Excerpts

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Dave Sekol - United States Navy

In a matter of months, I developed a huge I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude about a career, and I certainly didn’t care what anyone else thought of me.  That’s why I took a job grooming dogs. 

I’ll bet I groomed every kind of dog there was, and that was just fine with me.  I worked in the back of a pet shop, people left me alone, and for months, it was just the three of us – the canines, the marijuana and me.  For me, working with dogs was therapeutic.  They didn’t ask questions or make judgments.  They accepted me, and if I fucked up, they didn’t hold grudges.  During that dark period in my life, my four-footed companions kept my anger and frustration at a manageable level.  Recently, I had experienced powerful and intrusive negative emotions and frequently, I hallucinated.  Somehow, marijuana was the only thing that made my days seem normal. 

Who knew what the hell went on in my life?  I sure didn’t, but just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, nightmares came.  Night after night, crazy, mixed up jumbles of scenes swam around inside my head, washed sanity away and left me exhausted.  In one reoccurring dream, I was in my hometown in Ohio, but the low mountains all around were in Vietnam.  When I looked out beyond the city streets to the horizon, an army of VC with blood in their eyes crested the hills in swarms looking only for me.  In my dream, I always had guns and grenades by my side, ready to fight back, but I fought from my own house.  I defended myself from inside my living room.  Vietnam, Ohio, gunfights and my own home – everything was mixed together.  I’d try, but I couldn’t get away.  Finally, panicked at being trapped, I’d wake up, jump from the bed, and then collapse onto the floor, my heart racing and sweat pouring off me.

  • Cardinal PTSD symptom – night terrors.  However, Dave’s dreams differed from many other veterans.  His sprang not only from the unprocessed trauma of his war experience but also were intertwined with residual psychological material from his abusive father.  Dave relived the horrors of Vietnam and re-fought the battles, but his brain placed him in the setting where he developed his childhood complex trauma – his home and the local environs. 

On other occasions, I fought the bed covers in the middle of the night.  I jumped and thrashed and tossed and turned until finally, Yolanda would wake me up.  One night during one of these fits, I hit her hard in the middle of the chest.  I didn’t mean to, of course.  I wouldn’t even have known I’d done it, but I awoke suddenly to find her gasping for breath.  The night terrors came to me two or three times a week for years.  To get any rest at all, I got really blasted on reefer, because the more marijuana I smoked, the better I slept.

  Excerpts:

1. The Vernon County
2. "Fine, I’ll join the army."
3. Rewarding conformity
4. The LST
5. Freedom tax
6. Interrogating VC
7. Zombie-like
8. Yolanda
9. Dog therapy
10. Anger rush
11. EDMR therapy
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