New Year’s Day

[nyoo yeer’s dey]: The lyrics refer to the movement for solidarity lead by Lech Walesa in Poland. After this was recorded, Poland announced they would abolish martial law, coincidentally, on New Year’s Day, 1983.

 

I am sitting here at play land, which is the closest hell that anyone can come to if they have children. It is packed with people; all the tables are full. I managed to take advantage of Swedish fear to say no buy asking a total stranger to share a table. Swedes are afraid of conflict, no way if they have a big table with just one person sitting there dare to say no to a stranger who is ballsy enough to go up to them and ask them a question.

 

I am watching her; she is bored out of her mind. Looking at old magazines left behind by parents who have nothing better to do than read them.  She has grown tired and sick of the awkwardness and has left me alone.

 

Yes… my shark like behaviour has won me a huge table to myself. She took her children’s fruit juice pack and ran for the hills.

 

Maybe my constant tapping of computer keys has driven her insane, or maybe she just is tired of waiting for her kid to finish playing in this god awful place.

 

So it is New Year’s Day. No countries being freed today.

 

I remember watching this happen on the television. Communists falling down like dominos. It was exciting, but I do not remember much of it.

 

However, I find it interesting. Like what happened in Romania. Killing the leader and his wife. They were insane, they had strange rules.

 

Madame Nhu in Vietnam had strange rules and built statues that looked like herself. She was a very determined woman. A very determined woman that was Buddhist and then turned Catholic and then when the monks lit themselves in the middle of the street she called it a barbeque that was not even self-sufficient because they used gas from Vietnam.

 

That my friends is one ballsy statement to make.

 

I was there after Yugoslavia fell apart. 1999, long after the war had started, but in Sarajevo the buildings were filled with bullet holes and the streets lined with cars that looked the same.

 

At the time, I was in the Army and things were not going so well for me.

 

A clerical error made it so that I was working for months without pay… it was killing me mentally like no belief, and that was how my depression began.

 

I got stationed in a base at Darmstadt. I went from being a well respected soldier to a nobody on just a plane ride there. I got offered Japan. I shold have taken it again. My life would however be very different if I did that choice.

 

It just shows how one decision can change your life forever.

 

I chose Germany because I was in love with a Swedish girl, and without me not me running here, I never would have had my daughter many years later. So… the breakdown was worth it.

 

Back to the breakdown.

 

So no pay and still having to work. I had literally nothing to eat. Bread with cheese and ramen noodles were what I was fuelling my body with. I could do nothing. I had no friends and even people lower ranked than me had bigger and better rooms.

 

The room I got smelled like urine and mold and it was awful.

 

I started having panic attacks. Bad ones, ones that took me to the hospital bad. I thought I was going to die.

 

One day out of nowhere I started getting paid again and things got back to normal for a while, but I still felt awful. In time for a finally deserved vacation in Sweden. We got that phone call.

 

“You are leaving tomorrow and we cannot say where or how long.”

 

It broke my heart, because I needed to get away from that base for a month. I needed freedom.

 

I had a new boss and I felt a tremendous amount of stress. I had a hard time remembering things (A classic sign of burnout) and I just could not seem to get myself let alone my soldiers ready.

 

When we got on the plane I remember how lonely it felt not knowing where we were going. You start to think… the middle east? Somewhere new where a war is about to start? You just don’t get those answers until you have your boots on the ground at see for yourself.

 

In the plane when it started to land it landed not like the smooth landings and descents of planes you know about, it was more like an arrow.

 

I remember getting off the plane and hearing the laughter of the soldiers around me.

 

“Are we in Germany?” they asked.

 

I about wanted to choke on their ignorance.

 

As we looked around we saw those houses and cars with bullet holes and buildings without roofs.

 

They laughed. I felt a sadness in my heart.

 

We were in the French sector. Taking over for the Norwegians who were sent away on another mission.

 

No idea for how long they would be gone, but we were until further notice restricted to the base. So no, I was no hard charger. No war hero. I was outer security. Watching gates, sitting in guard towers.

 

Until one night. I fell apart in one of those guard posts. I remember for some odd reason I sang “Lady in Red” over and over again.

 

All the while we had a joint E-mail account everyone could send mails to their family and friends and they would print out the replies. I had no idea that they red the mails, or the ones you sent.

 

In my company, they decided to read my mails out loud when I was not there. Mails of love to my girlfriend in Sweden. Something totally forbidden in those days.

 

So they were already out after me.

 

The new boss caught me out there in the tower and drug me away at protest. She took my rifle away and I never in the rest of my career was ever going to be able to touch one again.

 

They then made me see a German physicist that barely spoke English. He gave me anti depression medicine (The worst thing to give a Bi Polar person).

 

Which is…wait for it… makes you manic as hell.

 

So I stopped eating. Stopped sleeping. Stopped making good decisions and that just made me crazy.

 

I went from being assigned a job in an office to outside filling sandbags with the other failures. The people that I would NOT have been if I would not have if I had stayed in Texas or went to Japan.

 

Texas I left because of my ex-husband who was abusive.

 

Japan was too far from Europe.

 

So back when I was respected, I went to someone filling sandbags.

 

I got tired, tired of being manic and depressed. I went to the head of the company and told him I was finished. I wanted out. (my reputation was ruined and I was nothing) So they sent me back to Germany.

 

There they had me on something called “Suicide watch” even though I did not want to kill myself they made me check in once an hour to someone lower ranking if I was alone.

 

It was humiliating. It all was humiliating.

 

They sent me to a physicist who this time spoke English. He determined I was borderline with paranoid disorder (which after years of non-treatment we found that it was wrong, but it still Bipolar).

 

So when I got my last evaluations they were awful. How irresponsible I was and what a bad soldier I was.

 

Which a year ago were the total opposite in Texas. There I was a great soldier they said, a soldier with potential.

 

It was soul crushing.

 

I ended up leaving the army with an honorable discharge with the reason “Personality disorder”. Something I have been ashamed for years over and here it is the first time I admit it or talk about it.

 

And the letters they wrote about me I have saved in the basement. (which causes pain every time I see them).

 

When I got those evaluations I showed the woman who handed me the papers.

 

“Look… can this happen over a year? It feels like a witch hunt!”

 

She looked at me with a look in her eyes that agreed with me.

 

“It sounds like it.” She said.

 

I often wonder what would have happened to me if I would have chosen a different path. If I would have retired by now and had a different life.

 

But when I sit here at play land and watch my daughter run around without control I smile slightly to myself and mumble.

 

“It was all worth it. It was all worth it.”

 

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