Hands in my pockets

As you may or may not know, it is a generally well-known rule in the military that you should never put your hands in your pockets. It’s just viewed as lazy, slovenly, and out of uniform. I can remember often hearing people being yelled at for having their hands in their pockets, and I’ve probably had instances where I have been the yeller and the yellee. Having your hands in your pockets is a no-go in the Armed Forces, and it really comes down to being another way to demonstrate conformity and discipline to the military ethos. Now understand me, I completely agree with the thought process and have a high view of the mystique of the military. But a funny thing is, that during my last tour to Iraq, I made it a point that in almost every photo that I was in to be having my hands in pockets. It was just my thing to do, and I did it for a very good reason. I needed to demonstrate some individuality to maintain my sanity amidst the insane events that I was living in and around. Don’t misunderstand me, I had a great tour, but there were high moments and low moments. Times of utter boredom and monotony and times of sheer terror and excitement. I also did it to maintain an illusion of comfort and acceptance of my current situation. Mostly it was all a facade, another mask that I wore to hide my true feelings or to even begin to process the small and building injuries that I was burying deep inside. I recently had to briefly open up about some of those feelings and I can tell you, feeling them really sucked. It is so much more comfortable for me to hide and not process anything, just as it is so much more comfortable for me to just hang out in my garage all day. But neither is actually helping me. I sat here in my garage all day today, and as I gazed about my various pictures, flags, veteran banners, and certificates from deployments, I realized that I’m frozen in that pose – hands in my pockets. Doing enough to fake it through, and demonstrating some individuality, but not actually living as an individual that is a part of my family, my community, or really myself. My Chaplain during that deployment was a very great and Godly man, one whom I valued and thanked God that I had the privilege of serving with. He often taught when giving sermons or lessons that there needs to be a “So What?” moment to complete a message or training. So, in that spirit, now what? I sit here tonight with no answer, only some intentions. I need to be alive, and the steps to be so will hurt and be uncomfortable. For years now I have been putting my hands in my pockets and congratulating my strength and individuality while really it was a demonstration of the exact opposite. I’m no mathematician but the simple equation seems to be pointing to the answer that to live again, I need to take my hands out of my pockets.

Uncomfortably yours,

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