Positional awareness …. where the hell am I ??


For the followers of mine (yea…both of you) who aren’t “on the job”, the term positional awareness is one we use in reference to knowing “where” you are. We often refer to it as inside a structure or building …or  at least on the fire ground. Another term that goes along with it is situational awareness … or knowing not only where you are but what is / can happen around you.

So where am I?? I wish I knew.

It’s an uncomfortable position for me. In the past, even when I’ve been somewhere I shouldn’t be;  I at least knew I was there. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m lost.

If any of ya find me, please let me know or just take me home (of course I don’t even know where “home” is anymore).

Obviously, I’m not here (where I have been or where I’m used to being). I haven’t been for 3 months now and I can’t seem to figure it out.

I’ll assume that you guys have … figured it out that is. Obviously, by my lack of postings / presence something is still not right. I also know that you’re most likely tired of hearing me whine and cry … tired of my “softer” side. Many of you have sent e-mails, comments etc excited to see bits and pieces of the “old Willie” and that style of posting back. The honest answer is that I’m just not there yet. I tried to get there but couldn’t…. not yet. At least you haven’t forgotten about me.

There is a TON of material out there and things I want to say / comment on but I just can’t find the energy to sit down and write it out. I can’t find the words. It’s not “flowing” in my mind ….. I guess it’s what they mean by writers block (if you can call me a writer…LMAO).

I’ve been in a fog. Wondering …. aimlessly. Still searching for my answers. Answers I may never find.

Maybe this direction, these type of postings is where I need to be. Maybe I can be of more help to the Brotherhood by sharing these stories than I can of my everyday firehouse life / opinion etc.

I can’t imagine keeping a very big audience along this path but if I can make a difference in just one Brother or Sister’s life, I think it would be worth it.

I don’t know where I’m going yet … hell, I’m not 100% sure of where I’ve been now that I try to put it all into perspective. I think we’ve all been here … it’s just my first trip.

For me, the hits just keep coming. I feel like I can’t keep my head above water. I’m dry but drowning!

Jack’s suicide, my moms cardiac procedure (which turned out way better than expected) and, Boot’s cancer surgery.  Everything seemed to hit at once. I’ve tried to be strong … to set an example…strong yet open. It hasn’t been easy. Everyone wants me back but I’m not sure I can get there. I’m not sure how much longer I can hold on to the little sanity I have but I’m trying.

Alison Krauss has several  lines in her song “Paper Airplane” that hits home with me … one says …. “And love is hard to measure
hidden in the rain. That’s why you’ll find me…Here all alone and still wondering why. Waiting inside for the cold to get colder…”

Another from the same song  is ….“How many days should I smile with a frown? ‘Cause you’re not around with the sun on your shoulders…”

Here’s a video of her singing the song if you’re not familiar with it or her music … I’m a HUGE fan.

Smile with a frown … sound familiar to any of ya?

Now, for me at least; it keeps piling on and I’m faced with even more challenges … more questions, more demons and battles to fight.

Today, I moved Jackson’s things out of dad’s house (that’s where he had been staying since his wife put him out and also where he decided to end his life). I smelt him as I moved every box. I smell him now. It’s was like an avalanche of emotion overtaking me once again.

It still seems like only yesterday to me but I know it’s not. I know this because yesterday, I found myself waiting once again for the phone to ring. I waited but he didn’t make that Easter morning call. I wanted to dial his number but couldn’t. Nothing is as it should be.

I don’t know how dad has done it. How he’s stayed there in the house. Past the birthdays and holidays. He’s got to be hurting as much as me and it’s killing me knowing it.

It’s even difficult for me to be around dad now. Him and Marci both look like and remind me so much of Jackson that it hurts. Worse than that … it suffocates me. I can’t explain it. Is this the life I’m left to live? Alienated from my own family?  When will it end? Will it ever? Apparently not…

Thursday, Donna (my wife); will have a lump removed from behind her breast (under her arm). We wont know what it is until they get it out and see.

The procedure is weighing heavy on my mind. She’s staying strong for me and the girls while I’m quietly bleeding out. I’m not sure how much more I can take.

I feel like an old dilapidated barn. Old and worn yet just strong enough to leave you wondering how it’s still standing.  I wish I knew. I wish I had it’s strength.

I want to leave this place … to go somewhere … anywhere but here yet I know I can’t. I know all roads will  lead me back …. back to my struggles, my challenges, back to the things you cant run from. I’ll stay and fight.

I know there are many of you out there fighting the same battles. Several of you have reached out and spoken with me personally. I’ll remind you once again of the many resources available to us. Resources unique to “public safety”…. resources who understand who we are, where we came from and the challenges we face.

Behavioral Health issues … Grief, Stress, PTSD … issues unique and as personalized as those suffering through them. Issues all of us on the job have faced (most of us anyway). Here are some links for help. Links that will help you begin your journey … friends to guide you down the path… your start to the healing process.

The Sweeney AllianceFirefighter Behavioral Health AllianceNorth American Firefighter Veteran Network,

Grief.com,   Recover from Grief.com ,

“At an international conference on Friday, March 1, the NFFF (National Fallen Firefighters Foundation) introduced a new Behavioral Health Model that changes the way the fire service assists firefighters and others on the path to healing. It is based on the concept that no two firefighters will necessarily have the same reaction — not even to the same call”.

 “Helping Firefighters Deal with Psychological Stress from Job’s Routine and Extraordinary Events”

Trust me Brothers and Sisters … USE THESE LINKS, the alternatives are NOT where we want to be. How well do you think you understand depression? Find out below …

Depression Quiz

I’ve talked about the stages of grief in a previous post titled “Melt Down”.

They are all experienced differently and in varying order but they are basically Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression,  Acceptance, Pain & Guilt, and Reconstruction.

I’d say that the odds are that many of you know someone who is grieving. I’d also bet that you’re not sure what to say or how to act around them. Maybe this link will help ….

10 Best and Worst things to say to someone grieving

As for me, I’ve talked about not being able to eat or sleep. About not being able to keep anything down (on my stomach) and having an irritable bowel. I’ve shared being unfocused and distracted from rational thought, purpose or direction. What we don’t hear a lot about is where these things can lead when left untreated. Anger, the many forms of abuse … domestic, spousal and/or substance and even suicide .

There are many Brothers and Sisters out there battling Grief, Depression and/or PTSD  that can’t see their way through or past their suffering. For many, suicide seems their only way “out”. Don’t stand idle and  watch these Brothers and Sisters fall. Like many of you have done for me, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE in their lives as well, in their healing process. Start talking about Behavioral Health in your Department (paid or volunteer, large or small). Use the links I’ve provided and look for more.

The recent events of my recovery are merely an expected bump in the road. I’ve known that a holiday, a random picture, odor, memory etc would bring back a flood of emotion. I’m still searching for my “new normal” and fighting my way back to where I want and need to be. I’ll get there. Thanks again for all the continued understanding and support. I’m still here. I know this is not the post you were hoping / looking for but it’s all I have right now.

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines

  • Jim Conrad

    Take all the time you need cap. My wife was going to club me and take me to the doctor to get some anti depression meds. I was about to give in until I joined the fire dept. The brotherhood has helped me tremendously. We got broad shoulders cap, keep leaning. I’ll stand with you for as long as it takes.

  • Truckie

    All you need is to understand the words and message of God. You will find all the answers, comfort, and peace needed to overcome your feelings. We, (Brothers and Sisters) can offer some consultation but never the peace you will find in his word. Trust me, after many sins, heartbreak, and unrelenting stress, I’m about 6 months into the Bible and have never found the peace like I have anywhere else. It does help. I only regret not doing it before I turned 40!! I hope you find the peace and comfort soon so that you may return to serving man like you so truly love to. Keep safe, stay strong, and live life to the fullest….

  • Carol

    Dear Son- I know where you are. You are there for Donna when she needs you, you are there for the Buckaroo, you are there for the girls…. you are here for yur sisters and me when we need you and hopefully when you need us.
    I gave birth to four amazing souls- every one as precious as the other. Part of me is forever missing- even though I keep him close every day. I know Jack believed, I know he was looking for the only peace he thought he could have. I pray my Lord keeps his close and grants him the peace he deserved.
    I try and do the things Jack would want done- He was Kind and loving- a hugh caring heart. Treat everyone with kindness and respect- that will honor your brother.
    You are all My Heart- I love you- Keep safe my Son.

  • John P. Bondrew

    Hey Cap,
    It seems all too much to deal with at one time. The weight is getting heavy. We feel it with you. I am a believer, in the fact that God won’t give you, more than you can handle. Depend on him, and us.
    Time does heal all wounds. This blog is therapy too. One day at a time….

  • Svend

    The path you are following is the one you need to take for your journey. It’s likely not easy, it certainly isn’t straight, but it’s the path you need to follow. Keep true to it and you will arrive where you need to be. If others follow, great. If they don’t, their loss.

    You are doing a great service for many who may not have the vopice to speak it. Keep pressing.

  • Jack Wagon

    It is good to hear someone talk about the reality of such tragedy. In my fire career I have had two close firefighters take their life. For some reason I can’t take their number out of my phone. I just don’t feel right deleting it. Sometimes while I am scrolling through looking for another number I come across these people and wonder who may be on the other end now. I never call but always stare at the phone for a minute when I see these names. I feel and understand some of your pain. Hang in there brother.

  • Scott Shaw


    I just wanted to say thank you. This article has been a humbling message. I see the strife you are burdened with right now and anything myself or any of our other brothers and sisters can do we are there for you. On my own side though I want to say thank you for giving me all these little reminders for all the things Ive been given and I take for granted far to often. Its the little messages like this that I really apprichate for slowing me down and reminding me alot of the things alot of people dont have. Capt Ive yet to be in a position such as your own. Honestly I couldnt even imagine, any support you need our community is here for you. Best of luck brother, take all the time you need.

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