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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pardon me, I need a moment.

I've always been a fixer, attracted (both romantically and platonically) to people who could benefit from my help. Wait, that sounds pompous. But I don't know how else to say it right now, the words aren't forming in such a way that I can translate them to sentences and type them out so that they make sense the same way they do in my head. Anyway, I've always been a fixer. And there are very few worse feelings in my world than to feel completely helpless, like there is nothing at all that I can do for someone that I care about. There HAS to be something I can do to help. There has to be something, anything, that will make that person feel better, or BE better. There is no way that I can be completely powerless in a situation. In ANY situation. That's just not how my mind works, it doesn't compute.

Unfortunately, I'm starting to feel more and more powerless with regards to a certain part of my life. I'm starting to feel as though the effort I have been putting in to it and trying to make things better is wasted effort, energy that I could be saving for other things. But its so hard to let go. Its so hard to not have control over the situation.

Because in reality, it may not be so much that I'm a fixer than that I'm a control freak. I like to be in control of situations, I NEED to be in control of situations. When I'm not in control, I feel like I'm losing it. When I don't have control I feel vulnerable, and when I open myself up to vulnerability I get hurt, usually very, very hurt. Hurt in ways that I never fully recover from, because small pieces of that hurt attach themselves to my insides forever, and become part of my complex, my permanent insecurity, those parts of me that are forever holding me back from the real happiness that I need and deserve.

Its not that I'm not happy, because I am. I'm happier than I've ever been in my life. But there's this little piece, this part of my life over which I have no control, because I'm powerless, and I can't fix it. And I have no idea what to do. I have no idea how to sit back and just let life happen, with no interference from me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Random Writers Guest Post - A Hero

(Cross-posted at Random Writers)

When my friends Gil and Lee were soliciting guest bloggers for the Random Writers project, I looked at the list and immediately knew that I wanted to write about someone that's a hero to me, especially this week that contains both Veteran's Day and the Marine Corps birthday. Regular readers of my blog have seen me write about this person before, but I just can't do it enough.

I'm pretty sure I met Matt Freeman on July 1st, 1998. I say pretty sure because that was our Induction Day at the US Naval Academy, and I remember very little of that day. But Matt and I were both in India Company, 17th Platoon, and we all had to meet and learn some things about each other in those first couple of days. For the next four years, we all lived on the same floor, trained together, had ups and downs together, and saw each other at our best and at our worst. Through it all, Matt was always there for everyone. He never got involved in any of the personality conflicts or other drama.

After graduation, I went off to Surface Warfare Officer School as a Navy Ensign, and Matt went off to The Basic School as a Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenant.  We were MySpace friends, and later Facebook friends, and saw each other at our five year reunion, but never kept in super good touch.  However, that did not make the blow that I felt when I heard about his death in August 2009 any less severe.

Matt was stationed in Japan, and had volunteered to go over to Afghanistan on an Individual Augmentation to support a Marine unit that was short on people. Just before he left, he quietly married his high school sweetheart.  A week after his arrival, Matt called his mother, who was a lifelong teacher, to tell her about what he was seeing with the children in Afghanistan. He told her that the children wanted to learn, and wanted pens and paper and school supplies almost more than food and water.  He asked her to ask around at their church and collect some school supplies for the children.

Two days later, Matt was killed in action. Below is his Bronze Star Citation, because there's no way I could do this description justice:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the BRONZE STAR MEDAL posthumously to CAPTAIN MATTHEW C. FREEMAN, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS for service as set forth in the following


For heroic service in connection with combat operations against the enemy as a Fire Support Team Leader and Company Advisor for the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, Afghan National Army. Captain Freeman’s keen judgment and decisive leadership were ever present in all phases of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. On 7 August 2009, Captain Freeman engaged in the combined and joint Operation BREST THUNDER in one of the most dangerous areas within the 201st Corps’ Area of Operations, the Shpee Valley of Kapisa Province. The strength of the enemy in the Shpee Valley was estimated to consist of more than eighty insurgents with reports that a large number of reinforcements had recently moved into the area. Acting to conduct a reconnaissance of force in the valley, Captain Freeman’s element received enemy fire almost immediately upon leaving the combat outpost. Pinned down as the result of this fire, Captain Freeman decided to clear a kulat in order to gain access to the top deck and achieve better observation of the enemy’s firing position. Receiving a heavy volume of enemy fire, Captain Freeman led the way in clearing the house and was the first to reach the rooftop. Once on the rooftop, he spotted an enemy Rocket-Propelled Grenade gunman and immediately killed him. He and one of this team members spotted several other insurgents and began to engage while under fire. It was at this time that Captain Freeman fell mortally wounded. He fought with bravery and determination while demonstrating unwavering courage in the face of the enemy. Captain Freeman’s performance of duty in a combat zone reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Matt's family and friends are doing everything possible to make sure that nobody forgets Matt and that his last wish is fulfilled. Matt's mother took his request for school supplies and ran with it, and established the Matthew Freeman Project: Pens and Paper for Peace in 2010.  The Freeman Project has sent over 12,000 pounds of school supplies to not only Afghanistan but also Iraq and other war-torn nations.

People want to list celebrities and sports stars and famous political figures as their heroes, and I guess that's OK, because everyone defines the word hero differently. On August 7th, 2009, we lost someone that I believe epitomized the definition of a true hero.  Please consider visiting the Freeman Project website, watch the videos, read about Matt, and if you can, make a donation.

Friday, November 11, 2011

You're welcome?

Its not that I have trouble calling myself a veteran. I mean, it sounds a little funny, because when I think of veterans I think of the old guys in the funny hats that I see at ceremonies and special events. I don't think about young people like me, people that most don't realize are veterans until they're told. But yeah, when people ask who in the room is a veteran, my hand goes up. I have veteran's preference at work. And on and on I could go.

So why is it that I feel so weird when people thank me for my service, especially on Veteran's Day? Maybe its because I didn't really DO anything. Sure, I was on active duty for 6 years, and I did a 7 month ship deployment to the Persian Gulf. But I've never been on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan like many of my friends and colleagues.  I was never shot at, or injured, or made to truly fear for my life.

But I understand that the TRUE 1% in this country are those who are willing to sacrifice and put on the uniform for the higher cause, who are willing to put up with the life that many would not be willing to lead. And I understand that I am part of that 1%. The fact that I didn't do some of the hard things that some of my friends and colleagues did, that some of my friends and colleagues died doing, shouldn't make my service any less than theirs. But it does, in my mind. Maybe that's just humility, or maybe in some strange way I'm a little ashamed that I didn't do some of that hard stuff, that part of the reason I left the service when my obligation was complete was so I didn't have to. I know I shouldn't be, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with serving honorably and taking off when my time is up. I live every day thankful that there are people willing to do the things that I didn't want to do. But then I remember that I'm one of those people, someone who did things that many, many people in this country were unwilling to do.

And that makes me feel just a little bit better about being thanked for my service. I guess. But not completely.

So please don't be offended if you thank me for my service and I don't reply right away. You're welcome sounds odd to me, and I've been told its bad form to say that there's nothing to thank me for. I appreciate your thoughts today, and in my mind I'm passing them along to all those who came before and those still yet to come, those who have done and will do those things that I was very glad to not have to do. They need that thanks far more than I do.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Where Am I?

I've kind of lost myself when it comes to blogging lately. I've been thinking about blogging a lot, about what I want to write about, and what direction I want to take this in, and honestly, I just can't figure it out. I started this blog quite a long time ago as a journal, and I've been inconsistent at best with how I use it. But sometimes getting my thoughts written down is easier said than done. Sometimes when I look at the words on the screen they just don't quite communicate what it is I'm thinking, and I get frustrated and give up. Quite often I just talk myself out of writing things, and that's something I absolutely need to get over. Combine all of the above with a little extra workload, class starting back up again, and life in general, and I've got an empty blog. So I'm going to try to make writing more of a priority, and try to just write what I feel and not worry so much about it. That's the point, right?