I used to sit up at night and wonder what would happen if I disappeared. Would anyone notice? Would anyone look for me? Would anyone care?
I know what you are thinking... "Of course they would." Because that's the nice thing to say. But actually, most people wouldn't. And I don't mean that in a self-pity, looking for sympathy kind of way. It's just the reality.. and here's why.
I wasn't ready for the lessons that the military taught me. I wasn't ready for years of realization and epiphanies. But, I don't think anyone is ever ready. And I dove in head first to flip my life onto its head, so I didn't have a choice.
When I left to Basic Training, I had a non-exclusive relationship with a prior veteran. He wanted so bad to have a big relationship with me and he seemed torn between being proud of me for going, but not wanting me to leave at the same time. Now, the only reason I didn't pursue that relationship was because I was so fixated on repairing myself. I needed to be fixed. I didn't feel I had anything to bring to the table emotionally and if I couldn't take care of myself, how could I properly take care of him? Because he absolutely had struggles of his own, and I didn't fit what he needed at that time, whether he agrees with that or not. But in my mind, I saw myself going off to the military, him coming to visit and building together. Then... Happy ever after.
It wasn't. Basic Training was supposed to be about 2 months long. I broke my ankle and all the sudden I'm stuck in training for 6 months instead. I got one letter from about 5 people which was pretty nice. One letter from him. When I was in medical hold for my ankle, I called him off a payphone when I was allowed and he seemed surprised I answered, didn't have much to say and cut the call short. I was confused, but brushed it off. I was so depressed in medical hold that I only held on to positive thoughts and I didn't want to linger in this self-doubt that overthinking brought me.
Soon enough, I was ready to return to active training status and off I went. It only took me two weeks to finish what I needed and I was done! I was so ready to be done and be a human again. My graduation day came and no one showed up. In some ways I wasn't surprised, in others I was hurt. Some people were busy, some people couldn't travel to it, some people couldn't do this or couldn't do that. But what all those people forgot, was that I stood on a grass field with everyone else and all their families running to them and hugs and kisses and "I miss you".
And then there was me. I stood with my MTI (military training instructor) and I held back my tears and I cleared my throat and kept pushing. Now that isn't meant to make people feel guilty at all and I'm definitely not the only person who has experienced this. Some people had legit reasons to not make it, especially with my medical hold putting off my date and all factors included. It's just that was my first time learning the biggest lesson of my entire life.
The world will keep turning, no matter what. I needed to stop waiting for someone's life to be incomplete without me because we really are replaceable. I needed to stop waiting for someone to figure out how to love me and be there for me when I wasn't loving myself either. I don't need all these people to keep my world turning. When I left and created a void in their lives, nature filled the void and people moved on. So why was I not allowing nature to fill my void too? Why wait for someone to love you when you can love yourself?
It's sounds sad but it isn't. I NEEDED that to play out that way. It taught me to bloom where I am planted. Instead of spending my graduation days alone, God sent me a beautiful family who took me in for 2 days. They were complete strangers but I felt loved and cared for, and for once in my life I allowed it. I took in every bit of that love and cherished it, I always will. That family is the sole reason I refuse to let anyone else I meet in the military (or not) feel alone. They had put a light in me that day, that was bright enough to spread love to strangers, just as they did for me.
So what happened to that guy? Well, I got ahold of my Facebook when I got my phone back from my MTI, logged on and saw that he was engaged! I guess a lot can happen in 6 months. I wasn't mad honestly. If anything, it just made the whole lesson I just learned more concrete.
I said I wanted to erase everyone... and realized I had made a pretty sad attempt at doing so. You can't just leave your problems to clean up themselves; you have to deal with them. the first thing I did when I moved on to my career specific training in Biloxi, MS, I signed up for a counselor. They have free services in the military (Thank God) and for once I wanted to face my problems because I had been running from them for too long. I worked with this counselor for around a year and learned that I was going through the stages of grief. You don't only go through the stages of grief when someone passes, you go through it when you lose someone or something. I was grieving my old life. Even though I hated it, it was all I ever knew. I was grieving my parents because I hadn't had much conversation that was remotely positive in over a year. I was grieving a man I really thought I could have a life with someday. I was grieving friends who really did forget about me. And I let myself grieve and it helped.
Passing through those emotions gave me the mental clarity I needed to address the elephant in the room. Who am I? My counselor pointed out a few things:
1. I understood how I could grow from being sexually assaulted.
2. I can identify the destructive behavior as a result of it happening.
3. I can reasonably understand the position my parents were in and how confusing it was for them.
Then she asked me the life changing question.
"Have you ever looked in the mirror and said, 'I am a sexual assault survivor.'?"
At that point, I had never done it. I had never made it that far through all the complications and everybody else's wants and feelings to actually even think about myself in that context. And then I realized, I SURVIVED.
I am a survivor. I made it through. I'm still here. I'm alive. I'm okay. I'm breathing. I want to be here. I survived. One of the biggest revelations I've had yet, but there was still a lot of work to do! As I traveled for work, I was met with even more challenges that helped me along the way. We are almost through the basic storyline of my life, so stay tuned for more! I'm always open to feedback, so hit the contact tab and send some suggestions or stories or advice you'd like me to post to the page!