Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Remember when...?

I have been missing for a while. I have a reason for this. I will explain when I'm able, without so many watchful eyes. In the meantime....

There are some who are pushing me to face my demons. This is easier said than done. And in spite of conventional wisdom, I'm not sure it is what's best for me. I protect myself.

I am a reporter, in the truest sense of the word. I'm old school. I specialize in disasters and wars, though not by choosing. I have seen a lot of dead bodies, blown to bits in war zones, some with gaping holes, and some which resemble ghosts--slippery beings floating in the Katrina flood waters. I once saw a horse in a tree. Katrina victim. Really. I stared at it for hours.

I have to have some degree of separation or I could never do my job. I empathize. I get it. I help people. I think very clearly in the face of disaster or emergency, so much so that when I was bombed I calmly requested a smoke and a whiskey. In Israel once, as I was chased by an Israeli tank (I was on foot), I managed to squeak out "I paid for that tank!" as I ran down the street.

The gunner was laughing and so didn't mow me down. But just seconds before he had shouted he'd blow my American "sorry-ass" to "f*cking kingdom come".

When death is facing me, I am as calm as a cucumber, as my Grandma used to say. I can tell people to go here for help, or shout here for attention. I think more clearly than at any other time. I am never afraid. Never.

But it is only because of my detachment. A sniper opened fire on us once in Diyala Province, Iraq. The American soldiers I was traveling with were screaming at each other, trying to figure out where the shots were coming from. When they finally shut the f*ck up, I told them where he was. On the rooftop behind us. They were so busy screaming, they couldn't focus on the threat. Poor training, in my eyes, or youth. Whatever. I was as calm as could be. I listened for the gunshots, followed the sound, and saw the poofs of smoke from a rooftop. And there was that shadowy ass figure...BLOW HIM AWAY.

Follow the leader and you're dead. If a group of crazed, panicked soldiers ran one way, my instinct was to head out the other. Follow the herd? Sure. That's what got me bombed.

One lapse in judgement and here I am.

My detachment keeps me safe and sound. My experiences go well beyond any PTSD a soldier battles. I have experienced it so many times it has become the norm. PTSD doesn't scare me. I don't have nightmares of the scorched bodies I've seen. My nightmares are all about not being able to return to what I do.

In the meantime, to force all of my demons to the surface would jeopardize not only my job but my mental health. So there is the quandary. What to do....?

A social worker today asked me what would keep me going? I told her my passion for my work. And that is my passion for life. Its absence has been the scariest part of all of this.

But perhaps even scarier...the docs say PTSD is cumulative. I'm in deep shit...

6 comments:

Oldfool said...

My name is Oldfool and I approve this message.

Annette said...

So GOOD to have you back.....

MusicMom said...

Wow. This was so amazing, I don't even have words to comment. But reading this, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be OK. You are a journalist, and you will always be a journalist, no matter where you happen to be writing from. You see the world, including your own experiences and sense of self as only a journalist can. A bomb can't take that away from you. Nothing can. I am in awe.

In The Wind Adventures of William and Mary Ann said...

Hi Cami, Just wanted you to know that I regularly check for your posts and read them. I know...I should comment more often, I've been very bad about that for a while now with the other blogs that I follow, too..(Oldfool is one of my faves, I haven't left any comments for him either in a long time, but I eagerly look for his and your posts). No excuse, just "stuff" going on in my life, seems to drain me to the point of sheer laziness. Sorry about that...but, I do think of you often and wonder how you are on any given day. Sometimes, thinking about what you've been through, gives me strength to get through my day or week or whatever. I enjoy "visiting" here and I'm so glad that I accidently came across your blog one day while "surfing". Keep on doing what you're doing...at your own pace. You (and only you) know what's right for your physical and mental strength. Hugs, Mary Ann

Emmy said...

I know you're going through so much, and that it has to be difficult; I can't understand what you're experiencing, since I've never been there myself, but I can say that you're a very brave person and I greatly admire you. This blog is proof of your will to live; even when you're in pain, or giving up, you still keep on writing. I think you're going to be fine ;) We're cheering you on!

Marianne said...

You don't have to explain anything, Moonpie. Your feelings aren't right or wrong, they're part of who you are. You're doing a great job of reporting even though you're not where you want to be. You've opened my eyes to so many things - and that's what a reporter does, right?