This has been a long time coming. I should have written this years ago before I got to this point in my life or had the issues I currently have mentally. There’s been untold pain, anxiety, aggravation, and temper. The aggravation and temper has been both at others and at myself over the years. It needs to stop and now it’s going to. Perhaps not all my temper will be gone once I write this but at least the rest of my issues will be out in the open and I will fear them no longer nor will I ever again bottle them up as I have all these years.

First let me point out that I do not use anyone’s last name here as they will realize who they are if they read this. Secondly and by law, I have to keep some things simplified and less detailed as not to violate what was once a Top Secret security clearance. Yes, there will be some details of my time in the military here. It’s pertinent as well as my youth and after military time.

It seems my problems still revolve around what happened some forty plus years ago. I’m not certain why it happened. You’d have to ask the person that started the rumor that made me an introvert. Yes, I’ll admit it was a family member. The sad thing was what was said got promulgated by others thus turning it into bullying by today’s standards. I won’t discuss it beyond that. Shame that it couldn’t be taken care of as such back then. However, this made me stronger than some would think.

At age thirteen, I had a crush on a young lady named Marcy. Alas she had a boyfriend at the time. He found out and attempted to get me to fight him. I tried to avoid the fight but his cousin decided to slap us both to get things going. All I did was defend myself and then got pounded the next day with, “he kicked your ass” and laughs. More bullying. This continued throughout junior high. Peer pressure is hell sometimes.

Speaking of peer pressure, that was what got me involved in my second fight/boxing match. I put on a pair of 26 ounce boxing gloves to face off with someone I hardly knew at the time and we later became friends. I got a lucky punch on Kirk and when that happened, he went wailing for my head. I played Ali and did the “rope-a-dope” thing. God my arms hurt after that. More on the later friendship later. This was still ninth grade.

There were several young ladies, I had crushes on or cared for throughout junior high school. Their names were Jeanie, Amy, Andrea, Melanie, Marcy of course, and Brenda. Now that years have passed, I’m happy they found happiness elsewhere instead of being with me. They were wonderful ladies then and still are today. Two of these I knew since grade school. One was said to be cousins of the one I later fell for in high school.

On to high school I went after this. All the taunting and bullying followed along for a time. Some people stopped and others did not. Though I played Sophmore and Senior football I was still considered one of the school nerds. I focused on math, science, and English. Spending more time in books than on the playing field helped me prepare for college. Alas, I was never good enough for anything but second string on the football team. Still I made out. As far as I know I still hold the record for the longest interception in the school history. It was 63 yards during our homecoming game in 1978 where we lost only one game that season. Probably my best success during my high school years.

It was this team that got invited out by a local businessman to dinner. This was the start of what would become my first odyssey with cannabis. Yes, you heard me right. I smoked grass/marijane/wacky weed/left handed cigarettes. Any number of names you can think of. I went to this feast that night with five other guys in Joe’s station wagon. It was Joe, Jim, Kirk, me, and one other whose name I forgot. We weren’t even completely out of town when the first joint was lit and passed around. Even had I not tried it that night, I’d have still had what is called a contact buzz. Joe’s station wagon looked like that panel van from Cheech n Chong’s Up in Smoke when we opened the doors upon arrival. After entering the building I remember Stacy and Jeanie giggling their butts off at me. I must have looked a sight, but I didn’t care at the time.

A month or two later I thought Stacy was cute and sent her a rose when one of the other classes went around selling them for some reason or other. My first attempt to impress a lady I liked. I don’t know what I was thinking but Stacy did come up and thank me. Beyond that nothing ever happened between us. More taunting followed and I felt rejected. It wasn’t her fault though. Somehow I felt as if I had done something wrong when I hadn’t. Story of my life throughout school and prior to my military service.

School for me wasn’t about socializing. It was about learning and I took advantage of this. I took all the hardest courses. Burying myself into books of just about any sort were my escape from the taunting and other heckling. Science fiction took hold of me as I was studying for computer sciences in college. However, I did throw in a good mix of non-fiction books as well. Probably the best and most useful book I ever read was on transcendental meditation (I read this one at age fifteen). Yes, a self-help book. I read this book just before going the doctor for what I would find out was a sinus infection. I confused the doctor before he figured out what was going on. I had turned down my heartbeat down to almost nothing through meditation. Shame I can’t do that now.

Well, so much for high school. After graduation it was work/college/party then repeat. I was this way till the wear and tear caught up on me. I got pulled over by a policeman on the way home from my girlfriend of the time. He escorted me another two miles down the road after warning me about swerving over the white line. Next morning mom took me to the doctor. Three days later I was on mandatory bed rest for two weeks. No nothing. The only thing I was allowed to do was go feed my rabbits.

Wasn’t long after this I got laid off from my job, lost my girlfriend, then had to drop out of college. Options were very slim to say the least. Either hire on for less than what I needed to continue with school or join the military. Well that left only one option since I was still paying for a brand new 1980 Toyota Corolla at the time. Years later I found out had I asked my parents (namely my father) he would not only have paid for college but also the car. Failed yet again and blinded by pride.

I don’t think my parents knew the extent of the issues I was going through and even my mom who is my remaining parent knows everything I’ve dealt with. My father passed before I could tell him everything. Today, I hope he’s looking down at me and seeing what everything has done and that I still continue to try and do the “right” things. Both my parents knew of my experimentation with drugs. They just didn’t know the extent of it. Now I can honestly admit I’ve done just about everything from marijuana to LSD. The only thing I never did was “shoot up.” I’ve always had an aversion to needles.

After I enlisted in the U.S. Navy, I learned a whole new version of bullying and subversion, not to mention pain. During boot camp of my time, you’re put through hell just to get you to function as a team instead of as an individual. Not something I was use to at the time and probably will never get completely use to. It was during this time that I found out the woman I was dating at 19 and was still very much in love with was getting married. Thanks to a good friend that I only recall by the name of Fant, I was able to get through that pain. Yes, I spent a night in tears over that one. This was the worse thing I went through in boot camp. It was worse than most anything they threw at me.

After boot camp, I was put into a basic electricity and electronics course where I excelled at until I hit a brick wall with transistor theory. I was stymied for a few weeks on this till I finally got through it. This was after all a self paced course. I still finished earlier than most but had my troubles. After that, I headed for Great Lakes Naval Training base for Electronics Technician school. That’s where I had my first true failure of my naval career. I was there perhaps two or three months before I failed out. I was put up for reclassification. They told me to pick three ratings I’d like to work in and two of those I couldn’t get in. Disappointment was something I had to learn to live with. Anyway, I was reclassified as a Sonar Technician.

The nice thing was, I was no longer under as much stress to perform in something I wasn’t quite up to. They sent me on to Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut for my submarine training since I was still going for submarines. It was probably the most fun I’d had in the Navy. All except the pressure test that is. I was having issues with a cold or something when they had us go through this test. They put you in a decompression chamber and take you to the equivalent pressure of about fifty feet. I barely made nineteen feet before I had to bail. My ears couldn’t take it. It didn’t fail me from the course but still. Just a minor failure here.

Next up was my “C” school. I was slated for submarine auxiliaries school. It was a good school. I was doing well in this school till about four month into the school I was informed my father was hospitalized with a brain tumor. I took off on a ten day leave to see my parents and found out my father was terminal. Going back to school with this hanging on my head made things very difficult for me. Four weeks before I was to graduate this school I failed one practical examination. I had the problem down to the card but could not name the exact point of failure. This ended with me being dropped from my second school in the Navy. Between the stress of dealing with school and knowing my father was dying was just too much.

The Navy was still going to send me on to submarines. They sent me on to a submarine sonar operators course and I passed this with flying colors. While awaiting orders for my first submarine, I found out my father had passed away. I had to go to the Chaplin in order to get thirty days leave instead of the ten that the officer of the day was able to authorize me when I was informed about my fathers death. It was a Saturday when I found out before the Red Cross message got to the officer of the day. I’d talked to both my sister and my mother prior to this where I learned my father’s last words and to this day I wished I’d been there to hear them. He had that one last lucid moment before death and told my mother to tell me “he loved me.” Since I was awaiting orders, I had to call back to base three weeks later if I hadn’t gotten my orders in the mail since I was on “emergency leave.”

Other than the disappointment of not being at my father’s deathbed and hearing those words, I was disappointed further when three weeks after his death I called the base and was told to come back and I was being sent to ships instead of submarines. I don’t recall exactly what I did after that phone call. All I really remember is coming back from the woods on our farm hours later and mom asking me if I was alright. Perhaps it was my redheaded temper. I’m not sure. Perhaps the disappointment was too much. All I can think of about the time was I lost it completely. All my control, my training of myself and my mind. And I was trying to be the strong one for my family at the time since I was the oldest. Life is hell that way.

Anyway, I went back to the base. I was put through yet another operators course for surface craft (ships) and sent off to the fleet. The first ship was probably the fondest memory of Navy now that I look back at things. I learned more in my time on my first ship than anywhere I’d learned before. I took on jobs that others didn’t want or couldn’t do. My chief (next superior) was what everyone thought an asshole. I later learned to appreciate why he was the way he was to us. More on this later. It was on this first ship I learned how much I truly valued life itself.

During my time on that first ship, I was assigned to a missile handling team. On this team I performed a set of functions for the missile (bird) to be loaded into the launcher. Every member of the team was trained not only on their job like I was but also trained on everyone’s job. This was so no one made any mistakes. It was something I’m happy to say I’m glad of to this day. We were just out of the shipyards and undergoing massive inspections for missile handling and other things. It was during one of these inspections that I forgot a step in plugging in a data cable to the missile. The failure of this step could have ignited a live missiles rocket motor. Had it not been for the cross training of the other members of this team, it could have meant the entire team could have died had it not been an inert missile. We still passed the inspection because someone caught me before I made the fatal error. However, the damage was done as they say.

A few days later, I told my chief and division officer I could no longer do the job on the missile handling team. I explained to them that because I’d forgotten that step and had thought about what would have happened had it been a “live” missile I couldn’t live with deaths of others on my own hands even if I were dead myself. It was quite amazing that they managed to talk me into going through the final inspection. More amazing that I agreed to it. Either way, I told them after that I was done.

Even with this failure on board my first ship, I was still happy to be in the Navy. So happy, I actually re-enlisted for a second hitch as it’s called. Instead of staying with my ship, which I could have done had I known about it, I headed back to school again. The second time around for a “C” school. This time I didn’t get dropped out. I passed it and headed to my second ship as a second class petty officer. Now that I think back, perhaps I should have quit while I was ahead so to speak.

It was on my second ship where I met true disappointment and let down. My first assignment there was as the leading petty officer. Basically, I was the next man under the chief(s) to be in charge. Since I had not been trained to be in charge of anyone before, I attempted to be a working boss and a friend to others. For a while it worked. My largest issue was dealing with not one but two chiefs in the same division. Both were bucking for promotion to senior chief. Neither wanted to cooperate with the other and it made my life a living hell trying to get everything done with the limited personnel I had at my disposal when priorities changed from minute to minute. Add to that, that I was trying to gain my own identity as a leader. I had yet to have had the Navy’s LMET (leadership management educational training) course.

Well, I finally got the LMET course. Problem started the morning I was to start the course. I was twelve hours unauthorized absence (UA). I was immediately sent to base medical. There I was diagnosed with a sinus infection but not diagnosed with any other issues that I can remember. Once I got back to my ship I faced charges for the unauthorized absence. The first person I talked to was my division officer. Surprisingly he didn’t chew my butt. He quietly made me sign the report chit (paperwork for my offense) then asked why this happened. I told him of the stress I was having with the two chiefs not working together. He said he’d talk to them but I was no longer the division LPO (leading petty officer). The later removed some stress from me but not all. Besides having to take medication for the sinus infection, I was already slated to see a psychiatrist for the stress issues. It was the appointments with the shrink as some call psychiatrists that saved my bacon at captain’s mast (non judicial punishment). Because I was seeking help I was not demoted nor did I pay any fines. Again, I beat myself up for failures I should not have had. Seemed like an ongoing issue with me though I didn’t realize it then.

I managed to make it off my second ship and to shore duty for what I hoped to be an easier job. Boy was I wrong here. When I arrived, I requested maintenance. I was given the job of instructor instead. For a year I fought to become a qualified instructor and even after I did, I still had problems. However, it wasn’t being an instructor that caused my last and fatal failure as far as the Navy was concerned. Less than a year after going to shore duty, I was given the additional duty of being a watch section duty leader. I didn’t have any problems with this duty as I thought. I’d learned a valuable lesson while on my second ship about leadership. You can’t be anyone’s friend. I made it through the three month assignment without issue. Even the senior chief in charge of the duty sections (a friend of mine) asked for me to do it again. Of course, I turned him down. It was shortly after this job that I had my second bought with stress related issues.

One day, I had slated myself to teach a lesson for a class I was in charge of. That day I was late for two hours. Again, I faced charges of unauthorized absence. This time the captain wasn’t so lenient. I received a suspended bust. If I managed to keep my record clean for the next six months I wouldn’t loss a pay grade nor be fined. Should I screw up again, it would mean two strips and a fine. I stayed clean but it was to no avail. Evaluations were due shortly after my latest captain’s mast. I got the worst evaluation of my time in the military. The worst part of it was, I was not being considered for advancement nor retention at a time when I was beginning to consider the Navy after almost twelve years in as a career. The later retention issue made it impossible for me to re-enlist.

Once again I had failed not only myself but other people. It wasn’t so bad I failed myself but my failure in other people’s eyes is the one thing that makes me feel worse. However, this was not to be the last of my issues. Perhaps they were just beginning to come to a head. It sure was taking it’s time doing so though.

Once back in what the military calls the civilian world, I had a hard time finding a job. Once I did, I moved from job to job to job because there were nothing but manufacturing jobs in my home town area. I still wanted to get into computers but wasn’t familiar with how things worked after a twelve year hiatus. Anyway, I ended up becoming homeless when the jobs finally ran out.

Prior to me becoming homeless my uncle who was a Dean at Florida Technical College, had made me an offer to come down and get some further education in computers. Two years went by before I became homeless and decided to take him up on his offer. He couldn’t get me into the exact field I was looking to get into but he did get me into something computer related (programming) that would at least help me get a better job. I passed the course but could not find work after I got out of school. Again, I was failing even with the work ethic I had learned long ago from my own father.

Yet again, I was homeless. I started working for day labor places where I was in Jacksonville, Florida and then in Columbia, South Carolina. I’ve spent more time homeless than not. I’ve had a grand total of two computer jobs in my time after becoming CompTIA A+ certified which I did in 2003. I’m homeless again and my spirit has pretty much left me.

From 2000 on, I’ve been on and off the streets of Columbia, South Carolina. I’ve picked myself up and have had myself dropped back into homelessness at least three times. Even after going through the Veteran’s Administration’s Healthcare for Homeless Veterans, I still went back to being homeless. It wasn’t exactly for lack of work but being tired of being taken advantage of for my work ethics and how hard I do work. The last job I held was at a local Sam’s Club where I was out performing not one but four twenty something year olds at age forty-eight. All this with injuries (suffered while in the military) that would have most people down and seeking some form of relief.

It wasn’t till 2009 while homeless that I met a group of people that really do care about others. I had pretty much become a recluse for the most part. Hardly talking to anyone. This group is one of but many that put on feeds for the homeless in Columbia. After about two years of eating at this place, I started to help out setting up tables and tents as a way of giving back for what I was given. I was finally on a road back to society or at least I thought.

Just a few weeks ago, I stopped attending the place that I was being fed and also helping out at. I did so for a multitude of reasons. Again, I was beating myself up for something I did and really should not have been beating myself up for. But to me this was the straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak. For over a year, my mind was going critical with temper over the way human beings acted. Both those with homes and those without them. I’ve seen more than I could bear. I even told a psychiatrist that I was ready to kill someone over a year ago. Would I? No. I don’t want to go to jail.

Anyway, I won’t say what that straw was. I just stopped going to this one feed and pretty much stopped going to others where there were a large number (over fifty) homeless people. I’ve paid the price. I’ve lost probably ten or fifteen pounds and found out who really cares in the course of things. There were more than I thought there were.

All I can say at this point is I’ve not asked for much of anything, especially not for their love. I didn’t really realize just how bad I hurt others because of my foolish pride and not asking for help when I needed it the most. Whether it was a matter of trust or something else, I’m not certain. All I do know is that I hope this helps others seek help. Writing this has been a confession, a relief, and a plea for help which even the Veteran’s Administration probably can’t nor will provide since this problem is not service related or at least so they will deem it.

The last thing I want to say here is that I forgive everyone. Those that know me or who have had little or no dealings with me never really knew me and may never truly know me. I’m not even certain I know myself anymore. All I know is I’m done trying to please everyone or change to make others happy. It’s time I find a way to live in the moment and not live in the past or even contemplate the future. I just hope I can do this. It’s not going to be as easy as quiting alcohol or drugs or even smoking cigarettes which I’ve still got to quit. I pray for society as a whole even more than I pray for myself.


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