I've had stuff on my mind lately. There have been a lot of articles floating around about how people in the United States are indoctrinated to follow the rules. About how children are rewarded for conforming to a standard. About how schools are complicit in this indoctrination. I always knew my parents were martinets and beat us into submission on following their rules without argument, it never hit me on a conscious level how the rest of society punishes the odd ball. I knew it was rough out there but I never saw the pattern.

Yes, some of us are slow learners. 

I am still trying to figure out how to break through my mental block on this whole preparing to retire thing. November 1 will be the beginning of the 18 month stretch until I'm free to do what I want. In 2017, I will have my first summer sans work since the year I was 14, I started detasseling corn then. Prior to that I had to help mow a cemetery and walk beans, but they weren't full time jobs and my parents controlled my wages. They were more like chores.

I tried to be non-conformist but it didn't work. I was breaking free in college and was hauled back in, I joined the military and was raped. You may say that the military is all about conforming but it wasn't for me. It was freeing- I had money, a place to live, and a job in a foreign country. It doesn't get much better than that. And my reward was the ultimate punishment. I had to hide the real me in order to get them convicted and I feel like I still have to hide or their convictions could be rescinded. Foolish, I know, but that's what's in my head. I also had to hide myself so that I would not be placed in confinement. I knew a lot of people at my last base who were locked up for mental issues and I knew even then that I was going crazy. This on top of hiding myself from my parents because they beat and shamed what they didn't approve of. It was a crazy 26 years there.

The next 26 years were about surviving. I was settling into the PTSD without realizing what it was, I just knew that nothing was going right. The crazy kept piling up and I had my suicide all planned. I couldn't tell anyone about the rape because then they would see the crazy. I finally did confide in someone and all he wanted were the salacious details. I managed to hold a job for three years during that time but I got tired of the constant fighting so I moved on. I ended up pretty burnt out, too, and eventually moved to where I live now. I lucked into a good place with a boss who truly cared and access to free counseling. Except for one year, I've been in counseling ever since.

I finally learned how to conform. I worked on being normal, on finding out that the PTSD made me different but not un-normal, I learned how to behave around others and to not take everything personally. I still take most things personally but I'm learning how to talk myself down instead of going on a rant. I now live in a house that I have been paying a mortgage on for 12.5 years and it will be paid off when I turn 65. I have money in the bank and I am finally able to joke around with some of my coworkers.

I am being rewarded for conforming.

So now I am 52 and trying to find the strength of will to break the conformity. I have a vision of the life that I could have, living in a camper van, traveling as the whim takes me, working odd jobs to get some extra money and trying to sell some crafts. See if I can write books. The possibilities are endless. But I am afraid. What will the punishment be next time? For now, I am safe. The job is mine for as long as I want it, the house will be free and clear by the time federal retirement age rolls around, and I would get my full pension then and not a partial. The question is, can I last that long? Twelve more years in the same boring town with the same boring job, no time for me because of the things I'd have to do to conform. Maybe I'm supposed to be using this time to find the path to having me time in the middle of all of this. I know that I am going to have to carve it out if I'm going to be ready to retire in 2017. 

Well, I have 18 months to figure it out. 

Views: 126

Comment by koshersalaami on October 31, 2015 at 9:26am
I wish you luck
Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on October 31, 2015 at 9:30am

You will sort it out, I am confident.

Comment by Phyllis on October 31, 2015 at 9:31am

Thanks. It's amazing how things can be made to make sense all written out. I can still have my camper van if I stay here, just expand the shed in the back to house it and then it will be there waiting when I need it.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on October 31, 2015 at 9:34am

Whatever you choose to do will present it's own set of problems and rewards.  I'm looking at a change in course sometime next year and despite my decades of experience, I have to admit that I'm a bit anxious about what might come of it.

Comment by Myriad on October 31, 2015 at 9:50am

I like the idea of getting a camper and keeping it at your house - no bridges burned yet.

I'd be inclined to go with the 18 months rather than the until-65 - you never know what's gonna happen, so go with the more immediate fun.  

Comment by Phyllis on October 31, 2015 at 9:52am

Thanks, JMac, it helps that someone with your background would also feel trepidation. I can't wait to hear what you're up to.

Comment by Phyllis on October 31, 2015 at 9:58am

Myriad, that's been my thinking, I see too many people wait too long. I just have to keep remembering that it's an option, not a have to.

Comment by Jeanne Sathre on October 31, 2015 at 10:43am

I think sometimes it's less about planning or looking back and more to do with finding something that makes you happy each day. When I went through a bad period I made sure I always had fresh flowers. It was a little thing, but somehow helped. 

Comment by marilyn sands on October 31, 2015 at 1:30pm

A very raw; but necessary personal plan. You're going in the right direction & that'll get you where you want to go.  R&L

Comment by fred hallman on October 31, 2015 at 3:07pm

I know exactly how you feel.  I've never conformed to the image of this world and I've always paid my dues for club membership.

As you may know, I don't conform to P.C. standards left or right even in this forum.

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