Divorce on Tuesday; Couple’s Tattoos on Saturday

The last several weeks have been centered around chaos and turmoil in my home which has sadly kept me from my true intentions by allowing it to do so. After my crush decided he only wanted to be friends, my life began to really change drastically between my husband and myself. The night I got the news and wrote a blog about it and my husband was very triggered and we got a fight after a great night at our favorite bar. 

That night I told him his inability to allow me to do things with others outside of my relationship plutonically makes me miserable. He thought about it for a bit and then decided it would probably be better off if we ended our ten year relationship and got a divorce as he didn’t know if he could stop using his fear of abandonment against me. I stated that was not what I wanted, I wanted him to work on his emotions so that I could also continue to work on healing myself.

A few days later a family altercation on my birthday lead to a week’s worth of verbal abuse over social media between my husband and step brother, I quit my job as my grandmother’s caregiver, and my husband had a miniature melt down that slammed him with depression and self loathing. This lead to him getting a therapist through his health insurance and he has currently attended one session. Due to our fight with family, we missed our first marriage counseling session since December because we did not have a babysitter. I wish now we would have just taken our daughter with us as we cannot get back in again until mid June.

My husband returned to work as normal the next week and I had resumed talking  to my crush now friend fairly often since my birthday. He had an accident on an ATV in his front yard and sustained a concussion. After intially refusing to go to the hospital, he was acting strange for several days. He ended up having some personal issues as a result of his concussion symptoms​ and I had been checking in on him daily because I was genuinely worried about him.

This past Tuesday I asked my friend when an upcoming appointment was and he responded sometime in March. I asked if he meant March, 2018 and he responded “No, March of this year.” I told him that it was now April, 2017 and asked if he knew what day it was. He responded about his concussion and then I did not hear from him at all. I began to get frantic as I read some of the injuries that could form from a concussion and thought I should go check on him.

I knew from his description somewhere close to where I thought he lived and headed there as soon as I got my family fed at my husband’s suggestion. He asked me to just check on my friend and come home as soon as I could. I agreed to his request but soon disregarded it after my arrival and text messages kept coming every twenty minutes. I know my husband has social and anxiety issues, but after ten years of being back in his life and fully committed to him, my normal empathy for his feelings was replaced with anger.

I hadn’t seen my friend since around St. Patrick’s day or interacted with him in any flirtatious manner since the decision to be friends was made. I wanted to make sure my friend was really alright and in all honesty we probably had the best conversation we have ever had this far in our journey; except for my rising anxiety at the angry texts coming from my husband. I was incredibly irritated by this point and decided that if he didn’t trust me enough to even talk with someone I care about after all these years that he never really had and realized this happened every time I left the house for the most part.

I have never cheated on him, and I isolated myself for a decade because he would always have something negative to say about the people I choose to spend time with. When he comes along to something he is not interested in attending he makes me miserable by constantly sighing, rolling his eyes, or tapping his foot. If he stays home, he makes me miserable constantly texting me and demanding the attention still be placed on him by my rising anxiety to check my phone constantly in the hopes to not return home to a hurt or irrate husband. That night I got sick of walking on the eggshells and decided they cut too deep.

I returned home two and half hours after I left my home, admittedly at a very late time. My husband was asleep on the couch where he said he would be and I approached him to speak with him. He was madder than I had ever seen him in the seventeen years we have known one another. He asked me to get away from him because all he felt was betrayal and rage and he wanted to hit me for the first time ever, to cause me pain. He did say he did not really want to physically hit me nor would he hit me so I left and went to the bedroom.

The next morning he was very icy as he dressed for work and left with little to no interaction. We texted and fought all day long and when he got off work that afternoon we sat down and he told me he wanted a divorce. He said he would not be able to forgive me for my actions and that all trust and faith in me were gone. He was infuriated that as a mental health professional I had put another mans welfare before his and that I was unable to understand how far the depths of the feelings he had been holding inside really were. 

I was shocked and immediately started crying. I asked him to wait for a bit, to do more therapy, get a proper diagnosis, and perhaps start some medication before making a final decision about the fate of our relationship. We both agreed to work on things between now and the end of May and reasses where we are both at then. We both love each other tremendously, I would not have stayed with a man I did not love for a decade. I know that if we stay together or divorce I will always love him as a friend, father, and someone I know that will always genuinely love me back. 

We decided that we would continue to get our couples tattoos because of this reason and kept our appointment yesterday instead of cancelling as originally planned after Tuesdays events. I told my husband I no longer give him permission to read my messages but that I was not going to change my passwords. If he reads something now that he does not like, it will not be my responsibility to handle the emotions that arise for them. I will do the same in return and own my actions. This decision was made after stumbling on a post in a poly group in which most advised against this type of behavior in a healthy relationship, especially in a poly one. I also did this at his request to not vent about him to others I know after he stated that venting on my blog would even be better for him, and received this advice from multiple sources.

I need my husband to trust me when I spend time with plutonic friends or even others I love because without it, we have nothing. I need my husband to know that I am level headed enough to take care of myself and although I am still learning new boundaries, I’m stronger than I have ever been in every aspect of my life. I would not do anything to intentionally hurt anyone,  and I know I have areas to improve and my husband does as well. I’ve realized that even if my husband does not care for the people I care to have in my life, that is his problem.

I will continue to work with him on becoming more comfortable with me being away from him and check in, try to be honest as possible, and be realistic in my time frames to the best of my abilities. I would like for my husband in turn allow me the time and respect to do the things I enjoy with or without him, and without intimidating me with guilt or fear of conflict and the barage of negative comments about myself, my decisions, and my loves and intrests. 

In the past three weeks I am happier now than I have ever been simply because I know that I am healing, I’m not afraid to be alone, and I’m tired of living my life according to everyone else’s feelings. I will continue to put my husband and household before my free time, but I will start doing things I enjoy with people I enjoy being with and hope it works to a satisfactory compromise with my husband.

I do not know if my husband has been checking my messages at this point, but I also no longer care as I never had a reason to hide in the first place and I still do not. It feels strange that the week your husband tells you he wants a divorce is the same week you get a couple’s tattoo and write about how you still feel happy about your life, but it is the life I live. I do love my husband, and if he choose to leave, I would be lying to say it wouldn’t be reluctantly on my part. 

He is my best friend and support system, he is the one that has gotten me through the pits and cracks our traumas have caused us and always stood by my side. I know we are very different from one another and it takes so much work for me and him to remain together, but so far it has been worth it and I’m committed to continue working on it until we determine what is truly best for us and our children. I hope he feels the same and that we are able to overcome the obstacles placed in front of us.


A Week Away

As soon as the second leave period began I jumped in my red Saturn and headed out to Arkansas. I drove all night only stopping for gas and bathroom breaks, popped yellow jackets to stay awake, and chugged mountain dew followed by a ciggeratte every half hour or so. The trip took about twenty four hours but I wanted to leave my car in Arkansas for my cruise, so I knew the flight home would be no big deal.

I finally got to my driveway and hurried to my room to drop my gear. My dog greeted me and I made my way to the back den to snuggle with him on the couch, it was our favorite pastime. My mom joined me and we visited for awhile. I knew my friends were in town and decided to seek them out. We left that night for Monroe to eat and catch a movie. It was nice catching up but I immediately fell asleep upon arrival at the movie theater and I snoozed the rest of the evening. I realized how disconnected I felt from the women I had known since the first grade, but I couldn’t explain why I felt this way.

Their conversation topics were so different from the ones we had in the military. Their wild nights would have been rated G if they had been a movie compared to what I had whitnessed and experienced. I felt so uncomfortable with my thoughts I did not really speak much unless asked a direct question and felt so alien listening to their small talk. Our lives were so different; law school, grad school, marriage, babies, while mine consisted of work, drinking, and smoking cigarettes while attempting to not get raped and preparing for an upcoming war none of them were allowed to be told about due to security. It made me avoid them the rest of my leave period; I needed people I could relate to.

I hadn’t spoken to my first boyfriend in over a year or more at this point but he knew I was in town because of our mutual best friend, Zach. We arranged a meeting of sorts and I made my way to visit him. We discussed how things had been since we last spoke and he confessed he missed me. He was getting ready to graduate college and wanted to join the Navy as an officer so we could get married. I knew it was too good to be true the moment the words left his lips.

We did not reunite and that was the last time we spoke. I left the next day to return to Virginia in preparation of our next detachment. My parents drove me to the airport and I had forgotten about a sex toy a friend bought me as a joke for my upcoming deployment that was in my bag. Embarrassed, I had to tell the poor old lady working security what was in my bag. She looked horrified and processed me through as quickly as possible. I finally landed in Virginia and caught a taxie home. I was the last stop and was very comfortable until I became the only female in the vehicle.

He  started asking me questions and I tried my best to calmly answer without him hearing the panic rasing in my voice or my pounding heart and gnarling stomach. Upon arrival to my home, he asked to help me with my bags. I tipped him generously and quickly replied that I could get them as politely as possible. I ran as soon as I saw his car pull away from the curb and felt like exploding once I entered the entryway of my building. I had never experienced that before with a man I was alone with for no reason and it made feel stranger than the night I spent out with my friends. I threw my belongings in my apartment and called a friend to get a ride to base to check back in off leave. When I got home I finally passed out on the couch with the sounds of the city lulling me to sleep.

The last few days in town and at the command were hectic but flew by. I was miserable being alone at the apartment, especially with no car, but I ordered take out and spent time with my neighbors each evening until time to load up the ship. My last night home I ordered Chinese, drank, and laid in the nude until I knew I had to get my neighbor to take me to the ship. During the process I accidentally knocked the cherry of my ciggeratte down my throat and singed my espoughous.

My throat was throbbing by the time I made it to the ship, but I grabbed my sea bag and linnen bag and manuvered the catwalks to get checked in. After my bags were cleared through security I climbed the ladderwell to my berthing to unpack and get my rack ready for the next month plus. I had a bottom rack this time and it made falling asleep easier, but I found I constantly hit my head on the light provided and I was right in the lounge area where the tv and very loud women spent their off time. I hated the ship, but I was determined to make the best of it.

Halloween Nights; Morning Nightmares

Our command returned to Fallon sometime in mid September or early October. After my stint in my squadron mates room the first detachment, I was sent to complete my temporary assigned duty and placed in first lieutenant, a glorified name for a janitor. The only people in first lieutenant were those that were considered shit bags by the command or those who had no choice. I was partially both, but  respected more than the men that were sent there because of their mental health and other issues.

People were so mean to these men, even lower ranked airman we were working alongside. One day I sent a male out to the Roach Coach to get us breakfast pigs since I had social anxiety and he was always broke. As we were eating he was telling me his grand plan to one day return to our command hanger bay and blow the entire thing up. I had never heard anyone speak like this and the shock read plainly across my face. He gently placed his hand on my arm and looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you’re not anywhere around when I do.” 

I could feel the pain ooze from his words and the agony his eyes carried, how could people be so cruel to make another human to feel so worthless. He remains in my thoughts to this day as I had no clue then I too would understand the pain he felt. He stayed behind when we went back to Fallon and was processed out by the time we returned. Sometime in mid September we said our goodbyes, and I never saw him again. 

When we returned to Fallon as the first lieutenant component of the command we were assigned hanger bay cleaning and out door grilling assignments twelve to fourteen hours a day. I mostly stayed to myself and occasionally left base with trusted individuals on rare occasions. I wore my SpongeBob costume and passed out candy for Halloween to my shipmates and cooked on the grill and spent most of my time with friends that were off. As the detachment was winding down the last week of October and into November and more brass and supervisors left, I was more inclined to venture out.

One night a FLIR tech promised my friend he would let me in a bar he was working the door at that night. I agreed to come along and used another females ID to show at the door. This was the first time I had ever used a fake ID and I was terrified of getting in trouble again. We made it to the bar and began taking shots and drinks with our remaining crew members. A new officer had just checked into our command and people wanted me to dance with him, but I declined fearing fraternization. I continued to drink, but hid in the shadows until closing time.
We prepared to leave for the evening and loaded up in a white duty van. I know this because the man driving was a third class Petty Officer with utilities on. We were supposed to head back to base, but the occupants talked the watch driver into pulling over at an all night bar, Headquarters. I decided I had enough to drink for the evening and would remain in the van. Another squadron mate also remained behind in the front passenger seat.

I began to feel my eyes get heavy as I was overly intoxicated and I laid in the floor on the van between the two back bench seats to try to feel better. The cool floor of the van and the heat from the vents lulled me to sleep. The next thing I remember is that I woke up feeling nauseated. I tried to sit up but I realized then that my squadron mate from the front seat had penetrated me and was on top of me. I’m not sure what happened next but I got sick. I threw up all over him and the van. 

I got out of the van and was still vomiting when the other occupants rushed out to check on me. Someone asked me if he did anything to me but I was so confused; and I knew I would be in serious trouble this time. The watch started freaking out about the entire situation and I just responded, “No.” I sheepishly tried to clean myself off and returned to the van and headed back to base.

That night was not spoken of again for many years. I denied it for a long time. Was I sure he was inside me, why was his tounge in my mouth, my pants were down, it must have been my fault because I thought he was cute before that night, he must have somehow picked up on it and tried to see where it would go. I went into shutdown basically and became numb to many parts of my life. We left Fallon and returned to Virginia for two short weeks before leaving out on the ship and starting the begining of the biggest atrocity I have ever participated in; Operation​ Iraqi Freedom. I had been raped before, in Fallon on the first detachment, but I had denied that one as well, up until 2016 in fact when asked to tell the truth, fourteen years after the incident by a whitness from that night

Denial was the easiest way to deal with it. I knew from Stephanie that I would be separated or relocated with a huge target in my record and no chance at promotion. I had given up my scholarship, I wanted my MGIB. I shoved it all inside and continued to act as normally as possible, to just blend in, unrecognized until I got out. That morning, and the mornings before when my squadron mates decided that my sleeping body meant consent was granted changed my view on my entire life. My self esteem and worth were shattered, I believed I deserved the bad things to happen to me for multiple reasons and stories yet to come, and I became more depressed than I had ever been in my life.

If Only I Had Been A Male…

Today I had the conversation about females versus male in the military with a friend. I do not really remember how the conversation came up but the thoughts it left me with are really the important part. I left high school an honor graduate and received a state funded scholarship to the only school in the state with a criminology program, which I was determined to study. My first choice had been at a school in Maryland, but my mother persuaded me to use the state scholarship first.

I hated my first school, the only good that came from it was meeting Andy through my roommate. My grades suffered and my Mom and step-dad ultimately decided if I did not want to return to Arkansas State that I could go with my mother to her school each week; a tiny community college in Wesson, MS. Unable to protest too loudly, and after being shut down at transferring to University of Arkansas in Little Rock, I begrudgingly decided for the later option.

Although I was making good grades and taking enough hours to make up for my first semester, I was still unhappy. Mid semester I decided to join the Navy upon completion of my current semester. I began reading all I could about my selected service branch and trying to get in physical shape for boot camp. I was excited to start my new life and to move on from what I perceived as my future in demise by staying in Crossett. I finished the semester with all A’s and a C; my parents were proud.

I headed to boot camp in June of 2001 and upon arrival I was asked an assortment of questions about my past. I answered yes to having been in band and thus was placed in a performing units division; 939. Although I had not played my saxophone for a year I managed to squeak through a badly performed site reading tryout and was then sent to tryout for the drill unit. I had done flag in band in junior high and this was a natural fit for me; I was twirling the riffle.

We practiced daily on our routines and I proved to be a great team member, our instructor was impressed with my marching and sharpness. I made it through boot camp with very few problems and because half our unit was male and other female, and we were pretty much all treated as equals. Once we graduated and moved on to our A-school for technical training of our jobs, I became the only female in my class. There was one berthing on base for all of the females compared to eight or more all male barracks.

Although my physical abilities differed from the male sailors and Marines in my class, my intellectual abilities remained consistent. I was still treated fairly, my questions were answered to the best of others ability, I was able to get to participate in after class tutoring sessions when needed and life on base was almost the same as living on a college campus with far more rules. I had my car and I often vacated the base as often as possible to escape to my beautiful Santa Rosa Island. 

After graduating from school and getting my orders to my first command I still felt fairly confident in my abilities to compete fairly with my male counterparts but that was quickly short lived. I was able to obtain many qualifications and a high security clearance because I had little negatives in my past history and doing what was expected of me was something I had always been taught. The further I went along though, the more obvious it became that my title as female greatly affected my abilities for advancement.

In my command girls were considered to be troublesome and we had a maintenance master chief that believed that females did not belong in his Navy; and god did he love to remind us! If a female became pregnant they were a deployment dodger, if a female claimed rape they were a whore, slut, good for nothing cum dumpsters, and completely shunned by the other members of the command; even most of the people they considered to be their family.

This was one of the main reasons I never reported my rapes, I just held them in and blamed myself for drinking and putting myself in the situations in the first place. As we progressed and began to get ready for deployment I continued to get my qualifications and to work hard to prove my worth to my superiors. When evaluations came around I was usually one of the lower ranked among my peers in my shop. It always confused me how those that did so much less work and had so many less qualifications could out perform me on our evaluations but I can not remember a single time where it did not happen.

The longer I stayed in my command and whitnessed injustices to myself and others I began to become disillusioned by the Navy. After deployment I put on third class petty officer and began to train to become a final checker and troubleshooter. I spent many long hours on the flight line preparing for this but upon time for my final approval with our maintenance master chief, I was instead given an impromptu board with him and the officers that were in maintenance control. I was humiliated when he clearly began asking me questions that had nothing to do with troubleshooting or my specialty at all. 

Shortly thereafter my command and shop supervisor decided to send me to corrosion control; but they wanted me to work the flight schedule as my rate, an aviation electronic technician, and then work a completely different workload after flight schedule in corrosion control. I was deeply hurt and felt completely disposable at that point. I tried to crossrate and was denied so I ultimately decided I was as unwanted in the Navy and began obsessively counting down my dates until my end of service obligation date.

Flight schedules, spare papers, scraps; none were safe from the countless numbers scribbled on them and dots that repetitively tapped each number as I counted the days down. I still find them in remnants of Navy paraphernalia that litter my house. I tried so hard to be a good sailor but I was never awarded anything more than what most in the Navy referred to as a toilet paper award, good enough to wipe your ass on the paper it’s printed on but not much else. My self esteem and self worth were at an all time low and I felt that no matter what I did in life I was never good enough.

Not good enough for many of my peers to respect me, my superiors to advance me, and most importantly not important enough to be respected and loved. All I had ever wanted in my life was for someone to love me for the person I was. I had found it once but at this point in my life, had pushed him into the arms of another woman because of my own insecurity. My depression was more than obvious and sometime after my rapist was kicked out of the Navy I just stopped caring.

I stopped getting anything other that required qualifications, I refused to work on earning my warfare pins, I stopped pushing myself to stay in good physical shape, and I gave up. I just attempted to exist until my separation. I worked, drank, and slept. I had a relationship with a man in my command, but I now know I loved him as a friend. He simply kept me safe and alive throughout the remainder of my time in my command. I never would have made it out alive if it had not been for him and a few other very close squadron mates.

I believed this was the darkest time of my life, but I would soon find out I was sorely mistaken. I believed life would be wonderful as soon as I was able to get out of the Navy. My first job hunting experience failed miserably and I ended up getting a front desk job at a seedy hotel down by the oceanfront making minimum wage. My ego was bruised but I took the job and I did my very best at it. Towards the end of the summer I abruptly stopped this job after a boss ran his hand up my legs and shorts while his wife and children were in the next room. It took a month or so to find employment in my new town and I began donating plasma for survival.

My live in roommate became extremely emotionally abusive towards me during this time and after blaming me for getting raped by a co-worker at my newest job, I fled the state for good. I arrived in Arkansas in a state of shock and proceeded to score another minimum wage cooking gig at a steakhouse. After my first few weeks I quickly realized I still did not make enough to cover bills at my new place. In a panic, I began to look for a new roommate and thus began another relationship.

Again, this relationship sprung out of survival, and the hurt I caused this man was not at all acceptable. I became reunited with Andy during this time and eventually moved into his home in Massachusetts, thankfully ending my need to be in a relationship for survival or fitting the technical definition of a very blessed homeless veteran. I continued to battle my demons I had incurred during and out of the military by drinking them away and my relationship with Andy began to suffer; I recently found out he was very close to leaving me at this time of our lives. 

After I was diagnosed with PTSD and began therapy I started to feel less like hiding and more like reaching out to former Navy and military personnel I had avoided for years. I became reunited with a squadron mate that came to the command at the same time as I did, we were even the same rank! I was surprised and overjoyed to find out he had put on Chief and was still proudly serving in the Navy. We began taking and one day he decided to ask me about a night I had been trying to forget since 2002.

One night while we were in Fallon, NV on a det I was incredibly intoxicated and out with friends from the command. Upon arrival to base I did not want to return to my room because my roommate often had men in there as well as other disturbing items I did not like to see. I opted to go to the room of my squadron mate, and realized that his roommate was still awake when we arrived. My chief friend was the roomate. After the lights went out our comrade began rubbing me and trying to penetrate my vagina. I said no in a hushed voice as to not wake up our sleeping co-worker, but he didn’t.

The next morning, it was joked about as if everything had been consensual. I brushed it off, embarrassed and horribly ashamed that my peer believed I was sleeping with people and acting irresponsibly, and more so that he believed it was consensual. This night though, through Facebook messenger, he was asking me to tell him the truth. He asked me if the events that took place in that room that night had been consensual.

For the first time since it happened I admitted that it was not, in 2016 fourteen years after the initial incident even took place. I’ve never even put it in my disability claim because I was fearful that he had believed it was consensual. He promised he was sorry and that we would talk about it, but he never called and we never did. The one thing he did say that night that has remained with me though was that he said he was sick of loosing good sailors for bullshit that happens in the military beyond their control, as no one can rape but a rapist.

It was profound to me that since I left the command a broken frail shadow of the person that entered it and he was a thriving successful career military chief. It made me wonder if I had stayed in, what I may be today. This man had been convicted of arson when we were at our first duty station and my largest sin was failing my physical readiness test after I decided giving up was easier than pretending to be strong. The differences our lives had taken struck me deeply.

He had prospered and been allowed to move above his transgressions while I was stagnated in every possible way, give or take a few supervisors that refused not to have my back. I got out and was only able to find minimum wage jobs in each state I lived in after the Navy. I was technically homeless for the two or three years before I relocated to Massachusetts to be with Andy. I was slapped with a government overpayment through the MGIB and had to sit out of school for two years while my credit was ruined. I self medicated to the point of getting a DWI and finally waking up enough to try to get my life straight. 

At 34 I have obtained my master’s degree, and I have a family that keeps me going, a nice home, a husband that cares for and loves me deeply, and yet I still feel like a failure at providing while my friend is living the life he always dreamed. It does make me wonder had I been a male in the military, would my experience have been much different? I would assume it would, not better or worse per say, but absolutely different. I do not regret my decision to join or leave the military, but I will probably always dream about what I could have been had I not been a female in a male dominated world. 

What is a VCF; Tell Your Hubby to Howl at the Moon…

Today was my appointment to get back on birth control at the local Veterans Administration. As I entered the nurses room and began answering her questions she asked me what type of birth control I was currently using. I told her I had been using a vaginal contraceptive film and she stopped typing, turned to look at me, and asked quizzically, “a what?” A bit stunned, I mummered a vaginal film and she again asked me what I was talking about. My face began to flush as my two year old daughter sat on my lap. I finally said, “it’s a film that dissolves when inserted in the vagina.” 

Upon answering her questions she turned to enter the information in her computer and I thought to myself what kind of nurse in the gynocologist office doesn’t know the kinds of birth control available. As she proceeded, I got further confused. I had been told in September that I was up to date on my papsmear and other female care checks by my primary care team and this nurse was telling me I was overdue. Mind you I was sitting in the exact same office my primary care sits in on the days she is working at the VA. 

When she asked me what kind of birth control I was interested in I responded the copper IUD. She then asked me why. I felt a little taken aback but I responded I wanted a non hormonal birth control option. She again asked me why. This time I answered with a hint of annoyance, “because it is my preference.” She then asked me if I would be able to talk to the doctor with my daughter as he might get “upset” because she was present.

At this point I was a bit flabbergasted; my husband was at work, the VA is the only place I have healthcare, and I had no babysitter. I coldly replied that I had done it before and this should be fine. She escorted me to the doctors room for my consult and he went through the entire spill about every option the VA offered again. I told him my preference and he informed me I would have to wait for my next period to get it inserted.

I was annoyed, but I understand why the doctor had to wait to get me back on birth control. While he was calling in my prescription and on hold with the pharmacist he says, “you may have to tell your hubby to howl at the moon until you can get your IUD.” I have no idea what the expression on my face was but I was pretty much humiliated at this point. I thanked him for getting me what I needed and the nurse gave me a card to call for my return to get my IUD scheduled. 

As I walked to the pharmacy I reflected on the numerous times I had tried to get and/or remain on birth control from that particular provider. I remembered the time in 2010 when we had moved from Massachusetts to Arkansas. I transferred from the Brockton, MA veterans administration back to my previous provider in Fayetteville, AR at the local Veterans Administration there. I had all of my records forwarded to the VA as well as brought my records with me when I left in May and I believed that everything would be fine when I was ready to return in Arkansas for my next dose.

When my depo shot was due that summer I called to get an appointment. I was stunned when they told me I would have to be re assigned a new health care team and visit a primary care physician before I could get my shot. I made the appointment, however the soonest the could get me in was a month after my shot was due. I went to my appointment that August and was immediately informed I needed an EKG. I asked why I needed an EKG to get a depo shot and the male nurse told me simply because I was due for one. 

Bewildered, I made my way to that technician for my heart check. She plugged me into machines and began the exam. She got a concerned look on her face and asked me if I was feeling alright. I responded I was fine and she asked me what I had been doing that day and if I was on any drugs. I told her I had just finished cleaning a home in Goshen and come right to the VA for my appointment and that I was not on any drugs. She looked at my tie-dyed grateful dead shirt with disbelief and said well you have bradycardia, your at 50 beats per minute.

I asked if it was a problem and she said no, just that most people my age do not have this. I returned to the nurse in hopes to get the go ahead to get my depo shot and he was also concerned about my results from the EKG. He asked me if I was a marathon runner; I laughed and said I wished. He finally sent me to my primary care physician and I was allowed to go get another papsmear and pregnancy test to get back on my depo shot.

I do not remember how many months it took before I was allowed to get my shot again but it was several. You would think birth control would be an easy enough thing to give to female veterans as we always had simple access to them in the service. I often wonder how much money is spent on the numerous procedures that one must go through to get a simple shot. I mean an EKG for a depo shot at the age of 27? The multiple letters that are sent for appointment reminders that arrive after your appointment, and the lack of communication between VA health care systems are likely costing the taxpayers, which I am also one of, countless dollars on uneccessary and dysfunctional procedures both medically and administratively. As a veteran that depends on the VA for my healthcare and has whitnessed multiple veterans turned away from treatment and medication for various reasons, I would really like to see money being spent on fixing these issues and serving more than continuing to waste money on a broken system that keeps loosing veterans at a daily rate. I also find it disturbing that I know more about sexual protection than the registered nurse the VA has hired to take care of me; this is the reality of the VA medical care system.

Welcome, Mad Dog

The first week at my command, VFA-87, was mostly spent getting checked in and aquainted with the rest of the command. I was on day check during my first week and as the weekend drew closer, two squadron mates from my shop invited me to hang out with them when we got off work that Friday. I agreed to go along and made my way back to my barracks room after work to shower and change for the evening. I was excited to meet new people in the area as well as find some of my friends from A-school that came up on orders after graduation in Pensacola. My friend came to pick me up and we made our way to the liquor store at the mini NEX on base. I was not twenty-one and told my friend to grab me a bottle of Mad Dog, because I was still a realatively unexperienced drinker and I could not come up with anything faster to tell him at the time. He chuckled as he got out of his tiny Honda and made his way into the store.

After securing our purchases we made our way to our destination for the evening and I was immediatley uncomfortable upon entering my other friends home; I was the only girl there. My friends baby was there and his fiance was not yet home from work. We started drinking and visiting for a bit and I began to relax. I was enamoured by a three foot long lizzard my friend had as a pet and barely realized that the missing fiance had arrived. At first there was tension because she was unaware that visitors would be at her home after work, but she quickly relaxed as well. Before I knew it we were looking through photo albums, dancing and singing, visiting with neighbors, and grilling out in the yard.

Andy had gotten off work and called to check in, as he usually did, and was disturbed to find that I was drunk, especially with two men I barely knew. He was more relaxed once he realized that my friends fiance was also present as well as a mixed gender group of neighbors. As our conversation continued I began to feel nauseated. I ran to the back corner of the yard and vomitted profously for several minutes. My friend’s fiance began to become annoyed at my sudden sickness and expressed disdain. I was given a ride back to base and taken to my room, horribly embarrassed.

I recovered the rest of the weekend by staying close to the barracks and sober. Andy and I reconciled over the phone and when Monday morning rolled around, I got out of my rack and proceeded to get ready for work. Upon entry to my shop I was greated loudly, “Heyyyyyy, Mad Dog,” “How’s it going, Mad Dog,” “Mad Dog, YOU ROCK!” My face immediately flushed and began to burn while my lead petty officer shot me an unimpressed glance knowing that I was not a legal drinker. I shrunk inside my uniform and tried to blend into the rest of the shop until shift change that afternoon. That was short lived as maintenance meeting revealed we had a 42 day inspection in the hanger bay.

I made my way out to work with the rest of my assigned team and began pulling and cleaning parts of the aircraft as I had been instructed the previous week. During our work my buddy leaned over and whispered to me, “You know Lana hates you, right?” I stopped working and looked at him shocked. He was referring to my friends fiance from the previous Friday night. I quizickly asked him, “Why?” He then told me that after he took me home and returned to their house to finish the evening, that he and my friend were discussing different girls they thought were attractive. Somehow my name came up and my friend said that if he was given the opportunity he would definately have sex with me. His fiance, obviously did not approve of such statements, and abruptly told him that I was no longer allowed to participate in the weekend group activities at their home any longer.

I felt dirty and guilty; I was sad that I was not welcome to spend time with my new comrades but I had other friends on base. I was mostly confused.  Why would another man say they would have sex with me in front of their fiance? I was semi relived at the prospect of not having to be uncomfortable around her, however I wish I had followed my instincts for a bit longer. I was moved that day to night check and told that I would be able to learn more on that shift because the flight schedule ended and the maintenance began. I was not upset at all, especially since I hated getting up early in the mornings and my legacy of the “Only female to survive night check” was in the making.

Letting Go in the Midst of Silence

Letting go of relationships has always been terribly difficult for me to do, be it a friendship, lover, family member, and even some acquaintances. I read an article this morning about letting go while keeping and remembering the good parts of the relationship as well as the bad and most importantly remembering what that specific relationship taught you. For me, it seems most of my relationships with others end abruptly with little to no closure. This is a huge trigger for me as it seems that all of the significant relationships in my life have ended on this note. Even now, if we are back in contact with one another, communication is stifled. It seems funny to me that humans seem to have such a problem with communication when we are the one animal on the planet that has been blessed with a gift that is relatively easy to use, even if it is complicated at times. I’ll admit I am one of the worst at this myself but as I grow older I cannot explain how it makes me feel to be able to be brutally honest with someone for them to not respect me enough back to give me an honest answer when asked.

After my first boyfriend broke up with me we went back and forth multiple times in my attempt to get back together; I am still uncertain as to what his expectations were. We would get back together for a weekend, and then not speak for months at a time. This fueled my anxiety by making me wonder what I did wrong, or what I had done to make him ignore me. The silent treatment is probably one of the most cruel and disrespectful actions one could take against another, in my opinion. It leaves the other person completely invalidated that they were ever even meaningful in your life to begin with. It does not matter how long the relationship lasted or in what capacity it was in, if I am left with nothing or no explanation, I automatically start to blame myself.

During the turbulence of the aftermath of my first breakup, I began speaking with a man I met on vacation in Pensacola Beach while on Spring Break my senior year. He was stationed in Virginia Beach not long after we began communicating by phone. I fell pretty hard for him, and even used my graduation money to drive out to see him that summer. My parents would not let me go alone, so my mom went with me and we spent a week on the oceanfront and I fell head over heals for my AT (Aviation Electronics Technician). We talked daily for hours at a time, wrote letters back and forth, and sent each other gifts. I left to go to college in August of 2000 thinking I was in a relationship with him so when I left my hometown and got settled down in my dorm I tried to give him my new information for contact. I attempted to call his phone for days with no answer. About a month or so went by and I finally got his barracks mate on the phone. He informed me he had been in the brig for attempting to fail a drug test to get kicked out.

His father was an officer and pulled some strings to instead send him to the brig and forced him to finish his enlistment. Evidently during this time, he met another woman and had begun a relationship with her. She was pregnant and in his command, so they both got in trouble for fraternization and he was sent to another command on the west coast. Eventually she followed him and they were married. The funniest part of this story is that he never once told me any of this, I found it all out on my own after months of attempting to call and his roommate make excuses for him. Finally the roommate was tired of covering for him and told me everything. I never spoke to him again, but it was not by my choice, it was his.

Later that semester I had joined a sorority although I had not been through recruitment or anything like that. My friends ended up pledging after they went through rush and then brought in the rest of us later in the semester. We had a dance coming up and we were all expected to bring dates. I automatically flashed back to high school and the torment I went through trying to find someone to go with back then and my anxiety immediately began to raise. We were working on a float with another fraternity for the Holiday parade and I ran into a man I had previously met on a trip to Washington D.C. I had been nominated to be a delegate to National Youth Leadership Forum my senior year in high school and I had met a few other people from the state during that trip. I thought, well, I know him well enough, I should ask him to go with me to the dance. I did, he accepted and I was shocked.

We went to the dance that night and my friends also had dates from the same fraternity. Afterwards we all went back to their fraternity house to finish up the evening. We played card games and watched television and eventually we all split off into the couples we went to the dance with. I had sex that night with my date and I believed it was because he actually liked me. We left the next morning and from that point on they no longer would speak to us. This went on for over a week when we finally learned from another fraternity member that they had used us as part of their fraternity initiation. They were supposed to all have sex with a girl and then not talk to her again. Me and my friends felt like the biggest idiots for having fallen for such a dirty trick.

The dehumanizing feeling one is left with after being silently discarded is immense. It is something that can stay with someone for a very long time, I know because those events took place in the year 2000 and they still hurt to write about them now. I have never really told those stories before, and while it feels good to let it out, I am amazed that at this point in my life, I have had many more than the above leave me with the silent treatment, I even did it once to one of my very best friends, which I wrote about my regrets in an earlier post.It is hard to explain what exactly the silent treatment does to another human being if you have never experienced it, but for me, I can assure you it is agonizing.

I’m going to try to stop torturing myself with those who choose to employ this tactic against me. They do not deserve my time or attention if they can not give me the simple respect of an honest answer, even if the answer is “I don’t know how to answer that question at this time.” My experiences have left me with a person that cannot be anything but honest, as I know the damage that lies and dishonesty cause in all relationships. As children we are brutally honest with one another with little repercussions for our communication skills, why do we loose so much of this as we age? I hope if you have read this far that you too will commit to being more honest in your daily interactions. I wonder what the world would look like if we stopped being afraid of effective honest communication instead of the holding onto the bitterness and isolation a lack of communication seems to cause. It is a world I will strive to create, and I will not apologize for it any more.