I found this forum from a Google search. I read some posts on here from people talking about some similar experiences. So alright, I guess it's time to talk about it. I've been avoiding this for a long time. There's a lot of difficult emotion here, and there are essentially zero people in the real world I can talk to. But I need to start communicating some of this stuff, even if it's hard to see my computer screen through the tears. This is bound to be a long, probably rambling post. My apologies, and deepest thanks to anyone willing to read it. Introduction Throughout my life, there have been clues that never quite connected. I've never felt like an American. From the first time I learned that Europe existed, I felt compelled to be there in any way I could - physically, if possible, but at least culturally. This manifested in a dream, one night, that I was exploring Berlin. I was showing someone where all the good restaurants are, and where my favorite park was. Toward the end of the dream, I noticed that all of the buildings were falling apart. Many broken windows, brick and mortar littering the streets. I was confused, wondering why this great city was such a wreck. "What happened?" I asked myself. We see all kinds of stuff about WWII in the media, in school, and in conversations. It was probably the biggest event of the 20th century, and a turning point for humanity. So, of course it's natural to feel differently about WWII than we do about other events. But for me, there was always something more "fleshed out," more "real" about that war than about any other historical event. Despite feeling this way, I made an effort not to express much interest in that time period. I felt, on some level, that I might say the wrong thing and make people hate me. When I was a kid, I privately printed a swastika armband for myself to wear - not because I had much interest in being a Neo-Nazi, but just because I found it comforting for some reason. Loud noises, in general, make me nervous. I never liked fireworks all that much -- especially the sky rockets. I mean, they look cool, and not every one is bad, but maybe 1/10 of them make a certain kind of sound that makes me anxious. One time, I was at school, sitting in math class, and they were doing construction outside. They were tearing up concrete with a kind of vehicle-mounted jackhammer, and I sat there struggling with a part of my mind that kept telling me, "it's happening again, you need to respond." I didn't know what I thought was happening, but I knew the noise was giving me a bad time. I've also always had a hard time gaining weight, and I was underweight my whole life until about a month ago. There are more anecdotes and symptoms, but I don't want to get bogged down with too much. Starting to Remember A year ago, I began a series of treatments, probably similar in nature to the kinds that this forum is already familiar with. I've learned a lot of things, including that I had an eating disorder, and several problems related to my digestive system that were inhibiting my body's ability to absorb food. This has come about partly as a result of of the process of "opening up" connections to memories that have always been there, but that I tried to avoid as much as possible. In fact, a lot of these memories are things that I remember thinking about when I was very young. In some cases, I even remember where I was when I had these thoughts. But then I guess I buried them until this past year. The first memory to arise was of sitting in a bunker and listening to artillery shells fall around nearby. The sound of an artillery strike on top of you is beyond description. It's about the loudest thing anyone could hear. It feels like being hit with a wall of thunder. I first remembered the feeling of being trapped in a small concrete box, helpless, scared, feeling like a child, waiting for the inevitable end. At that point, it was inevitable. We all knew the war was almost over. God forbid the artillery stop falling, because that's when you know they're coming. That's when you have to use whatever hearing you have left to find anything in the deafening silence which might give you a warning. The second memory, one which I haven't fully extracted from my roots, is of the machine guns. I remember their rhythmic rattle ending the silence and indicating the end. The memories bubble up periodically, often preceded by a headache which is only alleviated when the feelings are felt. Recently, to release one of these headaches, I sat on my back porch meditating, breathing, and crying. I smelled acrid smoke, and felt as though my body wasn't getting any oxygen even though I was able to breathe air into my lungs. I felt my lungs fill with fluid, and I suffocated. I have a heart arrhythmia these days. It started years ago, and it used to happen several times a day -- I would feel my heartbeat stop for a moment and then resume. During one of the first treatments I did, I was told that it was due to a stab wound. This was before I started the process of remembering the war. I was not told what stabbed me or why, but I can feel the wound in great detail. At first I thought it was a spear, but after doing some research, I found that there were no spears made in this shape. I can feel how it went in, too. With a firm forward motion, the kind of steadfastness that you don't get with a knife. It was attached to something strong. I don't have the direct memory to confirm this theory yet, but I think it might have been a bayonet. Feelings of Guilt and Homesickness So the memories and PTSD symptoms are bad and all, but what really gets me is knowing that I should have done better. I shouldn't have been in the Wehrmacht in the first place, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. People were hungry, I was hungry, and the Wehrmacht wanted to feed me. It seemed like things were turning around for us because of Hitler and his friends. I've been told that it wasn't my fault, that there were forces at work beyond my comprehension, and that I was swept up in a process that I could not have stopped or avoided. But I still feel like I should have done better. I feel like I helped lead good people to their deaths. I feel like I helped murder people that I actually liked, and who didn't need or deserve to die. I feel like I helped destroy my home and leave a permanent black mark on civilization -- and that's not even considering the concentration camps. And what else did I do? I don't want to remember some things, because I'm afraid what the answers to that question might be. I've spent several lifetimes bouncing around northern Europe. I understand why it was best for me to be born where I was, and to live where I do now, but I miss seeing Christmas in small wooden towns, walking over green hills, hearing the laughter of the mountains. I'm mostly comfortable where I am, and I appreciate my beautiful surroundings, but there's always a voice there to remind me that it's not my home. Home is where the heart is, they say, and I know it's true -- but part of my heart is still there between the bombed out buildings, waiting for someone to come and comfort it. I know I'll never be the same as I was before the war. I just hope some day I'll be able to use these experiences to make the world a better place. To repent. I hope I'll be able to walk around in public and feel safe. I hope I'll be able to hear certain common aircraft fly over without having to stop what I'm doing to avoid a panic attack. I hope I'll be able to go home.