4-POST WAR LONELINESS AND SUFFERING

12 Tháng Năm 201012:00 SA(Xem: 2272)
4-POST WAR LONELINESS AND SUFFERING

When LYNDA VAN DEVANTER returned to her homeland in the US from the jungle in Vietnam in 1970, she had to face hostility, insults, lack of understanding, and disrespect for Vietnam Veterans during the height of U.S. anti-war sentiment. She swept her gruesome memories into a forbidden corner of her psyche. Her unconscious mind tormented her. She went in and out of deep depression. (27) She repeatedly lost jobs, and she lived on unemployment benefits, food stamps, and welfare. She couldn't sleep. She kept having the same nightmare over and over again, so she'd stay awake drinking because she was so afraid to go to bed. Ms. VAN DEVANTER also felt guilty and had constant headaches. She exploded at her husband and friends for no reason. She could not concentrate or remember what people had said. She wanted to be alone, yet she was lonely and afraid. (28)

 

Adding to her depression, Ms. VAN DEVANTER had to put off planning to have a child because she was exposed to the chemical Agent Orange during her service. According to her, two women veterans whom she knows bore babies with birth defects after returning home (29). She still suffers from automatic reactions associated with her war experience. Once, for instance, she heard the sound of a siren at a friend's home during the night, and she woke up to find herself screaming and belly-crawling into the living room. (30)

 

Another former nurse from Eugene, Oregon, KATHY GUNSON, had similar problems. Ms. GUNSON felt guilty, tainted, frightened, and alone. Flashbacks and nightmares of the war haunted her. One morning, she wrote: "I desperately want my childhood back with its innocence and ignorance. I want to go back to Vietnam and make a difference. I want to come home to a marching band and red carpet. I want to hear "Thank you." I want to hear "I'm sorry." Most of all I want to feel is to be at peace with myself." She finished writing and cried. (31)

 

After ten years far away from the Vietnam war, CHARLOTTE MILLER said despondently: "I never had that feeling of closeness and friendship again. Being close to and loving someone is the most important thing in the world. I have not been very successful in my relationships since then. I'm not sure why."

 

In addition to these feelings, she moved from job to job almost every year. She has suffered from nightmares, sleeplessness, depression, and more than anything a sense of purposelessness. She has found that making commitments is hard for her, and so is trusting people. (32)

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