Sharing the same space with someone can be a real eye opener. The myth of the magical fantasy had worn off shortly after I moved in with Mike. What’s crazy is that I have no idea how it happened, I don’t recall the words he used, I can’t recall when or even where it took place, NOTHING about it at all but at some point, Mike and I got engaged. I remember the ring, a one carat marquise cut, it was exactly what I wanted. You would think that I would be ecstatic and happy, that I would instantly start planning my big fairy tale day. I remember thinking about the wedding and the fancy dresses, but I don’t remember being that excited about the prospect of forever with Mike.
I was unhappy but still putting on a happy face for everyone else. I still hung out with my cousins from time to time but not much. I didn’t have a license or a car and had to either take public transportation or ask Mike. Mike had two cars but didn’t allow me to drive either one and I didn’t have access to any other cars to practice for the driving test. I did feel a little annoyed that he didn’t let me drive but ultimately, I didn’t feel he was responsible for me not having a license at twenty years of age. It was simply my lot in life. I never expected anyone outside of myself to do anything for me and rarely asked for anything. I had grown accustom to not receiving and basically, I designed my life in such a way to ensure that I would continue to not receive. I did this by not having any expectations or standards, I just accepted whatever I was given and rarely made a fuss. This is why when I hear people say “live with no expectations” I quickly respond no thank you! Now I expect something; to be loved, respected, and supported, just to name a few expectations. Yes, I did have some unrealistic expectations about what relationships were (that whole knight in shining armor thing) that I had to out grow but I am of the firm belief that it is required that you have SOME expectations and standards for the people you allow into your life.
I felt like my life was going nowhere. It was the summer before I turned 21. I wasn’t taking any classes and I spent more and more time sitting looking at the sky, this was not my side of the sky, there was something about the curve of it, something about the way the clouds were arranged in it, that let me know I needed to move on. I had no idea what I was going to do, where I was going to go, nor how I would be able to make it anywhere. I simply knew I was going and began thinking about it every day, I never mentioned to Mike how I felt.
I don’t recall really thinking about joining the military but one day I happened to be walking past a Navy recruiting office and remembered that my dad had been in the Navy. I still wasn’t talking to my dad, but I thought I would simply grab a brochure. I would get some information and that would be the beginning of me really putting effort into figuring out how I was going to find my way to my side of the sky. I walked into the office and asked for some information, I was given some papers and asked a bunch of questions. The recruiter told me that I should take the practice test just to see how I would do, so I would know how much studying I needed to do to prepare for the real test later. I agreed and took the short test, I figured I would go and get information from the other branches and would need the test anyway so why not. Immediately after he scored my test he suggested I take the real test that day! I was unsure but went with it, the recruiter took me by the house to get my high school diploma and social security card in route to the local Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) location. I took the written test and while I waited for the results I did the physical exam. When my test results came back, I was told that I did very well and qualified to take the nuclear test if I wanted. When I heard the word nuclear, I knew I didn’t want to do anything to do with anything nuclear, but I took the test anyway. After the test I found out that I was only one or two questions away from passing I had mixed feelings, I was upset that I didn’t pass but also glad that I didn’t. I was told that I could take it again later, but I knew that I wouldn’t. After all the testing and whatnot, I met with a career planner or whatever they called it. I was told that I could basically choose whatever job I wanted. There were so many to choose from I had no idea what to pick. The planner narrowed the choices based on my test score (and what they needed at the time) so it was decided that I would be a cryptologic technician. I had no idea what that was, it sounded cool, it was top secret, and this whole thing sounded like an adventure!
As you could imagine, all this testing and career planning took a lot of time. I actually had to stay overnight! I don’t remember what reason I gave Mike for not coming home, but when I did return with my diploma and social in hand I immediately told him that I had joined the Navy, I had been sworn in and was scheduled to leave in October. He couldn’t believe it, I told him that I understood if he was upset and that if he wanted I could go live with one of my aunts until I left. He didn’t want me to go even suggested that I wouldn’t have to go to the Navy at all if I got pregnant!! The suggestion that I have a baby almost made me leave in that moment! We were in no way ready to be parents and I was unsure that I even wanted kids at all. I definitely knew that I did not want to stay in St. Louis, and I did not want to stay with him.
One night shortly after I joined, he got drunk and went off on me saying that I was going to go to the Navy and be a whore, that I would have a thousand Navy dicks up inside me! Something inside me had changed. I didn’t care about what he had to say, and I actually laughed when he said that to me. He was pissed and kept yelling, I started packing my things. He tried to hold me down to prevent me from packing and leaving. This was not the first time he had physically tried to control me, he never hit me, and I am not accusing him of any abuse, but I did feel that we would end up there if we kept going. I was no longer doing what he wanted even before all the Navy stuff. He couldn’t deal with that, he would get so frustrated and angry and I could just feel things going in a direction that I didn’t want. The night of a thousand Navy dicks I called my Aunt Josie to come pick me up. I had just a few months before I would turn twenty-one and leave for the Navy.