Time and time again I have turned my thoughts into the written word. Where it started, I am not completely sure. It just seemed to be something that happened. All of the pain and suffering needed somewhere to go. My brain could only consume so much. As a child, I often burned them without as much as a single reading. As I got older, I hid them. One shared moment with a friend decades later brought them to a shared place. I would share a fraction of the words written. I would share not because I wanted the likes, the comments, the praise… No, I would much rather have written them in a form such as this, disguised behind anonymity.
I shared, as I do now, not because I hope to inflate my self-confidence or self-worth. Quite frankly, these shared words bring me some anxiety that they might one day be discovered as my own and not those of a pseudonym. I share because people have asked me to. Because people have said my written words have brought some level of understanding to those inexperienced and helped strip away the feelings of isolation among those experienced. I must curb my own personal feelings and thoughts and listen to the voices of others.
Over the years, I have been told more than once that I should write a book. What about I am not sure. I guess the scattered musings of a veteran? Some GWOT rendition of Tim O’Brien? I am not sure my “skills” would ever rise to such a stature. I guess I should find these repeated statements flattering. I do find them humbling. To think anyone would care enough to read my words not in fragmented postings but page after page. To be honest, I have considered it more than once. I have long learned that when multiple people, across time, suggest the same thing, there is often something to it. There is often something there they see that I just do not.
The problem is, who would want to read such a thing, whatever that “thing” might be? I have sat down more than once and found myself at a loss. To understand anything I write, to sit down and read them page after page in a structured format, in some cohesive manner that would capture the attention of the reader, I must first explain who I am. I must explain a childhood I am not quite ready to explain. I am not quite ready to share the stories those of the past still wish to deny. I am not ready to risk discovery and melt away the façade of denial that props up the remnants of my family structure.
Beyond that, my life is anything but remarkable. I was a four-year Ranger during GWOT. I was nothing more than a passerby among some of our nation’s greatest men. I went to college and eventually obtained a post-graduate degree. This places me among the many others who obtain such things. I became a cop, like so many others. I have been a lot of things. I have experienced a lot of things. I am aware, in the grand scheme of society, my experiences are considered unique. I am sure if I sat and elaborated upon the countless experiences, one might find it entertaining enough to read. But who am I among my peers? While unique to the world, I am far from unique among my peers. So, for now, dear readers, to whoever gives a shit enough to read my musings, they shall remain fragmented and free.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.