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to hide the real me in order to get them convicted and I feel like I still have to hide or their convictions could be rescinded.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.