I’ve been taught to fight in the worst way.

We were raised with the military in our blood. I’ve always felt a bit like we’re born to be soldiers. My siblings and I. We’re always wondering where the next enemy strike is coming from, and preparing ourselves for any type of battle.

We were a scrappy bunch. I’ve watched one of my brothers walk into the middle of a bar brawl for the blind emotion of the fight. I feel entirely worthless if I’m not challenged to the point to breaking. We stand and breathe with the calamity of life. That’s our survival.

We’re supposed to be the fighters. Each in our own way. I was taught not to cry. Except for when there are copious amounts of alcohol involved, I generally hold fast to that rule. We’re taught to attack. It’s not with pride that I admit my attacks don’t come in the form of a fistfight, but will probably be more underhanded and wounding.

Losing my brother was an internal strike. Friendly fire. It makes no sense. I did not cry at his funeral. I did plenty of it on my own time, but not there. Not in front of his children, or the military presence.  I’ve decided this is the last time I will publicly address the subject.

It’s time for a quieter battle. I’ve been beating a hasty retreat since the day he died. It’s time to dig out the trenches and retaliate.

To approach a battle, you have to know your enemy. Mine is the creeping depression that weaves its way through my bloodline, and battle scarred my brother beyond repair. It’s the weight of life that teaches you to be cautious and fearful.

My fight comes in the form of a growl.  It’s taking a challenge I would have never considered and signing up before I have time to doubt myself. It’s carrying both my brother and myself across a finish line, which only marks the start of something else.

It’s no longer accepting killing a bottle of tequila and embarrassing myself as a coping mechanism. It’s the push to run faster, fall harder, and get up quicker. My retaliation comes from early mornings, skinned knees, and sheer grit. I fight back by admitting that I’m terrified, but that’s just an emotion, not an excuse.

It’s getting to the part where I’m really fucking mad at him. I don’t even think anger is a strong enough word. You don’t walk away from your post, soldier. I’m not going to walk away from mine. It’s the realization that I need to hold my ground for both of us. No, it’s not just holding ground. It’s taking ground. It’s a counter strike.

It’s the somewhat cliché realization that life is a war, and you have to fight back. You have to retaliate.


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