Stepping Back

When I first started thinking about retiring from the Air Force, I had so many ideas about what I wanted to do. A huge part of me was considering applying for this recall that would give me two more years in the Air Force. I felt like I needed that security blanket, like I wasn’t ready to be out yet.

The pandemic changed all of that. I suddenly didn’t go to work very often. I was working from home and I wasn’t doing much work at all. It was wonderful. I felt relaxed for the first time in a long time. I tried not to worry about the great unknown that was my future, but I knew that I was going to be ok, one way or another.

It seemed like things started coming together in June of 2020. I had a lunch with someone else close to retiring who was working on a life coach certification. It turned out that she was aware of tons of civilian jobs on her base that I would be qualified for. Jobs were opening up everywhere in FL where I was living. And in my mind, getting one of those jobs would be easy because I had so many qualifications that were desirable.

Life handed me so much from June-September, though. There were so many unexpected things. My wife and I shared how we felt about each other and eventually were able to see each other in person after years since the last time we saw each other. I knew then that I needed to be where she was. I was at a crossroads of a huge life change and she wasn’t, so I could move to her. But what would that mean for jobs? She has a lot of connections to all kinds of people around here and could maybe help me out with a job. I had saved enough money that last year to get myself through several months of my own bills, plus we were getting extra covid money that helped with the kids.

I moved here in November. I drove all day and got here and then I lived here. It was great to get here, but I was removed from a place that was slowly killing me. I was plunked down in a safe place where I didn’t need to hide from anyone or anything. Instead, I found myself fighting more mentally than I ever had before. Without the constant threat outside of me, what was inside me was unleashed to come out. I had been protecting myself each and every day where I wasn’t safe. But when I didn’t need to protect myself, the pain found me. The trauma was unleashed and depression came with it. Why was I doing worse now? Why was I feeling so sad when everything around me was good and loving and kind?

Because it could finally all hit me. Without a shield around me, I could now cope with the things I had been holding back from myself. As soon as I was done with my terminal leave and my retirement was effective, I was able to start therapy and start working on the pain and trauma constructively. It has been the longest process, but I feel so much better. The things that plagued me when I first moved here are mostly gone. I understand myself so much better. I know how to calm myself when panic takes me over and I am learning how to say out loud to my wife, “I am panicked.”

She is safe for me. She won’t laugh or try to trick me. She knows how to make it good enough in the moment and how to make it go away in time. I don’t know how she does it, but just that she does. It’s truly amazing that I learned to trust. But it was different with her. I knew her from way back when. She had been through unimaginable tragedy and was a young widow. I was so so sad with my own problems. We needed someone to hear us and see us. In our weakest moment, we could do that for each other. By the time I realized that she was in and I trusted her, it was too late for me to stop trusting her. And so she stays, always willing to prove that I wasn’t wrong to trust her and she will do everything in her power to maintain that trust.

And so I have stepped back. I stepped away from the rat race. I don’t need to fight anymore. I don’t need to live a life I hate, doing something that doesn’t feel good to me. I can support us forever without working because I gave so much to this country, which I am not sure was very deserving. I’ve had so many thoughts about that and what was the point of my sacrifices? Was it worth it? That’s many other blog posts, so I don’t want to get into that too much. Short answer, no, it wasn’t worth it, but it’s the hand I was dealt and so it worked out for the best it could. But I’m not sure I’d do it again if given the option.

One day soon, I hope the elite realize that the rest of us aren’t playing the game anymore. Employers are starting to see that we workers have choices and we don’t live to work. We will not be used and taken advantage of for their gain any longer. Everyone needs to step back and do what’s best for them. Life isn’t meant to be spent breaking your back to not even break even.

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