My American Dream

  
Many years ago on some random weekend during my time as a Californian, I found myself sitting on the diving board of some random SoCal residence having a beer induced conversation with a gentleman that I consider my brother. At this point in time (some 12 or 13 years later), I have no clue how we got on this conversational topic or even what the rest of the conversation was about. But one portion of the conversation has stuck with me over the years. Maybe it is because of the topic, maybe it is because of how close to my heart that topic was. I frankly have no clue at this point why it stuck with me, just that it had stuck with me.

I was in my early 20’s when I was stationed in California. Already more than two years into my first enlistment when I picked orders to the World Famous Wallbangers be with a friend from my time in Pensacola. I mention how old I was because I drank a lot then. We all seemed too. Likely like those in college at the same age do. Never for an particular reason. Most often just to blow off steam and have fun. I had a fantastic group of friends then, they were more than friends, they were my family. I still talk to most of them. Most of us have moved on to new things and new places. But we still talk when we can and it is always a relief to hear from some of them.

My last paragraph took me slightly off of my original point. It was more of a back story and random tangent. While it adds to the original intent of this post, I could easily have continued without it. So back to the random pool, back to the diving board. I have a tendency to either play the piano or become philosophical when drinking and on this occasion I am pretty sure I did both but the aspect I’m referring to is my hopeful look into what I wanted in my future. While I do not remember the exact word for word conversation I had, I do know what I was talking about because for a long time, those hopes persisted in my mind.
I wanted what I have always called my American Dream. I wanted a family. I wanted a wife. I wanted children. I wanted a home and land that belonged to me. This things I could call mine. That is what I wanted. For 2160 days (186,624,000 seconds, 3,110,400 minutes, 51,840 hours , 2160 days, 308 weeks and 4 days of you want a different way of counting) I thought I had my American Dream. It did not come all at once, but one by one I checked off things from my mental checklist. Man, I had them all. My list was complete. I had a wife. I had kids. I had a home with a little patch of land that I could call my own. Even had a bonus dog that I added to my list. That was then. 

My American Dream imploded. I do not particularly feel like going into the reasons it imploded. It is rather irrelevant to what I am writing at the moment and I am also in a good mood so I would like to keep it that way. I no longer have a wife. She has moved on. My house is for sale. I do not see my kids nearly as must as I wish I could. The dog went with my ex-wife since he was a present to her when he was a puppy. Other than my children I am pretty much back at square one. The things that I focused on achieving for so many years is not what matters to me anymore. In many ways I am not sure it really mattered anyways. You can see things so much differently after they happen and after age brings with it a little bit of wisdom, things change.

I want three things now. I want my kids to be happy. I want a safe place for them to live. I wanted to be happy. That is it ladies and gentleman. That is all I want. Right now I have that. I might not own a home that I live in, but I live in a place that is safe for my kids. I am doing everything in my power to make my kids happy. That last thing I need (and I am making good progress on) is being happy myself. It takes some effort to climb back from what was basically rock bottom. But step by step I will get there. Mainly I need to figure out what things, aside from my children, will make me happy. Many of the things I thought made me happy before, really do not have the same appeal to me anymore. I do not really know of some of the things ever will again.

So. There you go. A short trip down memory lane and I shared my feelings with you. Hopefully the time you took to read this was worth it. I cannot promise life lessons or empirical wisdom. What I can promise my readers is honesty in my writing. I want to share my life experiences, wether it be with PTSD or something like what I have written today, with anyone who will take the time to read it. If something I have lived through and what I write helps even one person than I do not feel like I am wasting my time. Either way, I will continue to write because this is the easiest way to get things to stop floating around inside my thick head.

Same dream, new cast

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Little more than a week ago, an ambulance backed into my car and managed to set off the airbags. I had kids in the car and while the damage to the car was not that serious, the air bags going off lead that car to be totaled. Before I get to the positive from that, there is some negative that came with it that I frankly was not expecting. My oldest twin boy was in the back seat, thankfully on the opposite side of the damage and the airbag deployment. I left him and his older brother in the car thinking it was safer given the location while I got out and attended to things. I was just out of the car long enough to get around back when I looked forward to John screaming and crying. He thought the car was on fire and that I left him in there. My car was not on fire, but the smokey air venting out of the airbags was enough to make it seem like it. My heart broke seeing the look on his face and I got him out the that car extremely quickly. I am pretty sure I hugged the fear out of him because after a few minutes he was back to his normal self and preoccupied with everything going on.

Why do I mention all this? Aside from my broken heart from what I perceive as a poor decision, my illustrious brain has chosen to make some unintended connections between this event and a previous event in my life. It is a connection that I really do not like. Over time, I have had certain repetitive dreams about the events surrounding my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They became so routine that when I started taking meds to help prevent them, I actually came to miss those dreams. For the most part, between the meds and the changes in my life and how I deal with things, I only seem to have nightmares when I am dealing with an increased amount of stress. (Stress as a whole seems to cause my symptoms to surface.) One of these dreams has come back the last week or so and while the events of the dream are mostly the same as before, the cast of characters in this dream changed. It gained a passenger and now, in addition to seeing 3 other lives end, a fourth life perished in a cloud of smoke. It is very unpleasant and very unnerving to see your child die and I hope it is an event I never have to live in real life. As unpleasant as these dreams have been, they need to stay as dreams because I honestly do not think I would be able to handle it if it were reality.

Despite how uncomfortable the dreams are, I am fascinated with the manner in which the human mind works. I have read a tremendous amount of material on how the human brain is affected by trauma and tragedy. The one part I cannot get a handle on is triggers. I know some of mine. I think I have them under control, then my brain makes some cockeyed connection between completely unrelated events. It kinda makes what I have learned seem irrelevant and useless. Having addressed that, there are some positives that came out of this situation. I have found that relinquishing some things from my life makes it easier to move on. Somethings just came with memories I really do not want to be reminded of on a daily basis. My black Jetta had both good and bad memories, and I wanted none of either to be honest. I was not, nor was I in, a place to get rid of that car. It was almost payed off and good memories or bad, I was going to drive that car until I did not have an option to anymore. In steps an ambulance driver who didn’t know how to back up out of a parking spot.

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Now, thanks to that ambulance driver, some airbags and my insurance company, I have a new truck. A little smaller than my old Chevy Silverado, but I am very happy with my new GMC Sierra. My boys love it. I look forward to creating a lot of new memories with them and that truck.

Emotions

  
I have to say that this evening was probably one of the worst evenings I have had in a long time. It is even more difficult to say that knowing that the night is not over yet. Some things hit home today and they hit home much harder than I expected them too. I have found myself on one hell of a emotional sea saw. One moment I felt angry enough that I wanted to destroy things and I had a hard time preventing myself from doing so. Thankfully I was able to. The next moment I found myself quite sad. Sadder than I have felt in recent memory. Sad enough to break through the self control I have developed over the years.  

I found myself unable to hold back my tears and just found my emotions taking control. The moment I found myself in control again, I was angry again. All evening I have just been going back and forth. It is draining and wish that I did not feel this way. With one set of emotions come others I have fought to control. It is like someone opened the flood gates and I do not know how to close them at the moment. I really, really want to close them.

Today if finally hit me exactly what has happened to me in the last year and even as I type this I am having difficulty focusing and controlling the emotional responses to my thoughts. My ex-wife has completed her move out of the home we bought together and while I wait for someone to decide to purchase the house, I am responsible for it. At the behest of my parents, I was over at the house cleaning up and organizing the few things I have left there. Each empty room brought back a flood of memories about happy times I had with my kids and even with my ex-wife. Regardless of negative things that happened in that house, all I could think of were happy things.

Happy things made me sad because they won’t happen there again. Not in that house. Not as a family. Not as my complete family. I have lost that because I was too stubborn to admit what was wrong with me. Regardless of what transpired, my initial inaction caused the chain reactions leading to today. Even though I know exactly how far I have come in the last year, how much better I have gotten, knowing what I have lost is taking a toll on me today. I know full well that I will make many happy new memories with my boys. 

Someday those memories will be made in a new house. Someday maybe those new happy memories might even be made with a future significant other. But for the moment it is hard to see past now. Past today. Past the sadness and knowledge of where and how I cannot make new memories. I honestly thought myself indifferent to my divorce and what was going on. Maybe it was because I was focused on therapy and dealing with my own personal demons. That seems as good of an explanation as any other I can come up with. I just wish that it did not hit me at all. If I could have avoided feeling, I would be much better.

It is twelve am, correction, 12:01 am and I have far to much on my mind to sleep. Everything I have done to distract myself only provide momentary relief before its overwhelmed by thoughts. I try something else and I just get pulled back. It is exhausting to battle myself like this. One would think that exhaustion would lead to sleep. Obviously my mind did not get this memo. Hopefully this goes away soon. Hopefully the house sells soon. Hopefully I can move on. Hope. Lots of hope here. I would prefer something logical. Some facts. Something for sure. But all I have is guesses and unknowns. Having only that is making me extremely uncomfortable and I can feel my anxiety growing.