30 years – a trilogy of terror

It was during the first phase of the war in Iraq that I wrote a
column speculating how the rebuilding process would be an
easier-said-than-done challenge. Because I had other questions, I
never submitted it to the editor. Then I found myself with a
deadline approaching
– and no copy.
It was during the first phase of the war in Iraq that I wrote a column speculating how the rebuilding process would be an easier-said-than-done challenge. Because I had other questions, I never submitted it to the editor. Then I found myself with a deadline approaching – and no copy.

So I went rummaging through my draft columns set aside for emergencies and found “fuzzy-footed mutant ninja chickens,” which I submitted in place of “30 years – a trilogy of terror.”

Because I will be leaving for Fort Carson at any given moment, I wanted to be prepared. So once again, I found myself rummaging through my draft columns and I found that column, which ironically is appropriate in hindsight. With some inside knowledge of what is happening on the front line, I can say rebuilding Iraq is a “piece of work.”

This is what I speculated back in April: Crucial to rebuilding Iraq is the healing of the Iraqi psyche. It is imperative the emotional trauma of 30 years of abuse not be ignored, but be immediately dealt with.

Unless you know first hand what it is like to live in terror, you cannot understand the emotion, the damage done or the time it takes to heal, but you can lend an ear and know what to look for. Saddam Hussein, along with his two sons, dictated for nearly 30 years a trilogy of terror that plagued the people of Iraq.

Saddam Hussein is a cruel man who abused an entire country for generations and it will take generations to rebuild the psyche of the Iraqi people. It takes a long time to unlearn the habit of looking over your shoulder.

As a woman married to a man who was violent only when he drank, I fought many battles on the home front and lost. I will say this, living in terror is no way to live.

I use the word “terror” because with four sleeping children and a drunk husband on Christmas Eve pressing a loaded Browning nine millimeter against my temple, terror is exactly what I felt. I had no physical control for my well-being.

Whenever my husband picked up a bottle of booze, I found myself praying to God, knowing, someday, someone was going to die, but if it was me, who would take care of my children?

But on that Christmas Eve, I made a decision to leave my husband because I had enough – I was no longer a punching bag and I had the money to disappear.

Ironically, three months later, I found Leonard in the car dead. At 31. And no, I didn’t shoot him, give him poison or burn the bed. His death was suspicious, however, but that’s another story.

The point is there were many huddles to get over after I found myself widowed for the second time in my life, which was a battle because I had survivor’s guilt.

When Leonard died, I had an emotional relapse – grieving all over again for Tommy, my other dead husband, while dealing with people who regarded me as the black widow.

It was time to rebuild my life, to clear away the debris from the impacts of urban terror. But confronting eight years of emotional turmoil would take 10 years to heal.

Truth be known, I was relieved he was gone. But it took a long time to forgive myself for taking so long to find the courage to leave him emotionally.

Back in the 1970s, we didn’t have spousal abuse laws. Today we have programs for women and children who have lived under the cruelty of an abusive spouse.

What mental health programs are in place to help the Iraqi people? With the insane Hussein on the loose, the emotional fear these people feel will outweigh any logical form of justice.

For many Iraqis, their grieving period will be filled with mixed emotions of distrust, hate and sorrow because that’s what they have been taught through the actions of torture and terror.

The rebuilding process will take more than winning the hearts and minds of the people. It will take a tremendous amount of trust on the part of the Iraqi citizens, who were the victims of this wicked regime, to remove the stench of oppression.

Our troops are hard-pressed to find people they can trust because many of these people will believe if Hussein is not captured or killed, he will continue to threaten them.

In the meantime, the Iraqis will have to pick up the pieces of their life and dump out the emotional garbage. The kind of garbage that terrorizes rational thinking.

Oddly enough, during the Christmas season domestic violence goes up. So to those people living in a state of abuse, please know you don’t have to stay – find help and do it right away. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

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