Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reminscing - My life as a Marine

Today I didn't do a whole lot. Got the taxes done and grabbed some fruit from the commissary. Then really didn't do anything else except do stuff online. I ended up spending most of my afternoon at this site and looking through a yearbook ... so to speak. It is my memory book from when I was in boot camp. It all seemed to go along with Heather's post this morning, which you can read here. I guess it was just one of those days where my mind went back .... back ... back ... ... ... ... ...

I joined the Marines in July 1996, where I was sworn in to the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). I went to boot camp in June 1997, a month after I graduated high school. I was a little scared going, but I had been away from home before living with other girls, so it wasn't too bad. I had fun, for the most part. My biggest thing was being loud. Anyone that knew me prior to being in the Marines for some time knows I was not big into talking or being loud (unless I was fighting with my sister). I had always been shy and quiet. In boot camp you have to be loud. "MA'AM, YES, MA'AM" and "AYE MA'AM, ON THE WAY, MA'AM" for example. And I did what I could to not stand out. And though I had a few issues (I couldn't swim ... had to learn; and never shot a gun before in my life!) I did enjoy boot camp and gradutated with my original platoon. From there it was MCT followed by MOS school.

While I was in MOS school, I met and married a fellow Marine. I liked him, loved him even. But it was a young love and not grounded on a good foundation. I was away from home, away from parents and rules, I could do what I wanted and no one could stop me. And I did ... everything that I could think of to do and still be (mostly) legal. Wish I hadn't sometimes, but it's turned out I've been able to help others avoid a similar situation just by telling them my story, so it ended up working for good.

After MOS school, we both ended up with orders to Okinawa, Japan (1998). I found out about 2-3 weeks after I got there that I was pregnant. Thankfully, they didn't send me back to the states, and I had my beautiful Karah while I was over there (1999). After Oki, we were stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA. There is where I had Vincent (2001). While we were there, our marriage was on the rocks, we both did things we regretted, and it eventually came apart. I re-enlisted at the end of 2001, as I had always envisioned myself doing the full 20 years. I ended up with orders to 29 Palms, CA, while my soon-to-be ex went back to his home in IN with the kids (long story, maybe later).

When I first got to 29 Palms, I knew I needed to get myself back into church. By happenstance, there was a tract at the company office and I picked it up to read through. Seeing as all the verses were KVJ, I decided I'd give it a try. And that's how I ended up at Calvary Baptist Church. A choice I will forever be grateful for. I continued with my career progression course and ended up meeting the love of my life, although he wasn't in the beginning. He ended up getting a divorce while we were going through class, and he started coming to church with me. Eventually he accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour and became a member of the church. We didn't date for some time, as I was determined not to rush things the second time around, especially as his was newer than mine. I didn't want to make the wrong choice. During this time, we finished class and we both stayed as instructors at the school. We did end up seeing each other, as we spent a lot of time together and had a good friendship. He proposed when we were at the ball. He had written a poem and everything, and had the DJ read it while we were slow dancing. It was so sweet! Of course I said yes, and we were married a little over a month later at the court house (2003). :-D

Due to chronic medical problems that couldn't be fixed, the Marine Corps decided it was time for me to leave them. As I said earlier, I had every intention of doing my 20, and I probably would have been very upset if my mind hadn't already been set on getting out at the end of my term. Being a Marine is a tough job. It is very demanding, both physically and mentally. Add to that being a wife, being a mother, being active in church, something had to give. As a wife, I really didn't do a whole lot ... I was tired at the end of the day and didn't feel like cooking or cleaning. As a mother, after dealing with students all day, the last thing I wanted to do was look after more kids. As a Marine, I had to be at work on time, looking my best, giving my all, ... be a Marine. The toughest decision for me to make at the time was to get out. And in the end (2005), the Marine Corps made it for me, and paid me for it. (Can't complain there! ;) )

It took some adjustment to being a stay-at-home mom. What did you do with a 4-yr old all day? Karah was in 1st grade by this point, so she was gone most of the day. I was (and sometimes still am) flabbergasted on what to do with them. After getting used to being home, moving, being a hermit, then breaking out of the shell, I realize that sometimes the best things you have are right in front of you. Sure, I knew it before, but it took me being around it for more than a couple hours a day to really enjoy and appreciate it.

There are days when I miss it. I miss it a lot of days. I miss the paycheck, too! :-)
But then I look at my children, and I see how much they've grown. I think about how much of their young lives I missed when I was still in. I can never get that time back. I had many good memories of being a Marine, ... and a few not-so-good ones as well. I don't regret being a Marine, and I do wish there was a way for me to do all ... Marine, wife, and mother. I'm glad I'm out so I can spend time with my family and enjoy them.

When Vincent was younger, he was having problems constantly. No matter where he was, (daycare, church nursery, Sunday school) I would almost always get talked to about him. He's been a bit of a trouble maker from the beginning and I know I am mostly to blame. Even in kindergarten he was a bit of a handful. Thankfully, he has shown much improvement and is doing so much better this year, both at school and at home.

Karah I haven't really had any problems with, but I know she is thriving on mommy's love and attention. She's a wonderful daughter and is growing up beautifully. I can't imagine what either of them would be like if I were still in. If I had had to go to Iraq.

I know the Lord was leading me from being a Marine to being a mommy, and I am ever thankful. It's amazing how He will work in our lives if we just let him. Sorry for taking so long, and thank you for letting me share. There are so many memories after 8 1/2 years - some good, some bad - but it was time for me to do something different. Looking back, would I do it again?

In a hearbeat


Heather said...

Rebekah, thank you so much for sharing this! It sounds like you had a good enlistment. I joined in complete rebellion to my parents, and God...which makes a big difference. I am proud of being a good Marine while I was in, but so many painful horrible things happened to me during my enlistment that I cannot say that I would have done it is painful enough just to revisit the memory. I will pray for you as you's hard to say goodbye to something that is a big part of your life-sorry for the novel!

Rebekah said...

Heather, I must admit that I have a couple memories that I don't - or at least try not to - revist because .... just because. I totally understand and I don't hold it against you. I've always been an optimist so even though I may be upset about something at the start, I usually try to find something good about it. And think, because of the Marines, I met you! :-D