It's been a weird few weeks.
I guess I should clarify. It's been a weird few years. It feels like everything since the election of 2016 has been off kilter. Climate change, Trump, Covid, Afghanistan, Ukraine. It has been a barrage of awful and it feels like everything is happening all at once all the time.
In military training, there is a concept called overload. The idea is to give trainees more to do than they can possibly do in the time allotted and with the resources given. A platoon might be given 4 minutes to have an entire barracks inspection ready. A team might be told to move a vehicle that only has three wheels. The specifics matter less than the fact that the tasks are more than any one person, or even a small group, could possibly do alone.
The point of overload is simple. It teaches you to prioritize tasks. If you can't possibly get everything done, where will you choose to put your focus? Overload also forces you to work together. One platoon can't clean an entire barracks. A company can. One team can't move a broken vehicle. A whole class can.
Sometimes the only way to accomplish something complicated is to prioritize the important parts. And to work as part of a larger team. Try and do everything alone and you will fail. Again and again.
On April 16, 2016 - 6 years ago today - I tried (and failed) to kill myself.
I turn 50 in a few weeks. That's a big deal. A milestone birthday. I can't wait to celebrate.
Today is a big deal too. Today is my Alive Day. As of today I have 6 years sober. I have gotten 6 years I didn't plan to have.
In a very real sense, I am 6 years old today.
I am not gonna sugarcoat it. That's not really my style. The last few months have been hard.
Being separated is hard. Figuring out what comes next is hard. Healing from past hurts, truly letting go of the pain that I was given (and the pain that I caused) is hard. Everything feels hard a lot. I know you can relate.
There have been times lately that I have wondered if I was lucky 6 years ago, or if I was cursed. I wonder if I was kept alive for (looks around) all this.
I want to be clear. I was lucky. I have no intention of a repeat performance - now or ever. That does NOT mean that just because I survived that shit got easy. In some ways, it got worse. I woke up 6 years ago in handcuffs. I am literally still dealing with the legal fallout now. And that is even before you get into the emotional cost I pay. And the bill for the emotional costs I have caused the people around me. I have more coming at me sometimes than one person can deal with.
So I have to prioritize. I can't solve every problem, or heal every hurt. I can't do everything I want to do in the time I have been given. It's impossible. So I have to choose the people and the things that are most important.
And I have to remember that the only way to do the impossible is to work as a team.
I would not be here without my team. I would not be here without Barbara. I would not be here without Alex or Willie or Matthew or Elizabeth or Justin. I would not be here without my friends, my fellow vets, and my church family, all of whom have given me unconditional love and support.
I wouldn't be here without my readers or your notes, emails, calls and random texts. Your support has helped me find my voice again.
I don't know what the next 6 years will bring. It's interesting to me that this year's Alive Day falls on Holy Week. On Holy Saturday especially. The day between the pain and suffering of Good Friday and the joy and resurrection of Easter Sunday. It is a liminal day. A day of not knowing. A day between pain and joy.
It's the kind of day where we spend most of our existence. In the not knowing.
There is so much I don't know. I don't know what the next year will look like, much less another 6 or 30. I know there will be joy and that there will be sorrow and that things will be hard because being an adult in the world is hard. And being a kid is hard. Being a human being is hard.
And I know that the way we do hard things is together. I know that no matter what happens, I am not alone.
Neither are you.
Happy Alive Day. And thank you. For everything.
Be well y'all.
And keep pounding the rock.