This Is The End…My Friend The End…(Almost)…
There we go then. The secret is out. That I’d applied for the Armed Forces Redundancy Scheme. And yesterday I found out I’d been accepted and selected for redundancy from the RAF. I had volunteered and my number had come up. And I am happy about this. Very happy.
After 25 years, I felt that it was time for a change. I am, and always will be terribly proud of being a member of the Royal Air Force, but we all move on, we all grow, we all change. And since I got back from Afghan I had felt like that I had changed a bit and that I wanted more and different experiences.
I want a bit of control over my life you see. The one thing that you do give up when you become a member of the armed forces is that control over your life – where you live, what job you will be doing…and that had become too much for me. I need to have a bit of control.
To be honest, despite the brave face I have been putting on on here and on Twitter, it’s been a difficult 7-8 months since I got back from Afghan. I initially found it easy settling back in to the swing of things, but soon a strange feeling of anger hit me. I had trouble dealing with stressy situations – not big dramatic moments – just the day-to-day niggely stresses. I struggled. My family struggled. I made others around me struggle.
Things got tough for me to cope with and it sort of came to a head in late April/early May when I found myself become very frustrated and then having very angry outbursts. This would be a total overreaction to whatever the person had done – usually Lily, my three year old daughter, Therese my wife, or Mahsa my dog. I would launch into a stream of verbal anger reducing the first two to tears very quickly and the puppy to a quaking wreck.
It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair on any of them. Lily was just being a three year old – doing as three year olds do. Mahsa just a puppy! Therese, just trying to help.
And this would then, five minutes…two minutes…10 seconds after the out burst make me feel bad. I’d feel bad for them and then feel bad for me and this would become a cycle I have identified myself…
Frustration – Anger – Guilt – Despression.
I would end up quite depressed and low and moody and miserable. And I eventually grasped the nettle and booked myself into see the doc here who has been, I have to say, bloody amazing. Absolutely brilliant. I’ve been referred off and seen the Community Psychiatric Nurse over at the Metal Health centre at Brize and I’ve had a really good start at getting me back in my own mind and getting myself (my self) back in order. I am not there yet, but on the road.
And I think that this all fits back to that lack of control. I didn’t have any control over my life. I think that you can cope with this for so long, as long as the benefits of the lack of control out weigh the drawbacks of it…but recently for me they didn’t anymore. I wanted…want more.
I want to choose where I live and what job I do. I know that the job world isn’t that rosey right now, but the thought of being posted to do a job i might not want to do, in a place where I don’t want to be…well that blew my mind. I just couldn’t deal with that anymore. I am not going to turn this into a moan about life in the military, because life in the military has been bloody brilliant…but costs v benefits…it just didn’t even out for me anymore.
So when the opportunity to leave as part of the redundancy scheme came up – and I was in the field – I grasped THAT nettle too. So back in February I filled in the application and then basically waited whilst my head fell further apart and I slightly lost myself.
And then today. A phone call to see the Wing Commander. A tense minute or two as he got to the point and then him looking at his piece of paper in front of him and saying the words ‘You HAVE been selected for redundancy…’ followed by me saying ‘YES!” a little too loudly…and then a nice long chat with him and me leaving his office with a thick cream envelope with lots of information and a lot to do.
Not quite a weight lifted off completely…but certainly a clear vision of the route forward now. I really have no idea what job I am going to do when I leave the RAF in December – just in time for Christmas – and I (we) have a lot to do to get to that point…but now…it’s in MY hands. I have a bit of control. Over where we settle. What house we buy. What job I look for. What work I do. And the redundancy pay out is, well, lets just say, it takes the pressure off. I have done 25 years and will be leaving with a pension, and a handsome pay out that will help me get a disable chunk of a mortgage if I live in the right place…and with the fact that Therese will be leaving the Army on a medical discharge in October…we are going to be alright.
We are going to be alright. We are lucky. I am lucky. I have had 25 years doing some bloody ace stuff. Going to the first Gulf War. Working on Tornado F3 fast jets. Fixing high tech top end radar. Being on a Trials and Development team bringing a new Electonic warfare equipment into service. Instructing the future of the RAF. Trying to make this bit of it here at Benson more efficient. Flying in a Puma. Watching Tornados air-to-air refuel from the aircraft I am flying on. Flying in an F3 over the North Sea. Going to Afghan and seeing and doing ALL THAT. Making a difference. Visiting the USA, Canada, Bermuda, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Cyprus, Spain, France, Saudi, Afghanistan. Working with some of the very best people in the world. Doing amazing things.
Yes I am very lucky to have been part of that, and whilst I will miss it sooooooo much, it is time to move on and move forward because all those things are things I have done. I can’t do them again…I can’t go back to them. I can revisit them and remember them and enjoy them, but we must look to the future and look to what we have to do next. What I have to do next. And so I will miss it all, and most of all miss the people and the belonging to something bigger and better and special. And whilst I’ll be around in the RAF for a bit longer and on here for a while yet, it is time for me to leave and go onwards.
Per Ardua Ad Astra. By struggle, to the stars.