Joining the Army, taking my life back

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by alecduncan, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. alecduncan


    Aug 12, 2011
    Hey all,

    No real point to this thread beyond the fact that I wanted to vent my current predicament/excitement for the future. I've come to learn that the majority of Talkbass posters are mature and supportive, and I'd like to hear responses to my tale. I apologize for the long life story, but I feel like I have to get it out there. Here it goes:

    I'm 20 years old and living in Baltimore, Maryland. I have been attending college at University of Maryland, Baltimore County and simultaneously working for the Department of Defense for about three years, and largely being successful. Bass was an excellent hobby and I made a lot of great friends during my gigging career.

    This past summer I moved out of the dorms and moved in with my mother & sister. My parents have been divorced for a few years now, and I'm pretty close with my father, who has since moved to Michigan. Both of my parents are military, with my father being a 20-year vet and my mother having served a tour during Desert Storm. Both parents are rather unconventional and arguably not as supportive as my peers'; I've been financially independant since my senior year of high school, and own my own vehicle/insurance/phone/etc. I certainly don't think I'm entitled to their support, but it obviously doesn't help knowing that all of my friends have everything paid for. Either way, it was nice to have a place to live even if my mother tends to be narcissistic and selfish at all times.

    As the months went by, my relationship with my mother increasingly became worse. I like to think I'm a patient, sympathetic and overall nice guy... but being consistantly treated like a loser got the better of me. The hypocrisy of being told that I'm lazy despite the fact that I kept the house's maintenance/yardwork in check while she went out every single night just is too much. Nevertheless, I just limited my social interaction with her and kept on trying to support my sister/household.

    Then, at about 0200 on a Tuesday, my mother and her then-boyfriend had a drunken screaming match that kept my sister and I up. During their discussion, it came out that my mother cheated on my father while he was in Iraq with (apparently) more than one individual, and that she was cheating on the boyfriend at the time as well. The fact that she responded with a "so what?" just made it an even worse revelation.

    After that, I resolved that I still needed a place to stay while I looked for another job. I decided to simply not talk to my mother unless I absolutely had to. My job (that I'm still in as of right now, for now) was relatively deceptive; it's nice for my age but extremely restrictive... I simply can't support myself with no forward movement or ambition. I am simply being underutilized and I'm way too smart to accept that.

    After about a week of this, my mother announced that she had to sell the house and wanted it ready in a week. She also decided that to save money that I was going to do all of the renovations. I absolutely wouldn't mind if she asked... but it was expected of me and looked at as an obligation. I got to work.

    One day, I came inside after working out in the yard and talking with the realtor about the sale. I saw that my mother was playing solitare and drinking wine at 1030. I asked, in a calm manner, if she would help out in the renovations. She absolutely flipped out, calling me lazy and entitled and a "loser who does nothing but play music and video games in his room all day". I simply can't ignore that. I (again, calmly) started explaining how she was treating me and how I was single-handedly handling the housing situation, and she started hitting me, grabbing me, and cursing at me until she ran into the bathroom and slammed the door in my face. She then said, "You can go to Michigan if you don't like it".

    I have had enough of the woman who valued her temporary boyfriends (whom she cheats on regularly) more than her own children. The downright neglect and negative influence she had on my life had to stop. I have sat my mother down twice before this incident and explained to her how her attitude affects my sister and I, and she promised both times to change her tune. I just can't trust her anymore.

    I went upstairs and took a shower, then started packing. After loading the essentials (suits/ties, bass, vinyl collection, horror movies, etc.) I said goodbye to my sister and drove to my college campus. I've been homeless since (August 2012), and haven't talked to my mother since.

    Homeless seems to be a strong word, but I happen to have an extremely considerate network of friends that I've been living with/storing my belongs with since. I certainly don't feel homeless, and I've honestly never felt so liberated and clear-headed. I'm absolutely happier than living in such a destructive environment. I have talked to my father weekly and he is extremely supportive as well.

    Obviously this was a pretty tough and emotional period of my life but I like to think I handled it better than most; with a sense of humor and a positive outlook that my future is still bright. Having the support of my friends and father certainly helps too, and I successfully avoided depression.

    I tried my hand at finding a civilian job that would be able to support me but I just haven't had the luck. Each consecutive paycheck lasts just enough to get me to the next one, with no leftover money. I'm well fed and have gas in my car, but just barely. I simply don't want to live like this.

    I will be joining the United States Army, hopefully shipping out to basic training in March 2013. I'm looking forward to getting my life on track and despite the sacrifice, I think that it's going to be a great life. If I sign up for a 5 year tour, I'll end up having 8 years of federal service on my record, and a bachelor's degree by the time I'm 25. I don't think that's too shabby. My father has agreed to let me stay with him in Michigan from January until I ship out, and I'm even switching my residency to Michigan so my army pay isn't taxed.

    I'm going to be selling my bass equipment, which admittedly is harder to stomach than I thought, but I know for a fact that when I get out of training and towards the end of my tour that I'm going to come right back to Talkbass and fulfill an unimaginable GAS of basses and amps and effects :bassist:

    So, yeah, that's my freeflow writeup of the last few months. For people still reading, thanks! Even if nobody responds I at least got to revisit this time and vent it all out. I'd love to hear from Army vets or posters here that have experienced similar circumstances.

  2. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    Best of luck Alec.
  3. etoncrow

    etoncrow (aka Greg Harman, the curmudgeon with a conundrum)

    Alec, you come across as very mature for your age. You seem to be a hard worker and very focused. I do believe you are following your path and I wish you all the best. Thank you for your anticipated service to our country. I hope our country serves you as well.
  4. man, i wish i had had my s**t together as much as you seem to when i was your age....

    good luck!...go forth and be of good cheer. i believe you are gonna be OK.

  5. Is your sister obligated to stay there?

    I think you will be fine, but your sister might not if she stays there.
  6. AaronMB


    Aug 17, 2012
    Central Oregon
    Well said.
    Good luck, Alec.
  7. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    I wish you all the best and thank you for wanting to serve your country.
  8. Topspin

    Topspin What's my name again?

    Dec 15, 2010
    I played Tom Sawyer with a pick once. Shame on me.
    Godspeed man.
  9. Oneirogenic


    Nov 10, 2009
    Of all things to respond to in your post....why not just keep one bass? You'll probably have times when sitting and noodling on your bass will feel good and be a nice break. Good luck on your life journey man.

    I'm no TB medical expert but your mom sounds like she needs a psych evaluation or therapy of some sort. Sounds like she might have Borderline Personality Disorder. My wife has it and has exhibited similar nasty behavior but has since got in check. In her case it was inability to keep jobs and emotional abuse. IIRC cheating on partners consistently is another sign. Like i said, I'm no TB medical expert but I do have some life experience to share.
  10. alecduncan


    Aug 12, 2011
    My sister is struggling a bit with living with her but really has no other option. I believe she is going to be moving in with her boyfriend (who I trust and think is absolutely awesome) after he graduates this coming semester.

    All, thank you so much for your kind words! Glad to see I'm not just being a sensitive, bitter child about it. Looking forward to getting myself on a track with hopefully a bit more stability.

    Oh, I should have mentioned. I'm keeping my Musicman SUB4 primarily because it was a gift, but also because it's hard letting go :)

    When I get to my duty station and conditions are reasonable I'm going to splurge and buy a Lakland or something... just you wait.
  11. Heck yeah... as i'd tell anyone in that situation... Good Luck Bro!!!

    I left a disfunctional household at 17... one month after i graduated HS. I had my car and a couple boxes of clothes. I was a roamer and slept in my car and crashed on plenty of couches and slept in shelters for 2 years. I held a job that paid my car insurance, gas and food. I couldn't afford to even split rent with my buddies.

    I left both of my sisters behind. My only regret is not making sure i stayed more involved with them and being a better brother. Call your sister man... listen to her and help her make it thru until she is able to get out herself. Give her solid advice and make it to where she trust you with anything give your sister all the love you can... I wasn't able to travel across town to visit... but i could have called.

    You got your head screwed on straight. Good for you for leaving that toxic situation.

    Family/Friends, Food, Shelter, Transportation you got your basic needs ... be thankful you have that.

    and keep a bass... get a headphone amp!!!

    and wrap your jimmy ... unless you want to have kids... for the love of god wrap it up...
  12. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    You're a good man Alec... keep your head up, because with your attitude, you'll go far.
  13. buzzbass

    buzzbass Shoo Shoo Retarded Flu ! Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2003
    sounds like a good plan. I wish you all the best
  14. sandmangeck


    Jul 2, 2007

    Good luck.
  15. Dale D Dilly

    Dale D Dilly Monster

    Jul 1, 2008
    No kidding.

    You seem hard-working, pretty sharp, and well-organized to boot. I'd say that trifecta is a great foundation for success. I'm sure you'll get things together no matter what road you take as long as you approach your problems this way. It can be extremely difficult to pull yourself out of a toxic environment and start taking positive steps--you're already over that hurdle and ready to go!

    Best of luck to you.
  16. Leo Smith

    Leo Smith

    Oct 21, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY

    As other have mentioned, you seem very well-put-together for your age! DoD job, college studies, and some giging? I could barely do just one of those things...

    Your strong work ethic and maturity must make dealing with you mother's drama extremely difficult. It's alright that you are taking control by leaving, but on the way out, encourage your mother to get some help.

    I joined the Air Force when I was 21, and 17 years later I can't imagine what I would have done otherwise. I'm in the band program and have lived and traveled most of the world. Thanks, Uncle Sam!

    I encourage you to continue your college studies! The Army will pay for most, if not all of it. Also, if you think your bass playing is up to par, consider joining the Army band program. (There are several bands, not just the one in Wash DC.) Even if you don't, the Army could help you with music studies if you like. Tuition assistance and GI Bill can also be used to certificates at places like Berkelee, Musician's Institute, or the Player's School (for example).

    And I forgot to mention.... keep a bass and an amp, at least! Later on, you may regret selling your gear.

    Good luck, and keep moving forward!
  17. Leo Smith

    Leo Smith

    Oct 21, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Also, I agree with the things turbo chicken said earlier.... especially the part about staying in touch with your sister, and ESPECIALLY keeping your dingdong wrapped up. ;)
  18. What's your MOS? The Army is not a bad career by any stretch. You're definitely settling yourself up well in the future. I wish I had my life as pegged down as you do at age 20.
  19. placedesjardins


    May 7, 2012
    Hmm, crazy home situation.
    Well, I was going to suggest ROTC or like the Coast Guard Academy but you've already signed up. Best of luck.
  20. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Communicate with your sister often. Buy her a P.O. Box and give her the keys if need be so you two can communicate without the overbearing mom. She is going to be left to bear the brunt of your mom's bitterness until she can get out as well. Your mom needs to look in the mirror if she wants to know the source of her problems anytime soon, but that won't happen as long as there is somebody else around to dump stuff on.

    That bit of advice from knowing friends from broken homes. My family is more traditional..."Norman Rockwell", if you will.:). I never knew how good I had it until I went out into the world and met a bunch of people from "less than ideal" situations. I seem to attract those types for some reason. Don't know if it's me wanting to see the "wilder side", or wanting to help them, or them attracted to my stability/calmness or what.

    Anyway, I was an Army mechanic, stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany during peacetime...92-95..just after the first Gulf War. Still some of the best times of my life. You're making a good decision here, especially considering your current situation. The way things are nowdays, you may indeed do more heavy duty than I did. If so, keep your spirits up and your head down. More power to ya, man. You got your head together a helluva lot more than I did at 20.