Thursday, March 13, 2014
Young Men and War Second Part: Al Conetto's Vietnam
"In October my company again found the enemy. As in the past we deployed and assaulted. As in the past the line of enemy outposts collapsed and withdrew leaving their dead behind. Unlike the past, when we advanced we did not find a supply cache or an abandoned camp, instead we encountered a dug in enemy force. Pausing just long enough to bring our mortars and artillery to bear, and to find the flanks of the position, we continued our fire and maneuver to close with and kill or capture the enemy. For the first time in my experience the enemy had parity in machine guns. The attacking platoons were slowed and finally stopped.
"The balance of the Battalion was not engaged and the Battalion Commander led them to the fight. The first to arrive was the Recon Platoon with four machine guns. With this added fire power we gained fire superiority and I decided to continue the attack. This time the two platoons in contact and the Recon Platoon provided a base of fire while the reserve rifle platoon maneuvered to the flank of the enemy position. En route, the maneuver platoon ran into the nose of an enemy counter attack. They deployed, fought through the enemy formation, and gained a position on the flank of their objective (the small hill occupied by the enemy). My FO shifted the indirect fires and we assaulted. In minutes we were on the objective with one platoon. The enemy withdrew, barely escaping the arrival of Company B. As the rest of the Battalion neared, Companies A and B consolidated the objective, and A 1/503 reorganized and redistributed ammunition. The balance of the day was spent replacing ammunition and other supplies and evacuating our dead and wounded. Even though we had piled on by massing the Battalion, the new enemy tactic to stand and fight and even counter attack, went unrecognized. The next day we continued our routine search and destroy mission.
"In November we found the enemy again and once more experienced his willingness to stand and fight."
"There is little doubt that the enemy knew of our presence in War Zone D because it's hard to miss a helicopter assault. But, I find no evidence that he knew exactly where we were or that he suspected we had located his command post. For example, Lt Ben Waller, Second Platoon, C/1-503, discovered and cleared a deserted enemy position (a primitive VC Village). Forty yards away his platoon was engaged first by command detonated mines and later by automatic weapons fire. My assessment is that Waller had walked in on the enemy regimental headquarters and that he was taken under fire by support troops providing local security for that element. Not far away, and at almost the same time, Lt Russ, First Platoon, C/1-503, engaged a small group of enemy soldiers that were talking as they moved along a jungle trail. While they were quick to return fire, they were totally surprised at the presence of Russ' platoon and seemingly unconcerned by the fighting going on near them. Were they also support troops that thought they were so near the headquarters that they were safe? I think so. I think the rest of the regiment was up and about trying to find us. Perhaps they thought we would go join the Australians and that they could intercept and ambush us along the way.
"On hill 65 there was no clever enemy trap and no ambush, simply an enemy force that decided (or was ordered) to reassemble and fight. When the fighting started I doubt that any enemy, with the exception of headquarters troops, was in a fighting position. If the enemy did have a preconceived plan to conduct some sort of mobile defense on hill 65 (there was no indication of a static defense) it was thwarted by the arrival of B Company. I think that when they encountered C Company the enemy threw up some covering fire and tried to get back to their fox holes and bunkers. Some made it, a large number did not. For the second time in about a month the timely arrival of Captain Bittrich and his always ready B Company had turned the tide. B Company had to fight hard. After all, they were outnumbered 4 or 5 to one, but fight they did. Most of the enemy force was kept in the jungle and away from their prepared positions.
"The larger force made more than one attempt to overwhelm the two paratrooper companies on hill 65 but were repulsed. Moving away to regroup and to plan their next move, the now mobile enemy force was hit from the rear by A/1-503. By now the enemy regiment was a spent force. My vision is that tactical communications (from regiment to battalion and from battalion to company) failed and the subordinate enemy commanders, reverting to their last sure tactic, chose to leave the battlefield to the paratroopers of the 1/503.
"The next test of the enemy's will to stand and fight was in the Ia Drang. This time the Americans had the ability to mass a superior force but failed to do so. By not recognizing this new ability to bring the enemy to decisive battle an opportunity to destroy a Main Force regiment was lost. Over the years there were other missed opportunities to destroy Main Force regiments. Meanwhile, North Vietnamese reinforcements swelled the ranks of the enemy in the South. In the end a weak South Vietnamese Government failed to consolidate hard won victories. As the will of American political leadership failed, the North Vietnamese recaptured unoccupied territory. Eventually they won control of the entire country."
LTG Hal Moore, who co-authored We Were Soldiers Once...And Young with Joe Galloway, commanded the 1/7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the Ia Drang. In his book he also wrote about the American strategy not to pursue the enemy.
"Those of us who commanded American soldiers in the opening days had already undergone one crisis of confidence in the political leadership's commitment to the struggle when President Johnson refused to extend enlistments and sent us off to war sadly under strength and minus many of our best-trained men. Now, in the wake of the Ia Drang, American political determination was tested again, and again found wanting.
"We knew for a fact that the three North Vietnamese regiments that we had fought in the Ia Drang had withdrawn into Cambodia. We wanted to follow them in hot pursuit, on the ground and in the air, but could not do so under the rules of engagement. Washington had just answered one very important question in the minds of Hanoi's leaders.
"General Kinnard [1st Cavalry Division Commanding General during the Ia Drang campaign] says: 'I was always taught as an officer that in a pursuit situation you continue to pursue until you either kill the enemy or he surrenders. I saw the Ia Drang as a definite pursuit situation and I wanted to keep after them. Not to follow them into Cambodia violated every principle of warfare. I was supported in this by both the military and civilian leaders in Saigon. But the decision was made back there, at the White House, that we would not be permitted to pursue into Cambodia. It became perfectly clear to the North Vietnamese that they then had sanctuary; they could come when they were ready to fight and leave when they were ready to quit.'
"General Kinnard adds, 'When General Giap says he learned how to fight Americans and our helicopters at the Ia Drang, that's bullshit! What he learned was that we were not going to be allowed to chase him across a mythical line in the dirt. From that point forward, he was grinning. He can bring us to battle when he wants and where he wants, and where's that? Always within a few miles of the border, where his supply lines were the shortest, where the preponderance of forces is his, where he has scouted the terrain intensely and knows it better than we do."
I left Ho Chi Minh City for Bien Hoa at exactly the same time that Company C made contact in War Zone D some twenty-seven years earlier: 8:00 am. As we drove, I looked at the city before me and searched for reminders of my past. But there were none here, my Saigon was gone. Only Ho Chi Minh City remained.
As we left the city and moved through the countryside, I knew it would be different. This is what I remembered Vietnam to be: rice paddies, water buffalo, villages, thick vegetation, jungle. Now I knew we would find my past, my Vietnam.
As we entered Bien Hoa, however, I could not find any familiar sights. The Bien Hoa I remembered was a small town with a village square. It was not here now. We drove to the air base and walked inside, and nothing was familiar except a couple of old, rotting conex containers left by the American Air Force. In 1965 the air base had been barren, all vegetation had been destroyed in order to give the security excellent fields of fire in case of attack. Now everything was overgrown. We drove completely around the air base searching for Camp Ray, but nothing matched my memories. All my signposts, guides, landmarks, and beacons were gone. Nothing was the same; nothing was familiar. I left Bien Hoa disappointed. For some reason I expected everything to be the same after twenty-seven years. Of course, it was not. But then neither was I.
On January 6, I went to Cu Chi with my guide to see the tunnels that the Viet Cong had built right under the nose of the 25th Infantry Division. They were never discovered by our side after all those years, a real monument to the efforts and dedication of the Viet Cong soldiers. There were more than 250 kilometers of tunnels, first constructed by the Viet Minh against the French in 1948. It took twenty years to complete them. As we neared the complex, the sign out front should have been an indication to me of something peculiar. It was like going to an amusement park in the States.
CU CHI TUNNEL REMAINS
by THE RIVERSIDE, WITH
FRESH AIR, NATURAL,
The sign was only in English. We paid an admission fee of 2000 dong, or about $.17 American each. The first thing we did was sit through a fifteen-minute lecture on the tunnels, their history, construction, layout, size, location of the 25th and ARVN units, and battle sites. Then we went on a tour of various tunnel construction styles including a mess hall, conference room, water storage area, and general's quarters.
But the most interesting episode happened next. At the end of the tour we sat eating fruit when I noticed a stack of shoulder weapons next to some Vietnamese soldiers. I asked my guide to inquire if I might handle the weapons. The soldiers in turn asked me if I wanted to fire them. Hell yes I did!
As we walked to the rifle range they had built away from the tunnel complex I was hit with a flashback. The trail leading to the range was exactly like the hundreds I had walked in my previous two tours: narrow with heavy vegetation on both sides. I was carrying an M-16 when all of a sudden my head began scanning my front and both sides of the trail. I stealthily moved, I scanned, I listened. For a few moments I was back in the 'Nam. It was real. I was there.
As we closed on the range I came back to the present. And for $US1.00 per round I was allowed to fire an M-16 and AK-47.
I fired ten rounds from each rifle. As I did so, it struck me that here I was in Vietnam, with a rifle in my hand and my former enemy was standing only a few feet from me. I could easily just turn the weapon on him. Up to now, this whole tunnel area had a carnival atmosphere: the sign, the admission charge, the tour, and now a firing range. But with this rifle in my hand and my former enemy close by and vulnerable, this was reality! What if I shot him? Would I get a teddy bear? What if I went back and killed them all and stole the weapons and ammunition? Would I win free passes for the season? Or another idea. Since this was a set-up to lure American tourists (why else is everything in English?), how about another range facing this one? The Americans on one side, the Vietnamese on the other! All for $1.00 a round. Or how about B-52s on call? For maybe $25.00 you would have the option to call B-52 strikes in on the other range. Is this what has happened to war? Has it been made into an amusement park for the almighty dollar?
I had changed.
I came home from Vietnam in 1966 and 1968 unable to talk to anyone about my experiences there. No one wanted to hear what I had to say. No one was interested. We were outcasts from society. There were no welcoming committees, no receptions, no pats on the back. America wanted us to just slip into anonymity so we would not remind anyone what happened over there. And so I shut up and became anonymous. But now I had to talk and tell my experiences and fears and doubts. I had changed.
My experiences overseas, plus the snubbing by my own people, caused me to build up a great hatred for the Vietnamese. I wanted nothing to do with them. As more and more of them migrated to Santa Clara County, I stayed away from them. I did not associate with them, I did not eat at their restaurants and I did not want to learn their culture or history. But now I found them warm, friendly, open, hard working; just like all people. They had been at war for more than thirty years straight and had defeated two major Western powers. Yet they harbored no ill feelings toward us or the French. I wondered if a Vietnamese tourist here would experience the same reception as I did. Now I was interested in them and their country. I had changed.
I went back to Vietnam after twenty-three years searching for that young Captain, but he was not there. He had gone home, and now I knew it. I had changed.
I returned from Vietnam in 1992 and continued to search for an organization that represented the 173rd Airborne. I had found the 1st Cav Association, but in three years had not found anything about the 173rd. Finally in March 1993, I talked to Jim Knight at the Center of Military History in Washington, D.C. I had requested information on HUMP from him; as an aside, he asked if I had talked to Mark Ludlow of the Society of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. I nearly jumped through the telephone wires with my excitement.
"The 173rd Society. Hell, I have been looking for them for three years!"
Jim gave me Mark's phone number, and I called him early the next morning. From Mark I obtained COL Walter Daniel's number. On March 16, 1993, at 4:36 pm. I called COL Daniel.
"Sir, this is Al Conetto. Do you remember me?" I wanted to talk to COL Daniel and discuss the war and old comrades. I had changed.
I have found that I miss the war and my time in it. I miss it because for the first and only time in my life I felt I was doing something important, that the decisions I made really mattered. For a very short period of time I held the fate of more than 150 American soldiers in my hands. My decisions determined life and death for them and an unknown number of Vietnamese. I was authorized by my rank and command to take lives and preserve lives. That is power and responsibility. And coupled with the constant fear, the unknown, the excitement, and the intensity of combat, Vietnam and especially the Vietnam War, have been forever etched in my mind. They will always be there. The war was and is the highlight of my life. Each day was an adventure. Each day brought new doubts, new fears and new challenges. Decisions and actions were demanded immediately. Nowhere in civilian life, except maybe the police, does that kind of intense relationship with life exist. My nerve ends were constantly on edge. I touched everything, smelled everything, saw everything with more intensity. I am extremely proud of my service there. I did my duty, as did those who served with me. America has never come to grips with the war, but I finally have. I crossed over many humps there. I passed the test of combat at Hill 65 and earned membership in the 1/503rd. I passed the test of leadership as a company commander and platoon leader. I passed my own personal test of competence as a man. And finally, after the Cu Chi experience I realized I am done with weapons, I am done with war. I am over the hump.
Or so I thought.
I left Vietnam in July 1968. Prior to leaving Cam Ranh Bay and heading back to the States, the NVA treated me to one more mortar attack. When you have only hours left in country a mortar attack can really raise the pucker factor. I thought for sure I was dead. But, fortunately, along with a few hundred other soldiers I made it to the big bird safely, and that big bird made it off the runway. As soon as the wheels left the ground there was a resounding cheer from the passengers. We were out of Vietnam and headed for the land of the Big PX. The World. Home.
When we landed at McChord Air Force Base outside of Tacoma, Washington, I shared a cab with two other vets to Sea-Tac International Airport. It was late but I was able to secure a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles leaving around 9:00pm and arriving at LAX near midnight. The flight was almost empty, and I was sitting in the front of the coach section. I was in uniform. After we had been in the air for awhile I had to go to the bathroom and rather than walk to the rear of the airplane, I started to walk through the first class section and the nearest bathroom. I was met by the stewardess. She looked me up and down with nothing more than a cold look of contempt and told me I could not enter the first class section. I had to go to the rear of the airplane. Welcome home.
I returned to my wife and daughter in California a changed man. The year apart from Kathy had not strengthened our marriage. The opposite was true. While I had been overseas, Kathy had returned to college to pursue her degree. On campus she became involved with the anti-war movement. An Army husband did not fit into her lifestyle, as an anti-war demonstrator did not fit into mine. I spent my first night home on the couch and we separated within months of my return.
Also, I returned to the States with a loss of faith in my government and especially in the myth of John Wayne. I detested politicians who sent young men to fight and die in their stupid wars. And, I detested even more actors such as Wayne that glorified war. He was a 4-F draft dodger as far I was concerned who did not have the right even in a movie to wear the uniform of an American fighting man.
In addition, my already short fuse got shorter. It didn't take much to set me off, and the anger lasted longer. I also had an extreme reaction to startle response. I would almost jump out of my skin at a sudden noise or intrusion. But, I didn't think I was any different than before I went to Vietnam.
In order to try and save my marriage, I requested a change of orders from the Career Course in Ft. Benning to a National Guard Advisor role in southern California. My request was granted and I was assigned as the National Guard advisor to the 1st Battalion, 160th Infantry stationed in Glendale.
After I settled in as an advisor I was given two additional responsibilities as Notification Officer-Next of Kin (NOK) and Survival Assistance Officer (SAO). NOK meant that with an NCO, I would have to inform parents or a wife that their son or her husband had been killed in Vietnam. As depicted in the movies, we read a statement that began, "The President of the United States regrets to inform you...." As SAO I would work with the family to bury the serviceman, assist them in applying for any benefits due the survivors, etc. Neither was a desirable duty.
One particular incident stands out in my memory. My sergeant and I were ordered to inform a wife that her husband, a Captain, had died in combat. We drove to her duplex in our staff car. It was a clear, warm, sunny afternoon in southern California. The street was shaded and quiet, and there didn't seem to be anyone around. We exited the car and walked up the steps together. I rang the door bell, she opened the door, and as soon as she saw us she knew. I tried to read the statement from the President, but she fell apart. She began crying hysterically, "He told me he was in the rear area safe, he told me he was in the rear area." In fact, he was an infantry company commander in the field. She wouldn't let us call anyone, and none of her neighbors were home. I had never felt so useless and helpless. We had to leave her in that hysterical state as our job was to inform her of her husband's death, try to contact someone to be with her, if possible, and then leave. There had been previous reports from widows that officers performing this duty had tried to take advantage of them. That is why there was always two men assigned this extremely unpleasant task.
This incident has stayed with me for all these years and still bothers me today.
After being home for sometime it was obvious to me that most people had no respect for the uniform and what it represented. I, and every other serviceman, was a pariah to society in general. So although it was mandatory to wear my uniform while on duty, off duty I changed as fast as possible. I did not talk about the war; not to my friends, not to my family. I took my war experiences and buried them as deep down into my mind as was possible. I stuffed my feelings so far down in my consciousness that no amount of digging would ever bring them out. Or so I thought. For no apparent reason at the time, however, I began to think of suicide often.
By January 1970, I had decided to leave the Army. I resigned my commission after six years service, and after I had noted my name on the list for promotion to major. My life long dream to be a professional soldier was over. I was 28 years old and I wanted out. I wanted to be as far away as possible from the military and Vietnam as one could possibly be. So I joined the business world.
Kathy and I continued to work on our marriage. We went back and forth a couple of times, bought a house, and struggled to keep our marriage going. I also struggled with the business world. Finally, I accepted a sales position in northern California and moved there without Kathy or Krissy; although we had agreed they would eventually join me. The separation didn't help an already shaky marriage and months later we divorced.
While in northern California, I kept in contact with them. I made frequent trips to southern California to see Krissy and renewed my relationship with Kathy. In January 1972 we began dating again, albeit long distance. By June she had sold our house in southern California, we had bought a house in northern California, she had quit her teaching position and moved north. It was a new beginning for us. I was a salesman and she secured a teaching position in San Jose. Times were good. We settled into our new home, made friends, bought cars and furniture, and behaved as any typical American family. We worked around the house, we ate out, we enjoyed our dual incomes and the pleasures money could bring.
We remarried in December in Las Vegas. Things were really looking up for us. Until April 1974.
Just before her 31st birthday, Kathy had a slight stroke. Due to her age and overall health, the doctors were confident she would experience a full recovery. And she did for six weeks. On June 3, Kathy had a massive stroke; a brain aneurysm. She died in the early afternoon, June 4, 1974. She was 31 years old on April 26.
Kathy's death left Krissy and me shattered. We were now alone and unprepared for the future without her. Krissy's 10th birthday was just six weeks after her mother's death. Life lost its vitality. The loneliness ate at me and Krissy struggled with her fears, loneliness, and need for a mother.
I began to date a few months after Kathy's death and before I was even through with the grieving process. I was lonely and couldn't stand it. I began to search for someone. I desperately sought companionship. I wanted a relationship too much. I wasn't thinking, but reacting. I probably was looking for physical contact as much as a long term relationship, but I didn't know it then.
The search lasted less than six months. I met someone before Thanksgiving. She was tall, beautiful, and looked terrific in tight Levis. I mistook loneliness, physical beauty and sex for love. Without listening to anyone, including Krissy, we married in July 1975. Thirteen months after Kathy's death. She was the ultimate "trophy wife." It was a BIG mistake.
The first few years were okay, but soon it was obvious that the marriage was over. And, by 1978 the flashbacks began. It had been 10 years since my return from 'Nam. Intrusive thoughts and memories, doubts, dreams, and guilt began to overload my mind. Songs, especially White Rabbit, Hang On Sloopy and You Were On My Mind would put me back into the war. Smells, especially of Asian food would also send me back to Vietnam. I began to search for reading material. I was consumed with the necessity to find and read everything I could about the war. But, I still did not talk about it to my friends or family. And the suicidal thoughts continued.
I began to search for any information that would explain what happened to me in Vietnam. I was particularly interested in the name of the battle in November 1965, why it was fought, what was the enemy unit, were they VC or NVA? Anything and everything that would enlighten me.
I became engrossed in the war, wanted to talk to someone about it, but who? Neither my family or friends would understand.
November had been my favorite month: the fall colors, my birthday, Thanksgiving, basketball season, and college football rivalries made it special. But, now I was depressed or angry or generally pissed off in November and I didn't know why.
And as the months passed, my marriage began to come apart. We really had nothing in common, and I began to realize that it took more than good looks to make a good life partner. I'm sure I was not a joy for her to be around, either. As I wrote earlier, there were a couple of good years, but not many. And, Krissy hated her.
But, my insatiable quest for information about Vietnam continued and I found the answer to one question. I discovered that the name of the operation into War Zone D in November 1965 was HUMP. It was a start.
Finally, after an unsuccessful foray into business for myself we split. We had been married eight years, but the marriage had really ended years before that. I left the marriage with nothing, but was just glad to get rid of her. And, I'm sure she felt the same way.
So we divorced and I started from scratch again. But, this time I was alone and wanted to be that way. I was not looking for a relationship. Bachelorhood sounded pretty cool this time around.
Now a new dynamic became part of my life: I began to change jobs often. I had four jobs in six years, and the last one ended in a layoff. All of a sudden, I was 47 years old and unable to find employment. I had been laid off in April and by December was still unemployed. I decided to go back to school, get my Masters in History and become a Community College instructor. A change in professions sounded like a good way to end my unemployment and start anew. A fresh start. Besides, I had been "assured" by a friend of mine in education that there would be plenty of vacancies in my field as California was going to build 22 new community college campuses within the next five years. As he said, "Your timing couldn't be better." Yeah, right.
So, now 48 years old I entered college for the second time. I was determined to show the young studs I could compete with them. The first class I signed up for was the Vietnam Wars, three hours every Monday night. This was my opportunity to find out what happened and why. I jumped into school and its challenges with a vengeance. I loved it: the reading, the research, the class discussions, even the papers. I couldn't get enough of it. And I learned about Vietnam.
In July 1991, I began dating Melody. I had met her years earlier through my friend Larry, but she was always going with some other guy. Unlike my second wife, she was not just another beautiful blonde. Melody was a complete person: a single mom, intelligent, hard working, caring, effervescent, positive and possessing a zest for life. She was quite a difference from my sometime scowling comportment and increasing depression. Melody also wanted to know why I kept my condo so dark. It seems the blinds were always drawn. I really hadn't given it much thought. I don't know, privacy?
I still had suicidal thoughts and still battled the flashbacks and intrusive memories. And, I still believed I DID NOT have a problem.
I made it through the MA program with a 3.5 GPA, and proved to myself I could compete with the younger kids. I graduated in August 1993. Prior to graduation I began searching for those vacancies that should be proliferating the educational system by now. I found instead that California did not build 22 new community college campuses, and being white, straight, and male were not the three most desirable traits for new teachers under affirmative action. The ideal qualifications were black or Hispanic, gay and female. My chances didn't look so good.
I drifted back into sales. This time I became an insurance salesman. Although at the time it did not seem like a significant career move, it would prove to be very important to my personal life.
Melody and I began to have an on-again, off-again relationship. As my jobs and depression rose and fell, so did we.
I changed insurance agencies after a little more than a year and at the new agency met a fellow salesman named Phil. After a few social discussions we discovered we were both Vietnam vets. He had been with the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta. Our conversations became more serious. After awhile Phil confided in me that he was attending PTSD counseling sessions at the local Vet Center in San Jose. I didn't even know there was such a thing. He stated that he had done a project sometime after he returned from Vietnam with words and graphics and wanted me to go down to the Vet Center to see it. I agreed and we met down there one afternoon in the spring of 1994. Phil's counselor insisted on being present when he showed his work. There were pictures showing dead civilians from the war, plus others which were very graphic depictions of death and destruction. The counselor asked me if I had any reaction to the visual scenes in front of me. I replied that I had not. "They're just pictures of dead gooks, big deal." I also expressed anger at REMFs, rear-echelon mother fuckers. Well, she thought it was a big deal and indicated that I should consider joining the Vet Center sessions. I told her, "No way, I have this Vietnam thing under control." She said, "I strongly encourage you to join us. Think about it."
Phil and I went outside into the parking lot and talked about what had just transpired. We talked for an hour and a half. He said I should really consider joining the group sessions, that he had really received a tremendous amount of help from them, and that it couldn't hurt. I was steadfast in my conviction that I didn't need the help, that I had everything under control. I wasn't a fucked up Vietnam Vet. At least, that was what I thought. But finally, I relented. "What the hell, what could it hurt?"
Before the counselor would put me in a group, however, I had to go one-on-one with her. So, I made an appointment to meet with her again in about a week.
I came to her office not knowing what to expect. We sat down and we began talking. Soon she had me recounting the battle of 8-9 November 1965. As I recanted those horrific moments, at least what I could remember, I began to see the red and white after the mortars hit, I saw the green as we moved towards Hill 65, I felt the terror again as we engaged the decidedly superior enemy force. And as I ended my recollections of what happened, she stopped and asked me to look at my body language. I was twisted like a pretzel: I was on the edge of my seat, my arms were wrapped tightly across my body. I was very distraught. In addition, she mentioned that when I discussed the battle I spoke of facts and events, not feelings. She also said that my inability to see and recall what happened and not being able to see Dave's body under the poncho are related. She surmised that I had "observed my own death." I began to believe I might have a problem.
We had a couple of more individual sessions and then she moved me into a group with four other vets. One of her most perceptive observations was that I withdrew into myself and become silent, cold and unemotional when verbally attacked. Similar to how I reacted in 'Nam when I was confronted with a frightening situation. No emotion.
I only spent a few months with these guys before moving to Seattle.
Melody had moved to Washington in September 1993. We were off-again. But, in March we met in Seattle and I decided to sell my condominium and move north to be with her. I had wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest after an assignment to Fort Lewis in 1966-67. With her there it was easy to make the move.
In the Seattle area, I joined a firm that sold long-term care insurance. For once I felt I was selling an insurance program that I believed in. I also hooked up with the local Vet Center and the VA hospital. I made contact with a counselor, Bill, and again joined a group session. Luckily, it was composed of seven combat vets: four infantry grunts, a medic, a helicopter pilot and me. My slow descent into hell had begun years before, but now it began to gather speed. But I didn't realize it.
I completely immersed myself in this group and became one with them. My first session with them was on September 27. We would meet once a week, on Tuesday afternoon for two hours. I looked forward to these sessions with the guys. As I did, my insurance sales began to slow.
And as I drew closer to this group of veterans I began to slowly drift away from Melody. She couldn't understand why I wanted to talk about Vietnam with a bunch of vets. After all, Vietnam was in the past. Her attitude was, "Get over it." Arguments or no communication, would soon become our daily ritual.
The following diary entries describe my slow descent into the hell of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
4 October. One of the grunts was a member of 2/5th Cav, 1st Cav Division. He mentioned his total and complete hatred for officers. I initially took it personally, but later understood it was not directed at me.
11 October. One of the grunts discussed his "bunker" mentality to run away from things; his living in the past or future not the present. Bill stated that Vietnam Vets are control freaks; either in control or out of control (which can be a type of control). We talked about the possible reentry of American troops into the Persian Gulf. One of the grunts said he was drawn to watching the war on television like a "moth to a flame." I mentioned my anger with politicians sending 18 and 19 year olds to fight their wars. There was no threat to the United States, therefore there was no good reason to expend American lives.
We talked about missing the adrenaline rush and I mentioned missing the power: the power of command, the power of destruction, of taking or saving lives.
The power. As a company commander I held the lives of not only my men, but the enemy and friendly villagers in my hands. My decisions could mean life or death to either. I could destroy homes and villages, bring death and destruction to families, cause ruination anywhere. At my disposal were M-16 rifles, M-40 grenade launchers and M-60 machine guns. In addition, I could call in artillery and ARA and request air support or naval gunfire. All that power and responsibility at the age of 25. It was overwhelming and addictive.
18 October. Watched Beyond Vietnam: Lessons Unlearned by Steve Brantley. The film includes presentations he has given to high school students in Maine. There were film clips from movies and news film. We discussed those scenes that moved us, those that brought back memories.
One of the grunts asked me if officers were taught in their training the use of non-human terms such as "gook", "slope", "dink", etc. I told him, "No, but society did."
25 October. Bill's major point for the session: As Vietnam vets with PTSD we are always depressed. On our best days we are suffering from mild depression. "My God, no wonder when Melody asks me if I am happy I think she is nuts. I am depressed and don't even know it."
1 November. Had a major blow out with Melody this morning. The same old stuff: "Your always looking for excuses why you can't do something. 'I can't, I can't.' Or, there is something else you have to do first. Always excuses." Maybe she is right.
At the afternoon's session I felt like a bystander after the encounter with Melody in the morning. Couldn't get into it, I was thinking more about what Melody said about me not contributing, not paying my share, her need to go places, see and do things, etc. The same thing she had brought up before and before. I am depressed. I hate the feeling that I do not like what I am doing for a living, but can see no other alternative. I am beginning to believe that I am too old to be hired for anything I really want to do. Or is that an excuse?
But, the one point that I did pick up from the session this afternoon with Bill was that we have to get in touch with who we were before we went to Vietnam. We have to talk to our younger selves, talk to ourselves before we experienced PTSD. Bill said that the young soldier will talk back to us, if we give him that opportunity. Maybe we can isolate that point just before PTSD set in, maybe fill the holes in my memory. Remember that point just before we went into the military, when we found out we were going to Vietnam, the first contact, going to 'Nam, etc.
3 November. Met with Bill individually. Melody and I had another battle last night. I told Bill about it. He said I was a "classic example" of an officer with PTSD: holding it in, not showing my emotions. He could almost tell me what I was going to say before I did. Bill asked me about my feelings for Mel and if I wanted to continue in the relationship. I said I loved her and wanted to make it work. He told me to go easy with her.
But, later that evening we got into it again. She trivialized my trauma and I exploded. She told me..."to get on with my life, to move forward, to experience new things, to feel and live." I can't with this anchor holding me back. I wonder how long this is going to take? I am not sure how much time I have left.
I am dead inside. I do not feel except for anger, sadness and frustration. I don't laugh anymore, I am not happy, I see no joy in life. Life has become a burden; I am very depressed. Suicidal? Maybe. I know it won't take too much more to put me over the edge.
Mel and I are through. She cannot give me the support or understanding I need to get through this. It will be easier on my own. I have to find a place to live.
Going to these counseling sessions have depressed me more than I realized. Bill has told us we will go down and experience depression and grief before we will be able to heal. I am definitely going down. Not sure how much further I can go.
And as I descend further, my job is also beginning to fail. Every sales failure triggers my depression, and the depression increases my chances of failure. It has become a Catch-22.
4 November. Super depression day. Really down in the dumps. Bought Recovering From the War by Patience Mason. I read almost 1/4th of the book at one sitting trying to understand PTSD and its effects. Afterwards, I walked for more than two hours on the Kirkland waterfront thinking. And, as I thought my depression deepened. Eventually, I began looking for a place to shoot myself. I even found one. I have never been this down. "I need to get up or I will kill myself. There is such a hollowness inside me." I turned around and headed back to my car to retrieve my German luger. But, the 2-mile walk in the cold, fall air helped. I went from complete depression and thoughts of suicide to feeling somewhat normal by the time I got back to my car. "Damn, maybe I can work through this."
5-6 November. Coming out of it slowly. It is tough, but I am starting to feel better. Never realized how depressed I am, have been, and can be. I have to get a handle on this soon or I will be in deep trouble. And, I will lose Mel for sure. She does not need this bullshit in her life. It is tough, but I have to do it for her and myself.
8 November. Vet session. We watched the video Anybody's Son Will Do. This session was much lighter than previous ones. It seemed that some of us found some humor again. Bill picked it up. We even laughed once after a joke.
I talked to Bill afterwards about getting meds to get me through this thing. He agreed to set me up with someone at the VA hospital.
The depression seems to be lifting. I feel much better today, even regained some of my appetite. A nice respite after having that "pit in the stomach" feeling for so long.
Melody and I had another conversation tonight. We are through, but she is fighting it. She has to admit to herself that it is over. She needs to do what she needs to do: ski, boat, explore, see, have a good time, live life. I need to get through PTSD. I need to feel human again.
9 November. Went to the American Legion today to file a claim against the government for service-connected disability. It will probably take a year to be resolved, but it seems that the award of the Combat Infantryman's Badge is almost a certainty for approval. The percentage of disability and the dollar amount are the real questions.
11 November. I took Veterans Day off for the first time ever. I finished Recovering From the War. The author lives with a Vietnam veteran, and for 20+ years has lived with his PTSD. You could say she's been there, done that.
Mel and I pretty much ended it last night. Had another long talk. She will not admit that she does NOT know everything about PTSD. She thinks I should listen to her and not Bill: I should just get on with my life, put away the PTSD. I wish it was so easy. God damn, she is hard headed and will not even acknowledge that there might be more to it than she realizes. Anyway, she and the kids are going to Vancouver tomorrow and Sunday and I will stay home and look for a place to live.
I continued down this road in my slow descent. My job was going nowhere, I wasn't selling anything, I wasn't calling on anyone. My relationship with Melody was ending. I was feeling more and more like a failure.
15 November. Different session today from the past. We discussed government agencies that offer benefits for vets but are not publicized so we don't know of them and what they do. Bill also discussed the bureaucracy and the frustrations we will have dealing with it. He feels we should automatically get 100% disability, it would probably save the government money in the long run.
16 November. Things are still strained here. We barely talk, and when we do it is usually an argument. Melody is in a depressed state, and I am still fighting mine. I don't know where we are going, but it is not a very happy picture right now. Hopefully, we will be able to get through this and put this relationship back on track. Hopefully.
18 November. Well, things are not going to get better. Mel and I had another one this morning. She wants to go places, see and do things, etc. We are going in different directions. I have to find a place to live soon. Of course, without any money that is going to be tough. Here we go!
On the way to the airport tonight to drop her kids off we got into another discussion. All I hear from her is what she wants in a relationship; nothing about giving. She wants to go places, see things, do things which I guess is alright, but what about me? What do I get for that? Where is the support I need to get through this horrible period of my life? I hear nothing from her about a relationship between two people, about 50-50 give and take. Only what she wants, what she wants to do, see, where she wants to go, etc. Nothing about a person, emotions, etc.
One of the problems I later on noticed with PTSD was that I began to feel sorry for myself. Couldn't think of anyone else but me and how I was hurting. My focus became me, and only me.
19 November. I realize that I love her, but my mind tells me it isn't going to work. I miss her, want a relationship, but I am not hopeful.
I wonder if my recovery will coincide with the seasons: I am going through the down stage during the fall and winter and, hopefully, the recovery stage during the spring and summer. You know, the sunshine will herald my recuperation. I will smile at life, finally, as the sun begins to break through the clouds of Washington state. What a fucking metaphor! What fucking bullshit!
21 November. Met with a psychiatrist at the VA Hospital. She deals with PTSD patients; has 17 years experience in the field. She talked to me awhile and finally prescribed Trazodone; an antidepressant. Says I should have some positive effects immediately.
22 November. Slept better after taking Trazodone last night. Seem to sleep deeper, felt better this morning. Felt rested.
Group session was different today. Focused on a variety of subjects, including our feelings during the holiday season and how that can be intensified. Bill wanted us to think about it and understand that there is help available at the VA should we need it to get through the holidays. I hate the fucking holidays, but I will get through it because I know that Mel is there and I need her. What is it about this time of year that is so fucking depressing? I have had these feelings for years during this season, but did I have them before Vietnam? Has the War intensified my dislike for this time of year? I know I really like Fall and Winter except for these last 4-6 weeks of the year. I like the cool and cold, the rain, the falling leaves, the colors, the clean air, the purity of it all. The football season, the start of basketball. But I still get depressed. Is it the mobs of people shopping? I know I don't like crowds. Is it the expectations of gifts rather than an emphasis on the religious significance? (That from an atheist?) Is it the feeling of having to do something? Is it the family expectations? Is it the tradition? What is it?
The helicopter pilot confided to us that he was thinking of being admitted into the PTSD In-Patient program at the VA. We were supportive of that. He told us that he had been involved in PTSD treatment since 1983. I am concerned about him, he looked extremely depressed today.
Bill says that psychosomatic benefit is as good as a so-called true benefit. I had told him that my first night with Trazodone was really good and wasn't sure if it was because I wanted it to be or because the pill really works. Good is good, what difference does the reason make as long as it works.
I do feel different today: a little less bothered, almost positive. I hope it is a true feeling, not a "wannabe" feeling. Only time will tell.
23 November. Took Trazodone last night, same dosage. Didn't sleep very well. I think I will increase dosage tonight to 100mg. Had a pretty good day yesterday. At least, I don't feel depressed. Don't think I am anywhere close to having a positive attitude, but it does seem better. Today has also been okay, no real significant changes. Nothing abrupt or so extreme that it would be noticeable.
24 November. Took two pills last night, and felt tired after 15 minutes or so. Went to sleep and slept pretty good. At least, this morning I woke up rested. Mel and I have decided it is over. Can't make it work. She wants to do things, see things, be with someone she respects, etc. I need to get through PTSD; she doesn't want to wait. So we decided to hang in until after the holidays and then split. I will have to start looking for a place soon. This has been going on too long and I need to get out of it for sure. This relationship is depressing. I need to get away from as many depressing things as possible so that I can deal with PTSD as easily as possible. My job and Mel are both fucking depressing! I want as clear a mind as possible to get through this shit.
Still no noticeable changes in my everyday personality from the pills. Still too early, I guess.
Going to spend Thanksgiving by myself. Mel is going to John and Maureen's and I am invited, but I just don't want to have to put on an act for somebody right now. I want to be alone.
I began to hibernate, isolate from people. Occasionally at first, then more and more. Hibernate, isolate. First it was psychologically, then it became physically. I wanted to be alone.
Having a hard time talking to that young Lieutenant before he got PTSD. Can't determine which of my changes are due to age and which to PTSD. I remember being more carefree as a LT, more emotional, more vocal, less serious. But are those changes from growth or illness? I mean, I know that my PTSD stems from the battle on Hill 65, HUMP. My problem began with the mortars dropping on Bob's CP and the movement up the hill to relieve B and C Companies. My memory blanked out the carnage, did not allow me to see the movement to Hill 65, did not let me see battle. But is that why I am more quiet? Why I think more now? Why I read more now? I don't know. I can't get that young LT to tell me. Speak to me, Lieutenant! Please, speak to me!
Alone at last: 1453 hours. Mel is just now leaving for John and Maureen's. She is pissed I am not going with her. "You're invited too. What am I supposed to say to them? What excuse do I use for you now?" I don't fucking care.
Now I can be alone to do whatever I want. Alone.
Began reading Achilles in Vietnam by Jonathan Shay a couple of days ago. Brought back some memories, questions, etc. Why do I always want to sit with my back towards the wall? Why do I always sit with my body facing the door so I can see who comes in? I know these are reactions from 'Nam; I didn't have them before.
When I think I hate the holidays and my birthday I wonder if HUMP is the reason why? It happened 8-9 November, just a few days before my birthday. Is that remembrance the reason I go into a funk at this time of year?
My lack of feelings is real magnified when I remember the soldier in my unit who died when he walked into the chopper's blade. Chopped off part of his head. I felt nothing then, I feel nothing now! Nothing! Shouldn't I feel guilt or shame or sadness? Shouldn't I feel something, anything? Wasn't it my fault? I am dead inside, I feel nothing! Why?
25 November. Took two pills again last night. I am sleeping better, but everything else is the same.
Mel and I got into it again this morning. She is very angry with me because I did not go to John and Maureen's last night. She felt I made her have to make excuses for me. "You are very selfish and always backing out on something. You make me carry the burden."
Another fucking argument in a long list of them. She may be right. I don't know. I guess the problem is that I think I am only hurting myself, but in reality I am hurting those around me. Of course, I don't see it that way at the time; only that I am denying myself something.
I don't understand why she hangs on with this. We have already agreed to split. Why does she give a good God damn? All she has to tell people is that I am an asshole. I know they will understand.
26 November. Took two pills again last night. Slept well, as I have been ever since I started the meds. But I did sleep downstairs. Today was a hell of a lot better than the previous weeks. We started off on a good note, she was more congenial, and I picked up on her attitude and felt better. We just seem to get on better all day. Went shopping for Christmas cards, looked at furniture for the living room, and then had dinner and later a movie. A great day, especially compared to the last couple of months. I did not feel depressed at all during the day.
27 November. Took two pills last night. Slept in the bedroom with Mel; first time in awhile. Another great day. We got up, went to the airport to pick up the kids, cleaned the garage, moved the bikes to the storage shed and then came home. But a relaxing, pleasant day. No fighting, a light, casual, positive attitude between us. I feel close to her and don't want to lose this. I am living in the state I want to be (Washington), with whom I want to be (Melody), living in the city where I want to be (Kirkland). The only thing I don't have is the right job. I have to make this work between us; and I told her so this morning on the way to the airport.
29 November. Took 3 pills for the first time last night; trying to build up before I see the doctor next week. Had another good day yesterday. Again, I don't know if that is because of pills or because Mel and I are getting along better. Kind of like the "chicken or the egg" argument. Another good day with Mel.
Had a good session today. We are getting more into PTSD. The first hour was spent discussing agencies and programs that are available to us through the federal and state governments. Also, Bill discussed the in-patient PTSD program at the VA Hospital. The pilot is going through some real bouts of deep depression, although he said he had a very good Thanksgiving. I told the group my Thanksgiving sucked.
The second hour focused more on combat experiences with Bill starting it off discussing his combat wound on 22 November 1968. Then we all began talking about different experiences in combat. Especially those that were close to fatal. We agreed we were lucky.
Asked Bill if we could have a sub-conscious reaction to a specific event/day without any conscious remembrance. In other words, could 8-9 November provoke something in me even if I wasn't thinking about it? He said yes, definitely yes. Another revelation: No wonder November is such a bummer fucking month for me.
30 November. Took three last night. Had another discussion, not argument this time, with Mel. We are definitely breaking up because she will only be happy with an "equal partner." I quizzed her about me teaching and being happy, but she still wouldn't because I would not make enough money. So at least the truth is confirmed, is out, and we can go on from there. I guess my realization now is that even if I was making enough money I would not want to be with her because all she would be interested in was the money, not me. I would be second best. I don't think she cares what kind of guy she ends up with as long as he has the bucks.
As my depression increased I blamed Melody more and more for my problems. Any little thing, I blamed her. She was responsible. I accepted no responsibility for my state of mind, financial condition, job situation, etc. It was all her fault.
Also, her desire to improve her life verified to me her selfishness, her over emphasis on money and financial well being. After all, why wasn't she more concerned with taking care of me instead of improving her situation? Someone was definitely being selfish.
2 December. Depressed on my way home from Centralia/Chehalis. Terrible trip: 6 appointments, 0 sales. Something is definitely wrong. And, of course, the failure in business causes even more depression than I need. And, I need to change my attitude, Mel's parents will be there when I get back.
4 December. How's this for an ending to a book or paper? I WAS KILLED IN VIETNAM ON 8 NOVEMBER 1965: A PART OF ME HAS DIED EVERY DAY SINCE. I believe this is what has happened to me. And I am still suicidal? Very close. Without the Trazodone I might have already done it. In fact, I am ready to do it now just to end the pain. To end existing.
5 December. Not sleeping as well as I used to. Very depressed, suicidal again. Think if I didn't have pills I would really be in the dumps. Mel and I had another one of those "discussions" again last night. We decided on two weeks: if I don't have it together by then it is good-bye.
I think I am nearing the edge, suicide seems more relevant, more possible, more like the only way to end the pain, the self doubt, the only way to stop berating myself. I do not have any self-esteem; I don't think I like myself. I am beating myself up constantly; I need a break. Need something positive in my life.
Have an appointment with the psych today. Hope it does some good.
Put my pistol in the car trunk. Not sure why, but if I need it I'll have it handy.
Talked to the doctor about increasing meds to 200mg and then 250mg. She wants me to take 200 for about a week and then try 250. Told her about my depression/suicidal thoughts. She is concerned that I might overdose on pills. Told her I wouldn't; too much a chance it wouldn't work. I would use a pistol instead. Just swallow the son of a bitch. It has a better chance of success. She recommended I talk to Bill about this. She is just going to be the med prescriber; the therapy is Bill's area. No problem.
6 December. Another "discussion" with Mel: same thing, different day. Man, we both need a rest from it. Nothing ever gets resolved. We don't listen to each other. Just two people arguing. Narrow viewpoints, narrow ideas, neither one sees the other's point. I am tired of the bullshit. I'll bet she is, too.
7 December. Another "discussion" with Mel in the morning. She was a little less confrontational in the evening. We actually had a civil discussion.
8 December. Mel informed me this morning that she is still angry at me. Guess she just had to get that in before departing for work.
Went to see the pilot at the VA this afternoon. He entered the hospital a week ago to get into the in-patient program. He seems to be doing really well. Hope it works for him.
9 December. Talked to Krissy this morning. She was worried. We may go to Chuck and Sharon's for Christmas. At least that is an option. We will see. Felt better today. The grogginess was gone. Felt normal. Well, sort of normal.
Talked to Damon; he had talked to Colby earlier. She had talked to her mom. He doesn't want Mel and I to break up, but to try and work it out. Colby was very upset, according to him. We also discussed PTSD. I urged him to seek counseling ASAP. Don't want him going through what I am. Want him to take care of it now before it gets really bad.
Talked to Chuck and Sharon this evening. Offered their home for as long as I want. Also, they want Krissy and me there for Christmas. May not be a bad idea. Somehow talking to them makes the suicide thing sound stupid.
10 December. Mel went to her company Christmas party tonight without me. I don't care. Why in the hell would I want to be around those assholes?
11 December. Slow day, no arguments. Melody has finally realized she has to let go.
Talked to Krissy this evening; we are going to spend Christmas with Chuck and Sharon. Have to talk with Mel tomorrow morning and let her know.
Reading Chickenhawk by Bob Mason. Talked about the 1st Cav leaving Benning in Aug '65. I remember being in khaki uniform with a duffel bag loading on a train for Charleston, South Carolina. It was late. We rode the train all night until we got to Charleston. I don't know where we stayed, in Charleston or Fort Jackson? But in the bright morning sunlight we boarded the General Simon B. Buckner for the Panama Canal, Long Beach, and Vietnam. We were on our way.
12 December. Had another "discussion" with Mel last night. We are both beat up over this thing. It is just constantly rehashing the same old thing. That hollow, pit-in-the-stomach feeling is all I have.
13 December. I had the service-connected disability physical and initial interview at the VA this morning. Psychologist asked a lot of questions about me before Vietnam, during Vietnam and after Vietnam. Have another session Friday with the psychiatrist.
Saw Bill before our session. He said that like the helicopter pilot I also do not show my true emotions; a typical officer. We could not show our men what we were really thinking. We had to lead. So we hid our feelings, buried our emotions although inside "...we were bleeding."
The session was great as usual. Funny, but I missed these guys last week. It is a good group. Talked about places to find assistance again. Bill urged us all to apply for Agent Orange compensation. The class action suit ends at the end of the year. We also discussed the approaching Christmas holidays. Bill told us again that this therapy is going to be a long process and we will go down before we go up. Way down. We have to open old wounds and deal with them individually, not all at once. He said we may not remember or recall certain events and that may be good, but he thought it may not be worth the anguish for me to recall what happened on Hill 65. I'm not sure of that.
14 December. Had another argument with Mel last night. This time over something I said to Krissy on the telephone. What the hell is that all about?
I wonder if my love for the '60s decade and '60s music is an attempt on my part to recapture my "lost youth?"
16 December. It is really tense around here for all four of us. It is not a pleasant place to be. I need to get the hell out of here.
I got an apartment yesterday. Move in on January 3. This is a terrible end to what looked like a perfect relationship. I can't believe it has ended this way. Thought I would be with Mel forever.
Going to VA Hospital today for final interview with psychiatrist for service-connected disability.
The interview with the psychiatrist was different than the session with the psychologist on Tuesday. The first one was kind of matter-of-fact, no emotion. This one was very different. As I told her about the battle on Hill 65 I was wringing my hands and fingers and getting emotional. I couldn't sit still, I kept fidgeting in the chair. Could not help it. I had a hard time reliving all that shit again, including the incident with the rockets and the tent. Damn, I had all the emotions again, the fear, the hatred, the anger, the feeling of being used. It just began to flow during the entire interview. Maybe I am sick. Maybe I should be in the PTSD in-patient clinic. Damn, I wish I knew what the hell was going to happen to me. I feel fucked up, really fucked up. I want to be normal, like everyone else.
Breaking up with Melody is a real mistake on both our parts. I still love her and I believe she loves me, but we can't seem able to get through the arguments to look at the problems and attempt to work them out. She gets frustrated, feels I am using her and rebels, gets angry and attacks me. I get defensive and yell back. Nothing is accomplished except we have hurt each other and made reconciliation more difficult. Of course, the more this happens the harder it gets to try and make up. Now we are so far gone it is virtually impossible to find what brought us together. My numbness and hollowness inside don't help. I can't reach out to her and give her the comfort and assurances she needs. I have ruined what could have been a beautiful relationship, one that could have lasted forever. I truly believe that. But instead we have nothing. So sad, so useless. I have to get through this damn thing called PTSD, I have to. I want a life. I want to live, not exist. I want to wake up in the morning and look forward to the day, not dread it. There has to be more to life than what I have experienced recently.
17 December. It is "cold" around here; Mel barely talks to me. The kids are being torn apart. They don't need to see us this way. It puts them in a very bad position. This PTSD shit is affecting all of us, not just me. Am I going to depress us all?
18 December. I know I am still depressed, but it is not as deep as it used to be. I recognize I am depressed, but I also notice that there are times that I seem to have my sense of humor back. I think I even laughed a few times recently. Now that is progress.
Mel still ignores me. Like I don't even exist.
19 December. Damon and Colby fly in today. This should be interesting. Mel wants to clear the air with the kids about what is going on. I really don't care.
Damon and Colby here. I feel out of it. The dinner conversation goes on, but I am not part of it. I am the odd party out. Probably feeling sorry for myself, but fuck it.
I have a job interview tomorrow. Could be exactly what I am looking for. Could be.
20 December. Session concentrated on some of the things that piss us off and mostly unimportant stuff. Bill concentrated on one of the grunts this session as he is going through some real hard times. Another of the guys got turned down for his service-connected disability. How the fuck can you turn down a combat Marine for his disability? He is appealing. Sounds like he had some dumb shit shrink. Typical fucking assholes.
Had Bill explain the differences between intrusive memories, flashbacks, and nightmares. Still not sure I understand the differences between flashbacks and intrusive memories, although intensity seems to be a factor.
21 December. Things have been better around here with Colby and Damon around. At least there are no arguments between Mel and me. Had interview yesterday. Went good. Waiting to hear about interview with the company president. I liked the products and company. First time I have been turned on about a job in a long time. Hope, hope it works out. The money is really secondary.
22 December. Said good-bye to everyone as I left to pick up Krissy at Sea-Tac. It was hard leaving everybody, including Mel. I had a real empty feeling in my stomach as I drove to the airport. Real empty. Fortunately seeing Krissy made up for it.
On to Portland. The trip was longer than expected, but gave Krissy and me time to talk. We discussed PTSD and my suicidal tendencies. She asked how I could want to kill myself. I told her it was to "...end the pain. Just end the fucking pain." I asked her to forgive me for my neglect as a father when she was younger. She did. I really needed that. It was great to just share with her some of what has been going on in my mind these last 29 years. She realizes she will never really understand what happened in Vietnam, but she is sympathetic.
Met Chuck, Sharon, Kim, Scott, Julie and Jake in Portland at the loft. We headed for the coast. Stopped to cut down a Christmas tree outside of Tillamook. Then on to Oceanside. It was great being with all of them again.
23 December. This was our Christmas as Kim has to work tomorrow. So we celebrated all day, opening gifts, playing games, and eating, eating, and eating. Typical time with Chuck and Sharon.
25 December. I took Kris to the airport. Rained like hell. Sad time. I was lonely after I dropped her off. Empty inside, the same feeling as when I left Mel, Chris, Carrie, Colby and Damon.
27 December. Another rain storm. The last 2 nights the wind really howled. I left around 1045 to head back to Kirkland. It was another sad day saying good-bye to everyone. I hope Mel is in a good mood for the couple of days we are going to spend together without the kids before she flies to Sacramento.
This holiday time with the Chuck, Sharon, Krissy and all has been the best Christmas I have had in the past few years. It has been a long time since Christmas was special. This year it was. They made it happen.
28 December. My relationship with Mel, if you can call it that, is better than the previous few weeks. At least we are talking in a civil manner to each other. I think that it is becoming more clear to me that Mel and I cannot have a relationship together. I am not even sure any more if I love her. I used to think that I did, but now I am not so sure. The feelings are gone. I know never say "never," but this time it sure looks that way. Never.
Mel played a game with me tonight: went out, but was very secretive about where she was going. Snuck out of the house. Or, maybe I should say ran out. But, what the fuck, I am by myself again.
Just finished Chickenhawk: Life After Vietnam Back In the World by Bob Mason. At the end he says he is still looking for peace. Sound familiar? Interesting that I know I am still depressed, but now the depression is not the deep one I had in November. The pills are really working. Maybe I can handle this thing after all.
29 December. Still "cold" around here with Mel. She doesn't say goodbye when she leaves and barely says "hi" when she returns.
Mel left today for Sacramento barely speaking to me. But she did leave a note to put out the garbage. I thought she said some time ago she didn't need someone to put out the garbage? But, at least I am alone.
The symptoms of PTSD: depression; loss of concentration; intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks; attention span decreased; can only focus on Vietnam, not other subjects; anger, hate, frustration, cynicism, isolation, hibernation, etc. I am especially angry at politicians like Clinton (a draft- dodging, never worked for a living, motherfucker) who so easily commit or volunteer to commit American troops to areas that are not our concern. For example, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Panama, Lebanon, Kuwait. Don't they realize what they are doing? Do they want another generation of PTSD victims? When I think of these assholes and their rush to commit troops I remember the old Kingston Trio song Where Have All The Flowers Gone? and especially the last lines: "When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?" When will they?
30 December. Started packing today. Quiet here with no one around. Able to get a lot done.
31 December. The last day of the year. Good fucking riddance! New Year's resolutions: get a new job, finish my book, and conquer PTSD so that I at least can recognize and control it. Packed yesterday. Will try and finish today. Mel and the kids come home tomorrow. Oh fucking joy!
1 January. Had a quiet New Year's by myself. Woke this morning a little groggy, but a few cups of coffee seemed to clear my head. Stayin' alive in '95! And I don't mean disco. That's my new year resolution. I have a lot to accomplish this year.
Forgot to include this earlier: Before our last session one of the former grunts offered that the government/Army should have just left us in Vietnam until the end of the war. That way no other young kids would have to go through what we are now going through: PTSD. Each one of us might have saved 6 or 7 lives. It makes sense to me.
2 January. Last night wasn't half so bad even though I sometimes feel that Mel talks to her kids like I'm not even there. Maybe I'm not.
3 January. I am alone and hurting. Need someone, need someone. Lonely, very lonely. Things have improved a little here. At least Mel is talking to me, but I feel like an outsider. Most of the time she ignores me. She took another shot at me tonight, saying my therapy is wrong considering all I have lost. She just doesn't understand, and does not want to understand. Looking forward to seeing the guys today. It has been two weeks.
Fatigue, experiencing fatigue in the afternoon. Eyes begin to burn, feel tired. It has been going on for several days now. Depression is really hitting me as I look at my move away from Mel and the kids. I will miss her. Deep depression. I just feel alone, and I am. Feeling sorry for myself.
The pilot came back from the VA today. He was in the in-patient program for 23 days. Today's session included the film Frank and what it was saying and what it meant.
Bill says we are going to get into PTSD more, into those things that are bothering us. Into the deep secrets we buried so long ago.
4 January. Depressed. The moving and the lack of money is depressing me more. Also, since I do not have a job that occupies my mind constantly I am thinking too much for my own good. I am focusing too much on the negative aspects of my life. I need something to divert my attention during the day. Right now I am dwelling too much on the move and lack of funds. Help me! Empty feeling, very hollow inside. I don't want to leave Mel's place, but I guess I am. Hollow, so hollow.
5 January. I am really depressed. Very, very low. Can't think of anything but being alone and broke. No friends, no money, no relatives, no one. I am really feeling sorry for myself. I need help bad, but don't know where to turn to. Just depressed.
Mel and I are talking somewhat. But I am feeling very lonely and very depressed. I am afraid to think what condition I would be in without meds.
I need a job that will occupy my mind full-time so that I don't think. When I think I dwell on my problems and depress myself. I need to break the cycle, it is destroying me.
6 January. Still feeling low. The move away from Mel and the kids is harder than I thought it would be.
Depressed, can't focus on my job. Have to break the cycle. My self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence are gone. I am existing on my nerves, raw nerves. Maybe not nerves, but the feeling is like raw metal rubbing on raw metal. I have no buffer. Have no good feelings about myself. Feel useless, worthless, and sorry for myself. Suicide keeps entering my consciousness. It is a way to end the pain, maybe the only way. It may be the only solution to PTSD.
7 January. Finished moving in this afternoon. Chris helped. When he said goodbye I almost cried. I am sad, lonely and feeling sorry for myself. This apartment is not home; it is cold, bleak. I feel so isolated, so down. This is not good. Need to get my head together.
Carrie came over later this afternoon to help me unpack. Chuck called while Carrie was over. He made me feel better about myself.
After a few hours Carrie and I went to Blockbuster and rented Philadelphia. Had pizza and watched the video over Mel's place. She was out somewhere. When I left we hugged and I cried. Cried in the car coming home. Broke down, bawled. I am so lonely, so sad, so depressed. Fuck I am hurting. Please help me, someone! Please!
I am beginning to hate this PTSD. Not sure I am going to be able to hang in there for the so-called "cure." Maybe I should look seriously into the in-patient treatment at the VA. I better talk to Bill about this.
8 January. I think one of the reasons I am feeling so down is that I look at apartment living as a financial failure on my part. Home ownership is more important to me than I thought: it signifies a certain level of financial success or freedom to me. Need to get a job this year where I can make some money. Need to get back on my feet.
Still depressed. The incident with Carrie last night hurt. I didn't believe I would be so affected. I bawled like a kid in the car on the way back here. I have a problem calling this apartment "home" because it isn't.
Sharon called. Another boost for my attitude. I need to keep myself out of the gutter and work on my attitude. This is the bottom. I can't go down any farther. I need to start going up. It has to be all up from here. Has to be.
9 January. Carrie doesn't understand how much her presence helped the past two days. She was terrific. My mind/emotions were in such a fragile state that she kept me on the right side.
10 January. Felt a little tired this morning, had a hard time getting out of bed.
Session today included the video No Time For Tears. It was about nurses, Red Cross "donut dollies," and special services women and their experiences in Vietnam. Bill wanted us to see the video not because of the women and their PTSD, but to see the soldiers in the film and what they were going through. He also wanted us to feel the anger at seeing how these women lived compared to us (their creature comforts to our living in the field) and their experiences of fear compared to ours. We are angry because they experienced little compared to us. But, he says that anger is because we don't want to face the real feelings we have covered up for all these years. Those are the feelings he wants us to get in touch with, and recover from years of neglect. Next week he says we will get into individual stories and what we have not yet faced or talked about regarding Vietnam.
I am lonely here in this apartment. Very lonely. Hope I get over this fast. Could be very dangerous. Have to get on with my life.
I kept the apartment dark. The shades were drawn, the lights were off. I hibernated inside. I didn't go out. It was comforting. I was protected here, no one could get to me. Withdrew further into myself. By now my job was at an end.
11 January. Carrie said her mother is giving her trouble about seeing me so often.
12 January. Had a very positive attitude this morning. Last night I dreamt that I got a new job. And when I woke this morning I just felt better about everything: my finances, PTSD, the job, relationships, etc. Hope this is an indication of the future. It would be nice to begin feeling positive about life.
13 January. Again I feel rested and positive about life. Could the pills be taking effect?
14 January. I slept in this morning, woke at 1030. First time in a long time I did that.
15 January. Slept late again this morning. Don't know why I am so sleepy.
When Melody and I decided to split I told her I wanted the money back that I had voluntarily put into her house. I felt since I was moving out, the money was rightfully mine. Also, since I was not making money selling insurance I needed it to survive. Melody, on the other hand, believed that money was part of my paying my fair share. The resulting argument had me calling her every name in the book. But not to her face. My sense of logic, understanding, and fairness took a distant back seat to my selfishness, my depression.
I also began to play a subtle little game to put a wedge between Melody and her two children. I would slyly tell him how difficult their mother was being and that I was a victim of her abusiveness. I tried to win their sympathy and use it against their mother. I wanted them on my side against her. I was more fucked up than I ever realized.
16 January. Couldn't sleep; finally fell into a fitful sleep around 0100.
After Carrie and I went to the shed to get my bicycle Melody called me on my car phone to tell me she didn't want me seeing Carrie any more. I hung up on her: "This is my dime and I don't want to talk to you. Call me at the office or at home."
17 January. Went to the VA this morning to follow up on the meds I am taking. The doctor said I will probably be on Trazodone from 6 months to a year.
Excellent session today. Another of the grunts is going into the in-patient treatment at the VA tomorrow. Have to go see him.
The medic talked about the blanks in his memory and wondered if he did his duty. Sound familiar? I told him I felt the same way.
I am ready to talk about my blackout. Maybe in the next two weeks.
Also, I am beginning to realize I have to get out of this job. It is doing me no good. Failure heaped upon failure. Need something else.
18 January. Carrie calls me at night now because Melody won't let her see me. So she calls and we talk for a half hour or so.
Went to see one of the guys at the VA. He said he really flipped out on Sunday. Got really angry and couldn't control it. That is why he voluntarily checked into the VA. He says he is enrolled in an anger management group. I know how he feels. We are all so close to going over the edge. So fucking close.
19 January. Couldn't get up this morning, but I think that is more from lack of motivation than the pills. I have no appointments and therefore no place to go today so I slept in. Fuck it, I am breaking away from this job.
Krissy called last night. She is concerned. I am her only parent and she doesn't want to lose me.
20 January. Met Chuck and Sharon in Langley where they are searching for a business opportunity. It is absolutely amazing what good friends can do for one's attitude. Laughter raises the spirit. They are good for my mental state, especially since I realize I have been depressed all week. The depression this time I think is because I realize finally that I have to get another job. This one is just not going to work. Felt so much better just being with them. It would be great if they could find something here in Washington so that they would be closer and we could see each other more often. Both also encouraged me to go to the VA in-patient program since I want to leave my job anyway. What better time?
Had a call from one of the companies I applied to on my recorder. Will call the guy back Monday. Interview? I hope so. Have to get positive about this job thing.
21 January. Chuck and Sharon are going to Poulsbo today so I won't see them this evening. We are, however, planning on getting together at Oceanside in the very near future. We will see what happens.
22 January. Going to quit tomorrow. Can't keep this up. Owe it to Mike to leave. I am not doing him any good, either.
23 January. Quit today. Told them it just wasn't working out, needed something more fulfilling, less stressful. They were very understanding.
24 January. Hope to hell I hear from the companies I have interviewed with. I need a fucking job! They call you then forget you. I don't understand.
Session today was small: only three of us were there. Bill is definitely trying to get me to go to the VA for the in-patient program. I just am not sure at this time. I want to pursue job leads first. I feel that if I get a job it will relieve many of my problems and much of my stress.
26 January. Went back to the VA to visit with one of the guys. He seemed to be okay, but he wasn't that happy with the help he was receiving. Didn't think it was beneficial to him. He felt his marriage was over. I hope not. Scary thought: he said he talked to one guy who had been in the VA 4 times for PTSD, plus once at American Lake and was in again. He said his PTSD was getting worse! Jesus Christ, something to look forward to. I just am not sure if I want to go into the VA now. Need to find out about these jobs first.
By this time Melody was hesitant to allow Carrie to see me considering the condition I was in. She was particularly afraid that Carrie was too young to handle my psychological disintegration. I was moving ever closer to "hell."
28 January. I am realizing I am psychologically over Melody, but not emotionally. That will take much longer, but I am getting over her. She, however, will not deal with our relationship and I would not be surprised if she doesn't call me sometime in the future to "...find out how I am."
Have to get rid of this hatred of Melody. Or, I should say my preoccupation with it. She is not worth the waste of my emotions on her.
29 January. I think my inability to emotionally rid myself of Melody has to do with the fact that I think she ruined what could have been a damn good relationship. She just fucking ruined it because she wouldn't listen, wouldn't give me a chance to heal and then be successful. Fuck her!
30 January. Had another job interview. Don't know how well I did. Don't feel positive about it. Still haven't heard about the other interviews. Damn, they sure take their time.
Went to the VA for about 2 hours today to see one of the guys. We talked a lot about Vietnam and our experiences. He thinks some of the therapy is helping him. Said they were going to move him to 7 West soon. That is the PTSD ward. He might get better treatment there, maybe more personal. He is not a psycho, and that is what 7 East is for. Or, at least the psychological problem people.
31 January. This session we watched the video Hearts and Minds. It was definitely anti-Vietnam, and I thought pretty boring. It went on for almost 2 hours. I told Bill during the discussion period afterwards that I didn't feel anything when the Vietnamese were talking about their losses to American bombers (one villager lost an 8-year old schoolgirl during the Christmas 1972 bombing of the north.) Only when American casualties were shown or discussed did I feel anything. I know that is wrong; that I should feel something when I see atrocities or people hurt or killed. But I could not feel anything and I know that is not healthy. He felt that might be a start. At least I recognize this inability in myself.
Told Bill to reserve a place for me at 7 West at the VA. I might as well go into the hospital for the 3 week in-patient treatment now when I don't have a job.
1 February. Sleeping well at night, but do not wake up "ready to go." Usually I am a little groggy first, then begin to awake.
Have to get off my ass and continue with my book. It has had a hiatus since I moved to Washington. Need to finish it; or at least finish the part about Hill 65.
I don't remember when, but in one of our sessions it was brought out that we are all "adrenaline junkies." I remember watching a film showing combat in Vietnam and getting excited as I watched a jet fighter bombing the VC, or a B-52 strike or an artillery barrage or an air assault with all the accompanying force (artillery, gunships, fast movers). A real high!
Shitty day today. No one called back: not Bill, not any of the companies I interviewed. Fuck it! God damn it! What does it take to get someone to respond? My fucking self-esteem is going in the shitter again. Thankfully, I have these pills, or who knows what might happen? Fuck, I need a job! There has to be something out there that I want to do and get paid for. Of course, both companies fit that but I don't feel too fucking confident I am going to be offered a job by either one.
2 February. Feeling depressed again. This time it is caused by the lack of action in finding a job. I NEED A FUCKING JOB! My self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence are really low. I need to get on with my life and the lack of job is holding me back. Feeling low.
Melody is still intent on keeping Carrie from having any contact with me. Christ, why doesn't she listen to her own daughter? Why is she so fucking pig-headed and all knowing? If she would just listen and understand someone else's viewpoint.
Just had an interesting thought: Am I angry enough to kill Melody and then myself? That would be the ultimate "fuck you." I wonder.
3 February. Talked to Sam and Barb last night. Like all my friends I did not include them in my depression. Didn't want to bother anyone, burden anyone. Only Melody. Can't feel like that. Have to have someone to talk to, to let off steam, to defuse my anger. Barb understood PTSD because her brother Carl had it when he returned from 'Nam. She saw it then and recognized he was in pain. She listened to him when he needed to talk. Exactly what I was looking for from a loved one and didn't receive.
Carrie told me today that her mother has a date tomorrow night. Boy, and she told Carrie earlier that she wasn't going to date for a long time. Guess it matters how you define "long." My reaction: a little hurt. I am not emotionally over her yet, but I am getting there. I have to get there.
4 February. Trying to get a handle on my reaction to the news that Melody has a date tonight. I think I feel hurt, abandonment and a finality that the relationship is over. And with that there is a touch of sadness. It didn't have to be, but she chose not to support me. So it is once and for all, after all these years and breakups, over forever.
But I realize that in reality I am lucky it ended before marriage. At least, I am out of it and able to get back with my own life. There is a real person out there I can love. I just have to find her.
Melody's date tonight made me realize how lonely I am.
I am fucking depressed. Can just feel it. No job, this bleak apartment and Melody are all adding up to my depression. I need a break. Something good has to happen to me soon or I might just crack. I don't know how much longer I can continue on with this bullshit. If there is a God out there, you had better get something positive going for me or it is all fucking over.
5 February. Back to the VA to see one of the guys. He is now on the PTSD wing. Seems to be doing better. Says he has learned how to control his depression from the classes they have taught. He seems to be making progress.
6 February 1995. Depressed, fucking depressed. Suicidal thoughts are stronger. Can't take all this negative shit. Need something fucking positive to come into my life. Something. I am so down. All I can think of doing is killing myself. I am not going to make it at this rate. I am on the verge of ending it all. Fuck it, this isn't living. This is fucking suffering. I don't need any of this shit anymore. Please, something positive.
Why couldn't I, instead of Dave, have died on Hill 65? It would have been so much better. I would trade my life for Kathy's and Dave's. Why the fuck was I chosen to live? To live in pain? Why me?
I keep going to sleep at night thinking that tomorrow will be better, that something positive will happen to make life fun again. But nothing fucking happens except that it gets worse. I am in a downward spiral and it keeps getting worse. Fucking worse! I don't need this shit!
1530. Just called Bill to get into the PTSD program at the VA right now. I have hit rock bottom. I am fucked up bad. I can't handle it. Told him I need to get into the VA in-patient treatment now. I am really depressed. Down in the dumps because Melody went on a date Saturday night. I thought that fucking cunt wasn't going to date for awhile. Some "awhile."
Bill had previously scheduled me for 15 Feb. Told him I need it sooner. He said to be at the VA before 1700 to check into the General Psych Ward (7 East). A friend took me. We got there at 1645; waited almost 3 hours to see the psychiatrist to get admitted. Finally after the psych interview I was admitted to 7 East at 2115 - 4 1/2 hours after arriving.
Met with my new roommates: Gale, a former Air Force medic; Art, a former USMC combat photographer; and Elliot, whom I think was an infantry grunt. Then straight to bed.
But, before I fell asleep the insecurities came: 7 East. Do I belong here? Am I really that sick? I don't look like I should be here. Can I survive being bottled up inside a hospital for a month? Can I? Scared. I am scared! What have I got myself into? These people are fucked up. Am I? Am I that fucked up?
7 February. Slept good last night. Psych ward, wow! Am I really here? Chuck and Sharon called, Barb called, Krissy called and I talked to Carrie and Larry. All were very supportive. I hope this is my road back.
The Seattle VA hospital classified its patients by numbers. The number defined your status and limited your access within the hospital. For example, the lower the number, the more restrictions on your movement.
Came in as a "2" yesterday, was upped to a "3" this morning. That will allow me to get off this ward once in awhile. Still hurting over Melody. Need to get over her. Have to keep reminding myself: Melody is a selfish, fucking cunt! Sam called, would call him back but he is probably working tonight.
One of the nurses, Judith, said I might be able to get a couple of hours off tomorrow to go home and pick up some stuff: pen, paper, sweatshirt, shampoo, etc. Will ask doctor.
Tough day: didn't do much of anything but lie around. Getting antsy, need to keep mind active. Want to get on with program, with healing process. Will talk to Docs tomorrow about being pro-active, not passive in my healing process. I guess my Type A salesman personality is kicking in.
Had a class on depression today - everyone was so depressed the instructor could not get a reaction from any of us.
8 February. Feeling better today. Actually depression has lifted since being here. Worries and responsibilities have lessened.
Doc said "no" on leaving, but he did put me up to "4" so I am a real person now. Can go downstairs with Art now like the "big boys." Art had been giving me a bad time that as a "3" I couldn't be like the big boys who were "4s." Fortunately a friend who stopped by took my list and went back to my apartment and got me what I needed.
Talked to Carrie today. Tried to reassure her that this hospitalization was the best thing for me. She understood. Reemphasized to her that Melody and I are through. It hurts, but it is true.
Had an anger management class today. I hope we have more of the same because I need to learn this.
Art and I went downstairs quite a few times today. Walked around, got some fresh air. Being a "4" is pretty good.
Slept good last night.
Sam called again. I forgot he worked days now, not nights. He is coming up to see me Monday, Barb is coming Saturday. Have to get a pass, she wants to take me to lunch. Must request a pass tomorrow from doctors.
Food here is okay. Kind of like the Army.
9 February. My disposition seems to improve each day. Getting used to cycle and rhythms of the VA hospital and 7 East.
Did not sleep well: awoke quite often after 0130. Can't seem to sleep through the night.
I think Melody and lack of job are 2 biggest instigators of my depression, causing my PTSD to kick in. Melody is just a matter of time; job search will take a lot of effort and time.
Really do feel better every day. Getting away from everyday problems helps. But now I have to learn how to deal with those problems outside the VA, in the real world. Must stay positive.
Larry just called. He talked to one of the companies I interviewed with. Scope of job might change to Account Executive - kind of technical and administrative job. I am still in the running if it is sales. Sounds good. Maybe this will be the break I need. Keep fingers crossed. Be positive.
Took psych tests today for an hour. Wonder if I am crazy?
Doctor said that they will try and move me to 7 West as soon as opening exists, otherwise on 15 Feb. Guess they feel I am stabilizing.
Mike from the Vet Center group came to visit today. Had lunch with us and we joked and talked. Nice of him to stop by. Introduced him to Art.
No classes today. Will be a little boring, but I have a lot to read. Also, writing keeps me busy.
New guy came in: Clark, ex-soldier, attached to 101st Abn.
10 February 1995. Feeling good again this morning. Clark is in because one of his roommates committed suicide in his presence. He hasn't slept for 3 days.
Doctor said I can't get over to 7 West until 16 Feb. The decision is whether I stay here until then or go home and return on the 16th. My vote is to stay here.
Feel so much better because I have Art around to do things with and to laugh. Clark has added to that. I can't hibernate.
Krissy called this morning. She talked to Mom and Dad and they had questions for me. They seem to be taking it very well, but I told Kris to tell them that this is the best thing for me. Krissy said I sounded much better than Monday. I agree. I feel much better.
My relationship with Carrie began to cause strains in her relationship with her mother. In my distressed state of mind, I attempted to drive a wedge between Melody and Carrie for my own satisfaction.
Carrie called last night. Said her meeting with her counselor and mother did not go well. Melody won't listen to her. Doesn't want her to have any contact with me until "...I find a job and get my life squared away." Carrie has decided after talking to her father, to ignore her mother. She is going to stay in touch with me because it makes her feel good. I agreed, selfishly. I need her contact for my mental health. Just like Melody to associate everything with job, not person. So, so very sad. Another example that she cares nothing for me, only for what I could buy her and do for her. She needs counseling bad, and I told Carrie that.
1107: just got word that I will be moving to 7 West TODAY! This will be great, especially since I am stabilized and ready to go. Hope it doesn't screw up my weekend with Barbara. Talked to Dr. McCutcheon. Since I have the week-end pass to see Barb, they are moving me to 7 West Monday morning. I am ready to go and take my first steps to getting well.