Awful dream

Well, here it is, 3:00 in the morning, hadn’t been asleep very long, and I had “the dream” again, for the first time in maybe three years. It never gets any worse, but it’s bad enough, bad enough to leave me with the damn shakes.

In this dream, it’s a repeat of something I did in the service, which I am not proud of. I didn’t want to do this, but I did. I have dreamed about this for years. I was on perimeter guard, in Beirut, by the airport. It was dark, it was quiet. I hear this sound behind me, and I turned, just in time to have this kid behind me nail me twice in the back with a bayonet. He hit me on a real tight slant, sliced me but didn’t stab me, very deep. I came across his face with the butt of my 16, and he went down on the ground, flailing around; I couldnt see his face because it was dark, and he’s trying to kick my legs out from under me. I’m trying to step out of his way and kick his weapon away, and he kicks me hard, I nearly go down, and I have to stop him becaiuse I know if I go down, it’s over. So I bring up my 16 and I put three rounds in his upper chest, and he stops moving. Two guys down the way hear the shots and come running, and one of them says to me that I’m bleeding, so he gets on the radio and calls for a medic, and I’m looking at this kid that I just killed, maybe 15, 16, years old, laying there in the dirt with blood all over him, and they’re asking me what the hell happened, and I can’t think or talk or even stand up too good, and all I can think about is that he never said anything, not a word. Why is he here? Why am I here? What’s a 15 year old kid doing with an automatic rifle and a bayonet, trying to stab people in the middle of the night? OK, so he’s a Palestinian, but why me? He never said a word, just came up behind me and wham! And now he’s dead, and I did it.

That’s the dream. It’s always the same, a repeat of the thing, ends at that point. I got sewed up at an aid station and bandaged, and my C.O. was telling me that I’d be okay and I did the right thing, but that’s never in the dream. The dream is always just of me killing the kid. And sometimes I wonder if it always ends at that point because maybe it wasn’t okay, maybe I didn’t do the right thing, but then I think if I hadnt done what I did, I wouldn’t be here right now. And I wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t heard him at the last minute. I wonder what filled him with enough hatred that he was out there to begin with, when he should have been out playing basketball or something. All this stuff goes around and around, and I don’t sleep too good after this, although I’m okay enough in the morning when the sun comes up.

I’m sorry for putting all this up here. It’s my problem, I deal with it when it happens, but it’s the middle of the night, you know? I guess I just wanted somebody to talk to.
Thank you for listening…I hope you all sleep better than I did tonight.

God, Pickman, I am so sorry about what happened. No wonder you’re tormented by this dream. I hope typing it out helped to exorcise it. Is it possible this is a stress induced dream? Is there something you can do to relieve the stress and avoid a repeat of this awful nightmare? I hope you sleep well tonight and dream only good things.

“I think he said ‘Blessed are the cheesemakers.’”

I’m truly sorry for you. I assume you have already talked about this to people who normally should be in a position to help you (psychiatrist, chaplain/minister/priest, your family and (close) friends, etc.). Lord knows I’m no authority on the subject but if you have not done so, I would suggest that you wait no longer. This thing is obviously eating at you inside, and for good reason. Get some help. Needless to say that if you also wish to talk about it here, the SD family will be there to listen.

What a horrible thing to have to go through once, and then to have it come back…! Okay if I pray for you?


Me. Vietnam. Angel Helo rescuing a downed F-4 Pilot in the water 2 miles at sea. I’m in my wet suit, ready to go in after him when a sampan appears and opens up on us. We return fire from 2 50’s and the sampan goes quiet. We see the carnage we’ve created on the boat; 5 bodies. I go into the water and get the pilot. While he hoists up, I’m in the water with blood from the sampan all around me. I hoist up and we go back to the carrier without incident. I had dreams about sharks (even though we saw none) for months afterward. I think you are having the same kind of stress related reaction that I did, but for a different reason. For both of us, it was kill or be killed. For me, the terror of being eaten alive was conscious and unconscious. <OPINION>For you, the feeling that you were helpless to do anything other than what you did surpasses your fear of death. We both question our personal physical presence in our situations, but never our duty. Sometime “I did what I had to do” is not a good enough answer. We have trouble rationalizing our presence away from home representing a policy that we may or may not be able to make heads or tails of. </OPINION>

Post traumatic stress is always more prevelant in those fighting away from home, as compared to those fighting in their homeland. If you continue to suffer from the dreams, get the help that we both know is available to you. They’ll help you sort through our feelings, and THAT will ease the pain. Not changing your morals or ethics, not making excuses for what we did or why, but understanding what inside of us run cross threaded to what happened. Do I understand what happened? Yup. Do I know how you feel? In my own way, yes. Do I know why it bothers you? No! Only you, with or without help, can satisfy that need. And when you DO figure out WHY it bothers you, it will go away.

And for the rest of you, don’t condem me because I didn’t freak from the killing part, only from my own selfish fear. Be there and do that, then judge.

Pick, write me privately if you want to talk any more.

Chuck L.

“The intellectuals’ chief cause of anguish are one another’s works.”
Jacques Barzun
Cheers! CAL

Thank you, everyone, for your support and concern. I’m okay, just needed to get it out of my system for the night, and I didn’t want to wake up Momma because she’d had a hard day and needed to get up early. (She’s heard this before, anyway.)

It’s no problem except when “the dream” wakes me up in the middle of the night----that can get me a little creeped out, especially if I’m the only one who’s awake. I saw a lot of nasty stuff in Lebanon, including whole companies of dead Marines, but that kid is the one who sticks in my subconscious, I guess. I have talked to some PTSD shrinks about it in the past. Like I said, I deal with it OK, except right at the moment of occurance. And the length between the occurances seem to be getting longer and longer, thank God.

In any event, I thank you all again. I really do appreciate your thoughtfulness. Chuck, a special thanks to you for your post, which articulated some things for me I’d never thought about before. A salute and a Navy Cross to you.

Dear Pickman’s:

I don’t know if what I want to say is just redundant, but I want to say it anyway.

You did what you had to do. The fight or flight instinct is there for a reason. You would not be here if you hadn’t done what you did.

As an Army brat, I have enjoyed all of the benefits of military service without the hellishness that is part and parcel.

Sir, I send you love, healing vibrations and a huge cyberhug. Thank you for doing a very tough job for me, a grateful American citizen.