Guy - State College, PA
This is a long post. So read at your at own risk. :-P
First off let me state that I have not been diagnosed yet, I do have an appointment with a Psychiatrist to get an evaluation done on April 18 after being referred by my physician. This was originally supposed to be a quick introduction but once I started typing it just flowed out. This is the first time Iíve ever put all of this down, in fact itís the first time Iíve ever laid it all out at once. Even now donít know why I did, other than that it feels like the right thing to do.
Here's my story:
Elementary school was great, I really excelled. I learned to read before Kindergarten and by the time I was in fourth grade I was reading books like 'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L'Engle. California Achievement Tests always put me in the top 5% of the national percentile. Report cards were straight 'Outstanding' (didn't use letter grades in our elementary school). Most of my time outside of school and during the Summer was spent running around outside (riding bikes, playing in the creek, running around the mountains, you know, small town stuff). The only real notes on my report cards were that I was 'Overly Talkative' and had a tendency to daydream, I think maybe one teacher called me 'Disruptive'. Always had lots of friends and the teachers all seemed to like me (even the one who called me disruptive). The only bad memory from that time is my father who was always verbally abusive to my mom and myself (my little brother was spared until I moved out), this continued my whole life, I honestly can only think of only a couple occasions in my life when I ever received praise from the man.
Jump to 5th grade, my Elementary school only went to 4th, we had to go to another for 5th and then on to Middle School for 6th through 8th. Grades started to drop and I was placed in the lower Math class. My CATs were still placing me in the top 5-10% of the national percentile. I had a hard time feeling like I fit in, I got along good with pretty much everyone in my class but just never felt like I belonged to any one group. All through Middle School my grades steadily worsened, waking up in the middle of the night remembering some bit of homework that had been assigned weeks ago and was due the next day, became a normal occurrence. In 8th grade I was sponsored by John Hopkins University to take the SATís, based on my score on the OTIS-SAT (no idea what that one stands for) which scored my IQ at 125 (all these scores I have pulled from my old transcripts after deciding to seriously look into what might be wrong with me and why I canít seem to get it or hold it together). My combined score on that SAT was 740 (old scoring method), enough to qualify me for a NCAA athletic scholarship. I started shoplifting somewhere in the 7th or 8th grade because I loved the rush after trying it the first time on a dare. Between 8th and 9th grades I had my first sexual encounter.
High School was a steady degradation of grades (ultimately I had to go to Summer school to get my diploma). Even more than before I felt out of step from everyone around me. In 9th grade I was arrested once for Disorderly Conduct (for corning cars, those of you in the country know what that is) and once for Retail Theft (Shoplifting). I have never done either again, instead I went on to worse things. Sometime in my 11th grade year I started smoking weed and progressed on to other hallucinogenics. Coke was never my thing because it was too boring it really didnít do anything for me, and being around those who were coked up always annoyed me (not to mention the fact that I could never afford it because I was always between jobs).
I went out with and slept several girls throughout High School. Between 11th and 12th I met my first love and things during the Summer were great. Typical bad boy/good girl attraction. At the beginning of my senior year she broke up with me and strung me along for the next year. I wonít go into details, but things got intense at the end with her faking a pregnancy and then attempting suicide when I had finally had enough and walked. She was my first love and the last one I ever let the walls down for until very recently. Most of that year I kept swinging from depression when she would decide that she didnít want to be with me to elation on those rare occasions when she did. Very rarely did I hit a happy medium.
I was in 12th grade and I just didnít give a damn, I had found a group that I felt comfortable with because we were all misfits and flawed and they were all part of the Alternative program at the next school district, so they only had school for half days. But I still felt out of step. Donít get me wrong, I still got along with most kids at school but rarely hung out with any one group and most of my social circle was in the next town. Somewhere in that timeframe my friends and I started robbing houses in the area, there was no rhyme or reason to it for me, it was all about the thrill, not money. Whenever I needed money I would pick up a job for a month and quit when I had enough to get me through the next few months or do odd jobs for my relatives that owned their own businesses. As I mentioned earlier I ended up having to go to Summer school to get my diploma. As in Middle School every 9 weeks I would promise myself that I would apply myself and 2 weeks into it I would be back to my usual daydreaming and forgetfulness. There were moments of brilliance but in general I was a very poor performer with my grades in the C-D-F range with the occasional A or B. My SATs were over 1000, I once researched and wrote a 15 page paper on atrocities of the Vietnam War in a single night that received a 97% (spelling mistakes), of course this was all the night before it was due after having it assigned months before. By and large high school is not a good memory for me.
I kept the party going until the end of the Summer after I graduated. I got a bit worried what I was doing with my life when most of the people I knew left for college. So I enlisted in the Army, but 2 weeks before I was to leave for boot the police showed up at my parentís house. I was arrested for B&E, Theft, and Receiving Stolen Property for a job we had pulled. One of the guys had gotten pinched for another job and was rolling over on everyone. Through divine intervention and the fact that the owner of the house had neglected to include the 3 garbage bags of homegrown weed we had liberated from his house in the police report, I managed to get a slap on the wrist: ARD (if you are from PA, more than likely you know someone who has been on this, it is usually reserved for first-time offenders in relatively minor charges i.e. DUI), fines, restitution, 2 years of probation, and a psych eval. Obviously, the Army didnít really want anything to do with me after that.
Now most people would have seen the light at that point, but not me. I canít really explain it, I guess I was so used to feeling out of step with things that I never really thought that anything would ever happen to me even when it did it was gone from my mind in the matter of days. I did stop B&E, of course, Iíve always been a quick to mend my after I was caught. The party continued on. A couple months later I found myself at my first Dead Show. It was love at first sight. All the sights and smells, everything was so new and different. So for that whole East Coast tour my best friend and I would hit shows and bring sheets back with us to fund the next trip. The tour ended right about the same time my interest in the shows ended. Again, throughout this whole time I would see girls for a short while or just hook up with them and never look back. The end of that Summer I was 19 and I met a girl who finally gave me some stability. The party slowed down some, but it still kept going.
My parents said they would pay if I wanted to try the local Junior College that Fall. Somehow I was conditionally accepted into a 2 year non-degree program geared for those who were looking to transfer to another school. Once again I started out all gung-ho but by the end of that first month I had stopped going classes altogether and just hung out at a couple friendsí apartment smoking and dosing. Meanwhile I kept on seeing this girl who was way too good for the way I treated her. Not that I ever abused her (or any girl for that matter), it was more apathy, neglect, and cheating on my part than anything. But she stuck by me, always trying to get me to change my ways.
This went on for months, I never knew where I would end up spending the night, I still lived at my parents, but it was weeks in between visits there. I had already flunked out of school but didnít say anything to my parents about it. Then one night several of us left a party to go to this one dealer friend of mineís supplier. After we left the supplier's I got pulled over. The whole time they had me pulled over they were searching with their flashlights for what they knew was in car (by this time I was on their watch list). I was still on ARD which meant that if I was arrested for anything that the original charges would be revisited along with whatever new charges were brought. I was ordered out of the car, I got out of the driverís side and everyone else got out the passenger side ready to scatter if it looked like I was going to go down. This was the same week as my 20th birthday. That was when it finally hit me, that if I continued the way I was going I would be in prison within the year - alone.
That week I went to the local Navy recruiter to see what they could do for me. First thing I had to do was to get myself off probation and ARD. That only took about a month as I had all of my fines and restitution paid. Within 2 months I was on a plane to Great Lakes, IL for Boot Camp. I had found my calling. I was good at it, not spectacular, never the Sailor of the Quarter/Year, but the one my superiors went to when they wanted something done fast even if it meant bending a few rules. For some reason my superiors always liked me and would cover for my occasional breaking of the rules. Just as I would start to slip on my job because of boredom it would be time to change (usually around every 6 months, the Navy has broad job categories and wants sailors to be well-rounded in their chosen field). Just as a place would start to grow boring it would be time to move or I would get a deployment; Sicily for 3 years with a deployment to Bahrain; Southern Spain for 3 years with a deployment to Bosnia. Then finally to Arizona for my last 3 (I was in an Aviation field).
Now about my relationships during that time: Remember the girl who stuck by me? Well, I just stopped calling and writing to her a couple months after getting to Italy and didnít talk to her again until I was on leave 4 years later. I stayed true to form and messed around with a few girls, never settling. That first Summer I met a girl who was so different that I couldnít help myself. I met her at a nearby vacation hotspot. Her and some friends were on vacation from studying in Spain at the University of Madrid Ė they were all South American. At the end of their vacation time both my roommate and I had hooked up with two of them and offered to let them stay with us until their studies resumed in the Fall.
That Summer was incredible, spent swimming in the Med, going to the local hangouts for young people, a hot little girlfriend, it all seemed like something out of a postcard or movie. My girlfriend left at the end of Summer and my roomateís stayed. About two weeks after she left she called and said that she was not going to resume her studies and was taking a last 2 week vacation to Palma before going back to South America. I joined her and ended up asking if she wanted to come live with me. She agreed. Things were ok this time around, not the same as the initial passion but comfortable and stable. The following February I was notified that I was getting deployed to Bahrain for 3 months to relieve my former roommate (him and his girlfriend had gotten their own place a few months prior). We made plans for her to go home and then I would meet her there after the deployment was over to meet her family and then come here to the U.S. so she could meet my family. When I told my mom about the plans she suggested that maybe we could get married while home (we had talked about marriage and the possibility of it sometime the next year). I told her of this and she actually cried - she was so happy. So we went with that plan. However, the whole time I was in Bahrain I was messed around with Gulf Air Stewardesses, and Philipina expatriots. We got married roughly 1 year after we met. The first 2 years were a series of fights and make-ups (issues were further exacerbated by the fact that I was the only married guy in my group of friends). To me marriage just didnít seem like a permanent thing, like all my relationships. I kept my walls up.
When we finally transferred to Spain about 6 months before our 2 year anniversary, I vowed to make it work. I buried myself in my work and took a class. The damage had already been done and by the time her mom died a month shy of our 2 yr. we were talking divorce. She went home with divorce being planned as next step. After a month she decided she wanted to try to make it work and came back. Unfortunately my heart just wasnít in it and we had a huge blow out within 2 weeks and she disappeared from my life for a year.
That year I was 24-25 and single in Spain. I went nuts, almost every excess you can think of - from alcohol to sex to some light usage of drugs. And through it all I always managed to perform well within the structure the military gave me. Throughout this time I hooked up with and saw a lot of girls, at one point in intimate relationships with three at one time. That December while home on leave I was notified that I would need to come back early for a deployment to Bosnia for the newly formed IFOR. During that deployment I took time to see where I was headed.
So when I returned to Spain, I again dedicated myself to getting it together. I changed my circle of friends to a more stable one (they liked to have fun, but not to the excesses that my old one did and were more career-minded) and buckled down at work. A few months after getting back my wife showed back up (I had, through mutual friends, gotten the no-fault divorce papers to her and signed but never mailed them). She was a mess and hooked on coke. I asked her if she wanted to give it another try, and she did. I was back with her but it was never the same, my walls were solidly up and I think in the beginning it was more about helping her than anything else. Eventually it just became a matter on convenience and stability for both of us. The remaining years in Spain were uneventful.
We then transferred to Yuma, Arizona and she was finally able to get a job (she had a green card, in Spain and Italy third nationals werenít permitted employment). We kind of just muddled through. I enrolled in full-time school at night, and she threw herself into her work, pulling as much overtime as she could get. By the end of the first year there I had made up my mind to leave the service at the end of my contract. My grandparents had had some medicals problems and I really wanted to come home. I was finally getting tired of the constantly changing locations and friends. A year before my separation from the military we enrolled my wife in a flight attendant school and got her hired on with a local commuter line that based in the Northeast. So for the most part, my last year in Arizona I was pretty much by myself but kept busy with school and motorcycles when not working.
I can honestly say the years in Arizona (as much as I hated the desert, and wasnít really happy with my marriage) were the most normal ones Iíve ever had. My wife and I would fight occasionally (she never let go of past transgressions). I actually excelled in college there, finally graduating with distinction (G.P.A. 3.93, all Aís and one C) with my A.A.S. in Computer Information Systems. It wasnít easy, where possible I would complete all of the assignments for a class in the first few weeks. In those classes where I couldnít do that I still found myself waiting until the last minute, often ripping it off the printer as I was heading to the class. I never really had to study, I can usually repeat facts and stuff I read back verbatim. Itís always been the other things (the important ones) that seem to evaporate in my head until too itís too late.
After I was discharged I got a good job as an IT contractor at a local manufacturing plant (actually the largest private employer in the county) at home. My wife was based out of upstate NY, so with her flight benefits she would fly down when she was off or I would fly to wherever she was on mine. At least in the beginning.
Nine months later 9-11 hit, the stocks of the place I worked plummeted and our contract was due in November (I had come in on it a few months after it had started). The company decided that we were an unnecessary expense and did not renew. By this point my wife and I would see each other once, maybe twice a month. She had had a huge fight with my dad and refused to come down anymore. She was also hugely jealous of the fact my friends and family got to spend time with me even when she couldnít (this was a recurring problem throughout our marriage, I guess I should have mentioned that earlier).
I was unemployed without receiving unemployment benefits (technically we were self-employed), trying to make ends meet by bartending under the table 6 nights a week at a friendís restaurant and joining the Army National Guard, while I would sporadically look for a job. And even though I was in bad financial straights (by this point my wife and I were maintaining separate finances), I settled into the routine of it all. That April my wife gave me a final ultimatum, move to upstate NY and sever ties with my friends and family or divorce. I chose the latter.
We officially separated in August, the divorce was filed for in NY and granted six months later. I reverted to party boy again, going out every night, dating and hooking up here and there. As one female friend (platonic) recently said, while I am good at staying single, I donít stay alone for long. The bartender lifestyle didnít help things Iím sure. I finally got hired on at the local University (Iíll just say WE AREÖ) in November Ď02. It seemed that I was finally getting my act together. Then in January í03 my Infantry Battalion got called up to take over the mission in Kosovo. We shipped out on my birthday. I wonít go into details of the deployment other than to say that Guard officers should not command anything larger than a company when activated. Again I found myself looking at what my life had become.
Through that year a girl (woman) that I would occasionally hook up with kept in touch and was always there when I needed someone to talk to. One year later (March í04) we were deactivated and I vowed to give this girl a chance, I felt I owed her that much. But after being back after only 2 weeks I knew that I would never feel anything for her. Then this new girl at work started to quickly win me over. I found myself connecting with her in a way I never connected with anyone else. We flirted around for a couple months, neither of us making the first move for fear that we were misinterpreting the others moves. Finally she made a move, she suggested that I go out with her and some of her friends to see a band that played 80ís cover tunes. That night it finally happened. We quickly grew close, closer than either of us had ever been to anyone else. My walls finally came down. I am not going to lay her life bare here, but just say that she has known far more responsibility, burden, and loss than most her age.
I helped her through the final days of her divorce with her abusive, mostly verbally and psychologically to both her and her son (his by adoption), ex (he holds a Psych degree and I suspect is bi-polar, his behavior exactly mirrors that of someone I know who has been diagnosed as such). I ended up connecting with her kids and truly love them as my own. We let them determine how quickly the relationship progressed. Her son is ADHD (she suspects that she is too) and that is the first time I have ever really come in contact with it that I know of (perhaps besides myself). As I learned more about it (through the Internet and by reading ĎDriven to Distractioní) I started looking at my own life and started seeing similarities. Iíll admit that I always thought ADHD was a joke, not a real thing. That it was product of our dual income society. Kids whose parents planted them in front of a TV and didnít encourage them to burn off excess energy because they were tired from work. Some of my friends started to jokingly call me an ADD freak after the ads about Adult ADD started showing up on TV. I even started using it as an excuse for my peculiarities. But there it was right in front of me and I couldnít deny that it was real.
Last Fall I decided to get myself in to be checked out, but characteristically I never made the phone call, I just kept putting it off. I kind of settled into the chaos of my girlfriendís life, dealing with her ex, the mornings before the boyís meds kicked in and the evenings after they wore off, the daughter who idolizes her dad because he never yells at her and buys her everything she wants. Somewhere in there I started slipping into my normal mode, where I just shell up, and she started to do the same. Sadly, my girlfriend ended things. She needs time to come to terms with everything she has been through, and to adjust to all the changes in her life. In her words Ďto first get control of her life again without the added burden of a relationshipí. At first the sense of loss was almost overwhelming, I love this woman and her children with every fiber of my being. But I have to box that up for now and maybe forever, time will tell.
We went through some tough trials together in a very short amount of time and came through all of them closer and stronger than before. Nothing really went wrong, she just became overwhelmed with everything that had happened and was going on and felt completely out of control. The stress began to wear on our relationship. My only regret is that right now I canít be the friend she needs. In a few weeks I can, but not now. I want nothing more than for her to finally find that inner peace she is looking for.
In the weeks since the split we have openly talked about what bothered the other, but were too scared of sabotaging what we had, to bring up. Her complaints were that I wouldnít think of the small things that needed done at the house. That it seemed like I lacked initiative, that I would only do something once she said it. Her biggest complaint though, is how it sometimes seemed like I wasnít there and wouldnít answer her, making her feel like she wasnít important to me. But the thing is, that she and her children were (are still) the most important thing Iíve ever had in my life. It finally cut me that there I might have a real problem, that I might not have to just accept it as Ďthe way I amí.
In the past month I have since busied myself getting ready to start back to school to finish my Baccalaureate. Something I laid the groundwork for when I first got back from Kosovo but just never got around to filling out the forms (with a $1000/semester state veteranís grant, $36,000 in GI Bill money, and a 75% tuition discount, Iíll be making a profit by going back to school). Iíve been putting in bids on other positions around campus. Iíve been learning some new technologies for a side project at work. But I think the most important thing Iíve done since the breakup is make that appointment with my doctor for that physical, blood work, and referral. Right now I know Iím in driven mode, but I know it wonít last.
The appointment went well, my doctor was initially suspicious (it was the first time I had been to him) that maybe I was a victim of an advertising campaign. I was the third person in since March 1st who had come to get themselves tested. So I opened up to him about everything. Something I have never done to a stranger, and only to a very few people that I know. About how Iíll charge into a new project and end up postponing it repeatedly if I ever even finish it, because I just lose the desire to work on it or Iíll run into a wall and just donít want to tackle it. About how thoughts are always bouncing around in my head with no discernible order. About how often if Iím doing something and someone speaks to me, Iíll form the response in my head but it never makes it to my mouth before Iím off to the next thought. About how I can remember tidbits and trivial things but the important things always slip my mind. About how I always have to be moving, even if it is just wiggling my toes. About how I am fully functional (comparatively to others) with 5-6 hours of sleep a night. About how little patience I have for standing in lines, Iíve been late on payments because I didnít want to wait at the bank for the 3 people in front of me (Online banking has been a godsend), thereís things I could be doing dammit! About how my finances are always a mess and how Iíll go on spending binges (Luckily I am looking at two government pensions when I do reach retirement). About how much I love to drive, how when Iím behind the wheel or on my bike whizzing down the road (I lost my license when I was 19 for too many speeding tickets, but that didnít stop me, and I think Iím getting up there again, I try to rely on my cruise control as much as possible anymore) I can think clearly, it still feels a mile a minute but it feels more orderly. About how often I get up to go do something and forget what it was by the time I get there. How I lose the point of what I trying to say because I fly off on so many tangents (actually, he saw that in the course of the conversation). There are other things that I canít remember right now. And finally how frustrated I am with never seeming to be able to get it together and feel a part of whatís going on around me, how I always seem to screw up the good things in my life.
Well, thatís my life in a nutshell (a rather large one), I just turned 34 and hopefully this is the start of a new way of living but Iím going to need help regardless of what they finally find.
Wish me luck. :-)
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