Introduction to “Military Brats” – 3

I think being a military brat is one of the strangest and most interesting ways to spend an American childhood.  The military brats of America are an invisible, unrecognized tribe, a federation of brothers and sisters bound by common experience, by our uniformed fathers, by the movement of families being rotated through the American mainland and to military posts in foreign lands.  We are an undiscovered nation living invisibly in the body politic of this country.  There are millions of us scattered throughout America, but we have no special markings or passwords to identify each other when we move into a common field of vision.  We grew up as strangers to ourselves.  We passed through our military childhoods unremembered.  We were transients, billboards to be changed, body temperatures occupying school desks for a short time.  We came and went like rented furniture, serviceable when you needed it, but unremarked upon after it was gone.

Here Pat begins to ‘hit the nail on the head,’ at least with me.  I so agree with his first sentence here.  But in looking back at my childhood, moving every 2-3 years – that was my “normal,” as were so many other facets of military life that are so unique to the service.

“We grew up strangers to ourselves.”  Coupled with my alcoholism, when I first came into sobriety I had no clue who I was.  I knew exactly what I was, but I had absolutely no idea who I was.

I was so ‘in love’ with what I was – the “go-to-Hell Fighter Pilot,” with the “go-to-Hell” attitude.  The self-assured, egotistical aviator with no (apparent) cares in the world.  Who I was was a different thing.  I hated who I was – a scared, insecure, self-doubting little boy.  But you would never know it.  By 1994 I had so many “masks” I was totally weighted down.  I was suffocating.

And then I stumbled into sobriety, and I began to find myself – I began to discover who I am, and I am loving ‘this kid!’  I am no longer a “stranger to myself!”

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