Life's not a sprint, it's a marathon. It's highs and lows, peak performance and hitting the wall only to feel the elation of crossing the finish line. Then swearing to yourself you'll never do that again, but you do.
So, the topic is being a resilient person and living a resilient life. You might be asking yourself, or at least I would, what qualifies this guy to write about being resilient? Indulge me for a bit because in later blogs I'll cover being blown up by a suicide car bomber, losing six of my snipers and three of my close friends to combat. I'll also write about some of my friends: my buddy Dave was a BK (below the knee) Amputee who fought to keep it that way for two years and recently had to make the decision to become an AK (above the knee) amputee based on complications. I'll also write to you about my buddy Eddie. Eddie should have died, but didn't and now he's got two hooks were his hands use to be and can still whip me at pool. I will also tell you about my buddy Nick Popaditch or as we like to call him Gunny Pop. Nick was shot in the face with an RPG (that's rocket propelled grenade if you didn't already know) he's legally blind now running for Congress out in Southern California and going to give the incumbent a run for his money. With all that said, what I want to start off with in this first blog is being resilient after a divorce.
I loved Sarah more than anything else in this world. I was young and single living in a garage in Pacific Beach. I had a part time gig in San Diego Harbor cleaning all the growth off the bottom of boats. It was great, spent all day underneath people's yachts with a regulator in my mouth, not a thought in my head, doing the wax on/wax off technique trying to keep breakfast down from way too much drinking the night before. This beautiful brunette was the office manager and had a distinct way about her that I fell in love with immediately. She had that tough exterior and a real quick wit that I love so much. Eight months later right before I shoved off for deployment I married her.
For the next seven years I would put her through hell. We moved 14 times in seven years. I left the Marine Corps twice just to fail in the civilian world and have to go back to the Corps. I missed both her pregnancies and our first child's birth because I was on deployment. After being blown up in Iraq and losing my Marines and a couple of friends I became emotionally distant from her. Since I couldn't stay in the Corps I started pursuing other things to fill the void left in my life by not being able to serve. I tried to fill that void by making a lot of money; I traveled way too much and left her home alone way too often. When the money wasn't satiating the void I turned to the FBI to become a special agent and serve again. I was willing to leave my wife and children for six months of training and then potentially another couple years so they could stay in Colorado and give the kids some normalcy. In early 2009 she'd had enough and wanted out.
I went crazy for about three weeks. I didn't eat, didn't sleep, I lost 25 pounds. I thought about killing her, myself, the dog and not in that particular order. I went through her stuff trying to see if there was another man that I could kill. I called my friends constantly crying, swearing. I called her mom and dad, her best friend, anyone that I could think of to help talk her out of leaving me. I had zero productivity at work. I enrolled in Divorce Remedy -- a full proof program to stop divorce. I bought and read every book I could get my hands on about stopping divorce. I tried to force her to talk to me, tried to beg her to stay, questioned her character etc. Then one day I was playing with my kids and it dawned on me -- dramatic pause -- they didn't deserve a crazy father.
I remember telling myself "get your shit together Chris." We have a saying in the Corps that if things are getting screwed up "go back to the basics." I talked to my best friend Jenet and she said Chris do what you've always done, set some goals. That's what I did, went back to the basics. I set my faith as my number one priority, to get back that peace that passes all understanding. Second be mindful of the kids -- make all time quality time. Third Continue to Love and Pray for Sarah. Fourth keep myself Mentally, Emotionally, Physically and Spiritually fit. Finally, Keep a sense of humor and don't let depression and despair creep in and allow vices to take hold. I also got some help from a counselor.
I steer wrestled just after high school, I was the Captain of my College football team, I was a Force Recon Marine, I led a platoon of Snipers in Iraq, If I can swallow my pride and get help anyone can.
What have I learned from this experience? Too much in the little space I've got left but let me give you three lessons.
1. Don't do anything out of spite; continue to love the other person as if nothing happened. In the long run, especially with children involved, that will ring loud and clear to everyone around.
2. You can't control other people, the only thing you can control is yourself. Don't let other's words or actions control your attitude.
3. Forgive yourself. Even if it was 100 percent your fault (which it never is) forgive yourself, learn what you did wrong and don't repeat the same mistakes in the future but don't dwell on the past.
As painful as this whole experience has been it has changed my life for the better. I'm now more focused on my faith. The time I spend with my children is so much better. I know exactly what I want and don't want for my next relationship. I used working out as a stress reliever and have managed to take four inches off my waist. I'm healthier and I've realized through this experience I can handle anything life can throw at me. Let me leave you with this: if life kicks you between the legs, just put ice there. After the swelling goes down and the pain goes away you're good as new.