There are some things I don't handle very well. ANZAC Day is one of them. I've been in a pretty bad place lately (hence the rather quiet blog), and having this day fall right when I'm at a low point is doing my head in. It's panic attack central here and I've spent five hours in bed today trying to avoid the world. It didn't really work, when I got up the world was right there waiting for me. Bastard.
The internet, television and newspapers are full of stories today - of the men and women who fought for our country, of those that never came back, and those that waited at home for them, thinking every time the phone rang it was going to be that call.
What you don't hear too much of, is the stories of after the war. What happens to those highly trained soldiers who have seen battle when they come back home and try to fit in to a society that doesn't always understand them? What happens to their family? Their kids?
For me, ANZAC Day is a giant flag, waved in front of my face to mock me, to remind me how fucked up the children of soldiers can be, how hard life as the daughter of a soldier who served in the Vietnam War was and still is.
I'm not trying to over generalize, but it's a widely known fact that a lot of soldiers tend to come home rather damaged. Really, how could you not? Fighting on the front lines, seeing limbs blown off, holding your friend as he takes his last breath. That damages. Right to the core. Often beyond repair.
I was part of a counseling group specifically for children of Vietnam Veterans a few years back and even though we were from such varied backgrounds; different socioeconomic groups, different religions, different ages... we all had identical stories.
From the shoes so highly polished you could see your reflection in them to the nightmares and the trauma.
From the school shirts ironed to within an inch of their life to the constant yelling, violence and alcoholism.
From the regimented schedule to the constant walking on eggshells, unsure of what was going to happen next.
Growing up like that? That damages. Right to the core. Often beyond repair.
We were all the same. We were all living in dysfunctional households and we were all fucked up because of it, having all been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from living under such conditions for so long.
You can leave certain things behind when you leave your parents' house; dolls, posters of teenage crushes, school reports and the like. You can't leave your PTSD behind though. That shit comes with you everywhere.
So here I sit, many years later, with PTSD still slumping my shoulders and dictating my daily life, watching the footage of our war heroes. I thank them for their service, for all they did... and then I cry for their kids... and, I'm loath to admit, I cry a little bit for myself, too.
Do you wish you could leave behind something when you left home?
I feel I should add that in the last few years my Dad, who was spat at on his return from the Vietnam War, where he fought on behalf of all of us in a war nobody supported, has healed immensely and we now, thankfully, have a very good relationship. However, it doesn't detract from the fact that for the first 28 years of my life I lived in constant fear of him. I love him, more than words can say. He is, by far, Tricky's favourite person and I firmly believe kids have excellent judgement.