Stand by your man…? (Conclusion)

Flash back to my time in VA…One of the girls in my squad was sporting an engagement ring that could’ve sunk a modern-day Titanic who seemed very much into her future husband. Well, that was until she met Specialist Jackson. They immediately hit it off; against training standards, and a sexual relationship quickly ensued. In spite of my warnings and those of the company commander, she continued. Well, one day I was checking the dorms to make sure they were clean and everyone was out when I heard the shower running. A quick peek to see who it was and why revealed said young lady with hickeys and other sexually created marks on her body. I advised that she hurry and her response was hysterical tears. She confided that her fiance would be arriving that evening and she didn’t know what she was going to do. It was supposed to be a surprise, but someone in the office messed up and told her. The mix up afforded her time to come up with a way to get out of having sex with him, but it certainly needed to be good enough to justify the marks on her body. I didn’t feel bad for her because she knew better and had been warned, but hard ears makes a soft behind; or in her case; cost her a ring and marriage.

Back to me…If I had a dollar for every married man or man with a girlfriend, I’d have a decent chunk of change sitting tax-free in an offshore account. Yes, infidelity was that serious!

Some were more discreet in their flirting or ways of finding out where my moral compass pointed; however, most were pretty overt and made countless attempts to have me be their side piece. Hell, my ex-husbands father used to make passes at me back in the day before his son and I got together. Makes my skin crawl rethinking it! Let me clarify something as not to be misunderstood because it takes two to tango and trust me when I tell you that there were many married women engaged in various acts of infidelity. I wasn’t surprised per se, but it was funny how they handled their business with a little more finesse and discretion.

I heard men plotting on the new girls that came in on how they’d be their weekend girlfriend or their Annual Training wife. They made offerings of helping them with their training or whatever else they could to sway her into their favour and once they had her, she became shop fodder amongst the men and another notch on their proverbial bedpost. When I was approached, I made it known I’d be no one’s tabloid discussion and there’s nothing they had that I needed to compromise my character for. Oh, trust your girl was “stuck up”, “she must think her p*ssy is lined with gold”, or some other snarky remark. I proudly wore whatever moniker they gave me instead of being anyone’s cum dumpster.

Rank had its privileges because the lower ranking girls thought themselves special for hooking up with the higher ranking enlisted or officers. As I said, it was not limited to men as I saw an E-6 hook up with an E-4 for no other reason than him being cute and having a nice body. Officers and high enlisted alike made promises of special treatment to those who took up with them and their boys were sometimes given preferential assignments for being alibis and such. Olivia Pope would have been proud of how they handled their indiscretions and cover ups…lol…I digress, but they did take esprit de corps to a whole new place!

Being one to never want to be in the lime light and shied away from anything that even remotely stunk of drama, I hated that I knew what I did and found myself being questioned here and there about the (alleged) actions of others even if it was just for curiosity’s sake. It’s sad to recall how many no sooner kissed their kids, spouses, and significant others goodbye and then began kissing their military spouse hello.

Military marriages suffer high rates of divorce primary due to a cheating spouse, which I’ve personally witnessed. I saw a good friend no sooner leave for a 30-day deployment and his wife’s boyfriend keep the bed warm in his absence. Neighbours knew and said nothing; they were probably likewise guilty. It was a gut feeling on his part that caught her in the act. He told her he was leaving for training, packed his stuff and left. He parked around the corner and double backed on foot to the house where he saw an unfamiliar car parked in his driveway. He let himself in through the side door and found his wife and lover on the couch in the act. Talk about coitus interuptus!! Although she was a civilian, she ended up losing the most to include custody of their daughter.

Conversely, there are many spouses who condone infidelity by citing long or extended deployments, recurring training schedules, or some other reason because they’ve grown accustomed to the lifestyle provided by their military spouse. General Sinclair’s wife alluded to such in her statement. Sorry son, I’m not going to make such excuses and there is no amount of lifestyle that will make me think otherwise. I’m not standing by my man and I’m not going to be made light of or become a part of media sensationalism as a result of his actions.

Again, I understand military life, but there is no excuse for the behaviour these and many other have exhibited. A military career is hard-earned and fought hard for and shouldn’t be reduced to something demeaning and seedy to end it. I want to feel bad for either General in some way and maybe if I hadn’t been in the service, I may have a little compassion, but since I’ve been there, I can’t and won’t. I’ve seen how many high-ranking men use and abuse their authority. I’ve seen them manipulate, coerce, cajole, threaten, etc., to get what they want. Sadly, I’ve seen women counter by giving of themselves with hidden agendas; however, any way you slice it, both parties are wrong. In this instance, these men displayed blatant disregard for their marriages, careers, reputations, and whatever else it has cost them. I feel for the spouses; slightly, but I mostly feel for the kids who will have to live and relive this scandal. With today’s technology, there is no undoing what’s published. Personally, I might be inclined to want to change my last name to reduce any known or future associations, but it may never truly remove the human stain. Actions speak louder than words and theirs are the beacons that we will see for all perpetuity.

Stand by your man? Depends on what I’m standing by him for!

That is all!

Celebrating Life…My Story…

EXACTLY 5 years ago today and almost to the time of this post, I received a call from my GYN who gave me the results of the biopsy I’d had done two days prior, which confirmed breast cancer.  Oddly, I was not shocked by the results as the night before an odd; yet serene calm came over me and I resigned myself to the news; though untold yet, of the diagnosis.

I was at work when I received the call, which came with precise and detailed information as to what I needed to do once I “got over the shock of the call and to call me if I needed anything or had any questions”.  I hung up, took a deep breath, and did a quick google search on the type and stage of the cancer and then went in search of a friend and former coworker who’d been diagnosed with colon cancer the year prior.  I said nothing to her other than “let’s go to a more private cube so we can talk”, she obliged with a curious expression.  While at the more private workstation, I typed in my diagnosis and sat her in the seat so she could read the words on the screen.  Her facial expression went from 0-60 and she turned to me with tear-filled eyes and said, “no.  That can’t be true.  You’re one of the healthiest people I know”.  I said nothing and simply nodded the confirmation.  She got up and hugged me so tight and upon releasing me said, “we’re gonna get through this!”  Those were the MOST comforting thing she could have said to me….”we’re”.  She included herself and at that moment I knew I’d made the right decision in telling her before anyone else.  She dragged her then fiancee from  his desk and we all went outside to share the news with him.  We all hugged!  We all cried!  And then we all vowed to see me through the process.  The necessary calls were made to schedule appointments.  The call from the Imaging office came shortly after the call from the GYN, but they would not provide the full results over the phone.  I knew that was there protocol and was happy for the my GYN not abiding to that practice as it spared me the additional wait and worry. 

From that point on, Marlene was a part of my initial appointments, she sat with me as I researched every option available at the time and assured me that I was going to come through it all “just fine”…Five years, a right breast mastectomy, a series of tissue expansions, and five reconstructive procedures laters, I AM , “just fine”.  The medicine wreaked havoc on me mentally, physically, and emotionally, but with support of Marlene, trusted friends/family, and Gilda’s Club of South Jersey; of which I’m featured in their ad campaign.  Gilda’s Club of South Jersey TV ad I’ve come through the crazy journey.  I’ve always had a pretty decent outlook on life and tend not to take it for granted, but after having my mortality put on the line for a second time, I live it a bit more aggressively now.  I avoid the bullshit and drama as much as possible.  I’ve removed toxic people from my life.  I’ve grown that much closer to God as He’s been the epicenter of my strength.  I’ve become a better person, mother, friend, mentor, role model, or whatever title I wear.  I’m even more of a health advocate than before and take nothing for granted.  I’ve seen many people suffer and lose their lives to cancer and pray that one day cures will be available for not just Breast Cancer, but ALL cancers. While some may be more aggressive than others, it’s all still cancer and that’s something no one should take lightly.

In closing, I’ll ask you all for one thing…PLEASE get yourselves checked, screened, and ask family members to share medical history.  Prior to my diagnosis, I had NO idea cancer was in my bloodline.  I underwent genetic testing to find out if I was a gene carrier.  Fortunately, I am not, but it was a scary wait to find out.  Lil Lady was 15 at the time of my diagnosis, so there was a great need to know if not only was I a carrier, but to get a full medical history of both sides of my family.  Cancer runs on my father’s side and it was sad that I had to go through the process in order to find out.  Since then, I’ve shared my history, and dad’s with my siblings and other paternal family members.  One member has compiled a health registry so we have data available to share with each other.  Nothing, not matter how presumably healthy we might think we are is promised.  If you have health insurance, use it.  The time off work, the copay and a negative test result far outweighs the laziness of not seeing a doctor or the denial by thinking there’s nothing wrong.

I hope my story inspires someone to get checked or makes you take someone who may need to get a health screening to the doctor.  There’s no coming back from death, but there’s living  and treatment if necessary in knowing what your health status is.

Of all the 14 tattoos I have, my pink ribbon is the most visible.  I wear to show that I’m proud of overcoming breast cancer and also to let others know there’s nothing to be ashamed of.  I’m going to add some verbiage to it very soon now that I’ve hit the 5-year mark.  Any suggestions other than “Survivor” as to what I should say?  Whomever gives me the best idea, will be publically thanked and rewarded in some way.  And if by chance I don’t use a suggestion, just knowing you all were a part of it, will make me very happy.

That is all!