And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.
Lyrics – Country Joe and the Fish
I went to see that movie American Sniper last night. It was a rather sobering experience. But how much more sober can you get than stone cold? Who knows? If you haven’t heard about this movie it’s based on the biography of Chris Kyle, a sniper who did 4 tours in Iraq. He is known as the most lethal sniper in American History with 160 confirmed kills. He made it home alive and was murdered by a troubled veteran he was trying to help.
I’m not even going to go into the nasty debate about whether he was a hero or a coward. My opinion is that he was a soldier doing what he thought was the right thing to do to protect his family and country. He didn’t start the war – he just did what he had to do.
That being said, I’ve been pondering the whole war conundrum. I laid awake much of last night thinking about it. In a way we treat our returning warriors the same way we treat people with mental illness. We sweep it under the rug and pretend the problem doesn’t exist.
Those caught up in the war machine seem have the same mental kinks as people who are mentally ill and/or have mental illness or substance abuse problems. “Oh this is just affecting us, no one else has to deal with it, and we’re handling it just fine.” Hogwash!
As I look back over my life I can see that war has tainted my entire life. I was in my mid-teens when the Vietnam War was going on. I faced the fear that if it continued for a few more years that my brothers would have to go. I was the oldest in my family and female, but my girlfriends had older brothers that were sent off to Vietnam. They came home in a box. One of those brothers was the first boy I ever kissed. He kissed me the night before he went off to boot camp.
During that era teenage trouble making was a death sentence if you were boy from a blue collar family. The judge gave them a choice “jail or Vietnam.” Stupid boys chose Nam. I would have much rather they went to jail, but I was a 14 year old girl, my say didn’t matter much then. It probably doesn’t matter much more now. I just have a wider audience.
After my girlfriends lost their brothers, we three musketeers decided to wear black arm bands to school. We got in all kinds of trouble for it. Being teen aged innocents we didn’t know we were protesting, we just knew that our guys died and we were sad and very angry. We had to stay after school for detention every day that we wore those arm bands. Funny thing was no one ever tried to confiscate them. If this happened in the present they probably would have them confiscated. Can’t wear or carry anything to school that might offend someone nowadays. I don’t remember how long we wore them and when we stopped either. How odd. We drifted apart, life goes on I guess.
Fast forward to when I was 18 years old. I fell in love with a Vietnam vet who was one of those who made it home in body but not in mind. My mother hated him and knew he was trouble. She finally told me to not talk to her until I was finished with him. She was right in a way. He was trouble because he was troubled. When we walked down the street he was constantly scanning and looking around at trees, roof tops, alleyways. I thought he was just unusually alert. What did I know about soldiers and PTSD? My dead friends don’t talk about that. 6 months later he committed suicide by cop. Meaning they tried to arrest him, he said “you’re not taking me alive” and boom he’s dead.
So at the tender age of 14 I learned that I was not invincible. People die because of other people’s decisions, shit happens. Should children have to learn that? I don’t know but there are children all over the world in war zones learning this every day. Are we better for it? I don’t think so. But that’s just my opinion among billions of others.
The five stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
All the death gurus I’ve read or heard quoted claim there are stages of grief. I have to say that at the moment I’m in the white hot lava mountain of rage otherwise known as anger.
It’ kind of hard to deal with because at the moment I’m angry with my family and everyone else I’ve even known who puts themselves in harm’s way to the sorrow and fear of their loved ones and friends.
I’m angry with my grandson for choosing to live a sad and dangerous life; choices that left his 26 year old beaten, drugged up, frozen dead body on the ground in a train station in Boston. Those of us left behind to mourn him are left holding the bag. I’m pissed off because it seems like he got off easy. He doesn’t have to face each day knowing that he’s gone forever. He’s not left with a life time of “what ifs.”
I’m angry at those members of my family who still abuse drugs and alcohol and live on the razors edge of death in a myriad of ways because of their actions. Who will I have to bury next?
I’m angry at family and friends who suffer from an assortment of mental illness and refuse to seek or maintain treatment. I’ve been told by a number of them that well “I’m not hurting anyone but myself.” Excuse me but that is total unadulterated bullshit. Hello but you are torturing those who love you.
Having substance abusing, and or mentally ill friends and relatives is like having a stalker. The situation grinds on relentlessly for years and then decades. Your heart jumps into your throat every time the phone rings. “What is it THIS time?” Are they in the hospital? Are they in jail? Are they missing…again. Are they dead?
It’s a slow kind of torture that never ends. You can’t do anything about it. Maybe having an actual stalker would be easier to deal with. You can report them to the police. You can take out a restraining order. You can go incognito. If all else fails, you can move to another city or country to get away from it.
But you can’t get away from substance abuse or untreated mental illness. You can hope, you can pray, you can go into denial and refuse to answer the phone, but you can never get away from it.
To anyone who thinks that their self destructive behavior is their business and not anyone else’s….I would like to brain you with an iron frying pan and then lock you in a closet for a year or three. You ARE hurting the people who love you.
When did mental illness become a crime punishable by death…without even a trial? That’s what can happen to a loved one if they live in the frozen North of our great country. I’m so angry that I’m having extreme difficulty putting it into words.
My grandson has been struggling for years now. His latest residence was a homeless shelter for veterans in Boston. He got in some kind of disagreement with them and they threw him out, in the middle of the night, when the temperature was in the teens. If it was that bad why didn’t they call the police? I’d rather my grandson be in jail than in a funeral home waiting for us to bring him to his final resting place. There are not enough tears in the ocean to shed at this travesty.
Many of our young people are behind the eight ball in multiple ways; inner city crime, emotional disorders, mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness and many more problems. Most health care professionals have no training in treating people with alcoholism and mental illness together.
Many will say “we can’t give you any medicine for mental illness because you are drinking.” I’m sorry, but that is a big giant load of horse crap. Maybe if they gave someone a valium they would calm down, go home, if they have one, and go to sleep, instead of wandering the streets, and even dying on a park bench or a train station. Are they afraid of liability issues? I wonder.
So my grandson is laying in a coffin now. He slipped through the cracks. But can we even call it a crack?? It’s more a huge fissure that’s getting wider every day. Pray for our children.
For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 New International Version
My dear readers, the thief in the night came quicker than I thought. My darling grandson, Christopher age 26, was found dead at 5:30 am Saturday morning. My heart is broken at the loss of a sweet but troubled young man. When he first started talking he named me “Grandma Vick.” I was happy with that, because he had another grandma so that was his way of telling us apart.
What is even worse than this loss is the grief I feel for my daughter, my own baby, who has lost her beautiful son, her baby boy. I was with her when he was born, and love the both of them so much it hurts.
Christopher was a young man with a big chip on his shoulder. His father died young from either a suicide of drug overdose. He has suffered for years with mental illness, and drug addiction. Recently he was living in a homeless shelter for veterans. From what I can gather so far, he got in an argument with someone in the shelter and was either kicked out or left. He stormed off and went into a train station. Boston’s temperature lately has been in the low 30’s lately. He probably feel asleep or passed out from drugs or alcohol and succumbed to that and hypothermia.
So today I’m in Boston to be with my daughter to offer any support I can give her. We need to make arrangements to lay Christopher to rest. I’ve had a lot of trouble and arguments with my daughter, but there is no way that I could live with myself if I did not come to her side in this most painful time that any parent will ever experience, the loss of a child.
All I can ask of you is please pray for Christopher, his mother and family in our time of sorrow.
Thank you for listening.
I want to start out by saying that I love you with all my heart. You are my child and I will always love you no matter what. That being said, I need to point out to you that you are an ADULT now and have been legally so for the last 25 years. And as an adult YOU are responsible for providing yourself with the life you want or need. No one else, not the government, not your friends, not me, or anyone else is required to provide for you. YOU are supposed to provide for you. That is God’s will and God’s plan for your life. I know you as only a mother can, and I know that you know the difference between right and wrong. That you chose to ignore what you know is the main source of the sorrows in your life.
I obviously made mistakes when trying to raise you and for that I sincerely apologize. I was a child of 16 myself when I gave birth to you and had no knowledge of how to raise a child and provide you with guidance that I never received because I made the poor choice to leave home too soon. Somehow I failed to impart to you the reality that when you are an adult almost everything that happens is a direct result of your action or inaction in any given situation. Sure sometimes bad things happen to good people, but only rarely. When bad things are constantly happening, you need to step back and take a long hard look at what you are doing or not doing to bring such sadness and deprivation into your life.
- My car, purse, phone and laptop got stolen; well, you left your car unlocked, running, with the keys in it. That was your inaction. The place you choose to live is the car theft capital of the country and you are well aware of that.
- My meds got stolen; well that was your choice to let it be known that you have meds that can be abused in your home and to also leave your house unlocked rather than blame it on the fact that the mate you chose, an alleged adult, can’t seem to keep track of a house key.
- Someone is listening to my phone; OK, you know why that is, if someone really is doing that. This is a DIRECT RESULT of something you have done that you should not have done. You are NOT a random target.
- My feet are cold, I lost my boots; well you chose to live in a frigid climate and chose not to keep track of your boots.
I can’t even count how many sad tales I’ve heard from you over these decades since you reached adulthood. I have lain awake night after night wondering why it is that you seem bound and determined to screw yourself over in every way possible.
One thing that has become clear to me is that you do not accept responsibility for yourself. I hear endless excuses about how whatever the latest crisis is not your fault. People are always out to get you. You never get a fair break. You are betrayed yet again. And on and on it goes. You have told so many half-truths and made so many excuses for your circumstances that you start to believe that is the truth instead of doing some serious soul-searching and asking yourself “what am I doing to ruin my life?” Deep down in you somewhere you know the truth, but I don’t think you have actually faced it and taken ownership and responsibility for your life.
Grandmommie used to have a quaint way of saying it. “If you lay down with a dog, you get up with fleas.” A biblical way of putting it is: “You reap what you sow.” What are you sowing? It can’t be anything beneficial, because your life seems to be a never ending stream of tragedy, melodrama and heartbreak. At the age you are, you should be reaping at least a little bit of joy, roses and sunshine by now instead of living in the eternal darkness of a wasted life caused by bad choices.
Looking back over the years I realize now that the only time you call is when you want something from me. You usually call when it’s getting close to Christmas. You want me to give you money, buy you something you insist you “need,” listen and believe your latest sob story and go along with your misguided attitude of “oh you poor little thing, why are all this terrible things happening to you?” I can’t even recall a time when you called me simply because you wanted to know how I was doing, what is going on in my life, what troubles I may have. These seem to be non-issues to you. I feel that I am nothing to you but an ATM machine and a shoulder to cry on when you’ve made yet another extremely unwise decision.
I can’t force you to change your ways and I don’t intend to even try. What I can do is change my ways. What I have decided is that I will no longer;
- Give you money
- Buy things for you
- Respond to random text messages that are impossible to understand
- Sympathize with you when you are suffering from the consequences of you own actions
- Believe your excuses and long involved stories of why it wasn’t your fault that something bad is happening to you yet again
- Attempt to rescue you from another pickle you’ve gotten yourself into
- Attempt to have a conversation with you when you refuse to be honest and give me straight answers to reasonable questions regarding your situation
- Attempt to talk to you when you are stoned, high, drunk, wasted, baked, buzzed or whatever the latest slang for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be
- Allow you to come live with me because you “just can’t make it” on your own
What I will do is continue to love you and pray for you every day. The gift I am giving you today is your life. I am handing it to you on a silver platter because it does not belong to me. I have also given you back to God. It is between you and him what you do with your life. You know what you need to do. There is no better time than now to start living an honest, moral, sane, peaceful and joyful life. I hope you do, I’m looking forward to it.
Love you forever,