I never really connected much with my parents. Even at a young age I never really felt close to them. Especially my mother. It seemed like whenever I had a problem and I wanted to talk to her about it, she’d just tell me what she thought I wanted to hear to get me off her back. I guess it wasn’t until I left for Germany in 2000 when I really started to feel distant from both my mother and my father. Clearly, I always wanted their support, though.
My dad is a perfectionist. Still to this day he strives to be the best person he possibly can. He doesn’t take shortcuts, he doesn’t cheat people, he doesn’t fiddle-fuck around at work…he does the very best job that he possibly can, day in and day out. I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, but I don’t like taking shortcuts. And when I do, it bothers me forever. I want people to view me as a hard worker. I want people to view me as someone who cares and does a good job. Someone that can be trusted. I bring this up because I’ve always strived to mirror my father’s foot steps in every way imaginable. But I was never able to keep up. I sought his approval in every which way imaginable. And when I felt that I may have disappointed him in such a way, I literally felt useless.
My days in Iraq were spent day dreaming of killing bad guys. And getting the occasional email from Dad. Of course, my deployment to Iraq was nothing like what others have experienced. There weren’t mass explosions going off all around me while dragging my buddies to safety…
…and I was never pinned down in the jungles of Vietnam fending off short little yellow people with automatic machine guns, either:
But I did get to see some shit, I suppose. I got to experience combat even if it was just indirect fire. I got to be a gunner on some trucks, I got to hangout with my scout buddies in sector and I got to see the inside of a few homes owned by the locals. It’s not every day a person gets to spend 12 months in Iraq. So for that, I’m grateful.
As the deployment wore on, it was tough to stay motivated. It was tough to wake up every morning and report to guard duty or to the motor pool or whatever else I had to do. It was tough to stay on base and not just pack some gear and wander off. The one thing that kept me going was this little ending that my dad would end his emails with. “Keep your head down. Love, Dad.” That’s all it said. And it was enough. I felt like I had a purpose with my unit. I used to tell some of my Army buddies to keep their heads down when we were out fucking around outside the compound on one of those perimeter marches we’d do at 0600 hours in the morning with the First Sergeant. I wasn’t sure if terrorists were up at that hour, but if they were, it was a good idea to keep your head down.
To this day, I don’t speak to my parents much. If at all. I guess Facebook sort of forces that connection. When I returned home from the Army, things were upside down in my life. I had lost my first purchased home to a failed relationship, I spent nearly a month in a behavioral mental health hospital due to going completely fucking crazy when my ex-fiance left me, I was miserable, unemployed and distraught from being separated from the one family I truly loved. I thought I’d have peace back home with my parents, I’d attend college, get a job and everything would be hunky-fucking-dory. Yeah.
Finding peace in my life has been a struggle. I felt literally stabbed in the back when my mother used every angle to get me to move out and find my own way. Well, I don’t blame her, I suppose. I wouldn’t want a thirty-something single male living in my home, either. But then again, I’m not a crazy, miserable, selfish bitch. If I came across me on the street, I’d lend a helping hand. At any rate, it is what it is. I’ve nailed down two jobs, I’ve attended college off and on the last couple of years and I’ve managed to stay in shape. On top of that? I’m starting third base for a softball team this year. So fuck you, mom.
As for my dad? I felt I’ve let him down. I didn’t quite amount to his expectations.