“Stop crying and fight your father!”

fight prep

Welp.  I did something today I didn’t think I would.  I reached out to the VA for care.  Granted, M has strongly suggested I do so repeatedly.  As a doctor, it seems it’s excruciating for him to watch my health decline for lack of care.  I also reached out to the Patient Care Advocacy to assist in ensuring I’m not subjected to further abuse.  (They’re but the first in the chain-of-command.)

It’s not the first time I’ve sought their aid.  While the advocate I worked with was kind and recognized the abuse, her efforts, unfortunately, led to retaliatory mistreatment from other VA employees.  It led to my retreating under the rock.  The fact I don’t speak on the phone (and informed them several times) hasn’t helped matters since the online communication tool rarely works correctly.

Most times, I’m unable to respond to messages received.  When I’ve sought technical assistance, I was met with questions about my status, as if I’m new to the VA system.  The few times I’ve gotten through, I was offered phone appointments, much to my fury.  It’s also rare that the same individual reads or responds to anything I’ve written.  It’s a mountain of racism and bureaucratic bullshit I’m facing.

The number of hoops to jump through is astonishing.  I’ve decided to break my silence about the abuse I’ve endured.  I’m going to fight as if my life depends on it.  (It does.)  Fortunately, my education and military service taught me a great deal about how to get results from people who would prefer I crawl back under the rock and rot.  I won’t.

Shout it out

While I anticipate I’m facing an epic battle, it shouldn’t be this way.  There are no excuses for this treatment by the VA.  I’ve done my research, acquired legal counsel, and am as ready as I’ll ever be to fight until my pigmentation level and lack of a penis cease to prevent me from being recognized as a human being at the VA.  I’m so disgusted and traumatized by what I’ve endured.  I can’t even drive past the VA hospital without having a panic attack.

While not everyone at the Sioux Falls VA is vile and dishonorable, those who are have made it a nightmare.  I’m genuinely astonished by the lack of professionalism and decency I’ve witnessed in multiple areas of the hospital.  I don’t want to be another veteran suicide statistic, of course.  However, the mistreatment has repeatedly increased the likelihood immensely.

The irony is a bitter pill to swallow.  Even the medication bottles have stickers to remind veterans to reach out to the VA instead of killing yourself.  They’re proudly displayed all over the place, but none of them inform veterans it could be that very action that pushes them over the edge.  None of them warn of the fact that the VA’s concept of treatment varies tremendously by skin color, gender, and whether or not your provider likes you.

I’ve endured while my PTSD symptoms have worsened and my life has become a shell of what it could be with proper care.  I’ve cowered and raged over the unfairness.  My mind replays each event whenever I attempt to sleep.  Often I end up weeping and give up trying to sleep until so exhausted I can’t prevent it.  Then I’m unable to awaken myself when the nightmares overwhelm.  I’ve forgotten how well-rested feels.

VA crisis line - at your own risk

I’ve kept extensive written accounts of each incident, and plan on being very public and open about everything.  I have no qualms about naming people who’ve mistreated me.  I’ve begun my thesis on racism in the VA and already have interested publishers.  In the light, it will all come out.  I disclosed my plan to Patient Care Advocacy to utilize recording apparatus whenever I enter the building.  (I’ve done so in the past to keep accurate, provable records.)  Beneath the trauma, I’m still a fierce warrior who understands war.  It’s on like Donkey Kong.

“Let’s go, Pop. White belt, white pants, white shoes, get in the back.”

What you gonna do?

Okay.  I had to let go of my rage.  I can’t afford to waste any more energy.  I do apologize for throwing all cops under the bus in my anger, knowing not all of them are racist pricks.  None have ever abused their authority with me (that I know of.)  My fears, although rational, are frustrating because I can’t identify a racist by sight.  Unless they’re wearing a MAGAt uniform or something, that is.  (No hesitation to say that with confidence anymore, dontchaknow.  The bridge pic in front of a youth indoctrination center in my last post did it.)

I decided I’m not going to respond to the letter.  If the police show up, come what may.  I’m not thick enough to answer the door.  I’m not likely to forget I’m black.  😂🤣  Yep.  I’m bitter.  I think it’s because being hated doesn’t grant me the ability to hate back.  Heather was a racist by age seven.  I don’t think it’s fair I can’t even fake it.  We had the same freaking environment and were only 13 months apart.  This can’t be my planet.

I told M. to give me a week before we talk about him coming back.  You know why so many veterans succeed at committing suicide?  It’s because we’re trained to only attempt that which we’re sure to acomplish.  We instinctively include redundancy, and don’t shy away from gruesomely violent methods.  We’re also more likely to own weapons.  Twenty-two veterans will commit suicide today, according to statistics.  (Google it.  I’m cranky.)  And tomorrow.  And the day after that.  You get it.  (I’m being morbid because I’m hurt, offended, and not trying very hard to adult.)

I think the veteran suicide rate is by design.  Mostly because it makes fiscal sense.  If you’ve read more than a few of my posts, you know I analyze the shit out of everything.  Why the hell do you think I joined the Army?  Sure, partly because I was an arrogant, spoiled rotten brat an inch away from rationalizing my way into some white collar crime that wasn’t technically invented yet, and I didn’t truthfully want that easy, easy path in life.  But mostly because I wanted answers to several questions, am impatient, and didn’t understand what fear meant yet.  The shortest distance from spoiled rotten brat to adult was surrendering to Uncle Sam’s ironic call for volunteers.

plastic soldier

Oddly, it had to be either the Army or the Marines.  I did my research.  I didn’t do enough joint operations with Navy or Air Force to narrow down why.  Coast Guard seemed a silly choice for a Dakotan.  I didn’t consider the Marines at all.  I’m pretty confident I would not have lasted another two weeks in boot camp, thankyouverymuch.  (Failing basic is usually because you changed your mind, or you got hurt, in my opinion.)  The only hard part is acting despite fear, staying awake on fire watch, and living with 49 other children experiencing the same trauma.  If you want it enough, you graduate.

I came too close to a meltdown today, so my brain is defragmenting.  I’m amazed I’ve stuck to something resembling a topic this long.  I’m operating on dark humor and cynicism.  (I don’t mind this phase of the process because it mostly amuses me.)  This weekend is ruined, though.  I can tell I won’t be sleeping anytime soon.  I can’t even work on my song because the Muse won’t acknowledge my existence when I’m carrying around negativity for no reason. I already forgave my cat for continuously thwarting my ability to off myself without going through the agonizing mental exercise first.  (I haven’t needed a plan in years.)

Yep, I’m that weird.  I don’t care.  (You wouldn’t either if you were me.)  I forgot to eat today.  +10 for remembering before midnight.  Although, I broke a tooth from grinding my teeth too hard a bit ago.  Thanks, Prozac, you evil, dry-mouth causing bitch.  Even when I’m just recovering from losing my shit, I’m still aware I have an indefinable bond with my healing sisters, (Stevie Nicks, Amy Lee, Lorde, etc.)  It’s probably why I’m able to talk shit while my CPU is under such a heavy load.  I’m as strong as I am weird, now.  I bet that scares you.  😂  (No, seriously, I hope not.)  I’m going to go eat before I type something even more regrettable.  Seeya.

“Do they really need the abuse of being compared to a rhinoceros on top of everything else?”

Art installation from The Burning Man exhibit, 2015.
Inner Child – art installation from The Burning Man-2015

M. gave me a gift today.  It’s an F*** Box from the UK.  It’s a grid of 16 buttons that play sound bytes of the F word being used in various ways (with feeling) by people with British accents.  I effing love it!  I need to hack it a bit to lower the volume, though, (this is the midwest.)  It’s the size of a deck of cards, and it now resides on my desk where I can press and giggle at will.

I saw a young woman speak horribly to a man earlier.  As I cringed, I thought to myself she should have served in the military.  It provides excellent training on how to treat humans, regardless of their social grouping.  I didn’t say anything because I couldn’t think of anything besides shaming her.  (I know from trial and error this isn’t a practical method for civilians.)

I used to be her.  Only for about a week, (because I was in the Army when I finally realized males aren’t disgusting after all.)  I trampled on a man’s ego as if it made me cute in earshot of a woman, once.  She corrected the shit out of my behavior. (It was terrifying to be a girl in the Army.  The women watch everything you do at all times as if every mistake you make halves their paycheck.)

I got kicked out of the barracks and had to move in with her and her three kids in military housing.  At first, I was in shock and had the gall to act like I was unjustly singled out and punished.  I didn’t even get a private room or bed.  I had to sleep with a toddler who wet the bed at least once a week.  I learned baby pee is no biggie, and they don’t take up much room.

Then I learned how to treat men by spending all my free time with two little boys and a toddler baby girl.  I don’t remember how long it took before I was allowed to move back into the barracks.  It’s not that living in the barracks was highly desirable;  more that I eventually figured out how shameful it was to be someone who couldn’t be trusted to live there without (verbally) abusing the 200 or so young men who also lived there.

I do remember what I did that got me in so much trouble.  A man who was in my battalion but not my battery, asked me out while we were standing in line for chow.  I was 18 at the time, and he was 25.  (Lowering my head in shame)  I said, “Eww.”  To his face.  In front of others.  And I didn’t realize I just kicked him in the nuts and set his hair on fire.  So I turned around and made the, Can you believe this guy? motion I learned from TV.  (And then assumed it was perfectly fine to go on living my life like I didn’t just do that.)

children

Whew.  I’m still paying for it in regret and shame.  My SSG told me whenever I look at a man, also see the cute little boy operating the man-sized avatar, because that’s where we all keep our feelings.  Spending time with her kids was a lot of fun, I’ll admit.  I adored them and still think of them sometimes.  The oldest was 13, and we were an even match in basketball.  (We spent more energy on talking shit than playing, though.)

The middle boy was 9ish.  It’s possible he was sweeter than Amelia Bedelia is now, and that’s saying something.  The baby was 3 or 4.  We used to watch music videos of The Boys, our mutually adored band, then dance in front of the mirror.  She was adorable and fascinating.  I was awestruck by how developed her personality was at such a young age.  She’s an incredible woman now, just like her mom.

It was the first and last time I abused a man.  It’s hard to see young women and girls make the mistakes I did and not intervene, but I’m nobody’s SSG, and this isn’t the military.  It’s easy to copy the behaviors and words we see on TV and in movies.  Especially those of us on the autism spectrum.  I couldn’t communicate with people if I couldn’t study actors to show me how and teach me the scripts.  Naturally, I assume everyone uses this tool to some degree.  🙃

Not everything we see actors do on TV is things we can copy, for many reasons.  There has to be a consideration in real life, because of real feelings.  No matter how someone looks on the outside, they’re still that adorable child (often operating their adult avatar.)  I don’t need help remembering anymore, but you know what I did.  I’m super thankful my SSG took the time to teach me this vital life lesson.  Hopefully, others can benefit as well, (without getting peed on.)

But I don’t wanna be a pirate!

I’ve devised a new bribe to get myself to exercise.  If I run on my treadmill, I can watch music videos and interviews.  I just need to go a bit slower to prevent vertigo.  I don’t have a forgiving space to land in if I go flying off the back.  I have a credenza full of quilting supplies.  (It would probably only hurt my ego.)  I have an oddly shaped room over a stairwell, (which is the only reason I don’t feel guilty about running in my apartment.)  Nobody uses that stairwell, anyway.  My near-neighbors are funny to me.  I’ve seen most of them working out in the gym, at the pool, on the bike trails, etc., but they all use the elevators religiously.

I’m going to go ahead and apologize in advance for the length of this post.  I’ve been living in my head all weekend because my niece is visiting.  She’s the niece that’s older than me and used to beat me up, (because isn’t that fucking hilarious.  🙄)  She asked me earlier why I never seem to relax.  In my head, Michelle Obama and Lisa Bloom both looked at me and mouthed, “Don’t answer.”  So I’m bugging you instead.  Nope.  They didn’t say, “Don’t blog.”  🙃

LAS VEGAS, NV – MAY 26: Drummer Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac performs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 26, 2013, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Mick Fleetwood looks a lot like my dad did now, which is an awful lot like Santa Claus.  Cool.

Oh yeah, I promised to tell my cocaine story.  In the Army, when you get promoted to SGT, you have to dump all your friends who aren’t SGT’s.  When I got promoted, the woman who dropped me as a friend when she got promoted became my mentor while I made the transition.  I was delighted to be able to hang out with her again.  She’s probably in the top five coolest people I’ve ever met.  Anyway, the night of my promotion, she invited me to hang out.  I accepted.

I didn’t even realize the NCO’s (non-commissioned officers) were coming together to celebrate my promotion until they brought out the cake.  It was the point where my being upset over losing my few friends became, “Oh wow, I’m an NCO now.”  It felt pretty good to have them acknowledge my achievement.  The only thing I’d ever actually said to most them before was, “Yes, SGT.”  Soon, bottles of beer were passed around, (and I passed because I don’t drink.)  No problem, no pressure, yay.  We listened to music, and they shared stories while I sat listening in awe.

After a while, the SSG (who totally looked like an Ewok, and made me dig a 6′ x 6′ x 6′ hole for pointing it out,) started passing around a picture he took off the wall with lines of cocaine on it.  They passed it around to everyone.  Everything seemed to be in slow motion to me, as my brain sorted through what was going on.  By the time the picture came to me, I knew the wisest choice was to follow suit.  In hindsight, I think it was a test.  But I’m not sure.  Anyway, my ignorant ass took the rolled up dollar bill with shaking hands, arranged a neat line with the razor, and blew it all off the picture.  Sigh.

There was a pause.  To me, it was excruciatingly long, but it probably wasn’t in reality.  Then my mentor punched me in the shoulder while they all laughed weirdly.  (Look.  If you’re not supposed to blow it, then why the fuck do they call it blow?  Which is more logical?  Snorting it up your nose?  Or following the obvious instructions in the nickname?  I still haven’t managed to live it down…)  I just wish more care was taken in naming things, that’s all.  So that pretty much ended the party, but the cake was delish.

The reason I knew I had to go along was this:  These men and women were the backbones of my unit.  They literally ran it from day to day and kept us prepared to deploy to war with 72 hours notice at all times.  Accusing them of using an illicit drug, (a career ending mistake), wasn’t an option.  Fortunately, I was fresh out of leadership training and was able to recognize it immediately.  The unwritten rules.  Had I refused to go along, I would have separated myself from the NCO’s, and become a pariah.  When I was a private, my instinct would have been to refuse and report.

If it was a test, I passed, (but barely.)  I’ve never actually ingested cocaine.  That’s the only time anyone ever offered me any.  Oh no, wait.  When I visited the aquarium in the inner harbor in Baltimore, some random guy waved at me to step outside, so I did.  Then he asked me if I wanted some crack.  I didn’t understand the question, so he walked away.  Now I know what crack is, so that’s my only other experience with it.  I’m a weed only woman.  I’ll vape cannabis, but no on the rest.  (And only in states where it’s legal, because the consequences are out of the question, and a cop could stare a confession out of me in five minutes.  Okay, less.)