Hey, y'all. If you've read any of my posts in the last couple of months, you'll know I retired from the USA to Mexico. Down here I was lucky enough to find a face to face support group in my new hometown to back up my support online here on DS PTSD.
As part of getting the group to know me and, he says, for my own therapeutic benefit, my sponsor wants for me to share live and out loud about one of the traumas that brought me here to DS PTSD and in my new face to face support group in the first place. So since y'all have known me now for 9 years, I figured I'd rehearse my telling it here so I'd be ready for telling it face to face 3 hours from now.
What others me most about people, I think, is when they do something that they know very well is wrong and cruel, and they do it anyway even though they could prevent it. That's what I remember most about my literal baptism by fire when I was 9 years old and my family's car got hit by a bomb during the Uruguayan civil war. We went out for ice cream as a family one Friday night and got caught in a gun battle between students and the cops. The student who threw that bomb was in close proximity to our car.
He didn't throw it from a distance at a general target; he threw it at us, a family in a car, specifically. He was right beside our car on the right, right beside our car's passenger side door. I was in the VW Beetle's back seat on his side of the car, looking out the back window up at him. His eyes locked with mine, he clearly saw me in there. He hesitated, thought about it, and threw the bomb knowing I was a kid and he was bombing a child.
He did it deliberately after he clearly saw me and saw that it was wrong. It was doubly wrong, because it would have been wrong for his enemy, the government's troops he was fighting. But it was wrong again because it went against the humanitarian ideals for which he was supposed to be fighting the anti-democratic government. It was wrong again because he was supposed to be one of the good guys. Yet look at what he was doing: he was trying to kill a kid, and not quickly and humanely, either, but to burn a kid to death in fire.
Shame on him. In that moment, that university student warrior for social justice betrayed all that he was supposed to be about. In that moment, that university student warrior for social justice taught me as a 9 year old kid a hard lesson that was to carry me through to the end of the six year civil war that was just beginning for me that day. That hard lesson was that, unlike what the newspapers say, unlike what people may say to each other, the real truth was that in moment in war there are no good guys or bad guys.
In real war in the moment all that exists in the end are two other categories that have nothing with being good or being bad, nothing to do with which side of the fight you're on, nothing to do with the cause for which you're fighting. Those two categories are the dead or the living. What you do or don't do when all hell breaks loose in war will determine that for yourself and for others forever.
Because of this university student who looked right into my eyes bomb in hand and had the choice to do the right thing but did the wrong thing anyway, right in my face, I was almost one of the dead that day. So was my little sister, my mom, and my dad. So was my whole family. That university student almost killed a whole family in pursuing his cause to fight for social justice. What justice, huh?
I learned that day that war would be full of contradictions, especially the kind of war I was in, a civil war, a war in the national family in which brother tries to murder brother. War made no sense, especially civil war, but that was normal in war because when the talking ended and the combat began, in combat sense went out the window. Combat was dog eat dog, and dogs don't think, dogs don't reason. Attack dogs just attack. So attack my family's car one did.
The flames that engulfed our car once that bomb hit were all blue. Later I was to learn that the blue color of the flames I saw dancing on the hood of the family car I was in was due to the fact that the flames were being fed by gasoline. Later I was to learn that the kind of bomb that nearly killed me was a bomb called a Molotov cocktail, a kind of Improvised Explosive Device made from household items plus gasoline.
It was called a Molotov cocktail because it got its name from the Russian World War II general in charge of the battle that stopped Hitler's advance on Moscow, the Battle of Stalingrad. In that battle the fighting was all urban, just as in the war I lived through in Uruguay. The fight was was house to house like it was in my neighborhood when this guy looked me right in the eye, saw that I was just a kid, and threw his Molotov cocktail bomb right at me anyway.
All that it took to make a Molotov cocktail bomb was household items: a glass wine bottle, a rag, and a liter of gasoline. The bomber had to fill the bottle with gasoline, wet her or his rag in gasoline, and then stuffed the wet rag down the bottle's neck so that it touched the liquid inside. Then the bomber lit the portion of the rag that protruded from the bottle and, with the flame burning, threw it at the desired target.
That desired target turned out to be 9 year old me, for reasons I'll never understand, since I realized that day that reason goes out the window in war. War and reason have no more to do with one another than space travel has to do with puppies. War is the outbreak of violence that starts with reason ends.
Since both of my parents were mentally ill and therefore had minds whose ability for logic were broken, reason ended often in my childhood world. Reason ended at least once a week in my house, of that you could be sure. The problem was that though you the fact that reason would end this week in a burst of violence from one parent or the other, try as you might you still couldn't predict when or why.
You might be having dinner with the family one minute, and your father might pick up an apple from the fruit bowl at the center of the dining room table and throw it. That apple might go through the dining room's window shattering the glass in a thousand pieces in a sudden fatherly rage.
Yes, that happened, and it happened so suddenly I still can't remember what provoked it. That was what dinner as like in my house growing up. My bipolar dad could lose it, my borderline personality disordered mom could lose it, anything could blow up at any time. Breakfast and lunch were like that, too. And times between meals as well.
At age 9, then, it was most distressing to find out that along with the world being violent inside my home, the world outside my home had gone violent as well. And the fog of war fogged the mind. I learned that when this guy looked into my eyes and hit my family car with his bomb. My parents had lost their minds years before, that's why they had moved 6,000 miles from the USA to live in Uruguay's war zone to begin with.
Now besides my parents, in the fog of war the other adults around me in Uruguay had lost their minds, too. The blue flames dancing on the hood of my car from the explosion of a Molotov cocktail on it burned that lesson into my 9 year old mind most clearly. In war no adult was rational. No place with adults was safe any more.
At the time it didn't matter which side of the war the adult was on. After the war, though, I was to learn 6 years later at age 15 that it did matter who won. Another lesson I learned in Uruguay was that outside of the USA, good guys didn't always wil. It turned out that in my civil war, unlike in the US civil war in which the Union or the good guys won, in Uruguay the bad guys won.
The side that university student who threw the bomb at me lost. The government side backed by US trained CIA torture teachers like Dan Mitrione won. The difference that made was made clear to me 6 months after their victory. That was when one of those bad guys that Mitrione, my neighbor and buddy's dad, had trained then tortured me and nearly killed me twice.
But back earlier during the war itself, bullets and bombs didn't distinguish between hitting good guys or bad guys, they just landed on whoever, whatever, wherever. The breakout of combat was a lot like a storm. You can't control the weather, so you couldn't predict when the rain would come nor when it would stop. You just ran for cover so you wouldn't get wet. Those who didn't run fast enough got rained on.
It was as simple as that, except that combat was simply deadly. The big difference between combat you couldn't control and a rain storm you couldn't control was that in combat when you got rained on it was with bullets and bombs instead of with water. In combat, unlike in a storm, if you got hit you didn't just get wet and have to dry out. You often got dead instead and getting dead, I noticed at too early an age, was for keeps.
It was at a way too early again, way too early. I'm 63 now, and it's still too early for me.
Hey all! How's today?mood?weather?any weekend plans?One tidbit about yourself?
Has anyone else experienced spiritual growth after a particularly dark period in their life? The term has its roots in Christianity but it's not restricted to it. I believe more now in a higher power and prayer but it's a personal thing. You can have more than one, especially if you resist the insights of the first one or relapse. I'm going through this again and it's helping so much with my...