Who In The Hell Stole My Compass???!!!


Hello, Friends!

I was discharged from the United States Military after 16+ years of service.  6 1/2 years on Active Duty and 10 years Reserve Component.  One of the proudest days of my life was the day they pinned on my Sergeant’s stripes.  I can’t even begin to describe the tingle in my fingers.  I can’t even begin to tell you how it felt for Jerk to see me get those stripes.  He told me that I would never make it through PLDC.  I would fail the PT test or the Land Navigation.  In fact, he tried to cancel my PLDC because he was sure I would fail.

“You know…if you had a penis you would be a pretty good NCO.”

Well, thank you very much, JERK.  If you had a friggin brain you wouldn’t be such a waste of oxygen.  Of course, I never said that…but getting those stripes felt pretty much the same way.

I was late getting my stripes.  It was much tougher getting promoted in my day, especially for a woman.  I left the Active Duty before going to PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course) because I had gotten just about as much of Clarence as I could stand.  Best way out was out…if you understand my meaning.  A couple of years later I went back into the Reserve Component of my service.  It took me a while to get back in good shape, I had given birth to two children, things were flabby.  Just as I received a PLDC date, I got pregnant.  Cancel that.  Babies and Rucksacks don’t mix..at least not at the exact same time.

I was scheduled and cancelled a couple of more times.  Once for my divorce and once for budget.  Finally, all worked out and I got my dates.  I was passing PT tests left and right.  I was ready.  Except for JERK who kept threatening not to send me because I am really bad at north and south and east and west. 

I studied so hard for that Land Navigation test.  I found all four points in a driving rain storm in 1 hour and 42 minutes.  I had three hours to complete the test.  I rocked that bad boy!  I got my stripes.

Land Navigation and Life are so similar.  When I joined the Military I made a mental map.  It had grid coordinates posted along the way.  Guideposts to get me where I was going.  I had a compass pointed to “true north.”  My heart was true, my soul dedicated.  The first time I slipped those boots on, I knew I had found my “compass” in life.  I cherished my dog tags.  Yup, those stupid dog tags.  (currently, the originals hang next to my father’s in his office and my last set is sewn into the lining of my motorcycle vest.)  They represented everything about being a “good” soldier.

When they discharged me they took that compass, tore up my map and spun me around three times in a dark room.  I was no longer so young and recovery was no longer so easy.  I needed a job.  I needed a way to care for my children and pay my mortgage.  I needed to get a new compass.

Anyone with experience in Land Navigation knows what a back azimuth is.  When you are lost in the wilderness you take your map and you find two fixed points.  You get an azimuth to those two fixed points and you can go “backwards” to find your actual location on the map.  However, you have to have two fixed points.

Finding two fixed points can be so hard.  They have to be easy to distinguish and they have to be on your map.  Finding those two fixed points in life is even harder.  They also have to be easy to see and on your life map.

I have two fixed points.  I have my Faith in Jesus.  He is with me always and he is leading out of the wilderness.  It’s not fast and it’s not painless – like I would like it to be, but at least it is forward.  My other fixed point is my family and my friends.  My family doesn’t always understand, and my children don’t know, but I have to be strong for them.  My friends, like my dearest Bridget and my fellow bloggers like Jay, are in the wilderness with me, finding their own way out.  Each of us moving forward in our wilderness reaching out to help those still searching for their points.

If you are a survivor or if you are being victimized and you are reading this blog, please know that there are fellow soldiers on the course Navigating with you.  You are not out there alone.  Look closely, do you see our lights shining in the darkness?  We are here.  You must find your own fixed points on your own map, but know that we are along the way to give you support and a hand in Brotherhood and Sisterhood that is Military Sexual Trauma.

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