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Thursday, June 24, 2010

JROTC...and SGM


A few years ago...okay maybe more then that, I attended a rather "posh" high school. I didn't think it was at first, but as I was later pointed out that students drove cars like BMWs and vintage, newly restored mustangs to school...it was a bit yuppie and I had to agree. High school was fine for me at first, I had plenty of friends and even followers as people will say I had my own "posse". Its amusing to think that I had that back then, since then I morphed to be a lot more of a quiet person. However, as most things go, things changed.

Although I had my own little posse, I wouldn't say I was popular. I was liked by different cliques, but I wasn't with the "in crowd". It really didn't matter to me. However at one of the parties I attended, things changed. I met a guy. This guy was popular, funny, played varsity football, teachers even seemed to love him, and he was cute. He also took a great liking to me, which was odd since I wasn't with "his crowd". As most high school romances go, we started seeing each other between classes, kissed when teachers weren't looking and hung out on weekends. He was my boyfriend and I was his girlfriend. I was truly infatuated with his charm and dare say, his popularity. Being able to do and see things I normally couldn't do because I didn't have that sort of popularity was a bit appealing. As our high school romance grew, I spent a lot less time with my friends. He even would tell me how I really didn't need them because they were lower then me and I could hang out with his friends. I rebelled with that of course, but soon found my free time became absorbed in being with my boyfriend. What I didn't realize was, gradually this guy's dark side was secretly emerging behind closed doors. He often drank, which looking back at it is quite sad for a 15/16 year old to do. I also thought I was in love.

Slowly but surely I was not allowed to hang out with my friends at all. I was told they were bad for me because they were freaks or whatever negative light he wanted to put them in. I was torn between loving this man that I trusted and cared for or my snarling friends that thought I was an idiot for being with him. Since he offered some comfort, I ran to him. Then the name calling started. At first I was seen with a guy friend, a person who I was strictly platonic with. I was so naive in high school I didn't know all that much about sex as it was. However, I was deemed a slut a few times because said boyfriend didn't know this guy. I protested of course, but in the back of my mind, "I loved him". Like most abuse, it escalated and more then once was shoved down, screamed at, and belittled. This guy was like Dr. Jerkyl and Mr. Hyde. I just wasn't sure who I'd see on a day to day basis. Then he hit me. I watched after school specials and lifetime movies and I know inside I was screaming "RUN!!!", but I didn't. Until you are in that position, where you think you love somebody and want to help them because you're just that loyal, you just can't fathom the torn emotions I had. I was between loving this man and hating him for the cruelty he inflicted on me every other day.

It was then a mutual friend I had before my relationship who also happened to be friends with my boyfriend came up to me knowing what was going on and told me I needed out. I saw no way in getting even an inch of freedom. He then told me about a class he was attending once every other day at a different local high school, it was JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps). I remember clear as day looking at him, thinking of that freedom I'd have once every other day out of the hands of this guy and imagining how wonderful it would be. I agreed and was gung ho for going there in the Fall since doing it now was a little late as school was letting out in a matter of days. I knew I could talk my parents into letting me go, as my family had military history and understood the meaning of what JROTC was all about. I also knew I could lie to my boyfriend and tell him my parents were making me take the class, and their decision far out cried even his reign.

The summer flew by, and while my boyfriend HATED the idea of me going to a different school, he had no say. My schedule was in print and he watched me leave on the bus with a few other guys. What I didn't know was that my friend who was suppose to be in JROTC with me opted out of the class. I was alone as a sophomore with three rowdy, power hungry seniors. Oye. Once on the bus, I took a seat in the first few rows near the driver. Watching the seniors eye ball me in the back of the bus was nothing I wanted to contend with. I wasn't in the mood. From the back I heard, "Where do you think you're going little girl." Please...if these jerks really wanted to get to me then they had another thing coming. I was dealing with Satan back at school and these guys could hold no light to him. Plus I was also Satan's girlfriend and mess with me...then they were going to get it and they knew it. I remember hearing them work their way to the front of the bus and questioning me. They didn't scare me. Was I a bit nervous? Yes. I didn't know what I was in for at the other school.

Fifteen minutes later the bus pulled up to the school. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I had a preppy Abercrombie plaid skirt on, a button up top, knee highs and clunky shoes. The outfit resembled a catholic school uniform, just a bit sexier. My hair was even curled beautifully, because with my boyfriend...I always had to look my best. I "represented" him. The school I was at was MILES from the preppy, "posh" surroundings I was used to. Kids were outside blasting music, running around like animals and I remember watching two security guards slam their golf cart between two picnic benches because they thought their golf cart would make it through. Yup, I certainly wasn't at my high school. I was at a nut house in comparison. I smirked thinking "this will be interesting". I got a few looks from the other kids and a few remarks but I paid no attention. I followed the seniors down the concrete steps to the back of the school since I didn't know where the classroom was. They paid me no mind until we reached the doors that lead into the classroom. A senior pointed at another door further down the hall and said to me that I couldn't enter through the door he was going through...I was only a LET 1 (a first year JROTC student, which also means Leadership Education and Training). I complied...rolling my eyes. The rest of the day went as a blur. I remember meeting SGM and LTC. LTC was a bit interesting. I'll just leave it as that. SGM was energetic, witty and full of life. I liked him immediately. He scared the crap out of me the first day with this new military jargon and high vamped energy, but I liked him. He was certainly a fun character.

As the school year progressed, I started liking JROTC more and more. I relished in my every other day freedom like it was my one chance out of solitary confinement and I was able to breathe a little. I met the most interesting characters and through JROTC, we all started a bond. I even met a new guy who I'll name D.F. for the sake of this blog. D.F. was a nice looking senior, he had a car which was always appealing to younger high school kids, was full of life, and had quite a rebellious side. He also liked me, which didn't hurt.

Through the bond the kids had in JROTC, SGM's ever going motivated personality and D.F.'s unending, positive attention, I grew strong. I grew so strong that I wasn't the scared, frightened girl who was going to stand for getting belittled and physically abused every other day. As lame as it sounds, I had my back up and my place of refuge and I knew no matter what I had to get out of the relationship and if anything I still had JROTC. What a lot of people didn't know was, the school I attended most of the time wouldn't help me. I asked security and teachers alike, but they all thought I was playing around because they saw me talking to him. What they didn't understand was, I was telling him to leave me alone and I was desperately trying to get away from him. They also really liked this jerk of a boyfriend. I was stuck. If school authority can't help you in school, then what could? Still, I broke it off. I was done with him. It didn't stop him from hounding me, giving grief to my ever forgiving friends or even stalking me though. I remember on one such occasion, my ex boyfriend had got a car and followed me to the school I was attending JROTC at. I remember running inside WISHING he would walk in. I had a room full of upper LETs and a SGM that would of took him out by his ear like the little boy he was.

JROTC wasn't all about this boyfriend. This class taught me more then drills and how to fire a daisy air rifle (which was amazing and fun to do in school). I flew in helicopters with the door wide open over Ft. A.P. Hill. I repelled off towers, which with my fear of heights is amazing. I learned about giving respect as well as earning it. I learned how to be on the look out for security and other administrative staff, while watching a bunch of cadets move our LTC car between two other parked cars so he could get out until one of them moved. We later showed SGM and at first were scared about his reaction, but he later laughed and didn't tell on us (how cool was that). I even remember driving out of the parking lot (okay we skipped too but it was a team effort) with the XO in his Dad's Porsche.It was a class that bonded me with so many life long friends. I learned through D.F. and a few other boyfriends I had at the high school I attended JROTC at that guys could be kind, loving and generous without being evil and abusive. I learned through SGM that teachers really do care and great teachers will protect you, motivate you and guide you not only in regards to education, but also in life lessons. Without JROTC I don't know what would of happened to me in high school. It was a little piece of my childhood/teenage years, but what it did for me and the people that were apart of it is something invaluable.


***

I am writing this whole blog because this is my SGMs last day of being a JROTC Army Instructor. We talked a bit on the phone and exchanged contact information. I haven't spoken to him in almost ten years, but I have thought about him often and all the lessons he gave to each of his cadets. Talking to him reminded me of a bitter but wonderful memory of my past. A past that started up a little shakey with a lot of fears, but blossomed into something wonderful. To be honest his always energetic voice brought a few tears to my eyes. Teachers never know the kind of impact they have on their students. It could be a negative experience or they, like SGM could be as admirable in leaving little footprints ingrained in the souls of their former students. I wish you luck SGM and whatever you do in the future, I am sure you will keep motivating and encouraging those around you.

HOORAH

19 comments:

Erin said...

hey, i had no idea about your abusive ex-boyfriend. i am glad you were able to find your inner strength and get out of that relationship.

it is still so funny to me to think of you in JROTC, you are so small and sweet! but, that is an awesome program :) HOOAH!

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