2013. The star course at SFAS land nav had me questioning my sanity, my abilities, and whether or not I was going to pass! I remember one Batt boy saying he heard the most violent thrashing of his life in the vine bushes, and when he turned his headlamp on, he saw a wide-eyed buck fighting for his life to get out of those bushes as if he had been enveloped in quicksand. It was at that moment he knew he was going to die. It was day two of the star, and I was behind on my points. I had spent almost the entire day fighting from the south east to find my point at the north west most edge of the map. I found the point sitter, an old Vietnam era Green Beret smoking a cigar hiding like a motherfucker. Exhausted and short on time, I knew I had to find my second point to pass. My heart sank when he told me where it was as I unfolded my map twice and saw it was near where I started. Doesn’t matter, I had to pass so I took off like a madman to find it. As the end of the day neared, I found the marking on the tree, but no point sitter anywhere in site. What the fuck dickhead I didn’t just break my ass to not find you. In my mad dash I tripped over a fence and ate shit as the time hack ended. FUCK. Dejected I threw my ruck and waited to get picked up. As I sat, I thought about everything it had taken to get to where I was, and what life was going to be next. I had no answer, and I died on the ride back to camp knowing I was done.
God had another plan for me. As it turns out, the point-sitter gave me the coordinates for a point in use the day before, and had sent me on a wild goose chase! Since I had found the point, the cadre ruled I had passed the star. With renewed vigor, team week was a breeze and I was selected. I knew I was right were I was supposed to be, and on the right track.
At the end of 2012, I had met a woman who would ultimately become my wife and the mother of my son. I knew it was bad timing as I wanted to go to SF, and that is a lifestyle not conducive to marriage. But there was something about her. When you know you know? Fast-forward to 2014 when I am in the course, and things were rough between us. She had been by my side through a medical condition that delayed me from attending the course in 2013 and saw me on profile for almost 12 months. Now, we were living in different states and we fought over the smallest of things. I know, if we can’t do it state-side in training, what makes you think you can do multiple deployments and constantly being away in SF? Like I said, we both knew there was something there, and she made me the man I wanted to be. She brought out my best qualities, and loved me for me. To throw it all away would be crazy.
Ultimately, it came to a head and I left the course. As I left that day, I was numb inside and unsure of whether I had made the right choice. But the outpouring of support I received help cushion the blow. I remember one night sitting at the cigar lounge, talking to a guy who recently graduated. We sat opposite of each other in silence, the thick smoke wafting overhead. The only thing thicker was the envy in our eyes of each other. He had chosen SF over his love while I had chosen her over SF.
As time went on, I sank into a deep depression. I had decided to leave after my enlistment, and my attitude transcended to my performance at work. It wasn’t the right answer, but I shut the fuck down inside. I would zone out for periods of time as I smoked cigars, snapping back just to go to the bathroom or light up another cigar. One day I was at the range and I decided that was it. Fuck this I’m done with the pain, the roller coaster of emotions, the insanity, the daily struggle to be happy aaaaaaaahhhhh I yelled inside. I lifted the Glock and then stopped as I thought of her at my funeral. A wave of emotions hit me and I left, calling my friend to meet me. He talked me through what I was experiencing, and how I had to move on and re-invent myself. The problem was I had tied my identity to the pursuit of becoming SF, and without it I didn’t know who or what I was.
As time went on, I slowly began to figure out who I was and what this life had in store for me. I took stock of my health, my blessings in life, and what I had overcome to become who I was. Sure, it’s easier said than done, trust me. I still have moments where I fall back into that door in my mind, but I come out of it by remembering how lucky I am to have my wife and my son. After the Army I earned my bachelors, started my masters, started a business, and a career in the construction industry. I say this not to gloat, but to show you that you can take that same drive you had towards the military and apply it to growing as a person. This is what I have done to re-invent myself. That drive and standard of excellence I once held myself to I now translate to my daily life, sometimes to the annoyance of my wife. Sorry babe, deal with it I love you! In the end, remember that this life is fucking beautiful, and we are the captains of our fate, the masters of our sole as William Ernest Hemingway so beautifully stated it.
GET AT IT!!