Good morning, Vietnam war. I greet the dead, the maimed, the walking wounded. They are always in my thoughts. I don't always have the dreams about the war or even have dreams about anything. There are many nights that I sleep restlessly through, waking often to check things or to urinate too frequently, not having any dreams at all that I can remember. Those nights are not any better than the ones with the dreams, because dreams or no dreams, all the nights end the same, with the intrusion of harsh demanding anxiety at or before the first light of day. Up and at 'em! There are fears to be fought back and regrets to be agonized over, and a good soldier must answer the bugle call.
I always come to awareness, after my broken sleep, with my gut clutched in a knot and my mind spinning a thousand frantic miles per second in it's squirrel cage. Spinning wildly about what might happen to me next or about my insistent guilt. Consciousness is over rated, I think. Had I not lost the right, (and, yes, the very ability also) through over use, to employ alcohol to induce that wonderful blank, black, quiet, freedom from thought that we all know and love, then I would drink alcohol everyday, But the fact is that I rode a good horse too hard in using the alcohol for relief, and it no longer works for me. On the contrary, using it will surely and always (and I MUST always remember this to survive!!) lead me only to physical withdrawal, to DTs and to even worse anxiety than I have without the alcohol. A mental obsession and a physical addiction all in one little pretty package.
It is a hard dangerous world here, and a boy must remember his lessons or suffer even more than he does. That the constant anxiety cannot, for the long haul, be successfully relieved by alcohol is one of my basic lessons. I must remember that, or suffer greatly for forgetting. Harsh memory and unyeilding anxiety are cruelly debilitating, it is true, but not so cruel or so debilitating as they are when DT's are added to the mixture. For today, as bad as I hurt, I choose not to drink alcohol, and to remember clearly why I don't. I am Tom.