20 November 2013

Damaged Goods

Thanks to our time in the military, that's me. Damaged goods. Most of the time it is no big deal. In fact it often comes in handy. Two sick kids an escaped hamster and a dental appointment I had to reschedule three times? No problem, of course I can make a dozen muffins for the boat fundraiser. I am super-spouse, hear me roar. Other times, it makes me completely unable to respond in a neurotypical fashion to what must be every day occurrences for civilians.

Currently I am feeling crippling guilt about Charlie having to have her tonsils out. Not because she is so continually sick, though that wears a mom down for sure, but because I need to have Chris take a day off work. For some back story, it is a shitty day for Chris to disappear. Something about a meeting for an important project that he ostensibly heads up even though exactly zero people are interested in doing said project. However, the kid needs the surgery ASAP. My wonderful network of friends can't really help on this one due to getting their own kids on buses, to pre-school and picked back up again combined with the unpredictable nature of surgical slots and PACU recovery variables. Additionally, if we reschedule we have to wait almost two more weeks for surgery due to even more pressing work issues and travel. That ruins the holidays for the kid which seems unnecessary. So Chris will have to take the day so he can care for his family. Like millions of people do every day here in the normal world. Logically, this is a pain in the ass, but not the end of the world.

BUT, I did not learn how to be married or parent in the normal world. I learned these skills while under the thumb of the US Navy. Sailors don't take sick days, or take leave when spouses have babies, or babies have surgery, or if said sailor himself has cut off an arm in a tragic accident. Sailors go to work and spouses handle the rest. If said spouse can't (or *le gasp* won't) handle it all, that sucks for the spouse. It also sucks for the sailor since command leadership will not hesitate to pick on you about your "shitty" spouse in all forums both public and private. See also: military command hierarchy meets all criteria for abusive relationships. Basically you don't take leave unless you plan it six months in advance and you certainly don't take leave without expecting retaliation, both personal and professional.

***Side story: Even taking approved leave is not safe. The most recent ENG fired off the local water front was fired for being AWOL during what the ENG believed was approved baby leave. Long story short, the CO revoked the guy's leave at some point mid-leave, but allegedly never told anyone else in the chain of command. The CO then proceeded to prosecute the guy for being AWOL and fired him. So, that was my cultural environment for 7.5 years...I think you understand my damage now. I really knew I was screwed up when Chris was telling the story and while my mom and friend were appalled, I was completely un-shocked and saw where this was going from the story's opener. How fucked up is that?***

And here we are. Chris will take the day off so his kid can have surgery and it will be fine because that is how it goes for white-collar work in the civilian world. I may never get over the guilt, but I will try and remind myself that this is the mild-PTSD/anxiety/seasonal depression talking and not reality. None the less, if you need me I will be right here, eating my feelings, nursing an ulcer and thanking the powers that be for our new job and the wonderful healthcare that will make sure my kid doesn't have to spend even one more day battling chronic tonsillitis.

 

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