He was literally the Commander of the Supply School I went to in the Marine Corps, when I was 19 years old…only 31 years later.
And we went to the 239th Marine Corps Ball together, a few years back. Oh yeah, we took his wife too, my gorgeous friend Cathryn.
She’s not in the picture because of that. She graciously stepped aside, so I could have the total USMC Ball experience, with her man.
All the pomp and circumstance, that is typically lost on young Marines, because they can’t wait for the drinking & dancing to start, I saw with fresh, yet seasoned eyes.
I loved it!
And they even recognized, a female Lance Corporal for her exceptionalism! I thought that was really cool, because she was snappy in her uniform and demeanor. So you could tell, she was fully in it. Plus I don’t remember girls getting singled out for that kind of distinction, when I was in. My own master sergeant, straight up gave me his speech, on why women didn’t belong in HIS Marine Corps. And I mean, right off the bat, I knew the climate of my new duty station.
Other than the music, it was awesome! But that’s not why I am talking to you right now. It’s what happened on that same trip with him, that I need to talk about.
Because I was revisiting the last place I was “whole”, before I was traumatized. This particular visit to the Harvey’s, had me filled with caution anticipation and a little bit of dread. In a sense I was finally coming full circle, back to myself. It was the beginning of the merger, of my teenage self and the rest of me. And on some level, I Just knew, how important this trip would end up being
34 years ago this month, I met and married another young Marine. We knew each other three weeks. And I drink a whole bottle of champagne, before we said our vows in the small chapel in Palm Springs California.
The only possible explanation I can think of for doing so now, was his mouth. I loved his mouth. The way it moved. I only I looked at it, when he talked. Never his eyes, or maybe I would have “seen”.
Because I do not like to relive this part of my life, I will make this brief and you can read between the lines.
Within five days of getting married, I had slashed my wrist, when he confessed to me, he was a Satanist. Now mind you I was knee-deep in Jesus at that time. So that pretty much short-circuited me, psychologically. And it got worse from there.
I endured months of ritualistic psychological torture & sexual abuse, at the hands of, someone who said they loved me. I most certainly thought I loved him, that’s for sure. It wasn’t like he beat me up because his dinner was cold either. He had a nightly ritual. It always started when he picked me up from work. I was accused of sleeping with people,at work…on base, in the Marine Corps. It was just absurd to me. Where would I have found the time? I was sleeping during my breaks and lunch in the ladies bathroom, because he kept me up all night!!
He would go on and on and on. Screaming, frothing, accusing, threatening. It was jealousy on crack or something, I don’t know. I had never seen any behavior like that before in my life. He would work himself into a lather, quite literally, with me pinned down on the bed underneath his salivating hatefilled words. He continually shouted insults, and things I don’t even remember, because it went on for hours. And I tuned out.
I was kept awake until 4am every morning, and then expected to perform as a “wife” afterwards.
He constantly threatened my life and had the weaponry around to make good on it. He had a thing for butcher knives. I was completely checked out as a result. I really don’t even know how I got through the days back then.
But this dirty secret did not stay hidden forever. My Capt. graciously and honorably discharged me from the Marine Corps. These off work events, were semi documented. However in those days the men around me did not know how to deal with somebody who spoke up. I wasn’t something people really talked about back then. However I had to, because my husband kidnapped me and kept me from going my Marine Corps job, for a couple of days, after he was discharged himself, for reasons I would only tell you, at a live speaking event.
That triggered my willingness to share because I needed to get away from this guy. The last time he was able to get his hands on me, he was choking me to death. Had the neighbors not called the police I’m pretty sure he would’ve finished me off. You just know, when you’re that close, to meeting your maker. I finally got away shortly there after. But I did but I took the long way home. Because my baby Christian born-again parents (at the time), didn’t think it was a good idea, I left my husband, because you know… marriage is forever blah blah blah. But it was actually him who set things in motion he could not stop that ejected me miraculously, out of the situation.
Because I was heavily invested in the church at the time, and my dad was in seminary, I went to a trusted pastor for help. It was so beyond his scope, it wasn’t even funny. It would be years, before I dipped into any kind of professional help again. I came and went. I could only take my healing in doses. I was drinking myself silly, so I didn’t have to think about those kinds of things. I was into pure escapism really. Although, not in a creepy way.
But over the years, I slowly healed. I did what I could, as it came up.
Me, myself and “I”.
Although honestly, the Marine Corps was always available when I needed extra help, (albeit, slowly) especially if I needed assistance monitoring my moods. It was just so unspeakable and beyond the scope of a normal experience, that I just couldn’t find anybody I felt comfortable enough, to talk about it with.
Cathryn had been trying to get me to come to a Marine Corps Ball for years. The first time she suggested it, I was all over it. I could’ve attended a ball, at a number of locations, in the last 10 years. But my destiny, was to occur when they got stationed in Jacksonville NC. The very town I went to school at, after leaving bootcamp in 1980.
The day that I finally found lasting peace from this particular incident, on my arduous journey towards the Light. Catherine and I, went to Craig’s office, so he could give me a tour of the base and we could go to lunch.
It was so different then I remembered it, I can’t tell you. While it was the same, it was different. Because my view of it was on foot before and this time, we were in Craig’s jeep.
I really loved being at that school, I had a REALLY good time there and I was really HaPpy, to be a part of the MC. Even though I categorically do not care for war, in anyway. In fact my code for reenlistment on my discharge papers state, I’m a conscientious objector! But I wasn’t conscious of it, at the time of my enlightenment!
At lunch I didn’t give Craig all the details of what happened to me, not like I gave you here. But he knew without me having to explain. Because part of his job, was dealing with precisely these kinds of issues, and honestly, some I find more shocking actually.
Predators like naive kids, who just came out of small towns, in the middle of anywhere, in America. He explained to me, it was actually a “thing” for an over abundance of deviants, to swarm around bases, and I was a bit horrified really. In his tenure there, he had to help young Marines get the care they needed after sexual assalts. or physical abuse, car accidents, you name it. And it happened far more than you would think.
What was healing for me personally, was listening to this man talk about these kids, and what they were going through. And what they were doing to facilitate their healing. They could finally offer them, the kind of help that they would need, so that they could move past this part of their lives.
I assure you, no one told me things like that, while I was in the Marine Corps. My pastor didn’t have resources either. Five counselors did not restore my broken wings, Although they tried.
Additionally, Craig was expressing to me, how much it meant to the Marine Corps, to be able to handle these sorts of things now, when so many of us fell through the cracks, for so many years. Many dedicated Marines & Civilians, have helped orchestrate the changes, that are now available to those who need assistance surviving trauma.
They are very proud of the systems & organizations they have put in place, to care for their Marines. Mind, body & Spirit.
At the end of the day, The USMC, really is a fraternity. It’s a ‘humanhood’ of men and women, willing to risk their lives, so that their families and friends may live in freedom. Unfortunately, many risk much more, than you will ever fully comprehend.
And they do take care of their own. I am so proud of them for growing into this with dignity. It was so healing for me to know, that others would not have to walk such a dark and lonely path, towards their healing. That there would be choices and avenues, more custom tailored, to their particular trauma and needs.
So if you think my Marine Corps is some soulless fighting machine, you would be incorrect.
The USMC is made up of humans just like you and I. And like anybody who’s awake & paying attention, they are striving to get better in all aspects of what they do, as an people.
So, today I just wanted to tell you guys, how much I appreciate & adore, Lieutenant Colonel Craig Harvey’s unique placement in my life. I am way beyond grateful for The Harvey’s!
I also wanted to tell you, It was an honor to have served in the Marine Corps, even though, I really just didn’t want to go to college.
Yep. I finally have some hard fought for peace…where a war once raged. And it feels like a Victory!
Now to fully eliminate the PTSD!
Because our bodies remember…
Cathryn & Me~
*If want need to reach out for help, with a similar experience, please visit: www.beacons.forumotion.com
Hotlines & Helpful folks, are but a click away~