s happening.”

But I got what I needed. Actually, the woman who assisted me (and accessed the archives – after a certain time they’ll only allow the Reference staff to go in) was incredibly helpful, so much so that I have to think of a way to thank her. It may be as simple as an e-mail, but I’d like to do a bit more considering how ridiculously accommodating she was. I mean, the woman held off her dinner in spite of my suggestion that I could return later that evening or the next day.

I got what I needed, though, and Maeve (who was the first one I called after the fact) brought up the point that at least I got it out of the way. I know she’s right, but Jesus, I never have moments like that. It was odd, to say the least.

Then I got home, pulled in my driveway, and locked my damn keys in my car. I have a spare set of keys for the car in my room, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) my roommates and I had the foresight to not have a key “hidden” outside or keep any of the windows unlocked so we could break in. I had to call my landlady, another total sweetheart, who gave me a spare set of keys. She’s another one who I insisted shouldn’t go through the trouble, since I could have called somebody nearby and hung out there until Steve and Peter got home from rehearsal at 11:00pm, but she’s too good for her own good.

So yeah. It was a long and (mentally) exhausting day.

Oh, the reason for the writing samples is that I’m applying to a local newspaper as a reporter. Of course, not having any paid writing experience and no actual degree to speak of will certainly hurt my chances, but I have experience, good samples, and I’ve been told by several people that I have a decent shot at it. It would be a slight cut in pay, but I’m willing to take it.

I’m not in quite as bad of a quarter-life crisis as I was several weeks ago, but the weekend in New York was eye-opening. I had a talk with my brother about it, who agreed that I should make the move at some point in the near future. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do as it pertains to that, but for now I have to put myself in a situation where I’m happy with my employment. Not just happy in terms of who I work with or how people perceive me – my supervisor is a wonderful woman and I’ve been finding out through the grapevine the last couple months that I’m very well liked there – but happy with exactly what I’m doing and seeing some sort of physical manifestation of my accomplishments. That’s a far more complicated way of saying “my name in a by-line”, I suppose, but really that’s not it. I want to contribute in some way and do something concrete that may actually get me somewhere and open some doors. I’ve spent enough time re-evaluating and reforming myself as an individual over the past 17+ months. It’s time I took the steps towards getting to a place where I’m doing what I need to do, what comes organically to me (writing), and doing something that I could potentially be proud of.

So yeah. That’s my day and where my head is at right now.

Before I go…

I was at a meeting on Sunday. Sunday, for those who aren’t aware, was Veteran’s Day (though the observed holiday for banks and government offices was today). After the meeting chair qualified and it was asked if anybody had any topics, a man in his late fifties (who for the purposes of this entry we’ll refer to as Brian) brought up the fact that he was a Vietnam veteran who had been in and out of the program since the 70s. He’s been sober for quite some time now, but he has trouble on Veteran’s Day. He discussed people he knew, all the funerals he’s attended in the past year (it can take some time for all the casualties to be calculated for a conflict that has such a grave emotional impact on its participants), and the fact that he wanted to attend the various memorial services throughout the area on Sunday and couldn’t bring himself to do it.

This led to a not-so-startling revelation – there’s vets in AA. A lot of them. Even individuals whom you would meet and not even suspect. I won’t dwell on that aspect, since even they will admit that they had a problem going into the service and none of them can or do blame any military commitments for the problems they’ve suffered as a result of their alcoholism, substance abuse problems, or any illnesses they’ve suffered. The point is that I sat there for an hour listening to stories about the men and women who served this country. Some of them are success stories, some of them are still suffering, and some of them of course aren’t with us anymore.

But what’s important about a holiday such as Veteran’s Day isn’t that we run our fingers across names engraved on a giant slab of granite, but rather that we remember. And that’s what we did for the entire sixty minutes on Sunday – we remembered.

As always, more later…

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