As a teenager, I loved school, sports, and friends...typical. I wanted to be the best in all things I did. I took the role as captain of the cheer squad, prom queen, etc. With these labels, came assumptions and stereotypes. But beneath all of these things, I was a very shy, awkward young lady. Would you believe it if i told you I did not kiss a boy until I was 17 years old? It's true. I was very different from everyone else that I hung out with. I can remember going to slumber parties, sitting in a circle, and listening so intently to all of the girls talk about their adventures with boys. When the circle made its way round to me, I had nothing to share. I can remember this being a shock to some of the girls. While it was a choice that I made, and I am even more satisfied today that my focus was not on boys then, I was so unhappy with the way I was. I didn't want to be shy and uncomfortable around boys, but I couldn't help it. I would see my friends holding hands and being all lovey dovey with their boyfriends, and think, "Wow! I wish I could be like them." It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I had my first real boyfriend. Unfortunately, my innocent, shy self, ended up with the biggest man whore in the tri-state area. I still maintained my focus though, and he never broke me...not until much later.
College had its ups and downs, of course. My first year was paid for with a scholarship from my dad's work. After that year, his work decided to do away with the scholarship program. My parents ended up footing the bill the next year. During that time I had tried out for the dance team at Marshall, made it, and performed at the football and basketball games. But one day, my dad decided he couldn't be in a marriage to my mom any longer. He had moved on with someone else. This was a brutal time for me because my mom was a broken person, my brother lived in Texas, I was still dating my worthless high school boyfriend who caused me pain on a daily basis, and I was trying to be a successful college student. It was such a dark time in my life that I am not at liberty to share details about, because it wouldn't just be my life I'm sharing. At the end of that year, my sophomore year, I received a letter in the mail from the Marshall University ROTC Department. Never ever in my life, had I even thought about the military, but something about this just called to me. I decided at this point to take care of myself. I let the Army pay for my schooling...no parents arguing over my bills, no student loans. My parents weren't on board with this decision, but it was mine to make. In return, I basically had to hand over my life to them, the Army. My summer breaks in college were spent away in training. From day one of joining, I wanted to go far, far away, upon graduation. My wish list was made up of all overseas assignments, and amazingly I got my first choice...Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii is considered an overseas duty assignment. I had left everything back here behind...ready to start a life all on my own.
Now on my own, in the land of Aloha, I was figuring out who I was...or who I wasn't. But no sooner did I arrive on the island, did I find out I was being shipped off to Afghanistan. It was one of the most miserable times of my life. From the moment I walked through the door, and the girls in the company laid eyes on me, they despised me. To them, I was a new girl who didn't know squat and didn't deserve to be an officer. I'm talking "Mean Girls" x 20. And on top of that, my bosses were beyond inappropriate towards me, ordering me to do illegal things, cursing at me, telling me the girls don't like me because I'm pretty, calling me into the office to ask me why I didn't say hi to his wife while at a party, etc. I was so alone. While my peers seemed to be excelling in their duties, I was lost, with no clue what I was supposed to do. I found comfort in two amazing friends while I was there, but usually only saw them during our meal time in the dining facility tent. I worked night shift in our little hospital there, and slept during the day in a tent, on a little bed, where I could call about 6 x 6 square feet of space mine. My bathroom was a port-a-potty, and my shower was in a wooden shed with disgusting shower stalls. If I went to the gym tent with one of my male soldiers who was on nightshift with me, then we were having an inappropriate relationship. If I ate with a male, then we were having an inappropriate relationship. I couldn't take a poop without being analyzed.
Towards the end of my year there, my brother sent me an e-mail. My ex from high school and college had contacted him to see how he was doing. He asked about me, blah blah blah. My brother went on to tell me that he sounded like he had really grown up and had his life together. And ended his email with, "He wants you to call him. Here is his number." I had tried so hard to put this person out of my mind, only to have my brother smack me across the face with him. If my brother says he's changed, then he must have, so I called. My year in the desert was over, shortly thereafter, and I returned to Hawaii. He came out for 2 weeks, in which I flew him out. We got married during those 2 weeks...yes, we sure did. And then I never saw him again. I paid for a return ticket to Hawaii, that was never used. My millions and millions of phone calls went unanswered. He wanted to act as if nothing had happened and it would all just disappear. I was devastated and knew it was up to me to take legal action to end it all, even though it was not my choice and my heart was broken. He had to be hunted down by my family members for months, to get him to sign the divorce papers. He just kept running, ignoring it, until one day my mom cornered him and there was no escape. I spent 10 months trying to get divorced from a marriage I spent 2 weeks in. I spent day after day crying. I couldn't stop. I would sit in the floor of my friends office, with the door closed, while she worked, simply because I couldn't stand to be alone. She and I decided the best way to get my mind off of this mess, was to preoccupy it with a new guy. And it did just that for a short while, until I received a phone call from the new guys baby's momma, wanting to know who I was. Shortly, thereafter, I started dating another guy I had known for a little while. But after being back from Afghanistan for a year, it was now time for me to go to Iraq.
The week I arrived in Iraq, the guy I was dating broke up with me because I was gone and he wanted to have fun. I took the break up very hard. I had all but given up on trying to find someone to be happy with and share a life with. That was it...there was no hope for me and I was going to be unhappy forever. But my team in Iraq was amazing. I loved these people and I felt like they loved me back. We took care of each other like family. I was so blessed this time around to be with good people. And a month into the deployment, I received an email that a friend had been hit by a mortar and killed, at another base in Iraq. I sat outside on the stoop of my office, crying and remembering my times with this friend. The next day, I received another e-mail, that the guy I had been dating (with the baby's momma) had been killed when his Humvee hit an IED. I remember dropping to the floor, tears pouring, not know what in the world I was supposed to do with myself. I had no idea how to register all of this. I had never lost anyone before, not even family. My friends at his base wanted me to come there for the memorial service. A nice, man walked me over to the Medevac office to see if it would be possible for me to hop on one of their blackhawk's in Mosul to Kirkuk. Guess who was standing in that office? It was my husband. With my puffy eyes, ghost white face, and frown, my husband said, "May I ask why you need to get there?" The gentleman who escorted me there, explained it to him. And I walked out of that office, when they couldn't help me. I was able to catch another flight though to attend the memorial service and have a few days to myself to morn. Upon my return, I was standing at our little coffee shack, drinking a hot chocolate, when my husband, whom I didn't even know his name at the time, walked up to me, hugged me and asked me how I was doing. It was from that point that my life turned around forever.
This handsome pilot and I became the best of friends, who fell in love so perfectly and naturally. But the darkness in my life hadn't ended yet. I went home during Christmas for my R & R. My grandfather passed away while I was there, on Christmas Eve. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to say goodbye to him and be there for my mom during this time. After my 2 week break, it was back to Iraq. While there, I lost 2 more dear friends; one in a horrific helicopter crash that killed his entire team, and the other a medic who was trying to help someone and was blown up by an IED. I also lost my great grandmother during this time. But with my future husband by my side every single day through all of this, I was able to cope and still be happy with my life. I had never experienced death before that year in Iraq, and ended up leaving Iraq being all too familiar with it. I had also made a huge decision during that deployment...NO MORE. I was done with the Army. I couldn't live like this anymore. I always felt out of place, as if I had no purpose there. I wanted to be stabilized, a wife, and a mother. As soon as I returned from Iraq, I began my out processing, and by the time my future hubby came home from Iraq, I was a free, unemployed woman. We lived in Hawaii for the next year and a half, as the happiest couple on the face of the earth. Then came marriage and the baby carriage...and a move to Kansas, a deployment, and another baby carriage...and a move to Alabama, and an adoption. God sure does work in mysterious ways. I WAS LOST BUT NOW AM FOUND!!!
|The day I left Iraq, and he still had a month to go.|