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I think I'll just stay in tonight...

Updated: Feb 18

My life isn’t exactly dinner conversation. 


 


I would be very comfortable saying that common socializing hasn’t been my thing for quite a while.  I haven’t been to a bar since 2012 and for the most part the only activities I’ll leave my house for involve kids outings or BJJ.  I have a comfortable home and a nice private back yard.  Many people who have known me know that I prefer to spend evenings back there sitting around my firepit and listening to podcasts.


 

For most grown adult Americans, socializing is a thing.  They meet each other for drinks and take group vacations.  They’ll have large get togethers at the house over the weekend with other friends, couples or families.  They travel and meet up with their college roommate or brothers and sisters for a getaway and they always have lunch with the crowd at work.  These are all very normal activities for most adults in America.

 

I can’t do that.  I mean I probably could, but I desperately would avoid it at all costs.  For me, I get by in life trying to fly under the radar, so to speak.  I interact and socialize with plenty of other adults in my day-to-day life, but on a very limited capacity.  Most, if not all, of these interactions involve my daughter and her friends.  Sleepovers, theme parks, ice skating, birthday parties, the zoo, shopping sprees, after school activities and the list goes on.  For the most part, I try to limit getting to personal or friendly with other parents.  This isn’t because I don’t like them, but I’m very confident my experiences in life are much different than theirs.  A casual conversation for me could get awkward or uncomfortable very quickly. 

 

When I was a junior in college, I dropped out of the medical program I was applying for at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine/Health and Science to join the 101st Airborne and deploy to Iraq.  Something inside me wouldn’t let it rest that I was supposed to be over there and making my life story.  As far as I was concerned, school wasn’t going anywhere but this once in a lifetime experience could be gone at any minute.  Who would have thought this would turn into one of the "Forever Wars".


In all my deployments, seventy-six men and women were killed in my brigade.  I experienced very close and intense combat and saw many of my guys wounded and killed.  I saw incredible acts of heroism and horribly disturbing things. My job put me in a very unique position as a “warfighter” because I was there to save lives, not take them.  Over the course of a few years, I watched my teammates, the enemy and even civilians get killed very violently.  I had desperately tried to save horribly wounded humans, sometimes, while in active combat.  Sometimes I was successful and sometimes I had to accept that good men were going to die and not even I could stop that.  I had brought one of my teammates home to his family and buried him, seen the devastation it caused their families and even managed to come close to wrecking my own.  I had watched the pain of gold star wives, tried to be their comfort and protector, seen them spiral up and down and even had one attempt suicide.


 

The majority of Americans spent their twenties in college, having fun, finding love and starting families.  Their biggest emotional rollercoaster may have only been trying to buy a house, getting married or their grandma dying.  I’d hate to come over for dinner or to watch the game and have a casual conversation ruin a perfectly good evening.  Some of the most common questions when you first get to know someone can steer into some dark doors for me.  Over the years, I’ve just learned to stay away or always have the go to story; “Yeah, I deployed, but I never did anything.  No like combat or anything.” 

 

One thing I do love is taking the kid out with her friends.  I’m that Dad that will let the whole squad spend the night, order pizza, go ice skating and then hit hobby lobby the next day to get a t-shirt press so we can make t-shirts to commemorate the whole thing.  I love watching kids have fun, be free and just enjoy life with no worries.  I love doing things for my neighbors and I even love all the stray pets that come into my yard.  I can’t get enough of just enjoying all the cool stuff that comes with being Dad and living in a safe and free country.  From ridiculous birthday parties to adopting stray animals.  One stray cat we adopted has had two litters of kittens in our house now. As much of a pain in the ass as that might seem to some, I am so thankfull for the stress of a first world life.  





My experiences aren’t the “gloom and doom” that might easily get interpreted.  They’re reminders of how fucking great my life is.  To other people, hearing my stories might make them feel awful or horrified, but to me it's what drives a positive attitude and appreciation for just how awesome this life really is.  I have everything I need and then allot left over.  The ability to never think that you have “problems” is a real blessing.   I always say some people get annoyed with my never ending positive and “let’s look at the bright side” attitude, but it’s these horrible things that got me there.  These stories didn’t break me, they gave me the ability to handle things that would crush the average human.  Still, talking about the time someone blew themselves up in front of me or when my friends were mangled with gunshot wounds can make for a very uneasy relationship with coworkers and parent groups.  The fact that so many people in my day-to-day life would be so shocked and disturbed by my stories is even more proof that we really are living the best lives in America.


 

Sitting at Top Golf, blogging and watching the kids have fun feels like winning the lottery to me.  The life lottery.


Still, I think I'm gonna stay in tonight...

 

 

 

 


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Appreciate your honesty and transparency. Read the entire thing. Thx for giving me a glimpse into your story. - Your Cousin In Virginia (the normal one)

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