Monday, October 10, 2016

One year later

I just recently got an award for working one year at my new job. That's given me some time to reflect on things. It's been one year since I returned home. To say that I did anything more than flee from Michigan and my ex, Becky would be an overstatement. I fled in complete and utter shame. In this past year, I've had a lot of time, perhaps too much time, to think about everything that went down. To think about the future and where I go from here.

One week before Becky told me she couldn't marry me, there was no outward sign that we were headed for the end. Sure there was trouble, and things were stressful but from my point of view things were looking up (if only slightly). We sat together and watched a sunset on her parents' property on Dixon Lake. Her neighbor even commented on how in love we looked.

I think the matter of fact way she said it, or maybe the way I became a non-person afterward is what made this whole thing the most difficult. I don't know when or how but she had become the center of my world. Everything in my world revolved around her, and my ambition was directed at trying to make her happy.

I can't say for sure if they were panic attacks but in the time between the break-up (August 25th), and the time I left (September 3rd). When I returned, I was broken. I tried talking to her a few times. Tried to keep it up. But it just hurt so badly. Plus her responses grew ever more exasperated that I wasn't getting with the program. The one question I want(ed) answered is why?

In the year since then, I've come to the conclusion that if I got an answer that was satisfying emotionally, it wouldn't be satisfying intellectually and vice versa. I wish that I could have answers. I wish that I could call a mulligan. But if wishes were fishes no one would go hungry.

The thing that has brought this in sharp relief is the workouts I'm doing with a gal, we'll call M. M wants to be a LEO, but is worried about the entrance exams. I can sympathize. M is also a lesbian who just broke up with the only person she ever dated. In trying to console her some of my own issues came out. How can I ever trust a woman again? How can I ever feel comfortable enough to ask a woman to marry me? How can I trust that it's not going to end with little or no warning? I'll constantly be looking for the slightest sign that it's ending and I'll constantly be on guard. I tried to tell M, then I still don't have this stuff figured out. Really, no one does. The best advice I could give M is that the only way to cure the pain is to go through it.

That's what I have done. I've gone through it. The pain was horrible. I wanted nothing more than to just check out, but as a guy, I just don't ever get that luxury. I am needed. I am not still resentful about that. It's annoying that somehow if I don't do it, it won't get done, but I've come to accept that that's just the way things are.

I'm in a better place now. I can't lie, I still feel like I'm trapped in that empty room in the barracks. Perhaps even more so because I am surrounded by the wreckage of my dad's failed ambitions. I'm still incredibly, soul-crushingly lonely, a state given my extreme trust issues isn't likely to get better any time soon. But . . . things are looking up if only slightly.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 Years Later 9/11 Still Hurts

I know at some point we, as a nation, will move on and forget.  I was presented evidence of that today as my work tried to have everyone dress in Red White and Blue, and then served up a cake.  I'm not really certain they appreciated the optics of that.  When I left work I went to the beach to run, because I really needed to clear my head.  Judging from the amount of people dashing in and out of the water, the children at play and the ungodly amounts of weed I smelled, most Americans have moved on.

 But, I haven't.  I'm not going to whip myself into a frenzy or sit in a corner and cry.  I'm not going to try to be the one forcing other people to be respectful.  I can only say for my own part, 9/11 is always emotional.  The visions of people falling to their doom on live TV.  The horror of watching UA 175 barrel into its target.  The smoking crater in Shanksville PA.  The Pentagon facade collapsing. These are images that I can not get out of my head no matter how hard I try.

Was the Global War on Terror that followed justified?  Yes.  Was it well prosecuted?  No.  There are a lot of assumptions that have been made about Iraq and Afghanistan by media types and the public at large that are either wrong or are just plain silly.  I've seen why you shouldn't just use nukes.  There are good people worth saving.  I've also seen why you don't pull back and let the situation fester and hope a few drone strikes will win the day.

I've seen people tortured.  I've seen decapitated bodies.  I've seen good boys become old men shockingly fast.  I've seen those same men turned to so much hamburger meat in the blink of an eye. There is evil in the world and September 11th is a strong reminder of what happens when you are not paying attention to that evil.

I don't want you to feel shamed into showing faux displays of remorse or patriotism.  If you genuinely feel that,  then I want you to express that.  I really don't care if you wear ribbons, special shoes, force yourself to watch United 93.  I want you to genuinely honor the best qualities of our people that were on display that day.  When you feel overwhelmed, think of the firefighters who prepared to climb 70-90 floors to fight a raging inferno.  When you feel like you've been defeated remember the passengers of UA 93 who refused to go down without a fight.  When you feel like all is lost, remember the FDNY, PAPD, NYPD and EMS, who, imediatly after losing so many of their brethren immediately turned around and did all they could to try to rescue anyone that may have been left behind.

Most of all, I want you to remember this one thing.  This is America.  We have seen hard times before.  We are amazingly resilient.  When we look to each other, when we trust in our own abilities as a people there is no calamity we can not weather.  Things may seem bleak now, but all you need to do is light a candle, and light a candle of the person next to you and suddenly the world isn't so dark anymore.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

WTF has happened to 2016?

At the beginning of the year I was somewhat hopeful. It was hard at the time to be hopeful because I'd just gone through a break up that crushed me, and I had moved back home, which further crushed my spirit, but I was still slightly hopeful.  But now that the year is almost 3/4ths done I've got to ask What the Ever Loving Fuck?

First there's the deaths, a SCOTUS Justice whose opinions are a real joy to read (and I HATE legalese), David Bowie (the Goblin King), Alan Rickman (Hans Grueber), Kenny Baker (R2-FREAKING D2), Anton Yelchin(Checkov), Prince, Nancy Reagan. . . the list goes on and on.  It's incredibly depressing when so many talented people suddenly up and die.

Then there's the bullshit that was the primaries.  On the Democratic side, an actual honest to God Socialist very nearly became the DNC nominee for president. His main opponent was someone who has almost certainly violated federal statutes that should have landed her in a courtroom if not in jail. In fact one sailor who did far less than she did actually tried to use her as an example for leniency in his case.

On the other side, you had a field of 15 decent candidates and one joker who was just there for shits and giggles it seemed. You had Governors, Senators, a doctor.  By any standard many of the people who ran in the GOP primary would have made an excellent president.  But because there were so many, the joker won.  His main selling point is he doesn't seem to give a damn about political correctness.  Actually, his main selling point is he is making the Left absolutely lose their collective shit, which has the people they've been maligning and alienating for so long tickled pink.

In the last two days I've witnessed conversations of deep conviction in the gym locker room or around the pool.  Most of the time this is a place to share technique, catch up, or encourage others.  But yesterday in the midst of my swim I heard this long drawn out conversation about how you just couldn't  vote for Trump.  The black man responded the democratic party left him behind and he just couldn't vote for Hillary.  It was astounding.  Then I had a long drawn out conversation with another man today about the current crop, and two passers by felt the need to jump in and pitch in their two cents.

Let's not kid ourselves Gary Johnson says one or two things one side might like then veers sharply and says some truly bone headed things.  That's why Ron Paul could never get elected anything higher than a Representative, despite throngs of avid followers.  Johnson at best will draw votes away from Clinton and Trump, I generally think he's going to draw more away from Clinton, but with the hard edge to the Democratic party I'm not so sure.

One thing is for sure, 2016 will go down in the history books as one bad year.  I just want it to be over.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Thoughts on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is hard for me.  I am always assaulted with conflicting emotions when it comes to Memorial Day.  I am alway unsure of what the "right" way to "celebrate" this day is.  I am not sure what is proper.  Do I remain somber, and aloof?  Do I join in on the "festivities" and traditional BBQs?  Do I commiserate the losses, men I knew like SFC Doster, and PFCs Craig and Harrelson?  What about PFC Max L. Bailey who is still missing somewhere on the east side of Chosin (Changjin) Reservoir in North Korea?  I don't know how I'm supposed to feel.  I want nothing more than clarity here because I need some.

Memorial Day has become festive almost.  People gathering and grilling and generally celebrating the end of the school year and the beginning of summer.  There are parades and obligatory flag waving along with token gestures acknowledging the sacrifices of the Soldiers, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Airmen, and Marines of the United States.  From Lexington green to Helmand Province Americans have fought everywhere and paid a high price for the freedoms we enjoy, what's more, we unlike almost any other country in the world will fight for the freedoms of other nations.  We haven't always done it perfectly but Americans seem ready willing and able to fight when freedom is on the line.

Perhaps the festive air is a good thing.  America's ideals were not meant for doom and gloom.  The horror of constant Chinese attacks over 4 days in -30 degree weather are not something it is a good thing to dwell on, yet I can appreciate some of the terror my great uncle Max felt before he died.  I don't want people to dwell on the gruesome injuries I saw Craig suffer, or worry about the dreams of Harrelson maybe burning to death in a humvee.  Maybe it is better that people know in some vague intellectual sense that these sacrifices are happening so that they really appreciate those burgers/steaks.

But for me, it is different.  I remember well the sheer terror of "putting my shit on" and climbing into the death trap humvees.  Driving on roads that could hide bombs of incredible and pants shitting size in piles of trash that are literally everywhere.  I can close my eyes and feel the heat as 2-2 burned, rounds cooking off mere meters away.  I can still feel that eternal moment after the AT-4 blew when I wasn't sure if I was still there or not.    Reading of SFC Doster's widow's struggles after his death, and the sheer heartbreak she continues to feel at his loss, a heartbreak I understand all too well, how can I feel any sense of festivity?

What really bothers me is that there are times I don't want to remember.  I want to forget it all and go back to a time when I didn't carry this burden.  Am I dishonoring these men and women by that thought?  Do I owe it to them to carry this weight?  Am I, by virtue of being a witness, bound by honor, and duty to carry the memory of them like an invisible rucksack weighing me down?  Is it wrong to want to be free, and to feel the same sense of ease that so many other Americans feel on Memorial Day?

I don't have answers.  I know it's wrong of me to try to explain to civilians that Memorial Day is not for me.  I know it's wrong to shame well-meaning civilians (including my mom) thanking Veterans today.  I don't want to tell people about Craig and the sorrow I feel that he only saw his daughter once before he died.  I don't want to explain the life Harrelson seemed to have laid out before him.  My own life is such a mess I don't feel I've done these men justice.

Memorial day is hard.  I am not sure how I should feel.  Because I am so conflicted I often avoid festivities.  I am not sure what the right thing to do here is.  I hope one day I'll have answers.

Monday, March 7, 2016


I came across this website which supposedly shows you what it's like to read with dyslexia.  I'll give you a moment to try to read that.  Did you go?  Were you able to read what was said?  The funny thing is that's almost exactly what happens to me, except to a much lesser degree.

Often time when I'm looking at words I'll see the absolute wrong things written.  Sometimes it'll be something so obviously wrong that I have to reread the words.  Once at work, I thought that there was a very obvious sexual phrase in a credit card brochure.  That there's no way the brochure would suggest customers ingest penises, I had to reread the sentence only to realize it was an extremely innocuous sentence.

For my entire life, I've been having to deal with dyslexia.  It's not reading backward, it's more like having everything jumbled up into a confused mishmash, but thankfully it's not so extreme as it used to be.  More than once in my life, I've read books or articles and come away confused.  Landmark school did a lot to teach me coping methods, and you have no idea how much it relieved me to actually know what it was that was causing me to have so much trouble in school.

Worse, trying to read aloud is nearly impossible.  Reading, then speaking, even my own work, seems to be just too much.  There are constant starts and stops and I back up because I read a word wrong.  It's beyond frustrating and makes me feel stupid.  The imagery I am trying to convey with my words sounds dull and the stumbling of my words, to my ears at least, completely destroys whatever good I accomplish with my writing.

My whole life people have remarked on my intelligence.  I tend to downplay it.  Perhaps it is because of the speaking.  Perhaps it is because I tend to have so much trouble translating the knowledge I have at hand to actual practical effect.  I can not tell you what specifically makes me feel like I am a bumbling idiot.  Whatever it is, it's plagued me almost my whole life.

Learning disabilities can drive you mad.  You see your friends doing things that you struggle with.  The thing is I've come to learn that when one thing is taken from you, you're often given something in return.  Often there are connections I can make, and my memory for the things people say is truly remarkable.  I'm often able to understand difficult concepts, even if I am not able to relate the same concepts to others.  Dyslexia isn't all bad.  True it can frustrate the hell out of me at times, but I know no other way of thinking, and I have to think I'm this way for a reason.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mourning A Relationship

After Becky broke off the engagement, someone told me that I need time to mourn the loss.  At the time that comment seemed odd to me.  She's not dead.  Her life will go on, only without me.  I went back to my grief and depression.  It is only now that I really think about it that that friend was right.  Mourning the loss of a relationship really is like mourning a death of a loved one, but if anything in some ways its worse.  

I miss the way she used to smile at me.  Often times my goofy nature would make her laugh, and she would give me a smile that showed she genuinely took joy in my presence.  Once, sadly two weeks before it ended, she and I were absolutely punch drink with exhaustion, and the two of us sat there giggling then uproariously laughing at something.  Her parents, brother, and sister all looked at us like we were crazy.  That just made us laugh harder. 

I miss the way she gave me hope for the future.  She could be blunt, and direct, sometimes brutally so, but when we talked about the future the worst of my past just disappeared.  I miss the dreams we'd share.  The plans we'd make.  The sense we can do anything if we're together.

I miss taking care of her.  When she got migraines, or was horribly ill, I miss sitting by her bedside, getting her meds, water, ice packs.  I truly miss the ability to make her misery just a little bit better.  If she was unstable on her feet, I'd support her.  If she was puking I would sit by, and hold out a glass of water so she could wash the taste out of her mouth.  I miss the weak but grateful look she'd give me.  I genuinely miss worrying about her health, and trying to track all her various medications.    

I miss the way she knew me.  I there were so many things I confided in her that I haven't told anyone else.  Many more things I didn't have to tell her.  She had instinctual knowledge.  She had just as many sleepless nights as I did.  I wonder now, if I'll ever trust a woman enough to tell her some of those darker things, and if such a woman might be rare, rarer still is the woman that's been where I've been, and seen what I've seen.  

I miss the quiet moments.  This stolen moments when we could just be together.  Her presence was a balm on even the worst anxieties.  In calm moments I felt such peace as I have not felt in well. . . most of my life.  We didn't have to talk about anything.  Sometimes just sitting in silence holding hands was all we needed.  

Far more than that, for me, I have a really overactive imagination.  I could live in the worlds I imagine.  Often times I've gotten lost for hours and days even exploring worlds that don't exist.  Even with more terrestrial matters, I can imagine possibilities, and see them almost as clearly as if they were happening, or recent memories.  

For a very long time, I willfully prevented myself from delving in such thoughts.  But with Becky I began to dream those dreams.  I could see the moment I proposed to her.  True in reality it didn't remotely match reality, the fact that I saw it in my head at all. . . that let me know this was it for me.  I saw myself lifting her veil at our wedding.  I could see the tears of joy she almost but not quite held back.  I could see her after our first child was born.  The exhaustion clear on her face along with a look of sheer joy and wonder at the small life she held in her arms.  I saw a curly haired precocious child that was an absolute terror, running around full of laughter.

I saw so much more.  A whole life.  When she said "the way things are I can't marry you." it was like watching all those visions be painfully ripped away and watch them circle past an event horizon into a singularity.  I don't doubt the pain of her death would have been in that moment just as bad.  But unlike a death this pain lingered.  

While my psyche fractured and I tried to find refuge in my rationality, one question kept screaming its way through my head. . . why?  Why?  WHY?  What had I done wrong?  Was there hope?  Is there anything I can do?  Can't we find a way to fix things?  What if. . . ?  What if. . .  ?  Finally a piteous plea.  Please.  

Each time I tried to talk to her I felt the love she'd once had for me die a little more.  Finally. . . we might as well have been strangers.  I asked her what we were after she said she couldn't marry me, she said "very good friends."  I wish we were.  If you didn't check my Facebook timeline you'd never have known we were oh so close to marriage.  

I will probably never know why.  I suspect if I was given a rationally satisfying answer it would hurt my emotional side horribly.  If I were given an emotionally satisfying answer it would offend my rational side.  Despite the fact that even now there's a part of me that would do anything she would say if it meant we might be together again, I suspect there's another part of me that would never be able to trust her again.  I'd always be on the lookout for the next flashpoint that would end things. 

I've never told any woman I've dated, but the litmus test for me as to whether I would wish to marry a woman came from the nightmare that was the WTB.  I saw relationships and marriages end because of the wounds of war.  I also saw just how battered a human body can get.  I would ask myself, "If I ended up back there, and was really hurt, would she stay?"  I don't think I could go through that kind of hell alone again.  With Becky right up until the moment she broke things off, The answer was an unqualified yes.  I think the fact that I thought the answer was one thing when it was really another adds another level of hurt.  It also makes me terrified to realize even if I think the answer is yes, I might get paralyzed in a car crash tomorrow and whatever woman I might try to be with might not wait for me to wake up before hitting the road.    

I have come away from this knowing I'll never meet another woman like Becky.  I'm not sure I want to.  As amazing, and wonderful and beautiful as she was, I don't ever want to fall so deeply in love again.  I'll mourn the death of the love we had, and in time, I'll hope she finds the right man for her and has the life she hoped for.  I fear that she'll get in her own way, and I tend to think very few men will be so persistent as to ever break through that high wall she erects around herself.  Whatever the case for myself the path ahead looks a little darker.  The desire to drive toward a goal is a little dimmer.  

Monday, February 29, 2016

Ribbit (Happy Leap Day)

Today is Leap Day.  February 29th.  Sure it's an oddity, and a lot of people don't "celebrate" it, but I like having fun with Leap Day.  I hopping around and shouting at people "happy leap day!" and encouraging them to act like frogs?

Why do I do this?  no reason.  It's fun to watch people's reactions.

Leap Day came about because orbital mechanics are odd.  The Earth rotates at one speed, and revolves around the sun at a different rate.  This means that it comes out to roughly 265.25 days.  Actually believe it or not it's not even that much.  Every hundred years there'll be 30 days in February.  Every 500 years or so there'll actually be 31.

Too bad I'll never see that.  I don't think that the Julian calendar since it got fully firmed up has seen a February 31st.  Its a bit of a shame.  I wonder if future people will celebrate the 30th of February. . .

anyway... Ribbit.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

When a .357 Magnum looks too good, its time to get help.

One thing which I don't like to talk about is my own frailties.  I can admit my fears, with great difficulty, to those I'm close to.  The problem is, that I have a hard time letting people in.  The specter of disappointment, and betrayals has made it so its difficult to trust anyone.  My most recent debacle with my ex fiancĂ© is an example.  There are many painful episodes in my past that I hadn't told her about (the WTB for example).

I trusted her more than anyone else I think in my entire life.  When things came crashing down, with little warning, and unclear reasoning all of that trust that I had allowed, the vulnerability, that became something of an open wound.

To say I was broken when I arrived home is an understatement.  I barely had the energy to get out of bed for days at a time.  I don't like that.  I don't like to admit when I'm hurt, let alone to admit I'm hurt just that badly.  If I could have willed my heart to just stop, I would have.  It seems strange but that level of complete abject depression may have actually saved my life.

About a day and a half after returning I found my dad's .357 magnum.  I actually pulled it out, and made sure it was functional.  At that moment a stray thought entered my head "if I had bullets right now."  That thought alone scared me.  The loss of my relationship was so painful, so hard to bare that I was willing to eat a lead sandwich rather than face the rest of my life without her.

Add to that there's the added stress of the issues of being home again.  There are many issues left unresolved.  The mold and mildew alone have caused me enough issues, but taking apart my dad's living area, I was able to get a palpable sense of just how far he'd sunk into the alcohol.  The brilliant man I knew growing up, who always seemed to have the answer died a truly broken man.  Perhaps thats one childhood illusion I wished to hold onto just a little bit longer, or perhaps I didn't want to ask myself if perhaps I could have done something.

I found myself angry at him, angry at my ex, and angry at the world.  I was angry at my dad for giving up.  I was angry at my ex for dumping me like a bad habit.  I was angry at the world because I could not figure out what I had done to deserve the treatment I had.  I would vacillate wildly between irrational anger and soul crushing sadness.  That gun would alternate between a way out and an object worthy of no more note than a rock or a branch.  I had actually taken to sleeping with it near my bed.

I realized then that I really needed help.  I reached out to the VFW post here, and through them I learned about about the connected warriors program.  Its a free yoga program for Veterans, which helped a lot with coping and stress.  It also helped with the horrible back pain that's been plaguing me since my return.  I also reached out to the VA.  Sadly their psychological department is full up here, so getting to a shrink will be a stretch.

Here's the thing, I haven't told anyone really just how close I came.  Perhaps two weeks after I started the Connected Warriors program I got a job.  That helped a lot. I've joined a gym, and I've reached out to friends.  Sometimes just to commiserate, sometimes for advise sometimes just because I needed to talk to someone.  My friends, both former combat veterans and just people that happened to be in my orbit helped a lot.

The hardest part for me in this process has been to admit that I needed help.  Its not just admitting that to myself, its admitting it to the people that can offer to help me.  The very people that can, and have helped me have to know just how bad it has gotten.  Is it because of the war?  Because of my Ex?  Doesn't really matter why things have gotten this bad.  The reality is I had to get help.  I've started getting it.

Its scary in a way.  I look how far I've come.  I thought that I was almost to a place where I could be as close to normal as imaginable.  Perhaps the one good thing that my ex sending me packing has done is to show me the error of that illusion.  I may never be normal again.  I'm ok with that.  I'll figure this out somehow.  I'll be ok.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Trigger Warning [I don't care about your 'triggers']

Before I went to war, if anyone had talked of "trigger warnings" I'd have laughed myself silly.  The idea that people who have not truly lived could be "triggered" into a state of hysteria or catatonia of fear fills me now with chagrin.  What could you possibly be "triggered" by if you've never truly experienced something traumatic.  

I have.  There were things that happened to me that were so traumatic I still, almost a decade later, have not gotten over it.  I felt fear such as I can not describe.  It made me sick in my stomach, and made it difficult to function.  I felt shame for my failures.  People died and I couldn't do a damn thing about it.  

It wasn't until late 2007, that I realize how deeply I was effected.  There is a song that played in a favored bar, a song played at a buddy's service in Iraq, and I was right back on that terrible day that he died.  The smell of the burning HMMMWV was in my nose, the crackling of rounds cooking off, the fear that I'd lose more of "my guys" and that terrible moment that I realized that for a half hour my friend had been put so completely out of my mind that he didn't even exist.  

That song, sadly popular, would actually trigger episodes.  At first I would be right back there in Iraq.  I avoided this song like it was the plague.  Unfortunately, it's a rather popular song and I can't really avoid it.  Eventually, the flashbacks became bouts of intense emotions.  Eventually it just became unpleasant.  I can accept the trauma that happened, and I can accept that my reaction to the song is irrational.  

I can not make the world accommodate me.  I can't force my work or radio stations not to play this song, and really why should I?  It's a good song.  If other people enjoy it who am I to bust in and interrupt them for enjoying themselves?  I'm not the dick punching buzz kill that seems to be on college campuses these days.   

Because I couldn't avoid this song I had to find a way to climate to it.  I chose to face this song, at one point I would have it in a 20 song playlist on shuffle, and while I'd do house work, it would randomly play.  At first it was rough.  Then it was less so, before "mildly unpleasant" is how I'd describe the experience.  

Triggers are real.  For people who've experienced real trauma there will be events, smells, sounds, or even completely non explainable triggers that will force them to relive the event(s).  For the most part though when people talk like this:

it's a load of bullshit.  They're not triggered.  They're feeling upset.  There's a massive difference between upset, and reliving the most terrible experience in your life.  Many who do have anxiety disorders or PTSD may not actually know their triggers thereby making "trigger warnings" completely useless, and worse, insulting.  You think we're these fragile balls of glass that will break at the slightest push?  Grow up.  

Here's what I want you to do, take your trigger warnings and shove em.  I want to be warned that something might be upsetting.  Let me live my life.  I don't want other's free inquiry to be stifled because bad things happened to me.  If anything I want people to have to be forced into self examination.  That's the only way we grow as human beings.  So please, enough with the bull shit coddling. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Big Honking Man-Killer vs. the Itty Bitty Rapid Fire

Here's a trick question for you, which would you rather be hit by: An M-1(the rifle used in WWII, not the tank), or an M-16.  Chances are, if you know nothing about rifles you'd have chosen the M-1, and you'd be incredibly sorry for it.  Why?  We've certainly seen the effectiveness of the M-16, in both war and peace.  It certainly looks scarier.  The M-1 looks at best like a hunting rifle in comparison, and really how dangerous could that be compared to an "assault" riffle?

First you need to know a few things about the M-1 Garrand.  One of the most interesting features (for the purpose of the gun debate) is it is one of the only rifles that actually uses clips.  There are no mechanical parts to the mechanism that holds the rounds you put into the rifle, whereas the updated version, the M-14 does actually use a magazine.  The clip for a standard M-1, is only 8 rounds, whereas the M-16 is usually 20-30 rounds.  The weight, 11 pounds vs 7 pounds (less if it's a carbine), would make you think the M-1 was more cumbersome.  The fact that the M-1 was made before nifty things like laser pointers and forward vertical grips might lend one to think that the older "antiquated" rifle is less accurate, and thus not a "better" rifle.  On all counts such assumptions would leave you  dead (excuse the pun) wrong.

First let's look at the rounds.  The M-1 uses the .308 or the .30-06.  Both rounds are pretty large, and have significant muzzle velocity, and mass.  Compared to the 5.56x45mm NATO standard round (.223) that the M-16 uses they are a little bit slower, but they also pack more of a punch.  The sheer physics of the rounds would leave you to wish to be nowhere near the business end of the .308, but its what the rounds are actually designed to do where the real damage is.

You see the NATO standard round that we all know and love today was designed at a time we were really concerned with the horrors of war.  The round was designed so that it would pierce light armor, but it was also designed with wounding, not killing a person in mind.  To that end the rounds are small enough that the actual damage they cause is minimal (compared to the rounds previously used), and it was designed to keep on going after it had exited the body (think of it like the scene in Indiana Jones where he shoots three guys lined up behind each other).  If you shoot someone with 5.56mm it'll enter and exit leaving behind small holes and not very large entrance/exit wounds. 

The .308 by comparison is designed to stop inside a target, imparting as much energy as possible on the target.  Most .308 rounds will actually mushroom, and deform.  This has the effect of making the exit wounds significantly larger than the 5.56mm.  As an added bonus the cavitation, that is the force of the wake of the round moving through its medium, is much stronger in the .308.  The end result is that you can accomplish with one .308 round that it would take several 5.56mm rounds to accomplish.

Unfortunately in the gun debate, one side is basing most of their understanding of guns on bad hollywood movies, or worse talking points they don't even understand.  If I were to give you the option to be shot by a bullet about the size of the tines on your fork, or a round the size of your pinky, which do you think you'd want to experience.