RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

Archive for the tag “Family”

Larkin was right…

In the house of the depressives, the happy child is king. Or queen. Or something. It’s a crap misquote, but it’s sadly true. When the grown-ups are both under the cosh of depression and pain and hurt, the ruler of the house is the child who is the happy one. Oblivious to the pain going on inside the adult’s minds, unaware of the fact that what is going on around it ISN’T normal – hell if that’s all you’ve ever known…the madness and the crying and the arguing and the shouts and the over-reaction IS normal.

I feel sorry for my youngest daughter. Imagine growing up in a house where both your parents have depression. What message are we sending to her? What lessons are we teaching her, just ass her brain is soaking up all the messages we are giving out, consciously and subconsciously? When she is learning what and how to be herself and how to develop how she reacts and interacts with people the people who she is learning off are just the ones who shouldn’t be listening too.

And I see her reaction to things we say. I see that she is learning our bad ways. And then I blame her for sending me mental. Oh it’s the wrong way round. I am the one setting her up badly. I am the one to blame for her over-reactions and incorrect responses to things; because of the illness and the general fucked-up-ness of my brain (and god help her, my wife’s too), then my beautiful, clever, smart, fabulous, impressionable, blank slate of a daughter is being fucked-up too.

Philip Larkin was right. They fuck you up, your parents…they fill you with all their faults and add some extra just for you. God knows what the madnesses going round our brains are doing to her. But I feel for her. I feel for the way that she is learning all our mad, crazy, inappropriate responses to things and thinking that they are the right ways to deal with things, to deal with people and to deal with life.

It’s not fair what depression does to you. It’s not fair. It takes away your sense of self, your innate you-ness, and turns you into a uber-you, an alt-you, a you that you don’t even recognise, but you think is the real you when it’s not. And there is nothing you can do about it, until it’s too late…and then…and then you see all your mentalness appearing in the behaviour of one who know’s no difference…And it hurts all the more.

Not only is this fucking illness affecting you…it’s effecting the one person you want to keep it all from. Depression is not fair on the sufferer, but it’s even more unfair on the people who have to live with the sufferer. And it’s worse when that person is someone who doesn’t know, doesn’t understand, that it’s just an illness that is making you tackle the world in the wrong way. And it’s even worse when that person – a child – is thinking that your way is the right way, and is learning your madness as part of it’s sanity.

I’m sorry Lily. I am so sorry, but remember, it’s not your fault. It’s not even my fault. It’s years of misdirection, bad reaction, screwed-up bloody chemical imbalance that has left me this way, and I am sorry that you are growing up thinking that it’s right and normal. It isn’t. It isn’t. When I say I can’t cope with you; when your reaction to my directions and demands are not the ones I want – it’s not your fault. It’s my own. Who have you learnt them off? Me. And I know this. And the thing that makes it worse for me is that it’s not really you I can’t cope with.

It’s me.

Detached…

I have been out of the military for just under three months, although I have lived away from the military life for about 6 months.  And as I have said several time I have not really missed military life.  The people, now there’s another thing… but the life itself…not really.

I am enjoying my part time work, and enjoying my life in the countryside and even more enjoying village life, with all that I need – the small shop and post office and the pub, and my daughter, Lily, has her school just a few hundred yards down the road.

But I don’t miss the military life.  Don’t miss living behind the wire, don’t miss the community of other people who work in the same place as you, living in the same place as you, doing the same things as you.

Well, I thought I didn’t miss it.

But the other day as part of one of my jobs, I drove past RAF Cosford, where I once lived and worked as part of my posting as an instructor.

And that afternoon I felt a sudden pang of pain.  The fence at the edge of the camp was no different from when I was on the other side of it, but it suddenly seemed a million miles high. And thick.  As I sat at the traffic lights waiting for the green light, the perimeter changed, in my imagination, from a chain link fence to a thick high wall. Impassible and impenetrable. 

Automatically, I checked my wallet was in my pocket, as I would have if I was going to to get my ID out as I passed through the gate. But it was pointless. My ID was not there. As I am no longer in the RAF, I have no ID.  None, other than a drivers licence and a couple of bank cards. And my library card. 

And I felt empty. I felt alone.  As the lights changed I pulled around the corner and sat looking through the fence at the Med Centre, the Dentists.  The all ranks club.  The building I used to work in.  Just 50 yards away.  50 yards might as well have been 50 million miles. It was unobtainable, separate, distinct. I saw trainees marching about.  An instructor parked his car outside the Med Centre and stared through the fence at me. Looked at me and must have wondered why was I staring through at him.  Maybe he took a mental note of my description and my car details, thinking of security. A different culture; a different life. I was no longer part of that.  I had no right to go on that camp anymore. 

And my detachment from the RAF became complete.  I am an ex-airman.  I am a civilian.  I am no longer special like those people in there.  

And I missed it.  Missed the ability to just go in there, to go to the gym, to just walk around as part of something bigger than just me. I felt alone. Because you see the RAF, the military, the armed forces are about being part of something bigger than just yourself. About being part of something with a history, tradition and meaning that is more than just one person and more indeed is more than the sum of all of it’s parts. It’s about belonging.  Your very identity is given from what you are and what you do.

And I was part of that, but now I am alone. What I stand for once was pride and uniform and honour and comradeship and serving others and putting my own needs behind those of the wider community and the country.  But now I am just me.  I might still personally embody those values but the visible symbol of that is now gone.  When people looked at me once, they saw a serviceman, but now they just see a person. They might be kind and say veteran, but I am no longer a serviceman. I have handed that on to the next generation. I am just an individual.  I can do what I want, go where I want, when I want, think what I want, say what I want, but that is no compensation for the fact I am no longer part of all that

But then.

I got home. And I realised something. It hit me like a bolt from the blue.  It hit me like a four year old running through the dining room to bash into me and hug my leg when I arrived in the house. 

I still am part of something bigger than just me.  I might miss being part of the RAF, but I still am part of this family.  And I am always going to be part of it.  It will always be there. 

As wil the RAF. I might have physically left the RAF.  I might no longer have the card that allows me access to a free gym and to free medical prescriptions and to not to have to worry about what clothes I was going to wear to work – but I will always be part of the RAF, like I will always be part of my family.  I will always have my brothers and sisters – my colleagues. I will always have those who served before me – my parents.  And I will always have my children – those who will follow me into the service and make their sacrifices and maybe give their lives.  

Life goes on. And even though I am not in the RAF, it will always be part of me, and the material things that showed I was part of it are just that, material things that tarnish, fade, rust and decay.  But my memories will be with me, all around me, inside me, like my family is.

And will always be.

Post Navigation