Saturday, January 17, 2009


The long and short of it is that I have been living separated from Tara...

Being alone is hard, I never planned on this, but life takes you where it will at times. I see my children 3-4 times a week and I'm still completely in their lives, but it is hard to be alone. I write this in hopes that some of you will understand me and my life. Does Iraq have anything to do with it? Does the army? To those questions I would probably need to say yes, but the answer is also no, they aren't completely to blame. I will not be going into the details.

Peace of mind comes on the back of a motorcycle these days... When does it get easy? I don't know, it isn't easy, when do I become ok with being alone? I hope in time that happens. I have considered how to write about this.

The world is different now, there are frightening possibilities that have come to light, reality is harsh and at times grim, but I have always been a survivor.


Anonymous said...

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." Helen Keller

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your writing. it is powerful because it is always so raw and honest. There are times when I have just been surviving life and then it shifts, sometimes profoundly and sometimes quietly. I have found that lonely is not forever especially if I remain open. You are loved, lovely, loving, and lovable War is unimaginable and painful for sensitive, responsive souls leaving open wounds that so few can understand and yet underneath or beyond the wounds is strength. With loving care, M

WCMedows said...


I hear echoes in your voice of my own. I spent six years active back in the late 80's and early 90's in the 3rd Infantry. Not the same unit as you, clearly... My unit was all about shiny brass, polished boots, belts and shoes and pressed uniforms.

I often felt that I could never be considered as respectable or honorable as those who I buried, but eventually I learned to be proud of some element of my service. Having rendered honors to around 400 of our fellow soldiers in various ceremonies and buried in the neighborhood of 3600 of them after their death, I have repeatedly watched soldiers puff out their chest in pride and deflate their loved ones in loss.

You have the blessing of having lived through your service, witnessed horrors and learned to come to terms with the cold drop off that occurs when you come home from your unit. No-one but another soldier will ever understand what you saw, heard or felt during that time. No-one can really forgive the rough edges you have like another soldier. This is why there are so many places like AmVets and such, where some of us find solace in sharing.

In what I have read in your writings here, you appear to be moving through your transition. Not happily, which is no surprise, but moving forward none the less.

As a father of two children myself, I would encourage you to break through one mindset the military has helped you learn over the past few years. When you face the dilemmas of your separation and loss of the fullness of your family, don't let it go!

The mindset you have been granted through the military indoctrination is a combination of "Fuck it and you, I don't care, I am moving forward from here in my own way no matter what." Secondly, that mindset includes beliefs that you may not be able to let go of easily. Beliefs that the direction of those around you is predetermined and subject to random change that you have no control over. Beliefs that you must drive forward come hell or high water and stick to your guns regardless of the consequences. Beliefs that you must suffer because that is what we all have to deal with.

Flip some of this around, one piece at a time. I learned one thing about ten years after my separation from the military, and the subsequent separation from my ex wife and children. YOU cannot let the care you feel and express to your children ever come into doubt by you or anyone else.

What you have been through is not your fault and you cannot be held accountable for some of the things that have happened. The separation that comes from being a soldier is not an easy gap to return from, it is fraught with peril. Jagged edges and hard corners are only a few of the things that you are left with after serving in the military.

You probably feel fine, all right, ok, motivated, even overblown in your personal pride as a result of your service.

The world around you probably doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about what you have been through and what you have done, seen or felt.

They really don't in fact care, except for here, in this blog, where people can give you feedback and some love.

In my opinion, the ONLY way you can ever give birth to the monster lurking in your chest that is banging on the inside of your rib cage and skull is to write. Applying every ounce of your discipline, both learned, and personal, to make yourself put into words some of the things that you feel.

Only in this way can people see into that soul of yours. Only in this way can you ever get the hug you so truly deserve. Only here, in text, in print, in long prose with full expression can you actually let your heart come out of its tightly wrapped box.

This is the place, the way and the life that will help you feel the real pride, hope, horror, love and honor that you have locked deep in your soul.

I have said all of this because reading your posts have reminded me of what I feel. How I feel. How I have acted, looked at things and been for nearly twenty years. I look at my family now and I am ashamed of the fact that my children are not doing better than they are. I feel that my presence was a hole at times and my absence was unremarked.

Letting all of this go and being me, being the honest and quintessential me, I have discovered that I am someone who cannot really connect to my family or friends about who I really am. Except here in the writing, where I tell the stories of my past, like pictures painted on the wall for people to gaze at and judge as they so often do.

Keep writing Zach, and never let those kids forget how much you love them. Always act on your instincts for doing the right thing and being honest and fair, despite the personal sacrifice it may entail. And never forget your experiences. Though you may not want to share some of them in the light of day, those who read them will cherish your ability to speak to their hearts through your words.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how sorry I am for your separation. Having been through one myself, I know how wrenching it is, and I didn't have post-war trauma to deal with on top of it.

Obviously I don't know you at all, but it is clear from your blog that you have an amazing gift for words. Whatever happens, whatever heartbreaks and disappointments you suffer through--and there will be more, have no doubt--don't give up writing. It will be your salvation, as well as an inspiration to others. I, for one, will be reading every word.

God bless,