It’s the day before the big trip and as such, my mind is being overloaded. It has been for about 24 hours now. I’m not in panic mode because I’ve been preparing for over a month. That doesn’t mean I’m not anxious or worried.
I had a few things to take care of today. I tested out the helmet I finally decided on (a 3/4 with a removable faceshield that I’ll bring for the eventual rain. It also is able to connect to Ox for phone calls and navigation), I picked up a new phone cord to connect to the bike, got a hair cut, some new t shirts and some other odds and ends I needed to wrap up.
The wife keeps adding on some honey do’s and all I want to do is take a nap. That’s normal though.
I still need to wash Ox, organize my clothing and pack my luggage. That may only take a minute but it’s still hanging over my head.
It’s the kids first day of summer and the house is crazy. Not my idea of a good time. I tend to isolate myself and get angry quick. I need to be careful. I just yelled at my daughter for interrupting a conversation, in front of her friend. I need to chill out but that’s something I really don’t know how to do.
Am I missing something? I’m positive that I am but I’ve convinced myself that I’m not. I’m sure I’ll find out over the next few days. After it may be too late.
Today while riding around, I got three phone calls. One from a Wounded Warrior Project mentor, making sure I’m doing ok. These are the types of conversations where vets with PTSD (can I speak for all of us here?) will blow smoke up your ass. What’s the right answer? Do you really want to know how I’m doing? Do I really want to get into it? If I told you that last night was really hard and that I wished I’d just die in my sleep, would you report me and lock me up again? This is why you get a vague answer. This is why when friends see me, I look ok. Because I don’t want to get into it and it’s easier to pretend. So that call went well. He’ll call back in two weeks and I’ll give him the exact same answer. Everything is fine.
I also got a call from the local Combat Vets Motorcycle Association leader guy. Technically he’s the “commander” but I’m so over military crap that I can’t say that. Anyway. Super nice guy. He’s pulling for me he says and wants to make sure my family knows they have someone to reach out to. This is why I still, in some way, want to be part of a vet community. I may say I hate it and I may be reluctant, but they do care. Genuinely.
Case in point, and the third phone call. A guy I don’t even know. Never spoken to him before and may never again. He’s a vet as well and he unfortunately had many of the same experiences I have. He’s struggled but found some type of peace. He’s trying to move on and help others. He just wanted to let me know that my story hit home with him and that he’s pulling for me.
He made me think and I expressed as much to him. I am doing this blog for myself. I’ve said that. It’s really hard for me to put all of this out there where people can see it. It exposes me. I really have a hard time with that. I guess I am doing it though so that maybe others who are struggling can find something in common with my struggle. Maybe my pain can lighten yours. If I can, if I do, that’s a nice bonus.
I am hoping to make friends on this journey. Either virtually or in real life. If you feel you get to know me through this blog, or we get to chat on a forum or over the phone, then I’d hope we can be friends. If you get the chance to come out and ride along with me for a few miles, then shake my hand and share a bit about yourself. Those are the reasons I need to be doing this.
Just so you know, my wife says I make bad first impressions. I will absolutely blame that on the PTSD. I used to be so open and easy going. I liked to be the star in the room and I liked having others around me. Unfortunately I’ve been burned by too many people. I’ve had everything taken away from me by those I trusted. I’ve had friends turn out to be fair weather pals who walked away from me the moment I was inconvenient. So I’m sorry if I’m stand offish when we meet. I may not open up right away. I may even glare at you a bit. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m working on it.
I’ve had great friends who have stuck with me even though I truly tested our relationship. Like I’ve said, I tend to isolate myself in dark times and if I sense any kind of slight towards me, I am very quick to cut ties and walk away. There are some bridges I’ve had to mend.
And finally, yesterday I was fortunate enough to find a good old friend who was going my way. At least for the first few hundred miles. They say that the friendships formed during combat are the strongest. It really is a brotherhood. I would die for those friends. Well, this friend just happened to be my squad leader during my first tour. We went through a lot together. Things we have never talked about since. That’s probably a bad thing. We’ve both struggled. Tomorrow when I leave, he’ll have already ridden a couple hundred miles in order to ride with me. We’ll eventually part ways as he continues on to New Mexico where one of our brothers in arms is buried. He wants to spend memorial day where it matters most, in the company of one who gave his life in the service and protection of others.
It feels like a big day. I think I’m ready.
Tomorrow it gets real.