1989 part V (Incomprehensible demoralization)

B&WThe dorm was abuzz when I returned, even at the late hour.  I was flooded with a sea of questioning faces.  I wanted to retreat, to hide in shame, but I had to perpetuate my new persona, that of a carefree prankster.  I couldn’t let on that I was spiraling into a pit of despair.  This wasn’t the first time I was suffering swift retribution for thoughtless action as a result of my misuse of alcohol.  If the reader recollects, I came to the base already under reprimand for abusing alcohol in tech school.  I had been caught drinking tequila when only 3.2% alcohol was permissible by law in the state of Colorado (for those under the age of 21.)  Alas, my history with booze and trouble goes back further than my military service.  I robbed my mother’s emotional sobriety with alcohol’s help from the time I was 15, coming home late and drunk, surprising her with beer and older boys after a long hard day of work; and I’m sure she really appreciated that phone call from the principal when I showed up drunk on champagne one school day and tried to fight the girl who had been giving Pete a ride to school in the mornings.  Like many kids my age, I just didn’t care how my behavior affected  her or anyone for that matter.  The difference, for me and for any alcoholic I’ve known, is that we never start caring.  Our disease robs us of the capacity to care.  We nurture our obsession, protect our right to practice our addictive behavior and defend our sick perception of the world until it takes us to the gates of insanity, never taking into consideration what we are doing to the people who love us and care about our well-being.  By the time I joined the service, it was no longer a matter of consideration for those who loved me but respect and duty to those who basically owned me. When you take an oath to serve to your country, you are a member of the armed services twenty-four hours a day.  What you do off duty matters as much as what you do when you are on duty.  If  you are married, you are held accountable for what your spouse does.  If you have children, their actions reflect on you and your service record.  The husband of a coworker of mine in Germany was found guilty of selling hashish.  Her promotion was denied.  She had been in the Air Force for much longer than many of her contemporaries, she was good at her job and tested above others in her specialty yet the actions of her husband prevented her from advancing.  My point is this:  the military don’t play.  I knew that, but this disease doesn’t care.  Loving parents, stern judges, prison sentences, the threat of illness or death; none of that matters to the disease.  Feed me, love me, nurture me.  I am all that matters.

More to come…

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