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.

The Noose

The beginning of this week started off decently well but was abruptly filled with chaos and upheaval beginning on Tuesday. An ongoing family altercation had me continuously stressed and after leaving from their home rather distraught, I was just ready for the weekend to get started. I quit my caregiving duties because I no longer felt comfortable or welcome with the family members that are home during that time on Wednesday​. 

By Friday my husband was calling to make therapy appointments for himself due to his boss requesting he do so. I overslept for my therapy appointment and I promised my grandma I would bring her the money I owed her for not working my last two days I had been paid for, get her items from the store, and let my kids visit with their grandparents. Things were fine until I got ready to get them to leave.

After getting my grandma settled and the kids mess picked up I was hoitily asked if I had told my grandma that I quit my job. I replied had had attempted to three times and was interrupted with a reply shot icily across the room, “That wasn’t an  answer to the question, did you or did you not?” I glared in silence for a moment before I rounded up my children to head home. They stood at the windows in the dining room in an intimidating fashion as we loaded up in the car. I knew at that point my decision was the correct one.

My emotions were high as I headed towards my home but I had agreed to meet with my father there the following day to discuss the family rift in person. I was almost to my mother’s home in Prairie Grove to check on it when my husband got a text from a mutal friend. She had been attempting to reach me but my phone battery died and it was urgent. She had received a cryptic message from another mutual friend and was worried. As she does not have a vehicle, she wanted us to check on him. 

We kept in touch and made our way to his home after a series of messages to others allowed us to find him. As we neared his street we got texts from him telling us to turn around and not to come. I knew from a previous visit to this residence about a month prior when his then wife took about half a bottle of her medicine​ that he knew I was a mandated reporter. My husband stayed in the car with our children and I made my way to the apartment. I approached and knocked lightly on the door. 

My friend opened it slightly but immediately shut it upon seeing my face. I knocked lightly again and began to write down the address to call 911. He must have read my mind because he immediately opened the door and let me inside. He pleaded for me not to call anyone and I told him I would talk with him before I did anything. He asked for a hug, so I hugged him as long as he wanted. When we separated he sat on his couch and I took a spot on the floor. We discussed how being alone can be so dangerous for a severely depressed person and how I had self medicated for so many years simply to numb the roaring thoughts in my own head.

I invited him to our home several times but he declined saying he didn’t want to be a burden and that we had the kids with us. I finally decided to ask him what was keeping him at home. He sighed and rose from the couch extending his arm to me and stated he wanted to show me something. I got up and followed him through his bedroom and into the bathroom. He fumbled to get the light switch on and stumbled into the counter. 

When I peeked around the corner of his closet I could see a Dremel battery charger sitting on the toilet and inside the shower was a noose made from climbing ropes. I’m sure the horror on my face that I could not contain hit him and he began crying. I immediately remember the pain and agony I had felt so many times before when I felt unloved and alone. He snatched the noose from the shower head, we grabbed some of his belongings, and we made our way to the car.

He grabbed a notebook he called the ugly green notebook and stated it had some things written in it but he never really offered for anyone to read  it. He placed it in our kitchen where it remained and poured himself a growler of dark beer he had brought from home. He eventually told my husband that he had tried to hang himself and there were light red marks around his neck as well as both of his eyes blackened. I told my husband about the noose in the shower. We alerted his other friends he was with us and safe for the moment and commenced to attempting to enjoy our evening.

We decided since everyone had such a shitty week that we would celebrate Saturday instead of being miserable. I was nervous as I waited on my dad to  arrive and texted with a friend who surprised me with a video chat and served as a minor destraction for a few moments as he always makes me laugh. After dad’s visit we bought taco, queso, and cake supplies and our birthday celebration began. We sipped on drinks as we took turns preparing our dishes in the kitchen and enjoyed our meal together. I finally got our cake baked, iced, and just after midnight we celebrated our friends forty-second birthday instead of finding him dead in his shower.

I was reminded how precious life is and that the quietest people often have the loudest minds. I had been checking on his estranged wife for weeks but had neglected to check on him, and I felt pretty shitty about it. I have been in his place before and still struggle to keep my brain from going there occasionally still to this day. I know what it feels like to be a burden to everyone around you, that the thoughts in your own head are so consuming it feels as if the pain will never go away. It’s a pain that isn’t even easy to explain, but I know he felt it because when I tried to describe it he knew exactly what I was talking about.

It’s the pain of heartbreak and despair, the feeling that you will never love the way you loved before again. In a way, it’s right. Pain changes you, it makes you isolate, gaurd yourself more, trust less. I know what it feels like to sit back and watch the person you love not be able to love you back; to leave and move on while you’re still screaming for them to come home. In fact sitting alone after a loved one left our dwelling was the first time I contemplated taking my own life. I felt so stupid for overlooking the obvious but I also had been distracted by my own family problems.

We closed our night down watching a comedy show on Netflix and tucked ourselves into our respectful beds. We agreed to take our friend home that morning and everyone got ready accordingly. We talked about Jurassic Park with our kids on our way and as we parked, I left my husband with the kids to walk our friend home; I had to take the noose down.

He seemed confused as I walked up the sidewalk to his apartment and I told him I had to take care of something; he forgot it was still in the bathroom. That black cord hadn’t left my vision since Friday night however and I could not leave him at home with a ready made noose. I made my way to the bathroom and grabbed the noose. I began to untie it and wrap it back up in the bundle it was still neatly wrapped in. Although I was able to untie it, I had to work momentarily in several spots to get it loose and it was knotted correctly; I hoped this was his first attempt but began to doubt it.

I reached for the Dremel charger and noticed a bottle in the shower when I grabbed the noose. I had to step into the shower to retrieve the alcohol bottle and I saw the Dremel with a screw head attachment sitting next to the bottle. I’m not sure why it was in the shower, and I honestly do not know if I want to know why it was in the shower. My arms got chills as I continued to clean up the bathroom, that feeling of desperation to just make the pain stop flooded me. 

I returned his tools to his closet and was contemplating taking the rope with me. I knew that he could simply go buy another the moment I left, so instead I asked him if it would be used again anytime soon. He assured me it would not be and stuffed it underneath his couch. We hugged again and he laid down on his sofa ensuring me a long nap was in order. I felt relieved as I left his apartment and glad to have celebrated life with him this weekend rather than death. 

I felt more confident in my abilities to be there and hold space for someone even when I am battling my own demons and still have feelings of shame for having neglacted checking on my friend. Most importantly​ I was again reminded why counseling found me even though I have never been paid to be one, and I will continue to work towards opening my non-profit so there is a place for those that feel alone to go. The image of the noose and Dremel are still fresh in my mind, and likely will be for some time. I was able to untie it as an instrument of death this time, but it further tied me to my commitment and refuled my passion to make mental health availability a top priority.

Thirty-five and Finally Alive

On Tuesday I turned Thirty-five years old on what I thought was a typical day, however it quickly turned to turmoil after an altercation with some of my family. Due to changes in budget, my family is currently down to one vehicle. My husband decided to take the car to work and let me stay home with our daughter because I had a headache and she was up all night on and off. I had agreed to go to lunch with my grandmother alone to Red Lobster on my birthday, and I planned on and had been dressed and ready to go since eleven.

My daughter was still asleep as was my visiting mother-in-law so I opted to ask my husband if he would bring me the car and I would get him lunch on the way back. He did not know of my plans with my grandmother and wanted to surprise me by taking off early and offering to run errands with me. I felt horrible bout lying to him but I knew my grandmother had been saving her money for hearing aids. I sent her a text in an effort to make a compromise and offered to pay for my husbands meal. Admittedly by then I was a couple of hours later than I intended to be and it was not the first time it has happened. She stated we would do it a different day and that she was tired.

I felt horrible about missing our lunch date but when I arrived I offered to get her something else after she stated she needed to lay down. Almost immediately my husband was accused by other family members of having previous knowledge and crashing our plans in effort for him to get a free meal; one that he does not even prefer as he hates Red Lobster. A second blow was delivered when it was suggested that our daughter dictates our life and we needed to get control of it.

My husband blew up and went to the car at this point and began honking until I joined him. I left my grandmother visably upset and feeling like my guts had been ripped from me. In an instant my day went from semi chaotic to horrible. The next was no better, as I returned the following morning I was met icely at the door by one member and shared a “Hello” with the other as I exited to do an errand. After returning I was told that my presence was questioned in a sarcastic manner and I then made the decision that I would no longer place myself in the presence of those that have no respect for me in secret.

Yesterday I was told through social media that I used my past and trauma to hold me back. I make excuses about how the world has wronged me, and I need to stop complaining and whining and do something with my life. Although my traumas happened over a decade ago, I have never really processed the information. I drank myself numb and denied for over a decade. The several years I have spent in and out of therapy have helped me tremendously, but I am still processing.

I get stronger every day, and I try very hard to manage my life to the best of my ability. I do make mistakes, I do have irrational thoughts and beliefs. Most of these relate to myself and sometimes I misconstrue the thoughts others have. In this case I feel I have yet again opened up about my past to people who do not care to hear it. Instead of being empathetic, I have been told that clinging to my past is my crutch and I use my mental health issues and others to survive in life.

I disagree with this, however I also know that I cannot change the feelings others have about me; those are in fact their perceptions and misguided conclusions that they allow themselves to be deluded by before making and expressing rational thoughts. In fact simple definitions are not common knowledge among them, so I honestly do not know why I expected them to be any different from what they have finally shown their true colors to actually be.

I find it extremely hurtful that I have extended myself to them both emotionally and one financially to continue her habits and then they use my past against me. It’s my crutch I cling to in order to not progress my life and I take advantage of my loved ones. The last one hurts the most but I suspected that had been the mutaul feelings of many people for quite some time. 

I find it ironic that the one that called me out for being lazy has not even yet applied to multiple jobs in our area since relocating and living rent free and smoking and drinking off of cash he makes from the same said family member I supposedly take advantage of for the last four months or the money that was sent in effort to support him across country when he went to school. I am hurt more so than I have ever been in my life by my immediate family and I’m not sure how it will be fixed.

I’m mad that after living a life separated from my family by divorce and missing one event or another during holidays I am again forced to pick and choose sides to have a relationship with my family. I do not feel as if I can trust them again if they honestly feel that way about my past. I already knew from previous discussion that my work ethic is not anything to be proud of and that me and my husband needed to be taught a lesson and take control of our lives. This would supposedly make us proud.

What they fail to realize that everyday I make it out of my bed, breathing, and working towards getting out of the house does make me proud. That every day I fight myself on my worthiness to live in this world and the burdens I place on others, especially my children. I struggle to concentrate through tasks that used to take me minutes while battling anxiety riddled emotions my brain randomly spurts at me throughout the day. I make it to most of the places I am supposed to and I try to be the best mom and wife I can be. This makes me proud.

In the time I have left the military I have earned my bachelor’s and Master’s degrees​, I have worked multiple jobs at once, and I continued to work when I was staying home with our children as a nanny and caregiver until this Tuesday. I got a DWI and stopped self medicating, I realized I had mental health issues and I asked for help, I continue to use these services when available, and I strive to make everyone in my life as happy as possible to a fault.

Recently I decided that my life is my life and mine alone to live. I will do what I and my husband feel are the absolute very best for our family and our children. We both remain committed to that and are going to attempt every effort to be as healthy physically and emotionally as possible from present. I will face things that are uncomfortable and I will continue to grow as a person in my own way and in my own time. While my birthday may not have been one I will remember as being a good day for obvious reasons, it will be memorable in that for the first time in my life, I am living it for me and I finally feel alive.

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.

The Making of a Clown

Working in first lieutenant was easy but taunting and tedious work at best. Our work space was a broom closet off the second floor of our command. It was breezy as the bottom hall was frequented by maintenance personnel coming and going to the flight line. It was shoddily staffed with five gallon Turco buckets we used as seats and a small space heater for warmth amongst the commands cleaning supplies.

Every morning we mustered with our supervisor and awaited our cleaning orders from the command master chief. We routinely cleaned the heads, stripped and waxed the decks, painted anything that could be painted, stocked the geedunk, and anything else CMC could come up with. After our assignments we set out to accomplish our tasks throughout the rest of the day. We usually took a small break between each one to ensure we kept a busy appearance until we secured for the day.

About mid morning I made my way back to report to my supervisor and let him know my plan. He was not in the closet so I started rifiling through the scribbled notes to see if he left one for us as to his whereabouts as he usually did. I picked up a piece of paper and in CMCs handwriting were the words “Just keep those fucking clowns busy.” My hands started shaking and my body began to quickly fill with rage. We worked our butts off doing tedious little things for the command and him everyday. I knew then what I meant to my command and it actually caused me to have a major shift in attitude.

My supervisor happened to arrive as I was about to clear the closet door and knock on the CMCs. He said, “Korky, where are you going?” nervously as he could see the look in my eye. I thrust the paper toward him and as he read it he started shaking his head and smirking a bit. He sucessfully talked me out of barging in suggesting that my actions would only let him win. I attempted to calm myself and left the closet to go out to the smoke pit. 

It knew it was silly to be so offended by the word clown. I had been and would later be called much worse in my life, but that scene and the emotions it aroused that day stayed with me and I immediately lost all respect for CMC. It was hard to look him in the eye after that incident and when he shook my hand or thanked me for doing something I always believed it was insinsier or forced. I knew this man would never consider me a person.

Later as we were securing from a detachment and supplies were limited he stated, “I don’t care what you use, get those fucking pads and tampons out of that bin.” Disgusted I went to the head to wrapped my hands in plastic trash bags as we had no more gloves. Someone had failed to place a liner in the sanitary napkin disposal and me being the female left to secure, I did as he commanded. I had never felt so degraded in all my life.

I asked if I could secure to go cleanse myself in my barracks room and my supervisor obliged. I stood in the scalding arsenic ladden dessert the base in Fallon had and scrubbed myself from head to toe. Thankfully my roommate left that day during the fly off and I had the room alone for the evening. I headed off base with my friend to eat some Chinese food and we somehow found ourselves in a tattoo shop with men from another command.

After their tattoos were finished we headed back to base and waited on the supervisors to go to bed. Once they did I loaded all the beer bottles I had locked in my closet into my room mates comforter and we hauled it loudly down the stairs. We filled one trash can and moved down several rooms to the next to get rid of all of the bottles. I am not certain how many Sierra Nevadas I had on that detachment, but my drinking had increased tremendously between the first and second detachments. I was not yet twenty one and kept them locked away because CMC could not unlock it during inspection unless I was present.

We laughed off the enormous comforter stuffed with bottles along with the shipmates that passed during our excursion but I failed to see the red flags and attempted to deny my failing mental health. My superiors and peers were begining to break me down but I did what I could to keep my head afloat. My self esteem was declining rapidly as well as my sense of worth. I had no idea this was only the beginning of the negative experiences I would face in my life. What happens in Fallon, stays in Fallon may have been the catch phrase for those detchaments, but for me what happened in Fallon never left my body when I was raped, the degrading acts from my superiors only made my sense of self and symptoms worse in the long run.

Memories of the Desert

Although I had been raped twice in Fallon, I did have realitively good times in the dessert; or as good as they could be. My first detachment I spent most of my time working with my shop until I was caught in a shipmates room attempting to avoid the sex acts taking place in my own. I was only twenty and mostly stuck around to those I knew decently but I left base every chance I got. 

I went shopping in Reno, ate the casino buffets, went skinny dipping in Lake Tahoe and then rode around the entire lake with our van door open to dry our clothes before going back to base, and watched a friend fly a kite over the shores while we picked fresh sage to take back to our homes. I marveled at the scenery and majestic landscape the dessert provided. One day, as was customary for many sailors to do, we decided we wanted to visit the local brothel.

I had been sent on a mission by a roomate to get a menu, and I had every intention of fullfilling it. I was the designated driver since I was underage, and the only female. We drove to the outskirts of town and finally arrived at the front of a trailer park. Right off the side of the road stood the famous Bunny Ranch. I immediately parked the van in front of the entrance and we hastily made our way inside to get my elusive menu.

I made it about two feet into the door when a very obese woman in a blue bra with the most enormous breasts I had ever seen called out to us. I quickly realized she was calling out to me, asking me if I had a permit to be inside a brothel. Baffled and embarrassed I stammered I didn’t as my face became a bright cherry red inferno. I shrugged my shoulders and said I would be making sand castles out by the van until my shipmates were finished. 

Defeated, I left the brothel, but was quickly greeted by my shipmates who also wanted to return to town. We decided to stop at our favorite local stop, the birdfarm, and finished off our night badly singing to the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and figuring out how a silver dollar would go in the juke box. I attempted to play darts but struck a local man in the head and quickly surrendered in exchange for remaining in the bar until close.

We cooked on the grills outside the barracks and played spades and other games to pass the time. The base had a go cart track and small cafe and bar to spend time in. I believe there was a bowling alley as well. The second detachment we finally convinced master chief to give us the van one day to go for an adventure. We all wanted to go somewhere different so we went to Tahoe for the obvious, Sacramento to see the capital, San Francisco to eat in China Town and cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and Reno for late night casino dinner all in our one day off. 

While people were wild and crazy and bad things did happen, it was a time of bonding for me and many of my shipmates. We learned to have loyalty and respect for one another that continued to grow the more time we spent on the ship after we left the dessert. We bonded over dessert buggers, pigs in space, the insane things you only do if you are in the military, the close quarters of sweaty kitty litter covered techs farting bad grilled food, and the never ending inside jokes that would follow us for years. As our final jets took off and the remaining Skelton crew members boarded our flight to head back to Virginia I watched the setting sun go down on both a place I learned from tremendously​ but also as a place I knew I never wanted to return to.

I Wish my Husband Believed That he Was my Lifesaver

My husband often gets his feelings hurt because I am constantly doing things for others and pushing things I want to do for him off to the wayside. I know it’s wrong and I don’t mean to even do it conciously, but it happens. The day I left for the Navy, June 20, 2001 I knew I was leaving behind a person that cared for me more so than any non related person had ever cared for me. After I arrived at boot camp he religiously wrote me weekly. He was the only one that answered my phone calls and continued to do so after I arrived in Pensacola. 

We spent hours talking while my friends would go out to clubs to meet girls and I laid next to the hotel phone crookedly in the lumpy bed just to hear his voice and long to be in the confines of his little two bedroom apartment back in Arkansas talking the nights away as we always had. I missed his companionship so much that I incurred a five hundred dollar phone bill on my parents calling card in fact, and an infuriated mother.

We made our relationship official, while I was on leave from A-school around Christmas or so of 2001. The week we spent together was so intense, I had never felt love like he had to give. Even after our tumultuous three weeks in Virginia, his immediate move to Massachusetts, the arrival and departure of our child, he never stopped loving me. He was suicidal when I broke up with him the first time, when I was preparing to leave for deployment, but I honestly thought I was doing the best for us both at the time.

He wrote me when I could not receive or make phone calls, when I was restricted from writing letters or emails, still claiming his love for me, a half a world around. When I returned from cruise we had a falling out after a botched visit I attempted to make in Massachusetts. I hurt him deeply, and at that point he decided he was ready to move on with his love life. He let me know in early  2004 that he had met another woman and was smitten by her. I knew at the time I could do little about it, and I was just glad he wasn’t suicidal anymore and seeming to move along with his life. We didn’t speak again for a little over a year. Apparently one night after I had gotten out of the Navy and was at the lowest point in my life, I called him frantic and desperate for a place to go. He told me he had roommates and still was with his girlfriend.

I was so inebriated that evening I did not remember making the phone call. It was the last time we spoke for close to a year or more. After I left Virginia and settled back into Arkansas, my cousin asked me if I had a Myspace account. I replied that my friend had made me one before leaving Virginia but I had never used it. She accessed my old account and I found a message from Andy. He was requesting that I let him know that I was alright after my erratic late night call the previous year. We began communicating again through social media and Thanksgiving of 2006 he called me crying and stating that his girlfriend had broken up with him; he was devestated.

We began speaking more regularly and by March, 2007 I was on a plane to Massachusetts to visit. The moment I saw him in the airport I felt the same as I had the first time I saw him. We hugged and it felt as though no time had passed since we had last seen one another in 2003. I spent the week with him and we had fun visiting the Boston area. I had a blast getting reacquainted with my lost love and when it came time for my plane to depart I felt as if my heart were going to emplode. I felt so lost and alone without his companionship​. We continued talking and I was able to return for a two week visit in the summer.

This trip solidified my decision to move to Massachusetts. I knew to get Andy back I would have to prove my love to him this time around. We began to make preparations for my arrival; slated for June, 2008. It seemed like the longest year of my life, but we remained in constant contact and committed to one another. The day finally came for me to leave Arkansas and start over with Andy. It felt strange leaving, but I was excited for my new adventure. Shortly after my arrival, I found out I was pregnant with our son. 

The moment Andy found out he was committed to being the best father he could be. I instantly felt secure in my new life and relationship and I had been given the greatest gift of all, a life to love. I vowed from the moment I found out I was going to be a mother that I would not do anything to separate myself from my son. Of course I later made stupid choices, but the gift of my son and later my daughter were the missing pieces I needed to remember that I had a purpose in being born on this Earth.

The security and love Andy has shown me the last seventeen years I’ve known him and the gifts of unconditional love I get from all three of them fill every part of me that would ever consider taking my life. It doesn’t get rid of my feelings of worthlessness or that I’m a burden, but because of them I would never purposefully do anything to remove myself from them as they are my life. My sole goal is to make my family the happiest and healthiest we can be physically and mentally with what we have. I know our lives are not perfect, nor do we pretend that they are, but we strive to make it as perfect for us and our kids as possible. 

For the many negative times and petty fights we have and the numerous mistakes, accidents, and bumps in the road, we still continue to move forward, as a family. I’ll never be able to thank my husband enough for throwing me that lifesaver when I needed it most. I hope he knows how much I love, value, care, and cherish every gift he has ever given me, but I’ll never be able to thank him enough for giving me back my life. If it weren’t for his constant support and encouragement to better myself, I would have been gone a long time ago and the fact that I’m still here is priceless.