Because some don’t see the pain, they refuse to believe the pain. ~ Clarissa ‘Queen of the Pen’ Burton
I guess if you had a looking glass, you could have warned me of what was to come. As a child, I lived in a world of dysfunction, but it was a comfortable dysfunction. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because I didn’t know any other way of living. At least I knew who would abuse me and how. There were never surprises. It was routine. Most of all, after the abuse, the adults went about their lives as if all was good with the world. They didn’t bother to wonder if the abuse that they heaped onto me poisoned my world, my soul. Oh well. That’s the life of a child living within the gates of absolute dysfunction and chaos.
I never thought I would be sitting here in a circle flanked by fellow active duty military men and women who were diagnosed as severely damaged. This is far from my dreams of a successful military person. For most of my young life, I yearned to be in the military. I wanted to be the first woman in my family to serve my country with pride and honor. Now, here I am – sitting with some of the most damaged souls the Navy had recruited.
I hate myself. I hate that I allowed myself to be lured into this mental comradeship. But, my options had run out. It was either die at the abusive hands of my Hospital Corpsman husband or go AWOL. I didn’t like those options much. So, here I am – broken, disgraced, and self-loathing. Oh, by the way, I’m also seven months pregnant.
Sitting in this circle of mental disturbance, I know what being damaged is. What I don’t know is the levels of damage masked behind those solemn, dead gazes. Some are staring through me, some at me while others burn imaginary holes in the white and black speckled linoleum floor.
I feel overwhelmed with guilt as if my damage is less severe. Yet, I don’t know my fellow comrades’ stories. That will soon change because we are required to sit in this battleship gray room until each of us shares our well-kept, psychological brutalities. I’m a stubborn one. I refuse to share. I am not going to share. I don’t want to open my soul to anyone anymore. The last time I did I wound up here. That’s what sharing did for me. It led me to the fifth floor of the Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, California.