what it might have been

img0041.jpg  It is hard to say…”what if”? I’ve had too many people say that I dwell in the past too much-but I believe I’m like that because parts of me are stuck there and are trying to repair the damage or run preventative control-except fruitlessly. I really can’t explain that-except that I do know that at times my current behavior is in effect trying to grab and salvage some of the things I could have done-beginning back then, and have only started to realize that I actually could have done them.

It is kind of a confusion to have been told all those years ago the morning after my rapes in barracks D to “get used to it” and then be told years later that I should “let the past go” and “get over it”.

The other day I finally made it across the street and onto the University of Florida campus. The fear of a simple challenge-to staple hand bills (for the upcoming Survivors Art Exhibit-at the U of F campus student union gallery) )to bulletin boards kept me from being able to make a start the project . It reminded me of the many times I would try to find a job and would not be able to go in to fill out the application…at times I could not even open the car door to get out and go in. Jobs were so impossible in the earlier days-those who knew me thought I was worthless because I could never find a job or if I did-stick to it. They never knew the handicap it was-how disabled my mind was to to understand the pattern. Help wanted sign ?-they wanted you to come in! Plain as that, instead I’d drive around the block four or ten times trying to build up the nerve….continually telling myself “they don’t want me”!! My DD214 helped season that-which is another part of this story.

When I joined the Navy I thought I had the rest of my life in front of me-our first time of going out to sea was the most greatest of experiences. My time off I would go all the way up to the bow of the ship and watch as it cut through the water-an awesome sight. I ‘d lay my body right into the form of the bow and could look down as this huge vessel cut its way through the great ocean. I found out years later that all I had to do was go up and volunteer-and they’d let me hold the wheel and guide the ship.

The ships education officer had promised me his help in getting my high school diploma-those days it was a greatly needed document,now you need a degree from a college. The education officer assured me my test scores had proved I had what it took to achieve-and he would help me reach those goals…to get an education. He even talked about college-that the Navy had programs and I could be qualified to be an officer!

My brother Frank-we were stationed together on the ship, did all he could to tell me it was bull shit. It was a contrast in encouragement-the beginning lessons I suppose of self doubt and worthlessness ,and those were more improved at barracks D when combined with confusion and daily fear.

When I was a young teen I thought I was going to grow up and become an architect. Kids my age played ball and built model planes-me,I cut out pictures of houses-Frank Lloyd Wright was more more a hero to me then Mickey Mantle would have been. I had these note books with pictures of houses glued inside-floor plans glued next to them. Those dreams sort of filtered in with the Navy-but expanded into what I had hoped would become my entire life to be a Navy officer. All of this built up from the guidance of the education officer.

The mornings when I would wake up in barracks D to the sounds of the men stirring-the coughing and the shuffle of  noise you can intertwine with early morning (I can still hear the sounds of the zippo lighters clicking and the smell of the cigarettes) my mind would automatically react to the upcoming day-most of it spent with my arm twisted behind my back-being led to do what my bully wanted me to do , and to whom. You learned-“get used to it”-to ease the pain by being submissive to the whims and not to argue. To be told what to do and have to do it or be hurt. It doesn’t take much arm twisting to make that happen. I battled with that in my life ever since-my mental arm could be twisted to submission.

It does something to you to have something dangled in front of you and be told that you can have it and not be able too-yet it was there for you to have! ( the old Donovan song from the 60’s…”once there was a mountain then there is no mountain-then there is?”)Defined this means the offer of an education and a future was what I wanted-they had their man,and I believe a simple case of jealousy (my brother’s) became the thing that destroyed it. There really is no other explanation why I ended up in the detention barracks in the first place. Was it to teach me-a lesson of a higher education? After all…I had done nothing! An error that was unintentional – an error of a storm put me in an AWOL position…but a few hours later that had been cleared up by a telephone call to the ship-so I was free to go and enjoy my holiday (it was New Years 1969-70). I have no way to explain the events that took place in my absence to cause the ship to send my brother to ‘arrest’ me. There were snippets of information from a few directions-one about how a sailor named Billy told my brother some things….but Billy was more of a gossip then source of truth. All I can say-from that day on my life turned in a direction that never quit. I still wake in the morning in fear-no,there are no more early morning sounds or smell of cigarettes or the click of zippos,but the memory is immediately there.

It is a kind of bitter sweet project for me-to cross the street and enter the campus to staple hand bills to the bulletin boards. It could have been me…a student,walking from class to study out on the lawn, to earn a degree and to understand the future of life, responsible and with a success that can be sowed with a purer less damaged mind and spirit.

I become depressed-a friend told me he can tell when it happens, he told me I become more concentrated on barracks D when I do. It isn’t hard-when each morning you wake to an echo from the past that says ‘worthless failure’ and your mind immediately rakes through and begins an inventory of all the events from the days of barracks D and the failure I was to the Navy. No,this is not exaggerated in any way-it is constant. My father died recently-to him I wanted to prove myself ,but today it is no longer possible,and that just increases the memory of it all….ads to it . And, so when I wake and feel the sense of barracks D – and go into failure mode and remember I am different now…and different always because of it.

The monkey in the photograph had a higher military career than I did. He served his country with honor-like I wanted to….honorably.

6 Responses to “what it might have been”

  1. Austin Says:

    I battled with that in my life ever since-my mental arm could be twisted to submission. <—– that’s the part that breaks my mind the most, my submission. Even now submission in others makes me furious.

    The monkey is just that, a monkey, a cute little guy with no expectations other than to be cute and fit into this or that scientific experiment. You, however, are a human being. There is a huge, huge difference between you two soldiers.


  2. jayherron Says:

    God Bless you Austin.
    We are kindred,you and I, in that we share simular life experiences-
    and,I understand the huge difference between me and the monkey!
    ….and,yes-the submission part would be so nice to be shed of it! (shed=rid)

  3. Austin Says:

    I think to myself, I was 20 years old and still being abused by my mother, where was my backbone. But you know what? I did what concentration camp kids did, I learned helplessness. I learned I was hurt less to go along. I didn’t think I wanted to die so I went along clear up to age 20. But the anger of submission sometimes gets me to the point where I now can’t handle the thought that I was so submissive. The humiliation of being an adult hurt that way ravages me to no end it seems. And now when there is even the slightest feeling of humiliation or embarrassment I’m angry then I’m suicidal.

    What I know in my head is I didn’t have a choice. I was out numbered. I wasn’t the one with the power but my emotional self says, “you could have done this, you could have done that.”

    I wrote this entry a few months back but it still applies. I read it when I start thinking to myself, I could have done more….
    This Perversion Does Not Belong To Me


  4. jayherron Says:

    I read your post as you suggested Austin-very well written and thank for extending yourself to me!

  5. Austin Says:

    I intended very much to expand on your comment left the other day but ended up side tracked with several other things. My hope is to write what I had in mind very soon.

    until again,

  6. jayherron Says:

    ahhh…yet,you have no idea!
    my brother sister friend who understands….

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