If I could just bleed them out, would the thoughts that haunt me drift away? And if they did, is there anyone out there to catch them?
5 years old and full of curiosity, a little boy, not much older than me, reminded me how to tie my shoes on my first day of kindergarten.
24 years later, I wish I could go back to such blissful simplicity.
24 years later, I still look to my big brother to teach me lessons I should already know. But even he cannot fix the pieces of me that now lay scattered and bare for the world to see...
I wish I could retrace the steps I've walked, and remember every memory that made me the Bree I am today.
Exactly 5 months and 14 days ago, my mother passed away of a sudden, massive duo stroke and heart attack.
I spent so much of my life trying to be everything she is not, that I feel lost in trying to live up to all the amazing parts of her I have discovered in her absence.
I have lived through so much death and destruction. I have lived through so much joy and so many miracles. After surviving, and rejoicing in so much, after knowing with absolute certainty EXACTLY who I am... How could I now feel so lost and so hopeless? How could I feel so directionless.
I am a woman who has, more often than not, known exactly what she wanted, and succeeded in meeting her every goal.
How could I now feel such pressure in decisions I can not even identify?
Exactly one year and three days ago, I reopened a long lost chapter in my life. I opened that book of personal history, dusted off the page, and picked up right where I left off.
I knew, without a certainty, that I was meant to be an officer in the United States Army.
May 13th, 2009, 12:04am: I wake with a start, struggling to find my breath. I look over at the recently Lysol'd, army-issued dresser at the steadily blinking green light on my phone.
I rub my eyes, reach for my glasses, and stop, my hand suspended in mid air as I catch sight of the time on my clock. 12:04am
Without a doubt, without the slightest bit of uncertainty, the dread hits me like a freight train before I even have the strength to check the messages I have missed on my phone.
I knew. I don't know how, I just knew.
I try to take a deep breath. I loose it somewhere mid-gasp, and have to remind myself to BREATHE.
As I'm staring at my phone, the light blinks again. DAD pops up on the caller display, and I scream silently for myself to WAKE UP.
7 hours later I'm on a plane to Salt Lake City.
I can't even bring myself to write the details of my last three days with my beautiful mother. Every time I think about them the dread creeps out from the deepest parts of me and threatens to take my breath for good.
An event nearly every little girl grows up to deal with eventually. So why am I drowning in it?
The day I flew home from Utah I knew I didn't want to be an officer any more.
The look on my Colonel's face when I voluntarily dropped from Officer Candidate School two weeks from graduation will be forever engraved in the parts of my memory I try, every day, to seal away for good.
It's amazing how much ONE single event can change every priority you ever had in life. How one event can rock the very foundation of everything you ever thought you knew.
It's amazing how many thoughts you can hold in your head at one time and remain silent.
5 months and 14 days later I am still suffocating in my silence. I look to my father, to my brother, and I see the same face I see in the mirror every day. An impenetrable exterior of strength.
I see that same face, but I wonder if THEY feel the rot spreading inside them like I do? I wonder if they know they MUST reach in and heal themselves, like I do. I wonder if any of us will survive this?
I did not leave the Army. Instead, I did something I always wanted to do, but could never justify. I applied to become a photojournalist for the United States Army instead of a Lieutenant.
They accepted my application, they sent me to school, and they sent me to Fort Carson, Colorado to be closer to my family.
I'm here now. Healing the best I can. Fighting as hard as I can to swim out of this impossibly deep ocean of pain, and uncertainty I have been drowning in for 5 months and 14 days.
I'm here now, doing a job I always knew I would love to do, and loving it, even though loving it brings a guilt I can not identify.
I'm here now, surviving, and deciding it's time to let a LITTLE of this vulnerability leak out.
I'm here now, deciding to LIVE my life, to BE vulnerable, to share this burden in SOME way.
I'm here now, finding bits of joy every day to latch on to and ride into the next day.
I still have no idea how I will survive this, but I'm thinking that if I just bleed them out, the thoughts that have haunted me will drift away, and find some place where they can lay, forever framed, in case I want to visit, but finally, in peace.
I'm still trying to find my faith. I'm still trying to balance it with reality. I'm still trying to heal, but I have no doubt that I will find that peace, eventually.
I will find my way through this chaos. I will survive it.