My story begins when I was about 13 years old. This is the first time I realized that I was now becoming my own person. Before this time I was simply trying to fit in and be the good boy that does what is expected of him. I grew up with both my mom and dad being co-dependent people. I did not have a strong role model growing up. I later in life realized how strong both my mom and dad were as I learned how much they experienced throughout their life. I remember walking home from church one day realizing that I am the one in charge of my own feelings. I remember this being a very eye opening realization. I think I held on to that thought for about two weeks before the normal daily grind of life helped me to forget it.
Moving forward to when I was in high school my mom attempted suicide when I was a sophomore. I remember the day very clearly and don’t think I have ever been so scared in my life. Watching my mom laying in the emergency room having charcoal pumped down her throat changed my perspective on life. That was the moment I wanted to learn as much as I can about Psychology to try and understand what would make a person want to take their own life. I made plans to prepare myself to go to school and study Psychology. I however did not have the means to pay for school.
I was visited by an Army recruiter my JR year and he made joining the army sound very good. I decided to join the Army National Guard and went to Basic Training my JR summer as well as my senior summer. I really hadn’t developed my own identity at this point. Through basic training and AIT I began to develop a very confident identity and started to really enjoy who I was and that I could be myself and no one really cared or judged me. I was very successful in the army and got promoted pretty quickly as I focused on career progression. I also missed two major deployments to Iraq due to progressing. I was fortunate enough to get accepted into Warrant Officer School for Helicopter Flight School.
Flight school was very exciting and challenging as I was also dealing with a very difficult woman that struggled from mental health issues. I was in and out of flight school many times dealing with this woman’s many symptoms. (Not getting into content about this situation). I learned very quickly how much control the Army had over my life when they forced me to move out of my own apartment and give my wife at the time money to live in my apartment. This life experience forced me to reanalyze my life and find out what was really important to me. I began understanding how much of what I was doing in life and all of my military goals were mostly focused on proving to others my worth by what I could accomplish in the Army.
I realized that all I really wanted to do was be happy and live a simple life. My favorite song at that time and to this day is Shine down Simpleman. This song pierced my heart in a way that helped me come to the conclusion that it was time for me to get out of the Army. I also had a few minor health issues that caused me to get out as well. (Asthma, Sleep Apnea). I got out and moved back home near family. I remember feeling good about my accomplishments and being excited about whom I was and being back in civilian life.
I had this preconceived view that I would find a good paying job quickly after all I was an Army soldier and I was better than lazy civilian people. I had a hard awakening as it took me a long time to find a job and it was a very low paying job. During that time I also was realizing that I was still this 17 year old son to my parents and family and that they did not see me for who I really was. This was hard for me to accept as I had worked very hard and done many amazing things in the Army. I also did not have many friends and I was used to having many friends around me in the army as we were all family and all brothers. There is a huge sense of unity in the Army as we all went through the same shit together.