Sunday, December 31, 2017

There are several important women in my life.

Off the top of my head there are six. The hold various roles but I can not imagine my life without a single one of them.

My Mom, the Great Investigator. There was never a part of my life she did not dive into and immerse herself within to better understand what makes me tick.

My Wife, my Commander. Like a good Commander she guides me, she protects me, she inspires me. Not only would I die for her but a bad end will come to anyone who does her any harm, a very bad end.

My sisters, my Cheerleaders. Very positive, sometimes not so positive, but without fail they are beside their brother. Through thick or thin, through his insight or his idiocy, they are there.

My Daughters. The two of them have had a huge impact on who I am. I've always been upfront about the tragedy that is my life regarding my off spring.

The oldest, bless her soul, was hidden from me (by design) until the investigator finally succeeded in locating her and initiating contact. This has lead to a decade of bittersweet joy. Whenever I see Yaz, whenever I talk to Yaz, I love and hate her mother who gifted me with a such a beautiful mind and robbed me of seeing that mind become.

The youngest was born with trouble. Trouble caused by the damage done to my chromosomes during Desert Storm. I feel most burdened by this damage as it was, in essence, my fault. I did NOT have to go. (Well they probably would have insisted if I said no but) So in my mind and soul I felt her birth defect was my fault.

During the first week of her life she had to have significant operations to allow her more life. I stayed with her each day and each night while this was happening. Whenever she went into the hospital for revision surgery, I was there even at the cost of my job which I eventually lost due to my adherence to her side.

A few months after I lost that job a great employment opportunity opened up for me literally across the country. I took a bus, yes a bus, from Philadelphia PA to San Jose CA for this job. And this job was good for me, I tried to maintain contact with Baby Mom, though to be honest she did not want me to be around, but life was better for me.

Then one day life transformed for me. A Philly friend of mine expressed his remorse over my loss of my daughter. Loss of my daughter?!? Since that time I have had to tell people about how my one daughter died from birth defects my willing service caused her at a tender age of 5. That horror had dreadful impact upon my psyche. I started to experience PTSD in debilating fashion. The most painful was the flashbacks which I had not experienced before this point and has taken several decades to control. It did cause me to leave my profession though as it became the trigger which caused them.

That is the effect that I don't tell people about. The news about my loss triggered something of a mental meltdown. Nothing untoward to the community around me... all the pain and discomfort went to the target, Me.

Well, the great investigator was uncovered another great mystery of my life. the youngest did not die. The friend was mistaken in his report and my avoidance of spending significant time in her hometown has kept this mistake alive. She lives and once again life, and service, has robbed me of the life and love of a daughter. However, I am going to strive to thrive (as always) in the face of this revelation. I think I'll get Yaz to open contact with her sister, Amanda, and let them work out how I should be punished. Positive or negative I will accept their judgement and punishment whatever that may be.

They are and have been, truly, significant portions of my psyche. There is no part of me that I will not own though a writhe in shame at some parts. However at no point was I ever deceitful or unscrupulous so I leave the dice where they lay and regret only the numbers that appeared.

I do not regret tossing the dice.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Too soon!

All of my friends and acquaintances were right there after my accident. They tried to help me recover, and they did, but their efforts, or the focus of their efforts, was misdirected. They tried to help me re-become and sadly that isn't possible.

The old me, that 45 year old war Veteran, disappeared in that accident. What was left was me and I needed to regrow up. Mentally and psychologically. Early in my recovery I was not "old" enough to understand much of what was going on around me. My church put their arms around me, my Masonic lodge tried to help me shoulder on through, and many local, and not so local, friends put a comforting hand on my back so that I didn't feel so lost.

What many did not understand was how much I did not understand.

For instance, all my food likes and dislikes have changed, significantly. So being out with friends who encouraged me to eat this or that as "the old me" used to love it, and the new me did not, might have been an oppsie.

Or another example, the old me used to have an understanding of decorum. A simple thing but a profound thing, at least between kids and adults. I used to be a 45 year old Adult, I was no longer. I'm not even close to that adulthood even now many years later. I am not the kid that I was, and I most definitely was a child. Here I was being reintroduced to affairs fit for the adult I was when I was no longer an adult.

Did I embarrass myself and those around me, Yes!
Did I generate hostility towards myself for lack of decorum and understanding, Yes!
Was this a mistake by others trying too soon to introduce me to who I used to be? Yes!

And therein lies the additional trauma, personal of course, from my accident. Each and every day I endure my condition, outwardly with a smile upon my face, and I hate it. There are times I want to fall down on my knees and scream at the Universe for placing me here. And I feel regret for the accidents and mishaps for my friends, brothers, and family trying too much, too soon.

I can't help but feel grateful for their trying however I can't help but feel regret for things that happened. I can only point to the wheel and say, "I wasn't driving, at all." And hope that many of those involved accept my regret as an apology while recognizing their involvement in those times.

One can only hope...

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What, or who, is a GECK?

G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) is an interesting story device used by Interplay and Black Isle Studios in Fallout 2 (1998). What they didn't know was that I had already been granted that title in 1983. In my case it was a portmanteau of Geek and Jock.

I am very much a geek.

Yes, I was on chess teams. I played many forms of pen & paper role-playing games. I was even a D.M. for a 14 man gaming group that gathered and played during Desert Storm. I started my programming life with Basic, progressed to FORTRAN and U.S.C.D. Pascal in High School. During High School I also got to use much of Temple University's facilities. At my height of success I worked in Silicon Valley pushing myself to limits undreamt of by my parents though they did like it.

But in equal measure I am a jock as well. I'm built like a 6+ foot, 275 lbs linebacker and I've played many forms of sports, in school and in the military. The most aggressive military sport I engaged is was war.

There is much about me that is still geek though my traumatic brain injury has changed a lot about my skills, passions, and tolerances. I don't remember any Pascal, PHP, or Klingon though I'll admit I wasn't quite fluent in those. Something I do remember is integrity and self dignity.

See, I've recently changed course with a alternate reality game I play. Reaching the maximum level attainable I decided to switch teams. Granted with a two team league I suspected there would be some hard feelings with some players on my old team but I never suspected the level of hostility I've started to encounter. Being called bad names and having my character questioned & slandered is annoying.

I wonder if my accusers have any idea of who they attack with their thoughts? Their pitiful minds are consumed by the shallow and petty world they have inside the game. They are angry that I beat them out and decided to totally restart on the other team once I maxed out. But it is not unusual for me to choose this course.

I love beginning game, in chess, in computer gaming, in all things. Mid-game is nice too. The complexities and course start to emerge from the limitless options beginning game presents. End-game is, to me, boring as hell. There is little that can surprise me once that point is on the close horizon. Might explain why I love Shyamalan's movies, very little about many of his movies are obvious endings until the ending.

In closing, I'm just getting out my feelings in response to such harassment. I only made one negative comment their direction and this diatribe was my thoughts on it. Guess this is a moment where I become close to their real problem which I accused them:

"Get your head out of your a$$."

Monday, November 7, 2016

Talk, talk, talk. Something I can not reliably do.

Something that people don't get no matter how plain I am about it: I'm afraid to talk.

Aphasia makes me terrified of conversation, truly. It can not be avoided but what I can avoid is any discussion with depth or substance. Regardless of necessity, I just can not face the stress of starting one as it is highly likely that I'll lose the ability to talk... period.

I know my condition can, at times, make me something of an embarrassment. I know just how undignified and stupid I appear when Aphasia strikes. I know how much I hate my life when this happens. So why is it so hard to understand my reluctance to talk?

This does create problems though: Almost every part of our society requires verbal interaction. Shouldn't be removed but the flaw for me is that much of those interactions require "initiation" from me in the form of verbal dialogue. That leaves me isolated and abandoned in many ways.

Trouble with the Police? Call the department and talk to someone.
Trouble at work? Call H.R. and talk to someone.
Trouble at VFW? Call Dept, State or National and talk to someone.

Just the start of a list of ways I am isolated and abandoned.

Monday, October 24, 2016

I Kind Of Belong,

See, my accident wiped away allot of who I used to be. I used to belong to many worthwhile communities but now I'm different. These differences caused me, and them, some confusion on how to further interact. My Church, a truly worthwhile community, I've become distant from. I know what caused that, just one thing that rubbed me wrong, and it truly doesn't deserve any animosity from anyone. However, I've regularly thought about returning to that aspect of who I used to be but various tasks (work, VFW, etc.) divert me from humbly returning to those fine people.

There are several other communities, bless them for they are worthy to belong to, that I have distanced myself from for not good reasons. That is one of those not talked about complications of Brain Injury. I've succeeded in garnering the gumption to live but there are times where I find myself debating the why should I. I'm not suicidal!!!

I'm just confused about why do this or why do that each & every day. This situation has put me into an existential trauma the likes of which there is little that leads me onward other than the heart that beats inside me.

That being said, this was not a chest beating exercise of me whining about how my life and how I've changed. Today I am pondering about what I have made of my life since then. I've stumbled, often, and I realize that I will continue to do so, now, for the rest of my life. However, this blog, these postings give me a record of my thoughts that I can review to regain context of who I am, why I am, and how I think I should move forward.

Right now, I belong to several new communities. New to me since my accident and I'm going to type about the ones I am proud of for their level of support and interaction with me.

- The VFW, I did not belong before my accident (why not - I don't know) but they have helped me to recover a lot of my identity. Interesting the lifeline that Military training has become. It stamped itself upon me so firmly that I think it was the saving of me. Having someplace where that experienced is mutual has been a phenomenal support avenue. Granted, some of my new flaws complicate matters, Brain Injury is outside their experience but that doesn't change their willingness to accept who I am (now). These guys and gals respect me, provide me outlets to sharpen my wits and encourage me to re-learn much of how to belong to society.

- Work, interesting avenue for sure. Much of what made me competent in the workplace was truly wiped from my mind. I can still do many Information Technology functions but, again, I stumble a lot and stumbling within this environment is not good. So I've taken on a job not far from a high percentage of my military service, again the stamping was strong. I now mess around with auto parts, not a mechanic - never was one either, and I drive those parts to where they need to go. After all, from training and war time service the motor pool is a huge part of who I was and still am.

- Gaming. This is one of those off beat aspects of the old me. I was commonly heavily involved in computer gaming and involved with massive communities that engage in those games. At one point, I interacted worldwide with a couple hundred thousand individuals. Many who liked me, quite a few who did not like me but all knew that if I said something was wet, they all grabbed towels and mops as the situation was wet.

This brings me to a recent community I have joined. It is online, we build and fix. Think Minecraft but on a much more in depth scale if you are familiar with that. Now, such things aren't the cup of tea for my VFW members, Church members, or co-workers. But here I am once again being accepted by a community whose faces I have never seen, spending time striving for mutual gain and satisfaction, and delighting them with my presence.

Still, I stumble at times yet no one there has barked at me for my stumbles. I am learning, at times learning with their help but many times learning by myself what works and does not work. That is the good thing about using this environment, learning without the possibility of physical harm to myself or another. That is one of the prime reason everyone should use computer games. It is an avenue to exercise your brain and strengthen yourself... and explore your capabilities as well.

As these people get to know me one thing about me stood out in their minds and I was promptly stamped with a nickname that honored me greatly. They see that I am highly functional regardless of my new flaws and routinely seek my assistance with ongoing endeavors. Again, like the VFW and Work.

I am blessed as I belong. New places, indeed, but I do belong even with my new flaws.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Professional Decorum

Many civilians don't realize how many concepts and traditions they have acquired from the Military. One such concept is "Decorum". On a personal level you may dislike a co-worker but while you may feel that way never should that thought come out of your mouth or your demeanor. Never should your co-workers know your private opinion of another especially those of supervisory status.

See, I'm currently dealing with two such issues. I have 3 direct supervisors. The Commercial Supervisor who sends us drivers hither and tither about. Then there is the Store Manager and his Assistant Supervisor. This Assistant has, for me, been a phenomenal force for positive change. She strives to make the workplace supportive, encouraging, and worthwhile.

The Commercial Sup truly does not like her and I should NOT know that. The Commercial Customers also know that, THAT should never have happened. Such thoughts expressed undercuts confidence in that person. So, the actual Customers have developed such low expectations from the Assistant that they choose not to interact with her. In fact, one Customer complained to her about her interacting with him as if she was an idiotic bothersome pest in his day.

I can't imagine how that must feel. Actually, I can imagine it and I feel threatened by such antics. After all, I'm the new guy who is mentally disabled. It is disgustingly easy to throw me under a bus, even a bus I had not part in creating.

"Oops!" Says the Commercial Supervisor one day in the future, "Um, sorry this happened.  Q tries hard but he's the new guy with brain damage. What can you expect?"

This leads into my second such issue. A fellow VFW member, again no names, has created, for me, something of a hostile environment. Whether he realizes or not, it is something that I have to bear with as rocking the boat to fix this is going to make me seem like the trouble maker. His aggressive behavior in challenging my every decision and activity has others thinking that is how I should be treated.

An example: Two weeks ago a member annoyed with what he consider a National VFW failing and my somehow failing (as well) stomped into the Post and told me to fix it "Soon or I'll shoot you in your f-ing head". Now being of an intelligent and creative being I, on the spot, created and presented to him a solution that appeased his need and anger. However, I am troubled that such words should EVER come out of anyone's mouth regardless of membership or affiliation.

That was completely a death threat said to a mentally disabled Veteran by another non-mentally disabled Veteran.

Recently I complained about another mistreatment of me and how I could respond, without names I might add. One member, who shall remain unnamed, thought it was about him. So I received a text on my cellphone from him informing me that if I ever talk about him again on my blog (which is not where his issue happened) I will face lawsuits for slander and defamation. Then he continued on complaining about my Facebook post, as if I was talking about him, as if I was trying to get people to hold a pity party since I'm failing my duties, that I swore an oath to uphold, with my laziness and inability to function in that regard.

Well, I have these questions:

1 - Slander and defamation lawsuit from a nebulous Facebook posting? I'm not sure but I don't think that is legal, yet.

2 - What basic quartermaster duty did I need investigated? Yet again?

3 - What pity party is he talking about?

4 - Where did I fail to act or demonstrate any inability to execute the position I swore an oath to uphold?

5 - Is this the best social practices of the VFW itself?

Now, I have asked these same questions from the New Hampshire VFW State Officers. Included my Commander but he's on vacation far away from here but as of yet I have received no answers from anyone. Wonder why I'm feeling abandoned?

Now, if there were some issues to be addressed this member was directed, in the past, to share them ONLY with the Commander, not directly to me. With the Commander being away, he should have approached the Vice Commander as is an appropriate second for such things. This did not happen, once again I have an aggressive person in my presence challenging and questioning my judgement and actions. Further undercutting me with my fellow members. I am beginning to understand why people seem to think treating me in a hostile manner is the way to succeed.

How am I to fulfill my sworn duties with such an pattern of abuse, unchallenged?
I could challenge it but I've tried everything short of cursing and throwing a punch. And that would be even more disastrous as either I would hurt him or he would hurt me. Given his recent bar-room brawling experiences I think I'd get punched a few times before I disable him. And what I'd have to accomplish to disable such an attacker frightens me as it will leave some permanent issues. (Broken bones)

But in the Military no one should ever be dealt with in a hostile fashion unless the are your sub-ordinate and they have truly made a stupid mistake repeatedly. No one should ever know what you think about you superiors, sub-ordinates, or equals. Such expression via demeanor or voice is something that will, if it continues, get your cashiered from the military or the civilian workplace. Well should but civilian aspect likes to think it follows such practices but they don't always.

The Military does let such habits slide, ever.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I am not a liar...

... though at times I may seem like one.

As an example, when a particular location was mentioned I commented that I had never been there. Said this to the person who physically visited the location with me! But, at that moment, when asked about that location I had actually never been there even though I had been there.

This is the disaster that can be caused due to memory issues. At that moment I truly had never been there... until the person looked at me sideways and said "Remember the school bus exit?"
"Aahhh, yes now I remember!"

Additional complication, Aphasia. It's a condition where I say the wrong thing and don't even realize I did that. We may be standing outside enjoying a beautiful moment in the sun, nothing happening other than enjoyment, and I'll say, "what a beautiful Red sky". The sky is and was Blue, not Red, but I actually did say Red.

Did I mean Red? Heck no, but you will hear that.

And therein lies the damage that this condition causes... There are times where I am asked simple yes/no questions. I'll respond quickly, like most people, but that is where Aphasia can strike the hardest: I'll sometimes say the opposite of what I mean and not even know it. Did I mean it, heck no, but that doesn't change what I said.

The best trick from the other person in that situation is to pause then asked me "Are you sure?". To stop and challenge my response as if I meant to misspeak into a lie is not the ideal response. I truly could've accidentally said the opposite without knowing I did... or I could simply not remember something that happened 10 minutes ago... until I take a moment and think. Truly think, a moment where one chews on a thought.

See my disability, being brain damaged, is that any "snap-kick" thought of mine is not to be fully trusted - ever. Not that it will be wrong, just that it could easily be wrong.

And therein lies the pain of my life where other people are concerned.