Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Prisoner In The Room

I remember almost every intimate detail of the dormitory room, where I suffered a horrific beating and sexual assault.  The colt hard bricks which made up the walls. The steel door and doorway, which remained locked and closed during and after the attack, where no one came and sought out my presence.  The bar situated next to the door, the chairs which surrounded the bar, the wall unit which housed the bottles of alcohol, the carpet which adorned the floor, the chest of drawers which bordered the area between the bunked beds and the bar area. I remember the doorway to the shared shower; which was situated between two rooms, the tile flooring in the latrine (bathroom), the toilet and the small portal of a window to exhaust the steam of the shower and air the room.

I remember this room, because I have been imprisoned in this room, for over 33 years.  I fell out of the second story of the bunked beds, onto hard concrete non-padded carpet covered floor, after what seemed to be an eternity of laying in a pool of urine and blood; unable to move due to a horrific beating that took place, during the attack.  I remember crawling inch by inch, to the latrine; every inch of which was wracked with pain from what seemed to be every part of my body, not to mention the loss of breath after each out-reach of my arms and movement of my legs.

The room spun like I was on a merry-go-round, or was it my head swimming from all that had happened that particular weekend, while I tried to get to the Shower stall and gather up the steel wool and the scrub brush I wanted in the shower and later scrubbed my own body with to an unmentionable level of added pain and injury.

I recall every part of trying to get out of the shower, to dry off and start cleaning up the room.  On my stomach, I wiped down the walls, the dresser drawers and cabinets, pull down the bedding of both beds, to conceal the blood spatter.  I recall the tears I wept, which fell upon the flooring where I earlier had fallen, when I exited the bed for the first time.

All of this and more, I recall of the dormitory where I was housed at the time of my assault. Although I have been out of the military since 83, walked out on the streets of America, gone fishing and learned new things; I am constantly reminded of this room every time I peer into a mirror, or anything that allows the casting of a reflective image and my face is shown back to me.

Although I have been married twice, since my separation from the Air Force, I have not yet been able to leave the images, the smells, the odors, the coldness and harshness of that room.  Although I have been to achieve three (3) educational degrees, owned a thriving business which later was sold, I have basically been homeless, until just recently.  However, I have still been a prisoner of that room

No matter whom may have experience similar experiences, or to what degree they had experienced the act of Sexual Assault, male or female, these memories and the ways that their memories haunt their very existence to a point where they have basically have shut down, from time to time, it is no less traumatic, nor demeaning and degrading to each of the victims of Sexual Assault.

I know my experiences may not mirror exactly what someone else had suffered through.  Maybe theirs was worse or not so bad; either way it may have happened or came about it still is devastating to the person as a whole.  No matter the outcome of their lives, they are forever scarred and forever different from what they should or could have been had the circumstances not invaded their and my lives.

I like so many have yet to find help, for the issues that have come with my attack. I am partially to blame for my not getting the help I needed; but when the times came for me to seek assistance, I was shuffled around to a point whereby I was consistently asking myself if I would not be better off to quite and give up looking for help.  I have suffered with my victimization and my imprisonment in silence; afraid of what others would think of me, to find out I was a victim of such a crime.

I once did look for assistance back when I first came out of the military, and gave up on myself back then, because no one wanted to hear of such issues, being present within the military.  I once again after so long have came out to seek assistance, with no such aide to be had.  It is a shame, especially when three months after I did start my inquiry for assistance to escape my prison, the President of the United States and the Senate held hearings, and policy hearings were held and new procedures enacted to handle and address Sexual Assault victim's needs, nothing has so far been done on the Veteran's Level, to speak of.

I know I am not alone out here, going through this.  I know that my prison of 30 plus years, is not the only prison which is being inhabited by some victim, somewhere whom is going through the motions of living, while still residing within the walls of the place where their attack took place.  Some in Alley ways, some in dorm rooms, some in motels and some in Lord knows where.

Where ever you are, victims of Sexual Assault which derived from within the Military; I know you are out here and I know you are in pain.  Just know, you are not alone in your sufferance, and not alone in trying to get help to live a more quantitative, more meaningful life, while trying to escape your prison of memories and horrors.  I know I am not alone out here.

Bless all of you who have suffered at the hands of others. Bless all of you who have suffered in silence and most of all bless all of you who were veterans, like I am, who had others turn their backs on you when you ask for help.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

In Reflection

Standing in a mirror, gazing at a reflection of the days and years past, can be quite revealing and yet can lead to some confusion.  Is it the model of the reflection or the  story that the reflection reveals?

This last few months have been trying to say the least.  Between the moving about, from one place to another and not being sure where to know where to stand or from what to walk away from has probably been the most challenging thing for me of late.

The Anxiety, has been rampant not to mention the depressive swings and the aimlessness of my actions, have been of late a bit to handle.  In the last few months I have moved from three places of residence, been between four room-mates, scurrying between loss of breath and full of energy, to being drained and having feelings of dizziness.  From what places does all of this come from? Or does it really matter?

Where does one go, when they feel that there is no where that he or she belongs? Who can you call, when there seems not to be anyone can understand?  Going through the motions of caring, when you really have not the first idea of how to care anymore, is a real challenge; to say the least. Compassion is the last thing that you feel that any one has shared with you, so how can you have an idea of who and how to show compassion; without an example of what compassion or love is?

These are some of the questions of which I have been faced with, over these last thirty something years, since I was attacked in the Air Force.  As you can probably see, it is hard to live with these questions always being present and always coming about.  I have been told it is a part of the PTSD, suffered from the night of my Rape.  Only a few of the questions, which have haunted me since that time, have ever came to actually being asked by someone else.

It is even stranger to me, how to find what brings out the worse of the episodes, which bring back the memories of that night, in the barracks of my assigned duty station.  I have always since been a prisoner of that room, of that shower stall where I peeled the skin off of my arms, legs, back with steel wool in an attempt to get the disgust and the filth off of me.  Somehow I felt it would cleanse me of the horror I suffered in that dorm room; but it has not done that.

It amazes me, at times, how someone can put another on the back burner when they are seeking out assistance of this magnitude.  However, the Veterans Administration has done that and more to make matters worse for me. 

I fear loss of my career, daily.  A Career which I have worked so hard to build with skills I have works so hard to hone; to be at risk of being swept away by the mere utterance of PTSD or Anxiety or Depression.  Yet, like a lot of fellow Veterans, my requests of help and assistance keeps being put on hold or on review.

Okay, so the President put into place policies which are supposed to address the matter of Sexual Assault in the Military.  That is fantastic, I think.  Probably the first bona-fide "good" thing that man has done.  However, it has not trickled down the Veteran's Administration (it seems), or if it has it appears to have been put on the back burner by the providers within the Veteran's Administration and the Department of Defense.

Yes the reflections of what a person is to be, or is to expect is not being found by myself or by others whom have suffered this type of Trauma, within the Veteran's Administration at all as far as my line of sight can tell.

Daily episodes of Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Dizziness and Disorientation, is common place with me; all of which has been labeled within the scope of my PTSD Diagnosis.  Being on a stance of Hyper vigilance, on edge most of the day, seems to occupy my thoughts and actions while I have to extend sometimes dangerous tasks to the public.

Connecting with others has lately become a goal of mine, after 30 plus years of not being able to do so.  Taking back seat to others to allow them to do what they wish on the surface, has probably been the most difficult thing for me to do, when I am always feeling like I have to have control. 

I am lucky, I suppose.  Lucky, in that I have found a few people that I have started to reach out to.  Tried to connect with, to start working on Trust issues.  In some cases, throwing all caution to the wind, and preparing for the worse outcome.  I am fortunate that since doing this, with pain-staking anxiety episodes, has so far been a positive move for me.  But I feel guilty, in that through all of it, I am still on guard for the worst outcome to jump in and validate my suspicions.
I pray however, that does not occur; because the current trend is a huge positive thus far.

More to come....