THE EASTER OFFENSIVE
While prose and straight ahead personal story writing is largely not my form of artistic expression, I somehow find myself with the urge to enter this one as it may come out. For me, a place such as this site is so new to my experience regarding inviting writings about Military Service, and in particular for me Vietnam, that I feel open to the risk of revealing myself just a bit. I am one who has been very closed mouthed, due to a number of painful episodes after returning to the World, ever since. I shut down, and went from there. I paid a steep price for the silence, but I justified it as the lesser pain than the mistreatment and lack of understanding, which was common for those of us returning home back in the day, to receive.
Either way, now is now. Slowly, I am dealing with it. For decades, I had fallen into a dark mood, and I guess what they call a depression, always beginning around the middle to end of March, and going on for at least several weeks hence. I didn’t see the pattern for a good many years, and even when I did, it remained a mystery to me as to why. Considering that I had locked away The Nam from even myself (as much as that was possible) I suppose that is a logical reason for the blank spot in my mind. One year, I had a serious suicide attempt during this time. Still, after regaining consciousness in my own bed a few days later, there remained no connection to the past as having anything to do with it. I lived alone, as I do today, and so no one knew. I shook it off and went on from there.
About 6 or 7 years ago, I was asked out of the blue if I had served in Vietnam. The woman asking was a good friend, and she had lost her brother there. He was 2 weeks short when he went down. I asked her why she was asking me, and she repeated the question. I said, “Don’t ask”, and she said, “I’m asking.” I could not, out of respect for her and her brother, tell her no. I said yes. Besides, he was my Brother too, you know?
That is the moment I point to as my beginning toward bringing things out, and eventually opening up to other Vietnam Veterans I knew, and later seeking outside help. I consider myself far behind where I might have been, but at least on the way back. Some days, I regret having said a thing to others. I tell myself, “it ain’t nothin’” but most days now, I feel I am doing the right thing, confused as I usually am. Always though, I know I could not have lied to her, and disrespected her brother’s legacy. I never could have expected that moment to bring me the helpful people and blessings of healing which came from that.
Two years ago, I landed in the Psychiatric Unit (affectionately known as ‘The Flight Deck’ in these parts) right about this time of year. Not my first trip there, but it had been a lot of years since my previous time. I wasn’t in all that bad of shape really (Really!), but there was something coming up I figured I could get to faster in there, and without the usual distractions of life. I did… the Easter Offensive, beginning 30/31 March,’72, Quang Tri City. Months lay ahead for this once more Un-Godly time. I’m sure you know.
I lost a close friend on day thereof the offensive. Most of us know the pain of this loss too, I’m aware. I mean no disrespect, nor lessening the personal feelings to anyone for their losses by bringing this particular friend of mine up. It’s just that it hurts so badly. I don’t know why, but losing Wes, as we called him, brings up all the losses I saw, I felt, I went home without. And there were many. Every one was too many. Damn.
I now know why I get the way I get as March moves along, and April comes on. It hasn’t eliminated the feelings that overtake me. But knowing has made me less at the mercy of the unknown. I am most careful about falling into the dark place too far – most of the time. Still, sometimes I think I should just let go, and fall, fall, fall.
I wrote about it! This is a first. I’ll try and post more creative things next time. Thanks for the space. Be well.
©Copyright April 11, 2005 by Tim Bone