Family, Military Life and Being PRESENT

So, where to begin? Let’s try something that isn’t unique at all: a little biographical information to paint a picture.

Oddly enough — I hate writing. Well, I used to think that I hated writing. All that changed with an enduring college career and a life served in the military. I digress… so here is me in a nutshell:

I joined the Navy in 2003, fresh outta high school. Did I know what I was getting into? Nope. The Navy was a family tradition, a part of our heritage, and my parents couldn’t afford college (nor were they in the position to afford me the opportunity to receive financial aid). Thanks, FAFSA! Did that mean I didn’t pursue a college education? Pfft! No. The military was an avenue to pursue and pay for my education. I received my Baccalaureate Degree in 2017 — and I’m working on my Masters. Mostly irrelevant to the current conversation, but it’s just a smidge of evidence that the recruiter isn’t lying when they say, “do you want to go to college for FREE?

16 years later, I’m still in the Navy. Ups and downs, promotions, multiple deployments, a ton of heartache sprinkled with a few good times. Would I do it all again? Sure.

Why? It shaped me and molded me into the person that I am today. The Navy has always been there even when I was an absentminded a**hole that took it for granted. More importantly, it provided me with the opportunity to meet my wife and support our children.

I’m married, have two beautiful children, and want for nothing. Almost nothing. That “almost nothing” isn’t the pursuit of money, a sense of fulfillment, eternal happiness, or any of that other philosophical sh*t. It’s actually really simple and the one thing almost every person takes for granted until someone points it out: being present in your life. I don’t just mean physically being present. I am referring to emotionally present as well. The kind of presence where you have the state of mind, free of conflicting priorities, to be physically and emotionally present.

There comes a turning point, or a mindset/paradigm shift, in which your priorities change. My focus became my wife and kids over time. They always have been, so that’s not what I’m implying for anyone who thinks I’m an insensitive dickhead. I’m alluding to the fact that the Navy, and military in general, isn’t geared towards a “family man” lifestyle. It’s just not. Over time, I grew fed up and tired of the military controlling how PRESENT that I was for life’s events. Superstars either have minimal obligations outside of the military or they ignore/set aside their obligations and priorities (the military comes first). Sh*tbags probably give most of their attention to obligations outside of work and neglect their duties. What about those who perform in the middle of the pack between the two demographics? Hmm… they likely give attention to both, and are diligent and devoted family men (or women), but they do what it takes to get by in the military. For some reason that’s always frowned upon. At least I used to see the ranks through those lenses.

Deployments mean missing those moments you can’t get back. Long hours turn into days, and days turn into months — where you start to feel this overwhelming sensation of helplessness (combined with a contradicting sense of pride). Pride?

Yes, pride. You’re “proud to serve” and you’re proud to be a husband and father (insert wife and mother here as well since it’s gender neutral when it comes to the sacrifice of being in the military). But, which of those take priority? Obviously, if you’re in the military, have a family member who is, or pay attention to news outlets and the insane amount of social media posts, then you know: the military. You CAN be proud to serve both your family and the military. Not the effin point. The point is that for some, your prioritization of which is more important, or which receives the largest portion of your effort and emotion, likely changes. The military wants to keep the best and brightest, the performers, the “superstars” — but their attrition is riddled with members that simply want to be PRESENT with their family.

There is no world in which I would consider myself a perfect person or someone who does the right thing all the time. My life is and has been far from lackluster when it comes to poor mistakes and tough times. None of those are excuses that I wear proudly and utilize to seek pity. Everything I’ve mentioned so far is a scatterbrained look at ME.

Which brings me to the content of my “blog” (a lot less revealing of my identity than a podcast which seems to be the ideal method of content delivery in today’s society). My blog is an outlet. It’s an ongoing memoir. It’s a pillar of truth, with a scattering of sarcasm, rooted in both the right and wrong decisions. A husband. A father. A service member. An aspiring scholar. A gym junkie. No topic will be left untouched.

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