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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 145 - Untied Soul {FMF}

Time for another Five Minute Friday, the weekly keyword-themed writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung.

The word this week is...actually, I have no idea what it will be, because it's Tuesday, and I am hoping to have something even remotely ready to post on Friday. (And see below for an update on when this thing was finalized.)

(OK, Thursday night, and the word is UNTIE.)

Lost a lot of ground in the past few days. If you left a comment last time and did not see a timely reply...that's why.

I'm sorry.

Anyway, here goes. (And before we do, the original version had a lot of really bad language. I excised that.)

This post was supposed to be elegiac. Something peaceful, yet moving. That's what was written over Tuesday and Wednesday. Maybe I should have left it, but today a news item came over the Internet, and the red mist came down.

And my soul was untied all over again.

And I should lead off with a disclaimer. I have nothing to do with the VA. I worked as a contractor. A mercenary. Big boys' rules. I've stood knee-deep in a mass grave; and hell itself caught up with those responsible. That was a good day.

I occasionally follow Fox News, and a story they posted has me enraged at the idiots who claim to 'understand' how do deal with PTSD.

The academics are saying that the use of service dogs, trained to scan a room and 'block', and provide a veteran with support, may actually be reinforcing PTSD, and not providing 'healing'.

A quote -

"Critics of the study object most strongly to the tasks the VA is requiring of the dogs — sweeping the perimeter of a room before a veteran enters, for example, or protecting the veteran by "blocking."
"Isn't that saying that al-Qaida could be behind the shower curtain? That's supporting paranoid, pathological thinking," said Meg Daley Olmert, author of a book on how contact with a dog can create a sense of well-being."

Paranoid? When were you in your last gunfight, Meg? When did you have to last clear a room not knowing if a true-life demon was about to pop out of a closet...and kill you?

You throw around words like 'paranoid' and 'pathological', you better have walked where the real people walked. Otherwise you're irrelevant.

And yes, Al-Qaida does hide behind shower curtains. They also hide behind crowds of kids. They're called 'human shields'.

Ever seen kids die? Sorry, not die. That's too nice.

Have you ever seen kids been killed by people who were making a political point?


Any other questions? Great. Go back to your latte.

A bit more -

Four years in, that research has been plagued by problems. Only about 50 dogs have been placed with veterans, and critics question whether the protocol itself is flawed — with the dogs being trained to do things that could reinforce fears. Others worry the animals could become a substitute for the hard work that comes with therapy.
"You will have the veterans go to more places with the dogs and do more things than they would otherwise do. But they are reliant on the dog, not on their knowledge of ... whether really they are afraid of a ghost," said Dr. Edna Foa, director of the Center for Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
I love this. I mean., absolutely LOVE it.

"...a substitute for the hard work that comes with therapy..."

I guess that seeing your friends, people to whom you would literally trust your life, blown into lumps of muscle and intestine by an IED or mortar makes you lazy. Gotta work harder at the therapy to overcome that, lazy-bones!

And, ohhh, Dr. Edna...I'm afraid of ghosts!

I guess the situational awareness I developed, at a cost, is useless in our lovely peaceful Kum-Ba-Yah country. We're all pals here, so I suppose that when I feel a threat...I'm just afraid of the bogeyman.

Thanks. Doc, for trivializing my life. I guess I don't qualify for entry into the hallowed halls of academia after all. Guess I'm just the man on the margins, who doesn't really understand the real meaning of The Modern World.

You went to the mall, Doc. I went to Hell.

Let's get real. There are very few people alive who can understand where I have been, and what I've seen., because almost no one else has been there. You can see Saving Private Ryan all you want. It doesn't make you a veteran of Omaha Beach.

I have the mass grave dream every night, and I can still smell it.

Therapy will not make this go away. A group hug will not soften the ache, and not even the fragrance of Jesus - and I am a devout Christian - will overcome the smell. Not in this life.

My service dogs, Ladron and Sylvia, are my lifeline. The are the reason I did not eat a bullet a long time ago.

They get it.

They understand that my scars are what I am; and that the anger inside is my wellspring of life.


They bind back up what has been untied, to hold it together.

You don't 'recover' from those memories. You don't transition back into the world of The Voice and Empire and Joel Osteen. and "Let's eat out tonight!" You just don't.

What you do, with combat trauma, is to live a world that keeps the faith. You live a world that recognizes that the bell is going to ring again.

And you're going to go back out, somehow, because that is what you do.


George Orwell said that, a long time ago.

I will kill for you, and I will die for you. I can barely move, but I can still pull a trigger, and still have a Bowie knife. Detcord and claymores are my friends.

All I ask is that you respect the cost to me.

I don't do this for fun, and the money was nothing.

I do this for you.

Because I love you all, more than my own life.

In the end, dear readers, the only this is the only thing that makes living worthwhile.

I give a damn, and still have something that's worth dying for.

So, some music...Buffalo Springfield has been on my mind...for what it's worth.

f you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them


  1. Andrew, thank you. Thank you for the sacrifices you made. I know I'll never truly understand the depths of what you've endured. I won't pretend to. You've taught me much on this—being honest, even when it means admitting ignorance to the true nature of things. Thank you for helping me understand a little what you, and others, have done on our—on my—behalf. Your life holds great value.

    I'm glad you have Ladron and Sylvia. And I'm glad God allowed our paths to cross, friend.

    Praying for you and Barb tonight.

    1. Jeanne, I have no words but...thank you. I'm blessed by your friendship, and strengthened by your prayers.

  2. Andrew, thank you for your service. I indeed can never know what you've been through. So glad you have your service dogs. So glad you're still here even when the days are so so hard for you. Praying for you friend! I'm right next door to you at the linkup this week.

    1. I'm glad to still be here too, Tara. The friends I've made through FMF have really provided the 'tied with a bright bow' meaning to my life.

  3. Stuff like that makes me SO angry,as a mental health sufferer. While I don't know or understand PTSD (I actually did a bit of research on the topic for a paper the past few days), I know the feelings of a mental health struggle-- and people that try to demean or hinder your recovery with BS like this. I'm sorry. I'm so glad you have your pups-- while mine aren't trained therapy dogs, they are a great comfort to me.

    Love you, friend.

    1. Spot-on, Jordan. I reached a point where I basically said, "To heck with the world...I know my own reality, and I'm not going to buy into theirs, because it negates that for which I fought. They weren't there, they don't get it."

      Of course, I said it a bit more colourfully.

      Love you, Jordan. I am always so happy to see you here.

  4. Andrew, I write with the *utmost* respect. I'm a pacifist, so find your words hard to read (whilst fully realising that my pacifism is not compatible with handling the atrocities you've witnessed first hand....). I also don't understand your heroism when you say "I'll kill for you, I'll die for you", simply because it doesn't fit with my world view. But I respect your position and your heroism and the fact that you have carried on. As a PTSD-affected survivor (sparked by nothing as extreme as your own traumatic experiences), I respect your ability to *have* moved on. PTSD is crazy-making stuff, the worst bit, I find, being it's ability to make you doubt *everything*, even your own (previous) certainties. You're a different person several times a day when PTSD is in the picture and I appreciate, very much, how you describe your relationship with your dogs. "They appreciate my scars as what I am" (tears, tears, tears because yes, yes, yes....). Thanks, Andrew, for opening up a part of my world view that definitely needs opening up. Hoping things are not as awful as they have been in recent weeks. Helen xxx

    1. Helen, thank you for this. It may sound like a contradiction, but I'm a pacifist as well. The only thing worth fighting for, worth killing for, worth dying for...is that ordinary people can live in peace, and need never even consider that someone may want to hurt them

      I've seen far, far too much hurt. I want it to stop. I never want to hear a child cry again, never, ever, ever, ever, because if I hear that one more time...I may break, never to heal.

      XXX, Helen, from me and my stalwart guardians.

  5. Thank you for the edit.
    We can never walk a mile in someone else's shoes. We will never know the damage they have internalized or witnessed first hand. Last Saturday I had a first, an unexpected educating on a new subject. It so happened that I was conducting a meeting of women when one of them, a lady older than myself, asked if she could share with us. I don't know her well but trusted my instincts. Her story was the sort of thing you read about in magazines. She had suffered greatly as a child and had consequently developed multiple personalities, her "others." Each had a name and two were male. They protected her because the innocent child couldn't. Ten years ago she came to faith, and in time through counseling and God the personalities diminished and finally they receded and came together into one, herself. As she talked I could see deep into her soul, her eyes held the same piercing look that I see in people who have suffered intense hurt, like when a person tells you their darkest secret, their greatest regret. Yet her ability to look to the good and to walk free was an uncanny thing. God had become her everything. It was truly amazing. She loaned to me two binders of poems she has written, full of tender wise glimpses of life. She has grasped things that other people will never see for she has experienced the hard things. Not wasted. Redeemed. Set free. Not without pain, but now without bondage. She is a miracle. Her counselor told her that. You, too, are a miracle. That you care, despite the evil things of the past, is a surprising thing, but a miracle nonetheless. Redemption, I suggest. I still can't quite get over the lady's story. It spoke to me. Your story speaks as well. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to give opinions, and tell ppl how and what to think. Point well taken.

    1. Norma, thank you so much for sharing this. It adds tremendous depth...and means a lot to me personally.

      So much of telling people how they should think, and especially how they should 'heal' comes from a good place, and the best of intentions, but also from a flawed paradigm. People don't fit into 'cure boxes'.

      Life would be so much easier if they...if WE...did!

  6. So, Andrew, not sure if it was intentional or your eyes playing tricks but the word prompt is UNITED, so very close to UNTIED. Anyhoo, I took your word prompt and Kate's and ran with it - or should I say, wrote with it. You must visit me today: http://hopehearthome.com/five-minute-friday-united-or-untied/ Love you friend. And, your post answered a few questions I had about you and I want to thank you and tell you how much I admire and respect you. xo

    1. Susan, thank you so much for this. I haven't been well enough to spend any time on the comouter until now, but I will be heading your way, soon.

      Love you, Susan. You've done far more to keep my chin above water than you may realize.

      XO and wagging tails!

  7. Along with the others, I echo my thanks and respect. For what you gave and continue to give in your sacrifice of health. May God always be your peace and comfort and may you know that you are His and His love will, ultimately, conquer all.

    1. Debby, thank you so much. God is indeed a peace and comfort to me, and indeed...you put this so well...His Love will conquer all.

      Thank you for being here.

  8. United we stand, divided, we fall.
    You are a uniter, not a divider. A clearer evidence of Christ's mark upon you, I cannot think of at the moment.
    Our enemy loves to stir bitterness and resentment and pride and the "right" to be "right".
    You are speaking out against ignorance from a position of real pain and concern for others.
    You have mentioned before that you must sleep alone for safety, and that's something that many others cannot understand. The dogs will be safe when your conditioning kicks in, but people are not.
    It seems these "experts" wish to return you to a non-conditioned state.
    That myth is up there with "you can have your body back without change if you decide to bear children".
    Thank you for speaking truth in a world of whispered lies that infer our ability to be perfect.
    That was Satan's lie in the garden. "You will become like gods."
    We became aware of our inability to be God. Our need for a Savior. Our imperfections. It's uncomfortable to not be "enough", but He loved you then, Andrew. He has never stopped.
    And, Matthew 3:17? "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."
    He loves you as much as He loves Jesus and sees you equally.
    THAT is the Good News!
    Love you, my brother.
    Math joke:
    I see you have graph paper, you must be plotting something.

    1. Tammy...first...I LOVE the joke! It hurts too much to laugh, but I can still smile.

      And, yes...the dogs do get it when the conditioning kicks in (and they can move FAST). But anyone getting physically close to me, especially when I'm asleep...just the way I go from apparently a-doze to fully switched-on is (I have been told) terrifying. Like a machine.

      And yes, the experts want to return one to a non-conditioned state, and they don't realize that the only way there is through a lobotomy. (Though some experts do seem to have been lobotomized, and want to share...)

      nd yes...Matt 3:17...that's one to hang my hat, on. And my heart.

      Love you, Tammy. I am so grateful for, and honoured by your friendship.

  9. Andrew, thank you for all you have sacrificed for me. And yes, I will make it personal. Maybe that is where we all go wrong. We overlook that the sacrifice is made by each one serving in the military for our country (corporately) but more so for each one of us (individually). I pray that you would know many appreciate you and are praying for you today. Blessings!

    1. Joanne, words fail me here...except to say, thank you. I truly appreciate what you've said, and am very, very grateful for your prayers.

  10. Again you open our eyes to the wounds you and so many other war veterans carry inside, Andrew. I would not know how offensive such talk on the news would be if it weren't for your candor and hard fought insight. Too bad they didn't interview men like you when coming to these hurtful conclusions. You have a right to be angry about this, Andrew! And now through your eyes we do too. Love on those sweet dogs of yours, my friend. They are a gift that shall not be taken from you. Prayers are being lifted for you and Barbara.

    1. Beth, thank you...and you're right, interviews with the people who've been there, and who have made the rather painful journey to a degree of self-awareness would really help in getting The World to understand just what's been given, and that therapy (while it can be helpful) won't make it right. (I'm not saying I have a huge amount of that self-awareness...but enough to see, at least dimly, the magnitude of the problem.)

      Combat amputates a part of the soul, and like a limb, it just doesn't grow back.

      We're so grateful for the prayers, Beth. All of us.

  11. Time after time I come and read your posts, I am always blown away with what you write. This comes from the heart and I feel like those stories are the best to share for others to read. visiting from #30

    1. Kristina, I'm so grateful for what you've said, and the heart and love behind your words. You've really made my evening!

  12. So glad you continue to write and share and be bold, Andrew. I've been absent a few weeks, and I'm blessed to come back to read your words. Blessed to know you're there and have been defending me and our country. Thank you for your service. Thank you for being you! Praying for you, your dogs, and Barbara.

    1. Julie, I'm so glad you're here! Your smile (on the thumbnail picture) always brings a measure of peace to my heart.

      Your words mean a tremendous amount...and your prayers, even more. Thank you, my friend.

  13. It upsets me when people talk about things they clearly know nothing about. My convictions run to pacifism, but I would never deny men and women in the military or the police force whatever help they need to deal with what they need to deal with. Just ridiculous.

    I thank you, my friend, for having the guts and the courage to do what you believe to be right. That matters. Hug those sweet doggies today!

    1. Marie, thank you!

      As I mentioned above, in my reply to Helen's comment...I am also very much a pacifist. I would love to 'teach the world to sing in perfect harmony', as the old Coca-Cola ads went.

      But failing that, I wanted...and still want...for no one to feel the fear and despair of seeing the world arrayed against them, or indifferent.

      Thus, as I can no longer meaningfully deploy...the dogs. Every one I have picked up from the street, I have whispered in their ear, "You're safe. You're home. And no one will ever hurt you again."

      That's what it's all about, Marie.

  14. Thank you. For sharing. For confiding in the world of blogging, and sharing. Thank you for your tremendous sacrifices!

    1. And thank you, my friend...for being here. Thank you for caring.

  15. Thank you. For sharing. For confiding in the world of blogging, and sharing. Thank you for your tremendous sacrifices!

  16. Wow. And these people have "earned the right" to be called Drs?! Wow again.
    I do not suffer with PTSD but I believe it is a destroyer of many people. I can't begin to imagine what war was for you but I know that those who return are not haunted by ghosts but a very vivid reality. I pray that people will not be harmed as a result of these theories. Thank you for letting us know about these falsehoods. I also believe intensely in the tremendous and necessary work of dogs who are assistive and lide giving to their handlers/friends. I am thankful for the love you've not only poured into them but that they've lavished on you through their care.
    Thank you for your service. What a cost you have paid for our freedom. I'm not sure words can be found to adequately express my thanks. Be blessed dear brother. Glad to see you are here with us. You are loved.
    Janel (viepourcettetemp.wordpress.com)

    1. Janel, your words and thoughts are so important! I am so very grateful.

      A lot of veterans have been harmed by 'pet theories'; in the 70s, the incidence of suicide among Viet Nam veterans rose when the 'let it out' paradigm was in favour. Catharsis may work in other ares; not here.

      And the best gift you can give to any combat veteran is simply...be happy. Enjoy the life you've got.

      That you can, without fear or anguish, is what it's all about.

  17. I just finished reading Mindy Belz's book (They Say We Are Infidels), and that - along with your words today -- convicts me of the fact that I don't have the right to be ignorant of all that's going on in the world. So easy for me to stick my head in the sand when there are people who are suffering and when there is so much evil.

  18. Oh, Andrew, how I wish everyday people would take notice of our veterans more. We just watched "Lone Survivor" and I'm truly haunted. What our soldiers endure is beyond our worst imaginations, and yet we do nothing when they aren't supported on our own soil. Saddened and frustrated. Please know there are citizens who are indebted to your service, and though we can't take away your nightmares, we pray for you and know God will bring healing and wholeness.

  19. Andrew dear, sometimes ya just gotta chalk up stupidity to stupidity. Kind of like the intersection up the road from us that is more dangerous now than it was when the "smart" engineers designed it from their office many miles from the actual problem. These doctors are many miles from your problem, they sit in offices not knowing.

    Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your service, for your sacrifice.

  20. So thankful for you, brother! I have so appreciated your honesty and passion and willingness to be transparent -on the good days, which I know are far and too few, and on the hard ones too! I have a family member suffering from PTSD but they refuse to admit it or accept help or learn tools. It's terrifying and exhausting for those in close proximity and I am sure even more so for them!

    I can't tell you how much joy it brings me just to see your thumbnail over at Kate's for the link up each week!

    Praying for you!

  21. Andrew, what's been patently clear in your post is this: "I give a damn, and still have something that's worth dying for." Yes you do, and it shows. We will never be able to grasp the enormity of your sacrifice to ensure others can live free, sleep peacefully in their beds and have no great expectation of fearful events. Nor do most of them have the remotest idea of what you and others went through on their behalf.
    You are one brave, bold man and I salute you. Your courage, perseverance, determination and commitment are beautiful qualities indeed. They bleed through your words like ink. Thank you for being real and revealing another slice of the onion so that we can understand your life and the repercussions of it a little bit better than we did before. Praying for you to take solace in the love you receive from Barbara and your beautiful canine friends. You've been through so much together. God bless you.

  22. I can't say it any better than Joanne did above. Thank you for what you've sacrificed for me. I often think of that Orwell quote and am appreciative that there are people willing to do the work you have done so I can live my comfortable life.

    It's pathetic that the media doesn't complain that service dogs for people with seizures don't 'prevent' those patients from recovering and I'm sure even they realize it would be ridiculous to suggest that seeing eye dogs prevent the blind from making progress.

    I've been considering becoming a puppy raiser for a service dog organization. I think they let the foster parents name the dog. I'd be honored if you'd like to provide a suggestion. I think it can't be a human name and should be only one or two syllables.

  23. Andrew, you're making a difference in the world by letting people know about this. You are still serving in spite of your physical condition. Thank you.

  24. Andrew, just saying thank you isn't enough, but it's all I've got. Thank you!