Sunday, February 7, 2016

I am a burden

I recently wrote a poem describing who I am, or more about what made me "me". It proudly declared many things that I should be proud of but like most poems it boiled down moments of my life to far too few words. Instead of a novel it reduced moments of my life to simple sentences but it also removed many of what made those moments difficult, trying, and in the process stripped down what made them worth being experienced.

Philadelphia Ghetto I survived,
Fast Fighter I am.

This is more significant than given credit. Philadelphia was the forge that gave my backbone the steel that it is. There are many events during my growing up that like many of us our parents and siblings don't know and those that know some of them don't speak of out of respect, not embarrassment.

I learned to fight. Not just mentally facing a difficult troublesome environment but physically as well. I joke about the appearance of physical threat: My hands come up but my feet, at the same time, swing into reverse ready to move as fast as I can.

I learned how to throw down with the best of them but I also learned that running is, at times, the best answer.

Troubled Family I survived,
Big Brother I am.

What family is without trouble? My extended family is one that was dominated by spite and anger. My parents did what they could to protect us from this problem and in many ways they succeeded yet within the intimacy of close family some issues arose. It was living and learning through those that was an aspect of that steel that I was forged into.

The love I feel for my family has been a major motivator throughout my entire life. My Mom, delightful terror that she is. My Dad, the Marine he will always be. Peter, the weasel. Elizabeth, the beautiful woman with the heavenly voice. Wayne Robert, Bobby you have the heart and passion of a gentle giant. Nicole, filled with love for her family, even me. And Justin. I can't properly express how proud Justin makes me.

The love of my family consumes me.

Army Jumping I survived,
Airborne I am.

A joke about this is: I'm afraid of heights. So lining up at 1,200 hundred feet and getting out an airplane is something that can not be explained. People commonly ask, "Why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?" My joking response, "Why do you presume it was good? You don't know until it successfully lands. If there is trouble with that, you are too close to the ground to jump so you've waited too long!"

This ignores the military hell that I lived through. I am a disqualified West Point Cadet raised by a Marine who served in the US Army. Four things about me my 1st Sargeant hated, the KKK nut that he was. I was almost an officer who could have told him what to do and he'd have to do it. I was Airborne which was something that he couldn't bring himself to do and hated those of us who could face that stress successfully with a passion. I was the son of a Marine, which many Army guys don't like by nature. And I was the son of an African American Marine who I would not denounce, so he tagged me as a "Race Traitor", a silly KKK label. So for a couple years of my life I was dragged through as much mud as possible encouraging me to quit.

I didn't.

Desert War I survived,
Soldier I am.

Got out of the Army and went back to Civilian life. Not quite a year later I was reactivated for Desert Service. One of the accomplishments I made during my military hell was becoming Desert Trained and qualified in a combat unit. A reserve unit from the Poconos was activated and they had no one desert trained or with any combat experience, so the Army stepped in and tossed me in as a life preserver for that unit.

For 18 months I endured the slights and mismanagement of medical command structure in a war zone where they had no idea what was what and by Geneva conventions had no weapons. I, and my guys, had weapons but that was ignored with the way they badly talked at us and treated us.

Not one casualty in my unit, period. Heat or weapon casualty. My guys followed my guidance, those under the command structure realized my guidance was right on target and adhered to my suggestions. I proved what a leader and soldier I am regardless of the disdain from those above that was dump upon me.

In essence, my sin - my shame - being right.

Our Society I survived,
Civilian I am.

Being of a humble and gentle nature, NOT, I have continued being shameful to be around.

I have not learned the method of being right quietly. I see something wrong, I speak up. I don't slap wrong and right around like a club over people's head mind you. But when things fall apart it is commonly remembered that I was the one who said, "Wait a minute..." That at times has propelled my career forward but outside of professional settings has branded me as "trouble".

Our Society has a flaw: They don't like reminders of their failings and seeing someone who defined their failure, no matter how succinctly, is not desirable. Thus, by those standards, I have never been quite a desirable commodity to our Society.

Bicycle Accident I survived,
Disabled I am.

Boston Hub on Wheels! I signed up to do 20 miles, most people only did 10 miles, and at 15 miles something happened. What? I don't know and my accident report is ... ... gone. The only thing we do know is that I did a 30 mph face plant on asphalt. Broke my face, mangle my forearms, cracked my skull and chipped my spine. The horror is those were my lightest injuries.

Physically and mentally disabled,
Brain Injured I am.

My brain took a beating. So much disruption and injury my forearms waited a couple of weeks before being repaired as I could not be laid down for the operations. Could not be laid down must have been an annoying complication because holes were drilled into my skull, tubing inserted to control the swelling and bleeding, and maintaining life in this broken comatose body.

The outcome: I am changed. Not so much as to be horrified but in mental capacity and spiritual burden a lot. My memory is returning but it is damaged. It is there but I don't have ready access to memories that keeps things in line. My ability to think beyond the level of most teenagers is also now beyond my capabilities.

Regardless what people think,
Crippled I am NOT.

A lesson I lost sight of for a time of my life is: A special forces soldier strives to be more today then they were yesterday. For me, now, this means sometimes I over-commit myself. I'm still learning what I can do ... now. You don't learn if you don't try but sadly in decision moments I forget some of my new limitations. (Refer back to memory issues.)

It is in this that I inadvertently make myself a burden: To those I awkwardly support (and let down) and to those who support me, and again let down. My life continues due to the unwavering love of a wonderful woman. My condition wears on her patience, tries her soul with the complications, but her love for me which I gained before my accident has never wavered.

The personal demon that plagues me is am I worthy of this love? I strive to be worthy of it but in the striving I inadvertently create drains upon it, not support for it. It is in this that I face the reality that:

I am a burden.

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