Migraine and forms of currency…

Had REALLY crappy sleep last night after some REALLY good sex.  Thanks bRaving Bipolar!  Because of the really crappy sleep, and my rock hard pillow, I’ve had a migraine all day and feel as if I’m sick.  Despite that, our family went out to a local mall and the kids played at the kid’s area while we watched.  After that we had lunch in the food court, came home, I took our oldest two to get a new pillow for me.  I’m a side sleeper, so I need a firm pillow, but it needs to have some cushion.  After returning home, had an interesting discussion with my wife.

She feels that sometimes when I say she can do things, like get her nails done or go out by herself to eat, and ask her for sex later, that I’m asking for “payment” for those things.  In reality, she’s partially right.  I never attach sex to anything that involves her leaving the house; for example when I can see that she’s stressed I will send her out for lunch/dinner/whatever.  The things I do attach sex to are things that I do around the house.  I don’t do them with sex as an expectation.  I do it with a hope that she will notice I’ve put significant effort into something that will make her happy, and hope she’ll reward me with sex.

Some of my issues with sex have gone away; not really an impulse anymore.  It doesn’t consume my thoughts and makes me wonder if it was ever an “addiction”, and instead it was just an extremely high sex drive and coping mechanism.  Either way, it doesn’t cause impairment in my day anymore, and hasn’t for a month or two.

Back to doing things for sex, she can testify that going the extra mile generally isn’t enough for me; the standard I set for myself is to go 10 extra miles.  If I told her when I was doing something hoping she would have sex with me, and when I wanted to go above and beyond just because I wanted to make her happy and by proxy, me, she would probably easily see a pattern.  Even the times I do go the extra distance for sex, it is just a secondary motivation; the things I did still needed to be done, I just do A LOT of them at one time, to a high degree, and organized it in a way that she can continue the next day if she chooses.

I told her I wouldn’t use chores as a currency for sex anymore, I don’t want it to be like that.  We have some marital therapy tomorrow, followed by a date to Buffalo Wild Wings.  New marriage therapist, so we’ll see how that goes.

I miss my war.

Written by a Soldier, but still pretty accurate.  If I’m guilty of having an affair right now, it’s with my love of what I used to do.  No matter how much I love my wife, my kids, my life with them, I will always wish I could go back there and wage my war.  I don’t love war more, I wouldn’t go back to it at the risk of losing my wife and kids; that doesn’t mean I can’t miss it.



I Miss Iraq. I Miss My Gun. I Miss My War.

A year after coming home from a tour in Iraq, a soldier returns home to find out he left something behind.



Photograph by Brian Mockenhaupt

A few months ago, I found a Web site loaded with pictures and videos from Iraq, the sort that usually aren’t seen on the news. I watched insurgent snipers shoot American soldiers and car bombs disintegrate markets, accompanied by tinny music and loud, rhythmic chanting, the soundtrack of the propaganda campaigns. Video cameras focused on empty stretches of road, building anticipation. Humvees rolled into view and the explosions brought mushroom clouds of dirt and smoke and chunks of metal spinning through the air. Other videos and pictures showed insurgents shot dead while planting roadside bombs or killed in firefights and the remains of suicide bombers, people how they’re not meant to be seen, no longer whole. The images sickened me, but their familiarity pulled me in, giving comfort, and I couldn’t stop. I clicked through more frames, hungry for it. This must be what a shot of dope feels like after a long stretch of sobriety. Soothing and nauseating and colored by everything that has come before. My body tingled and my stomach ached, hollow. I stood on weak legs and walked into the kitchen to make dinner. I sliced half an onion before putting the knife down and watching slight tremors run through my hand. The shakiness lingered. I drank a beer. And as I leaned against this kitchen counter, in this house, in America, my life felt very foreign.

I’ve been home from Iraq for more than a year, long enough for my time there to become a memory best forgotten for those who worried every day that I was gone. I could see their relief when I returned. Life could continue, with futures not so uncertain. But in quiet moments, their relief brought me guilt. Maybe they assume I was as overjoyed to be home as they were to have me home. Maybe they assume if I could do it over, I never would have gone. And maybe I wouldn’t have. But I miss Iraq. I miss the war. I miss war. And I have a very hard time understanding why.

I’m glad to be home, to have put away my uniforms, to wake up next to my wife each morning. I worry about my friends who are in Iraq now, and I wish they weren’t. Often I hated being there, when the frustrations and lack of control over my life were complete and mind-bending. I questioned my role in the occupation and whether good could come of it. I wondered if it was worth dying or killing for. The suffering and ugliness I saw disgusted me. But war twists and shifts the landmarks by which we navigate our lives, casting light on darkened areas that for many people remain forever unexplored. And once those darkened spaces are lit, they become part of us. At a party several years ago, long before the Army, I listened to a friend who had served several years in the Marines tell a woman that if she carried a pistol for a day, just tucked in her waistband and out of sight, she would feel different. She would see the world differently, for better or worse. Guns empower. She disagreed and he shrugged. No use arguing the point; he was just offering a little piece of truth. He was right, of course. And that’s just the beginning.

I’ve spent hours taking in the world through a rifle scope, watching life unfold. Women hanging laundry on a rooftop. Men haggling over a hindquarter of lamb in the market. Children walking to school. I’ve watched this and hoped that someday I would see that my presence had made their lives better, a redemption of sorts. But I also peered through the scope waiting for someone to do something wrong, so I could shoot him. When you pick up a weapon with the intent of killing, you step onto a very strange and serious playing field. Every morning someone wakes wanting to kill you. When you walk down the street, they are waiting, and you want to kill them, too. That’s not bloodthirsty; that’s just the trade you’ve learned. And as an American soldier, you have a very impressive toolbox. You can fire your rifle or lob a grenade, and if that’s not enough, call in the tanks, or helicopters, or jets. The insurgents have their skill sets, too, turning mornings at the market into chaos, crowds into scattered flesh, Humvees into charred scrap. You’re all part of the terrible magic show, both powerful and helpless.

That men are drawn to war is no surprise. How old are boys before they turn a finger and thumb into a pistol? Long before they love girls, they love war, at least everything they imagine war to be: guns and explosions and manliness and courage. When my neighbors and I played war as kids, there was no fear or sorrow or cowardice. Death was temporary, usually as fast as you could count to sixty and jump back into the game. We didn’t know yet about the darkness. And young men are just slightly older versions of those boys, still loving the unknown, perhaps pumped up on dreams of duty and heroism and the intoxicating power of weapons. In time, war dispels many such notions, and more than a few men find that being freed from society’s professed revulsion to killing is really no freedom at all, but a lonely burden. Yet even at its lowest points, war is like nothing else. Our culture craves experience, and that is war’s strong suit. War peels back the skin, and you live with a layer of nerves exposed, overdosing on your surroundings, when everything seems all wrong and just right, in a way that makes perfect sense. And then you almost die but don’t, and are born again, stoned on life and mocking death. The explosions and gunfire fry your nerves, but you want to hear them all the same. Something’s going down.

For those who know, this is the open secret: War is exciting. Sometimes I was in awe of this, and sometimes I felt low and mean for loving it, but I loved it still. Even in its quiet moments, war is brighter, louder, brasher, more fun, more tragic, more wasteful. More. More of everything. And even then I knew I would someday miss it, this life so strange. Today the war has distilled to moments and feelings, and somewhere in these memories is the reason for the wistfulness.

On one mission we slip away from our trucks and into the night. I lead the patrol through the darkness, along canals and fields and into the town, down narrow, hard-packed dirt streets. Everyone has gone to bed, or is at least inside. We peer through gates and over walls into courtyards and into homes. In a few rooms TVs flicker. A woman washes dishes in a tub. Dogs bark several streets away. No one knows we are in the street, creeping. We stop at intersections, peek around corners, training guns on parked cars, balconies, and storefronts. All empty. We move on. From a small shop up ahead, we hear men’s voices and laughter. Maybe they used to sit outside at night, but now they are indoors, where it’s safe. Safer. The sheet-metal door opens and a man steps out, cigarette and lighter in hand. He still wears a smile, takes in the cool night air, and then nearly falls backward through the doorway in a panic. I’m a few feet from him now and his eyes are wide. I mutter a greeting and we walk on, back into the darkness.

Another night we’re lost in a dust storm. I’m in the passenger seat, trying to guide my driver and the three trucks behind us through this brown maelstrom. The headlights show nothing but swirling dirt. We’ve driven these roads for months, we know them well, but we see nothing. So we drive slow, trying to stay out of canals and people’s kitchens. We curse and we laugh. This is bizarre but a great deal of fun.

Another night my platoon sergeant’s truck is swallowed in flames, a terrible, beautiful, boiling bloom of red and orange and yellow, lighting the darkness for a moment. Somehow we don’t die, one more time.

Another night, there’s McCarthy bitching, the cherry of his cigarette bobbing in the dark, bitching that he won’t be on the assault team, that he’s stuck as a turret gunner for the night. We’d been out since early that morning, came back for dinner, and are preparing to raid a weapons dealer. Our first real raid. I heave my body armor onto my shoulders, settling its too-familiar weight. Then the helmet and first-aid kit and maps and radio and ammunition and rifle and all the rest. Now I look like everyone else, an arm of this strange and destructive organism, covered in armor and guns. We crowd around a satellite map spread across a Humvee hood and trace our route. Wells, my squad leader, rehearses our movements. Get in quick. Watch the danger zones. If he has a gun, kill him. I look around the group, at these faces I know so well, and feel the collective strength, this ridiculous power. The camaraderie of men in arms plays a part, for sure. The shared misery and euphoria and threat of death. But there is something more: the surrender of self, voluntary or not, to the machine. Do I believe in the war? Not important. Put that away and live in the moment, where little is knowable and even less is controllable, when my world narrows to one street, one house, one room, one door.

We pack into the trucks after midnight, and the convoy snakes out of camp and speeds toward the target house. I sit in a backseat and the fear settles in, a sharp burning in my stomach, same as the knot from hard liquor gulped too fast. I think about the knot. I’ll be the first through the door. What if he starts shooting, hits me right in the face before I’m even through the doorway? What if there’s two, or three? What if he pitches a grenade at us? And I think about it more and run through the scenarios, planning my movements, imagining myself clearing through the rooms, firing two rounds into the chest, and the knot fades.

The trucks drop us off several blocks from the target house and we slip into the night. As always, the dogs bark. We gather against the high wall outside the house and call in the trucks to block the streets. The action will pass in a flash. But here, before the chaos starts, when we’re stacked against the wall, my friends’ bodies pressed against me, hearing their quick breaths and my own, there’s a moment to appreciate the gravity, the absurdity, the novelty, the joy of the moment. Is this real? Hearts beat strong. Hands grip tight on weapons. Reassurance. The rest of the world falls away. Who knows what’s on the other side?

One, two, three, go. We push past the gate and across the courtyard and toward the house, barrels locked on the windows and roof. Wells runs up with the battering ram, a short, heavy pipe with handles, and launches it toward the massive wood door. The lock explodes, the splintered door flies open, and we rush through, just the way we’ve practiced hundreds of times. No one shoots me in the face. No grenades roll to my feet. I kick open doors. We scan darkened bedrooms with the flashlights on our rifles and move on to the next and the next.

He’s gone, of course. We ransack his house, dumping drawers, flipping mattresses, punching holes in the ceiling. We find rifles and grenades and hundreds of pounds of gunpowder. And then, near dawn, we lie down on the thick carpets in his living room and sleep, exhausted and untroubled.

Many, many raids followed. We often raided houses late at night, so people awakened to soldiers bursting through their bedroom doors. Women and children wailed, terrified. Taking this in, I imagined what it would feel like if soldiers kicked down my door at midnight, if I could do nothing to protect my family. I would hate those soldiers. Yet I still reveled in the raids, their intensity and uncertainty. The emotions collided, without resolution.

My wife moved to Iraq partway through my second deployment to live in the north and train Iraqi journalists. She spent her evenings at restaurants and tea shops with her Iraqi friends. We spoke by cell phone, when the spotty network allowed, and she told me about this life I couldn’t imagine, celebrating holidays with her colleagues and being invited into their homes. I didn’t have any Iraqi friends, save for our few translators, and I’d rarely been invited into anyone’s home. I told her of my life, the tedious days and frightful seconds, and she worried that in all of this I would lose my thoughtfulness and might stop questioning and just accept. But she didn’t judge the work that I did, and I didn’t tell her that I sometimes enjoyed it, that for stretches of time I didn’t think about the greater implications, that it sometimes seemed like a game. I didn’t tell her that death felt ever present and far away, and that either way, it didn’t really seem to matter.

We both came back from Iraq, luckier than many. Two of my wife’s students have been killed, among the scores of journalists to die in Iraq, and guys I served with are still dying, too. One came home from the war and shot himself on Thanksgiving. Another was blown up on Christmas in Baghdad.

Thinking of them, I felt disgusted with myself for missing the war and wondered if I was alone in this.

I don’t think I am.

After watching the Internet videos, I called some of my friends who are out of the Army now, and they miss the war, too. Wells very nearly died in Iraq. A sniper shot him in the head, surgeons cut out half of his skull—a story told in this magazine last April—and he spent months in therapy, working back to his old self. Now he misses the high. “I don’t want to sound like a psychopath, but you’re like a god over there,” he says. “It might not be the best kind of adrenaline for you, but it’s a rush.” Before Iraq, he didn’t care for horror movies, and now he’s drawn to them. He watches them for the little thrill, the rush of being startled, if just for a moment.


McCarthy misses the war just the same. He saved Wells’s life, pressing a bandage over the hole in his head. Now he’s delivering construction materials to big hotel projects along the beach in South Carolina, waiting for a police department to process his application. “The monotony is killing me,” he told me, en route to deliver some rebar. “I want to go on a raid. I want something to blow up. I want something to change today.” He wants the unknown. “Anything can happen, and it does happen. And all of the sudden your world is shattered, and everything has changed. It’s living dangerously. You’re living on the edge. And you’re the baddest motherfucker around.”

Mortal danger heightens the senses. That is simple animal instinct. We’re more aware of how our world smells and sounds and tastes. This distorts and enriches experiences. Now I can have everything, but it’s not as good as when I could have none of it. McCarthy and I stood on a rooftop one afternoon in Iraq running through a long list of the food we wanted. We made it to homemade pizza and icy beer when someone loosed a long burst of gunfire that cracked over our heads. We ran to the other side of the rooftop, but the gunman had disappeared down a long alleyway. Today my memory of that pizza and beer is stronger than if McCarthy and I had sat down together with the real thing before us.

And today we even speak with affection of wrestling a dead man into a body bag, because that was then. The bullet had laid his thigh wide open, shattered the femur, and shredded the artery, so he’d bled out fast, pumping much of his blood onto the sidewalk. We unfolded and unzipped the nylon sack and laid it alongside him. And then we stared for a moment, none of us ready to close that distance. I grabbed his forearm and dropped it, maybe instinct, maybe revulsion. He hovered so near this world, having just passed over, that he seemed to be sucking life from me, pulling himself back or taking me with him. He peeked at us through a half-opened eye. I stared down on him, his massive dead body, and again wrapped a hand around his wrist, thick and warm. The man was huge, taller than six feet and close to 250 pounds. We strained with the awkward weight, rolled him into the bag, and zipped him out of sight. My platoon sergeant gave two neighborhood kids five dollars to wash away the congealing puddle of blood. But the red handprint stayed on the wall, where the man had tried to brace himself before he fell. I think about him sometimes, splayed out on the sidewalk, and I think of how lucky I was never to have put a friend in one of those bags. Or be put in one myself.

But the memories, good and bad, are only part of the reason war holds its grip long after soldiers have come home. The war was urgent and intense and the biggest story going, always on the news stations and magazine covers. At home, though, relearning everyday life, the sense of mission can be hard to find. And this is not just about dim prospects and low-paying jobs in small towns. Leaving the war behind can be a letdown, regardless of opportunity or education or the luxuries waiting at home. People I’d never met sent me boxes of cookies and candy throughout my tours. When I left for two weeks of leave, I was cheered at airports and hugged by strangers. At dinner with my family one night, a man from the next table bought me a $400 bottle of wine. I was never quite comfortable with any of this, but they were heady moments nonetheless. <p. i=”” wouldn’t=”” want=”” to=”” go=”” back,=”” but=”” often=”” wish=”” were=”” there,=”” light-headed=”” in=”” the=”” 120=”” degree=”” heat=”” or=”” shivering=”” an=”” ambush=”” position,=”” tired=”” and=”” miserable,=”” studying=”” a=”” world=”” painted=”” green-and-black=”” palette=”” of=”” night=”” vision.=”” at=”” times=”” now=”” feel=”” i’m=”” moving=”” fog,=”” my=”” senses=”” covered=”” with=”” scar=”” tissue=”” grown=”” over=”” those=”” nerves=”” made=”” raw.=”” sometimes,=”” sometimes=”” think=”” war=”” think:=”” home.=”” this=”” feels,=”” just=”” for=”” moment,=”” bit=”” like=”” broken=”” heart,=”” sharp=”” stab=”” life=”” gone=”” by.=”” longing,=”” wistful.=”” try=”” picture=”” myself=”” iraq,=”” what=”” was=”” then,=”” can’t.=”” yearning=”” vague=”” emptiness.=”” <p=””>For my friends who are going back to Iraq or are there already, there is little enthusiasm. Any fondness for war is tainted by the practicalities of operating and surviving in combat. Wells and McCarthy and I can speak of the war with nostalgia because we belong to a different world now. And yet there is little to say, because we are scattered, far from those who understand.

When I came home, people often asked me about Iraq, and mostly I told them it wasn’t so bad. The first few times, my wife asked me why I had been so blithe. Why didn’t I tell them what Iraq was really like? I didn’t know how to explain myself to them. The war really wasn’t so bad. Yes, there were bombs and shootings and nervous times, but that was just the job. In fact, going to war is rather easy. You react to situations around you and try not to die. There are no electric bills or car payments or chores around the house. Just go to work, come home alive, and do it again tomorrow. McCarthy calls it pure and serene. Indeed. Life at home can be much more trying. But I didn’t imagine the people asking would understand that. I didn’t care much if they did, and often it seemed they just wanted a war story, a bit of grit and gore. If they really want to know, they can always find out for themselves. But they don’t, they just want a taste of the thrill. We all do. We covet life outside our bubble. That’s why we love tragedy, why we love hearing about war and death on the television, drawn to it in spite of ourselves. We gawk at accident scenes and watch people humiliate themselves on reality shows and can’t wait to replay the events for friends, as though in retelling the story we make it our own, if just for a moment.

We live easy third-person lives but want a bit of the darkness. War fascinates because we live so far from its realities. Maybe we’d feel differently about watching bombs blow up on TV if we saw them up close, if we knew how explosions rip the air, throttle your brain, and make your ears ring, if we knew the strain of wondering whether the car next to you at a traffic light would explode or a bomb would land on your house as you sleep. I don’t expect Iraqi soldiers would ever miss war. I have that luxury. I came home to peace, to a country that hasn’t seen war within its borders for nearly 150 years. Yes, some boys come home dead. But we live here without the other terrors and tragedies of war—cities flattened and riven with chaos and fear, neighbors killing one another, a people made forever weary by the violence.

And so I miss it.

Every day in Iraq, if you have a job that takes you outside the wire, you stop just before the gate and make your final preparation for war. You pull out a magazine stacked with thirty rounds of ammunition, weighing just over a pound. You slide it into the magazine well of your rifle and smack it with the heel of your hand, driving it up. You pull the rifle’s charging handle, draw the bolt back, and release. The bolt slides forward with a metallic snap, catching the top round and shoving it into the barrel. Chak-chuk. If I hear that a half century from now, I will know it in an instant. Unmistakable, and pregnant with possibility. On top of a diving board, as the grade-school-science explanation goes, you are potential energy. On the way down, you are kinetic energy. So I leave the gate and step off the diving board, my energy transformed.

My Hard questions revisited, expanded

My original post on hard questions is here.

I chose to revisit this topic not because my wife did anything to make me upset or not trust her, but because, during my recent trip, I had a LOT of time to sit and think. The answers are always painful to hear, and they sting every time I play the mind-movie of my interviewing her in my head. Some,people may not want ot need to hear to the levelof detail I required her to tell me. It may actually set some people back and make the reality much worse. So, why did I ask that level of detail and what did I ask?

I needed to hear everything. There is an uncountable list of reasons why, but I will recall as many of them as my fingers can type. In my gut, I knew something wasn’t right, and I had suspicions from the very beginning about AP1. When I found some evidence, I didn’t wait to find more, I just jumped the gun. She was so confident in her explanation, and I WANTED to believe her, so I did. Thus deepening the negative feelings I had about myself, those that were already present because she said that the 20 pounds I had gained made her not turned on by me, and then finding out 3 nights later that she was ok joining another couple for a threesome. Bit by bit it felt like I was losing what I imagined my life and marriage was. Soon after I discovered her attempting to have one-night stands by way of an online dating site. I thoughtwe were doing better, but I coudn’t feel the connection from her, even though she was doing and trying to act like she should. Then in April I accidentally discovered the affairs. I say accidentally because she had written some details down in her therapy ntebook so that she could confess to her therapist what she was doing, and eventually me.Thankfully, she was at work when I found out. She wasn’t at work when I found out about the online profile, she was in the middle of getting the kids to bed. She had literally just gone upstairs when I grabbed her phone, located her hidden email account, and followed the trail. I called up to her and let her know that I knew about the hidden email account, and her hidden online profile, and we would talk when she came back down.  Putting the kids to bed usually takes 3 minutes or less; she didn’t come down for 20.  I don’t blame her, I was fuming, I was animated.  I yelled, and lied to the kids, telling them that mommy and daddy were happy and just playing a game.  Later that night, I calmed down, she went on a late-night Taco Bell run for me, and then we had sex; of all things we had sex within hours of me finding out about her attempts to have one-night stands.

So, back to the point.  After spending so much time thinking that everything was wrong because there were things wrong with me, I just lost complete trust in myself.  I felt what was going on around me, I just chose to ignore it and place my trust in my wife.  After all, she has my best interests in mind, and if I can’t trust anyone else I should be able to trust her, right?  That is why I asked for the most minute details.  I lived in a HUGE vacuum of truth and honesty for months, the whole time thinking I was doing something wrong, or that things about me (like my weight or unwillingness to let her have sex with another woman AND her husband at the same time!) were wrong.  What did the details actually do for me?

They gave me a sense of control, of reality.  What I was torturing myself with in my head was FAR worse than reality, although the reality still stung very badly.  I had her run me through her first sexual encounter with each affair partner.  No stone left un-turned.  What did I ask?

I asked her to give me every action she, the AP, or they together, did from the time she decided that she was going to go to their home and have sex, until she left.  As she began recounting the events, she was very uncomfortable about giving details.  Her initial recollection involved her going over there, kissing on the couch, going down on him, he going down on her, him finishing and her leaving.  Not enough detail for me.  I wanted to know what pushed her over the line, made her want to go over to AP1’s house.  I asked her what she was thinking and what she was feeling when she decided; she was invited by text message after she worked out with him.  I asked what the drive over there was like, how was traffic, how much attention was she paying to driving and what she was thinking, how her body felt (shaky, calm) and all of those things again after she pulled in his driveway.  Following that, I wanted to know about the short amount of kissing; was he good at it, was it enjoyable, how did it make you feel, what did it make you think about.  What made her decide to go down on him, was he already hard, what his size and shape were, were his pants still on, did he wear underwear, how was he positioned, how were you positioned.  Then I asked about him going down on her, did he ask her if he could, was he good at it, how was she positioned, how was he positioned, was it hard, soft or mixture, was it enjoyable, how did it make her feel, what did it make her think about, did she ever feel like any of it was wrong.  Then I asked her for details about the sex: how was she positioned, how was he positioned, was he in it for him or did he want her to get some enjoyment, did he thrust harder or softer, did he go fast or slow, did he make her wet, who put the condom on, what brand was it, did he cum in her, how long did it take, were her eyes open/did she look into his eyes during all of this, how did it make her feel, what did it make her think.  I asked about lighting in the room, what time of day it was, what the house smelled like, if the air was easy to breathe or felt thick, was she sweating, what was the temperature like, what did the texture of the couch cushions feel like, what did the carpet feel like?  What did the drive home feel like, how did she feel when she saw me for the first time after having the affair.  I asked if it ever occurred that the next day was our 6 year wedding anniversary.

I asked the same questions about the second AP, and I asked more questions about subsequent encounters with them.  She actually had sex with him twice in the restaurant, and gave him oral sex separately, once in the restaurant.  I asked if she loved them, if either of them loved her, what did she tell them about me to justify her actions to them (she said she couldn’t remember everything she told them on this subject), if I ever came into her thoughts during her romps with them.

This is actually a very difficult thing to write, I can hear all of her answers in my head, and I can feel everything I felt when I heard them then, now, as I type this.  Right now, we’re sitting at just over 4 months from when I found out.  Back to how it made me feel in control.

It made me feel like I could trust myself again, because I could feel what was going on, I knew I wasn’t crazy, my mind just hadn’t caught up to my body yet on what the truth really was.  It softened the blow of what I imagined in my head had actually happened, and it helped me speed up the process as far as internalizing and torturing myself.  Remember, I was still under the feeling that I was all sorts of fucked up, physically and mentally, and that all of this was my fault-even if she did say that it wasn’t me.

When I talked, I felt like I was in a position of being informed.  There was an added benefit of forcing her to admit to herself everything that she had done and how she felt when she was doing.

There are still some issues that will heal over time.  I recently drafted an agreement for us about how to behave, how to treat each other, and how to communicate.  She wasn’t too happy about it, not at all.  Each item in the agreement applied to both of us equally, and nothing specifically targeted her because of her actions.  I did it at my therapist’s recommendation, reinforced by a few other people who have done things along the same lines.  Almost all of my issues right now stem from a feeling of having no control over my things that happen in my life.  This agreement was my attempt to regain some control and make myself feel safe again, at least at home. I still haven’t really talked to my wife about putting it up here, we may just leave that little as a private thing between us.

Interesting to note, that she had the same kind of behavior with the boyfriend she had for years, just before she left him, and later we got back together and got married.  She was open about what she had done behind her boyfriend’s back.  I wondered before we got married if she would ever do that to me; she had already proven that she could do it to someone.  I knew she loved me, I could feel her love.  Every now and then when I couldn’t, after we were married, I wondered if she was behaving the same way and I just didn’t know it.  It’s hard knowing what happened, it’s almost just as hard knowing that it was because she was in a manic episode; I can hold her responsible, but it isn’t fully her fault.  It is difficult to be mad at her under those circumstances.  I love her so much, I know she loves me.  She’s the best thing that ever happened to me.  We have times now where one or both of us isn’t connected to the other, and that kind of thing is going to happen after having this kind of traumatic stress placed on the marriage.  For 4 months though, I think we’re doing alright.  I can still say that, even though she hurt me more than anything or anyone ever has, she is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I am happy to be married to her.  She is a wonderful person, she just did some bad things.  She’s getting better, I’m getting better, we’re getting better.

Adding the color


Using layers, what I will eventually end up with is a brand new picture in color. This is what i came up with while waiting for Delta to fix the 2nd aircraft I had to board and debark from because of mechanical failure, at the same airport.

“I am the Master of my fate; I am the Captain of my soul.”

My new toy


This is a non-dirty tag cloud post! Traded an xd45c to a dude for his Sign Sauerkraut P226. This pistol currently has a 22LR caliber slide, barrel and magazine; I can get a slide, barrel and magazine(s) in 9mm, 40S&W or 357 SIG. Definitely going after 9mm, although 357 SIG sounds enticing. I had a P220 (45 caliber, can’t be a smaller caliber in that frame) and a 22 slide. I miss the feel of a Sign 22X series in my hand. SEALs are generally issued a P226 variant with a mil-std rail as opposed to the usual rail.

The Middle East: Instability, Violence and the War against the West Part 1


A few things should be common knowledge by now, but to summarize the West’s interaction with Islam and violent extremists who use Islam as a justification to be violent, over the last 10 years:
-Fought the Taliban in Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban government
-Fought the Iraqi Army and overthrew Saddam Hussein
-Drafted and approved legislation that gives the government new and easy ways to collect intelligence within our own territories
-Dealt with high-impact media events, such as waterboarding, detainee and prison torture, Marines urinating on dead Taliban, new focus on suicide and sexual-related crimes within the U.S. military
-Developed, abandoned, and revised doctrine to encompass the spectrum of warfare to,include the new missions of counterinsurgency and stability operations.

Fast forward to late 2010: the Arab Spring erupts in the Middle East.  Governments in a few countries have been overthrown by their own people; Egypt was the most widely documented.  The United States and NATO allies supported the Libyan rebels with air strikes.  Conflict rages across Syria, with the Syrian government accused of murdering citizens and families within towns that do not support the current government.

September 2012: massive protests begin against the West, mainly against America.  At the American Embassy in Libya, the American Ambassador and 3 American staff members were killed presumably by protesters.

What caused this “death to America” wave of violence?  Not as clear cut as one would think.  There is a video in circulation right now that mocks the Muslim prophet Mohammed.  Islamic texts and doctrine forbid the depiction of the prophet in any way.  All around the world, Muslims rioted when a Dutch journalist published a cartoon of the prophet.  Back to the video: is that really the cause of violence in the Middle East?  Highly doubtful; consider it a motivating factor, but not what really drives the movement.

The Arab revival of the early 1900’s occurred, starting in Egypt, when the government started to become secular.  The new “freedom” angered many hardline conservatives within Islam, and so the Muslim Brotherhood was born.  Not a whole lot happened between the early 1900’s and the 1970’s, other than World Wars, one of which resulted in the partitioning of some land between Africa and Eurasia called “Israel”.  This angered the Muslim world, because id displaced thousands of Palestinians.

Moving on to the 1970’s, followers of Ayatollah Khomeini took control of Iran and started a religiously based government there, ruled by a council.

When we invaded Afghanistan, we “won” the physical war; only one or two countries in the world can compete with the U.S. military in a conventional war.  We lost the information war, horribly.  The violent extremist propaganda machine did not have to do much, the U.S. supplied much of the propaganda: the previously mentioned media disasters.  Also included is the infamous black hole for high-value “terrorist” targets: Guantanamo Bay.  The violent extremist groups event went as far as murdering their own people and blaming it on the U.S. military or coalition partners.

At least some of the current embassy sieges in the Middle East were coordinated, they just happened to occur on the day that Islamic violent extremists proved to the world that the United States is not the invincible giant that it appears to be; it can be made to bleed.  When the U.S. was drawn into the Middle East the first time, it liberated a country from an invading country (Gulf War).  The second time we entered, we were committing to staying, in force and in control, for at least a few years.  This created a situation described by David Kilcullen in his book The Accidental Guerrilla.  We created as many enemies just by being there, as we already had.  Not to mention that we armed the Taliban when they were fighting the Soviets during the Cold War.  Many of the “insurgents” I encountered in the Fallujah area, 2006, were not international terrorists; they were local and were just trying to defend their home area from something they viewed, or were told, as evil (U.S. forces).  Our doctrine and training had not quite caught up yet and we were trying to fight an unconventional war using a conventional military with conventional tactics.  For example: we kill an insurgent who lays IEDs.  His death at our hand angers everybody he knows, and everybody that they know.  Why?  Because most of them are unaware that he was even placing IED’s.  In the local population’s eyes, we ARE evil.  We just murdered a man from their town/village/Mosque.  This sometimes caused rioting of the people of the local area.  The actual conduct of their protests and possibly subsequent riots was an interesting thing to observe.

The actual protests themselves are not that dissimilar to protests that occur everywhere else: they erect banners supporting the protest message, they shout, chant, sing, dance, and in general disrupt the lives of anyone not out with them.  When we consider the psychology of one person, a person is generally not prone to get violent over something that angers them.  Put all of those people in a crowd and the possibility that violence will occur raises.  The crowd needs to maintain the energy that brought them together in the first place in order for this to happen.  Enter the Professional Agitators.  They are present only to influence the energy level of the crowd.  They incite the violence.  In a protest in Fallujah, they may be a random person who shows up to the protest when it reaches a U.S. location, and fires a single pistol shot into the air.  That REALLY starts some stuff, because people start running in every direction and it appears as if the U.S. fired first, at the crowd.

So the protests show up to the embassies, go over the walls and burn the national standard.  The Ambassador and some staff members were killed, massive damage to all of the embassies in the area.  What impact does this have on Americans living at home?

You are more likely to feel the impact of this current wave of violence in your head and your wallet.  Many people fear being in large cities, around federal buildings, or symbols of America’s greatness because they are all major symbolic, or functional targets.  Hitting a federal building with a large bomb is likely to cause significant disruption to federal function and local emergency response units.  Now that information technology has advanced, it is easier than ever to deliver pictures and video at near-real time to anybody with internet access all over the world.

Economically, the instability will hit the economy and influence oil prices.  After all, a fifth of the world’s oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz, and tensions between Israel and Iran are approaching a boiling point over Iran’s alleged nuclear arms program.  Additionally, the resources associated with evacuating an Embassy are very, very large.

Past 2 will be posted tomorrow, and focus in on some of the more specific grievances Islam has against the West, and how terrorism fits into the violent extremist’s goals.

“I am the Master of my fate; I am the Captain of my soul.”

San Diego…discovered by the Germans, it means “A Whale’s Vagina”

That’s what Ron Burgundy said and I’m sticking to it. I’m also headed there next week for about 4 days by myself. Should give me some time to recharge my batteries a little, clear my head and focus on myself. I should be almost completely separated from any and everything stressing me out or making me anxious right now.
bRaving Bipoilar: how’s that for a dirty tag cloud? Come at me, bro!