The Struggle is Real

Haven’t had a day off in quite some time and I’m beginning to feel the anxiety associated with transitioning out of the army.  Non-military folks don’t get it.  All of my civilian friends talk about “job placement” and how easy it’s going to be to find a new job when I retire, but the truth is, it isn’t.  Nothing about retirement from the army is easy.  Sure I’ll receive a check every month for the rest of my life and sure that’ll cover a home and some expenses associated with a home but it won’t keep me where I’m at, financially speaking.  That’s the scary part.  I have no idea how to proceed and because I’m retiring from the Indiana National Guard all of my retirement/transition help is located about an hour and half away at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Fort Knox is responsible for assisting separating soldiers in every aspect, from medical to transportation and they do a good, efficient job but if you live far away they’re not much help.  In their defense, it’s not their job to find me a new life.  I learned long ago. No one cares about you in this world.  I mean, your family, hopefully cares, but in the grand scheme of life you’re on your own and I think, that’s the scary part.  My entire adult life has been taken care of by Uncle Sam.  All I had to do was, wake up in the morning and my day was laid out for me.  I’d accomplish my daily task and leave.  Everyday has been the same.  The tasks are almost always different and sometimes the “leave” part may be several days or months a part, but the format is the same.  Without this structure, I’m not sure which way I’m supposed to proceed.  I feel a bit like Brooks, the librarian in “Shawshank Redemption”, although my mental state is a lot better than his turned out to be.  That being said, I do feel the anxiety that he seemed to have upon his release from the big house.

A little dramatic?  Yes. But, I made a promise to myself that when I retired, my family wouldn’t have to go through any sort of financial lull while I tried to get my civilian footing.  This is proving harder than I thought.

Working on my resume is ridiculously brutal, in that, everything I write looks bad and/or poorly written even though I’ve done some pretty substantial work in my time with the army.  Every time I think it looks good, I re-read it and it’s pure shit.  I’ve sent it out to friends that have provided great input and I’ve adjusted accordingly but it still doesn’t read the way I want it to and the clock is ticking.

This entire process would be a lot easier if I had any idea of what I wanted to be when I grow up.  My friends that have retired from the army recently all have a plan.  Either they just want something slow and easy that gets them back to their “break even” number financially or they have a passion that they will enjoy upon retirement.  I don’t have any obvious passions and I’d still like to make some money in my life.  Funny thing about that last comment is that, yes, I want to make some money in my life but at the end of the day, I’d like to have the money in order to give it away.

Seeing people genuinely happy is something I love to see.  Unfortunately, because of the way I deal with things, I outwardly project that I am always disgruntled and mean.  That’s a shame because I’m usually in pretty good mood although I struggle with “dumb.”  When I see people doing dumb things just because they aren’t paying attention or are so self-involved that they fail to realize that there are other people affected by their actions, I become frustrated.  I often have to explain to my wife, who I love dearly, that I’m not mad or frustrated with her but I am mad and frustrated with a situation, usually caused by some outlying variable.

That came out wrong.  My wife is brilliant.  She is an aggressive go-getter and the only reason she is struggling now is because she blindly followed me down to Southern Indiana because she’s an amazing person , that only wants the people around her to be happy.  Something I desperately need to be more in tune with.  She’s my rock and I owe it to her to have something lined up in order to support her and to ensure she doesn’t notice a financial dip in our lifestyle.  And so, the struggle is real.

MC

Another Shooting

Today, as I sit in my “cube” counting the days until my retirement from the US Military I can’t help but think, “what the hell is next?”  A friend of mine is blowing up my phone with text messages about a new job that he’s been offered by the post office.  $17.78 an hour with very little supervision and an easy schedule and route.  That’s like, $35,000 a year, which is fine for him.  With his retirement check from Uncle Sam and his disability from time served, he’ll have a nice little life.  There’s only one problem with that.  That’s not the life I want.

I’m in a similar position.  I will be retiring with a disability rating but the money I will receive each month won’t maintain the life I’m used to and, more importantly, $35,000 wouldn’t supplement me enough to live the way I want, my wife and I, to live.  So, how do I land that next career?  What are my passions?  What would I like to do, that wouldn’t seem like a job?  I HAVE NO IDEA!

In other news, some disturbed teen opened fire into a school out in Texas.  So far the death count is under ten but it’s still ten and that’s to many.  What’s wrong with people?  Life isn’t that hard.  It’s hard, don’t get me wrong, but what are the alternatives?  Most of us aren’t born into a wildly wealthy lifestyle like Prince Harry, but even he has put in work and earned the respect of the people by serving.  Most of us are on the grind, everyday, every moment of our lives, once we step out of the shadow’s of our parents, although less than 1% serve in the Military but that’s a topic for another story.  For me, I left the shelter and security of my parents about 25 years ago and sadly, I haven’t grown that much since then.  I mean, I’m married to an amazing woman who is way to good for me (SHHH, don’t tell her), I have had a good career in the military that has spanned a quarter of a century.  Financially, I’m fine, I mean, not having children helps with the financial strain and I’ll speak to that, a little bit, later in this post.  Problem is, that financial security will disappear on day one of my retirement (t-70).

I’ve promised my wife that once I retire I will do whatever she would like, and I would.  After all, she has put up with every cockamamie plan or change of plan the military has put on us since we first met.  So far, she has said that she wants to stay where we are, gain a little more experience at her current position and start a family.  Her first request is easy, stay put, it’s her second request that I am failing at and that is starting to bother me and affect my confidence.  Question is, how do I fix that?  I know the simple answer is, “have some sex,” but I’m afraid it isn’t that easy.

With all these things going on, I still work for the Military and my first line leader is a toxic, idiot.  He’s about the same age and he out-ranks me but his experience is virtually the same and I would argue I’ve challenged myself as much, if not more, than he has in our careers.  That being said, I don’t want to get into a whole thing about who’s better but I do want to express my displeasure with the way he treats us here in the office.  It’s a, “do what I say, not what I do” culture and it sucks.  I’m at the point in a soldiers career where we set it to cruise (I have less than 2 months) and help where we can but primarily work on the next step.  The military has an entire organization designed for transitioning soldiers and they encourage retirees to start to fade away in order to give the organization we are leaving the opportunity to move forward without us and it gives us the chance to try to get ahead of the game as we move to our next life.

I often say that I feel like Brooks from the film, “Shawshank Redemption.”  The elderly, librarian who has spent nearly his entire life in prison when suddenly he is granted parole and set out onto the streets of the free world for the fist time in a long time.  He feels scared and alone and more importantly, he has no idea which way to go.  He’s lost and after a short time of struggle, Brooks gives up and takes his life.  Now, that’s a bit drastic but I certainly see how someone can become institutionalized after spending their life living a certain way, having their life managed for them.  It’s scary and I’m feeling it but I’ll sort it out.

I better get back to work before any of my bosses start to circle like a shark that smells fresh blood.  I’ve been doing this to long to have these feelings.  I’ve done it right for a long time, fuck these incompetent turds.  Let me retire and get on with my life.  I’m supposed to be doing something big.  I know it.

MC

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