Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Its Four in the Morning...

It was four in the morning when she rolled over and couldn’t seem to fall back to sleep. The window was open slightly and it was cold out but she liked the feel and smell of the fresh late fall air. She laid there on her back and watched the ceiling fan slowly spin around and around listened to her husband sleeping soundly next to her, she watched him for a while then decided to forfeit and get out of bed.

She stopped to peek in at her kids before making her way to the kitchen for a drink of water, and then she crossed the dining room to find a spot and curl up on the couch under a cozy throw and watch the clouds slowly pass in front of the moon out the front window.

This happens every now and again, she’ll watch the sky until it begins to turn from black to cobalt blue to shades of orange and yellow as it rises above the park across the street. She won’t turn on the TV, and she won’t read a book. She’ll just sit there and stare out the window at the sky, her throat will turn dry, her palms will begin to sweat and her heart begins to race. She isn’t sick, and she isn’t necessarily a morning person. She is one of the 1.4% of all American women who’ve served in the United States military. She is one of the 5.2% of the United States population who’ve served our country in times of war and conflict.

Those are small numbers; hell, it’s not easy for someone to make the sacrifice that she has made, not even she knew full well what she was in for when she signed up. The morning of the day she made that decision she did what all veterans find themselves doing before they swear in, they look at themselves and take full inventory, for her it was in the bathroom mirror, it was partially fogged over but she looked in her eyes through the reflection nonetheless. She looked at her cheekbones she got from her father, and her nose and chin she got from her mother. She looked at the color in her eyes and the deep seeded need to protect those less fortunate from her grandfather.

She stood there and thought about all that she loved in the world, she thought about her brothers and sisters and the little neighbor boys across the street and how sweet they were to her every time she walked past them to her car to go to work. Their dirty little faces as they played in the puddles in the street. She didn’t have a boyfriend then, nor did she have kids of her own.

She looked in that mirror and thought about all those around the world being oppressed and tortured and killed and brought up hiding in their homes from the fighting in the streets and she made a decision. She decided then and there to do something about it, she looked into her eyes and prayed to her God and with resolution determined the full value of her own life. She decided that her life and blood was worth sacrificing for the good of the young boys across the street, for the freedom of those whose faces she looked at in the news each night. She knows the statistics, she knows that the freedoms granted to the majority are fought for and maintained by the absolute minority. She knows Freedom isn’t free, that there is a price on it and someone has to pay that forward.

What she didn’t realize is that the sacrifices our veterans make doesn’t end when they leave the military, when they are done with their tours of duty. That sacrifice is echoed in their daily lives when they go to the grocery store and find it difficult to determine which box of cereal to choose from knowing there are many whom don’t have that liberty. It is echoed, when they fall awake in the early morning hours just before dawn, and they spend hours looking out at the moon waiting for the safety of the noise of the day to begin, when quiet and stillness is frightening and constantly threatens to spill over your brow in sweat as you relive moments of bloody conflict and turmoil in your sleep.

7.3% of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. Please say thank you, whether or not you agree with their ideals, they made a conscious decision to sacrifice themselves for the rest of us, and that deserves recognition.

Veterans Day 2015

“Thank you for your service”.  As veterans we will hear that phrase now and again. A lesser used one seems to be “thanks for your sacrifice”. The thing about sacrifice is that it’s not a onetime forfeiture. The sacrifice a veteran makes stays with them for the rest of their lives. You can see it in the eyes of your grandfather, your aunt, your father, mother, brother and little sister as well as your neighbor. The sort of sacrifice a veteran makes in the service of their country, their loved ones and the generations yet to come can take a momentous toll on that veteran.

I appreciate Veteran’s Day, and I think it is appropriate, that said however I wish thanking a veteran, that percentage of society whose taken an oath to serve the rest of society by maintaining and securing the freedoms we all enjoy in America and around the world, whom had to look at themselves and decide the true value of their very own lives, were on the minds of more people on a daily basis.

Today, only 5.2% of the population of the United States are wartime veterans and only 1.7% are peacetime veterans[i]. That is a very small group of men and woman who’ve made such a sacrifice for the good of the whole of America and those in need around the globe.

Whether or not one agrees with another’s ideals, the fact that that person made a decision to fight for the lives and freedoms of the rest of society ought to be thought of in high regard and recognized by those whom enjoy the freedoms we all take advantage of.

If you see a veteran today or at any other time, please say thank you, it would only take a moment, and it mean the world to them…literally.

Thank you to all who’ve served and sacrificed and to the families of our men and woman serving today. The sacrifices you have made and continue to make do not go unanswered.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Like a Brick Upside the Head

I have been in dire straits; I have been trapped between the enemy and hell itself. I have looked into the eyes of men that wanted nothing more than my very own life. I know physical pain and mental anguish and having to make choices for the sole purpose of survival of the greater majority despite risking my own.  Now you might think I have cached quite a bit of knowledge, skill and bravery that would serve me appropriately in just about any situation going forward, well I am here to tell you that no matter the experiences a man may live through and the skills he has learned by them, there are still things in this world that will bring him to tears and fear at the drop of a hat.

I was married for 23 years and thought I knew what love was, what it entailed and what my future held, but in a matter of just a few of those years it all came to a fumbling, crashing and immensely sad end. People change throughout life and partners need to be in tune with each other in order to change with one another, otherwise their paths begin to lead away and separate. That’s not to say that their individual lives need always be connected at the hip, we are all different people but keeping connected even when we change though difficult at times is essential. When that doesn’t happen, and you lose sight of each other through the distance between your paths, it may be too late in the day and too hard to find your way back to close that expanse.

When that happened and I found myself waking up one day looking at someone I don’t recognize in the mirror, even though it felt like there was something ugly rotting away inside of me, logically I realized at some point that the pain would eventually subside and I’d be able to move on. But when it involves children things get really convoluted and messy. At that point it’s no longer about you but how you can move forward without destroying the lives and innocence of them. In my case my ex and I decided to base all of our decisions and relationship going forward on the needs of the kids despite sacrificing the marriage.

That is far easier said than done. Severing all emotional communication and sticking to the business aspect of the separation and divorce especially when neither of you is in a financial state that serves either of you appropriately is seemingly impossible. With the taste of bitterness and anger on my tongue and regret and shame in my pocket I tried to push on into the unknown and muddled future. But nearly every day I have to correspond with my ex, these days we text and email which is probably a good thing since for some God forsaken reason hearing a partner’s voice over the phone after 23 years is still hard to swallow. And even though there are valid reasons why we are divorced, reasons I held true to myself and my emotional survival, reasons I would still not change I can’t help but feel all fucked up inside at times when I see her, why is that the case, it hits me now and again like a brick upside the head. Just when I think I have it clear in my mind and I can deal with the interaction for the benefit of the kids, it’s always there to remind me of a love that I cherished for many years and I guess maybe you just can’t rid that from your heart no matter the reasons for its end.

So why can I rely on the training I received as a young soldier even today and my ability to determine danger ahead but when dealing with the fragments of a two decade old relationship I can’t see the impending menace as it circles me? It literally sucks the strength from my middle aged frame right through my pores. It washes through my mind like a creeping fog in a dark forest and I end up pulling shame over me like a thick robe. I get my kids every other weekend, but because I had to take a second job to pay for my own way since my ex gets the majority of my check I still have to work when I have them and on the day they leave they go before I come home from work. I find myself standing at the room in my apartment they have to share crying and feeling like someone just ripped a hole right through me. I enjoy them while they are there and feel devastated when they are away. And it just doesn’t seem to get any better.

It is all reminiscent of when I came back from overseas and I couldn’t complete simple tasks because I didn’t have to do them under fire. Today I make excuses to chat with them over the phone or through text and email, but I always feel like I’m trying to get back to them through a raging storm and I just can’t gain any ground.

I don’t know how much this admition to my blog will make sense to any of you, but I am gambling that there are many men and women soldiers and divorcees that can relate, sometimes I think tossing out a flag to see if we really are the only ones in the boat or not is part of our need to survive and connect. I am still early on in my journey through this, still trying to find my way through the pouring fear and wading through all the thick puddles of embarrassment and humiliation. But like any good soldier I will keep moving forward regardless of the weight of my pack.

Thanks for reading.