Trauma changed my personality
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Trauma changed my personality: a poetic essay
Something happens when you die
When you serve your country in the armed forces, especially during times of duress, you discover there are many definitions of death.
There is the death of manhood for not standing up in a fight.
There is the death of a decision for fear of making a decision.
And then there's the death of innocence where your former outlook is replaced by a brutal reality.
It never occurred to me I was dealing with the latter. The onset of mental illness and PTSD was enough of a shock to my system.
I let that tough-guy macho thing disguise my feelings to the point of denying the truth. Exposure to the trauma of others has a cumulative effect. In time it produces trauma in your subconscious until you finally break down. In time trauma changed my personality.
I held on to the innocence too long. Thinking by force of willpower and maybe another shot of brandy, I had the strength to keep it alive.
But some things can't be unseen. And the corpse that is childhood is a funeral none of us want to attend.
Something happens when we die. Something changes. Daylight feels more like a foe. Every word sounds like an unsharpened weapon. And women once objects of desire are now daughters of Aries standing beside you in battle.
It's not wise to fight death. Yet fight is how I arrived in this world through a womb of miscarriage and mental anguish. I beat death then and positioned myself to beat it again. But something happens when we die. We learn the old fight has ended. And the victory is achieved by never fighting again.
And that is how trauma changed my personality.
Mark Antony Rossi
Mark Antony Rossi is a USAF Cold War Veteran, poet, playwright, and host of the literary podcast "Strength To Be Human."