• Thinking, thinking, thinking about being sorry

    by Donald K. Sanders

    Lately I’ve been thinking, thinking, thinking all the time. Sometimes I think so much that I can’t get anything else done. So, I got to wondering why my thinking is taking all of my time and what I could do about it. Maybe I should start a 12 Step program for solving all of my problems, starting with my thinking problem. I think step number one should be, “Admit you have a problem,” just like the AA book.

    Oh, I have a problem and you probably have a few too. I think we should think about this, but it’s difficult to know where to begin. Lets start with things we’d like to change in our lives. Believe me, had I the power, I would change a lot of things in my life. The very first thing I would change is my behavior towards the women I’ve known throughout my life. What they deserved was much more than I gave them any of them.

    Until lately I never was much of a thinker. I thought I was a doer when I was young. As it turns out, all these years later, I can see now that it was the women in my life that took care of the business of everyday life. Sure I paid my way, sharing rent, food, and the rest of that crap, but the things I should have been doing I didn’t do.

    I guess that if I’m going to discuss the fact that I have a problem with the way I have treated the women in my life, I should start at the beginning. In my case the beginning is high school and Penny Paluska. Dear sweet Penny. The Queen of the Prom and I was her King. She dumped me the first chance she got and I can’t say that I blame her. I had it coming. I had no idea how to treat women, I had never been around them until I was a horny 16 year old asshole. Well, minus the sex (which we never had – but I always bragged that we had) I treated her as a high school sex toy.

    I went to Vietnam and she went to Western Illinois University where she met and married the love of her life. Things didn’t go that well for me. I did learn the lessons of war though. I still have them etched upon my mind, but that’s a different story. Which brings me to the woman that shared my first sexual experience: a Vietnamese prostitute.

    For her, I stood in line, paid her for the mount, and then caught the clap. Now that I think about it, there were three firsts that we shared. The first time was not all that good for me. OK, here is the problem I have with the way that I treated her. Not once, not one single time, did my thoughts turn to her. For me, she might as well have not even been there. She was just a chunk of meat they call a whore.

    It never dawned on me that she may not like being a prostitute or that she may have been sold into it as a young girl. It never dawned on me that she might have been afraid of me and the other GIs in the line. It never dawned on me that the venereal disease that I caught from her might be giving her horrible pain and suffering. It never dawned on me that she might be having a horrible life of unimaginable disgrace and shame. It never dawned on me to shed a tear for her. However, I know all of these things now and I think that deep down, I knew it then as well.

    Some years ago, someone asked me what would I say if I could say something to the Vietnamese people, all over the world. Without a moment’s hesitation I replied, “I would get down on my knees and beg their forgiveness for my part in the Vietnam war.” I want the Vietnamese world to know that I have lived my entire life, half of it for me and the other half I’m saving for them. Of course, that’s all in my head, for I cannot ever give it to them, but it’s theirs just the same. It’s theirs.

    OK, now I’m at the point where I don’t want to talk about my treatment of the women in my life any longer. Maybe some day I can write some more about it, but not today, and for that I’m sorry.



    • Donald, I am thinking (yes, I do that too) and I think you were young when you went to Viet Nam and were a good soldier who followed all the rules and did what he was told. Somewhere along the way you got a conscience and that took you to the man you are today. I think it is hard to go back and put yourself back in the shoes of that scared very young soldier and what he did or did not do. I would be surprised if there were any soldiers during that time that did what they thought was right rather than what they were told was right. You have beaten yourself up enough (I have read your stories) and I know regardless of your past you are a good man. I am glad you are here today to appreciate and what you learned from your collective experience and I believe you have proven yourself worthy of friendship, love and joy. I only hope you realize it as well now and forever. I am so sorry you had to live through those experiences. I really feel what you did was not your fault. You were a young man who had dreams and desires and was not prepared for what war was like to what it could do to the mind of someone who was barely out of high school. Please forgive yourself. No one worth their salt would blame you in any way. I don’t.



    • Donald, I agree 100% with Madge!!!!! I can’t add any more meaning words. I’ve read many of your blogs. You are a good man. You have a conscience. I don’t blame you for the past IN ANY WAY. Yes, please forgive yourself. I like you, a lot. I’m going to keep reading your blogs, even though I miss some. I’m your fan, and friend.



    • Where the hell were you guys when we were teenagers? LOL



    • Such a thoughtful, brave column. You are harder on yourself than anyone else will ever be, Donald. Forgive yourself. That’s where healing starts.



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