Retirement, almost 30 days; 2 years later
Reflection: 2 years since taking the pill
Two years have passed between my first post and now. Here I am, reflecting on my journey if I want to be charitable, navel gazing if I don’t. I am reflecting charitably on the lessons learned, on the lessons I thought I learned. Looking back, I can see lessons that I wasn't aware of. I may have learned them, but I didn’t acknowledge it, not consciously. Years of trying things out, reading, learning, writing, acting, and eventually getting to where I am now. My first steps into my Male Action Plan (MAP) involved boundaries, more importantly, it involved not being taken advantage of, or for granted. The hidden lessons were on overcoming learned helplessness and the validation seeking behavior that came with my anger phase.
I learned the importance of having some fight left in you, not caring if others acknowledge it. Most importantly, how avoiding the hard actions kills the joy of accomplishment. I learned to take the lumps with a smile when I had no choice, and avoid the lumps when the opportunity presented itself. Embrace the suck, avoid the suck. Even in my little victories no one gave a shit, and I should continue with whatever the fuck I am already doing regardless. Finally, I learned that life only gives joy to authenticity, and that I had no idea what the fuck authenticity was, most of us do not.
If you fail enough, if you are kicked enough when down, you have a common coping mechanism. It is called learned helplessness. Continual failure causes you to distruct escape routes when they present themselves. To your ego defenses, they are a more costly failure, so why waste the effort. Instead, your ego encourages you to take the easier road, accept your fate, to take the less painful action. Since you will arrive at the same outcome, why bother?
The experiment that coined the phrase involved dogs, being given electric shocks while locked in cages. Scientists would keep the cages closed throughout the experiment, while randomly applying electric shocks. The dog would scramble about and try to escape until the shocks stopped. Eventually, the dogs stopped trying to escape. Eventually, the door was opened during the shocks. The dogs were so prepared for failure, so prepared that it was easier to lay there and accept their fate. They never tried to escape.
Nowadays, it’s called MGTOW
This could have been the script, the script that I was writing for my life. My own personal one-man play. I was gaining weight, I was on SSRI's. Fourteen months of purgatory where I learned the Laws of Power. they were guidelines that I ignored as a child, when the adults around me constantly demonstrated their utility. The military as an organization is cold and uncaring. You get used to it, or ‘embrace the suck.’ Once you are thrown into military justice system, you experience the cage, and the shocks first hand. It was my command team using the system to remove me. How else could you explain throwing around the accusations of espionage in a unit that did not contain anything of worth? The part-time skipper gave the premise and my team rolled with it. Everyone was primed to assume the worst from the narrative they set, and there we were. Delays in due process, punishment without due process, the rules didn't seem to matter. On an organization that drilled procedure, rules and compliance above all it was a huge pill to swallow. Just knowing that it was all a lie, contingent on you being high enough in the chain of command to disregard it without consequence.
I beat this attack. I did what people did not do. I shed my learned helplessness. I still had some fight left in me. The military has a system, which is as clever as it is consistent. It's called a summary trial. It is an informal version of a court-martial. Think of a plea bargain vs a court trial.
It is theater at it's finest.
This theatrical production happens the same way, every time. I've been the director of this play a dozen times in my own career up to this point.. Use dread to put fear into the other person, let it simmer a bit, then, you offer a lifeline:
“Here, a court martial can offer jail-time, it's very serious. Just take the summary trial. We get this out of the way, and it can be all over. worst we can do is a few weeks in confinement, that's not so bad.”
And that's what everyone wants. When every one of those guys was on the stage with their production of Fucked: the musical. They wanted it to end, to remove the electric shocks. They all said the same line. They just wanted it to end. It was so consistent. After the 3rd one you realize you didn't even have to tell them their lines, it was almost scripted. Lay on the organizations disappointment with their ethical lapse like a father disappointed in his son. Nine times out of ten they would cry. This was by design. I was actually given formal training on how to act when a man cries in front of you, I’m paraphrasing it here:
“Don't console, don't tell them it will be OK, don't say anything. If they begin to tear, push the box of tissue towards them, do not offer. Pause until they can regain composure, and do not let them leave the room.”
When a guy is given this exit, to make the pain go away, it is the equivalent of you laying there, waiting for the shocks to end. You are helpless, so you let it happen as the path of least resistance. In reality, they opened the door for you long ago and you just refused to step out. The reason that door is opened is the same reason that the summary trial is offered. Most sailors are not trained in the gathering of evidence. MP’s cut corners when doing interviews and many in charge will screw up all kinds of due process, whether from ego or bad advice from below. Often, the punishment is given beforehand, because everyone just knows that the guys guilty, he definitely deserves whats coming to him, so why wait? I have a recording of my MP interview. I heard the point where they opened the door for me. It was when I heard the corporal ask me to tell them what I had done, and ask for assistance in what else they could charge me with it. And with a few simple words, my MAP had began:
I'm not going to do your fucking job for you
Typical emotions, I felt pretty bad ass to talk all tough to the man. I was pissed because, in all that time, fourteen months of purgatory, and they really had done nothing. It was probably sitting on someones desk, pushed to the top of the pile on account of the statute of limitations. I had pictured what so many other men picture. That moment in their head when their ungrateful spouse or boss was not even bothered to put in the effort while Zeroing you out. I get the world doesn’t care about men, but you’d think it would invest some effort into not caring. I was asked to shock myself, what kind of learned helplessness was this? When I was offered the script I talked about, summary trial, let it end etc. I turned it down. The powers of punishment would be greater, but so is the onus of the organization to prove them. I took on the risk of unlimited punishments, because I know that I was in the right. A defining male characteristic is our risk taking behavior, and this was my risk. Not only am I not going to do your job for you, you’re going to be forced to do it yourself.
After 14 months of punishment, poisoning my professional network, libelous correspondence, I won. You can shock me for over a year, and I would survive. As soon as the door opened, I would escape. I want it to end, but on my terms. I still had fight in me, good. What came next was the shit that I was not ready to own. I refuse to be a studies replication.
It is not a positive thing. It is not a negative thing. It is an attention thing. Acting because you want someone to acknowledge you or your grievance is validation seeking. In my case, I wanted to rub their noses into it. The letter from my commanding officer contained a last ditch effort to shit all over me. Accused me of being a bag of shit, functionally useless, stopping just short of calling me illiterate. The second paragraph had been one of the kindest things I have ever seen written about me in a military correspondence. They hated me, but desperately needed me. The place was falling apart without me. A mans only value is what others can glean off him and for the first time in a long time I was valuable.
I framed that letter, placed it at the front of my desk. I displayed it proudly, I wanted them all to know. That’ll learn them! Fuck me, I roll my eyes when I remember this. I had another guy told me this plan, I would have laughed and called him a faggot. And here I was, a giant faggot with a framed picture. It wasn't just the letter either. I had the timer. A big digital timer, visible to all, counting down the 6 months until I was a civilian again. A big fuck-you, down to the second. I have it in the first post here, T-minus 45 minutes until I was a civilian again.
I put together a plan, I decided that I was done. Once you see the "meritocracy", the paper-tiger camaraderie, the faux-nobility of Queen and Country, you can’t do it anymore. After all that, it was impossible for me to stay and still pretend I had any self-respect. I would be the jaded sailor, sitting around for 8 years, collect my non-indexed pension. Fuck that noise, I’d rather eat what I kill, ride or die bitch. The military paid for a second degree of which I completed four years in three. Three boring, anti-social, hard study years. I had gotten enough mentorship to transition into civilian life properly. I had saved enough money. Enough that I would not have to work for years, not unless I wanted to.
I then sat at my desk, staring at that countdown timer. Every time someone came into that room, I would watch them glance over, read that letter, and then look back to me. Officers would always avoid the topic, enlisted guys would act surprised. Old salty chiefs would shake my hand and congratulate me on the war trophy. How cathartic. We men love to embrace the moments the world shit on us, almost as if belonging to a club with the event as our entrance fee.
“Fuck you, I'm valuable and you're going to lose me! “
What a horrible script. I made this theatrical production in response to theirs. And it wasn't the play I wanted to perform, that is the worst part. It was wasted effort. What were they going to do, make a request to have me stay? They had nothing to offer me and I would have refused if they did. The egos attached were not going to try even if the place burned down after I left. No, I wanted them to desire me and I wanted to reject the offer. That would have felt good. I always say I ain't shit, and that's OK. I was not OK with it then. That moment I secretly fantasized about would never come, and I shouldn't have even invited the thought of it. I had enough anger over my life at that point, I didn't need to seethe off it. It got me back to the gym, it got me eating better, it got me motivated to game. I acted as if that was not enough. Revenge fantasies are one of the biggest beta-tells around.
The opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy.
As long as I can remember, I never got excited. I was never excited for birthdays, vacations, or paychecks. It was as if I didn't care about anything. I wrote this piece two years ago. I remember being excited about leaving the military. I was fucking giddy. The last months were filled with anger and excitement, spite and joy. The one thing it did not have was apathy.
I missed the obvious as many do when they from the eye of the storm. This is the importance of the own your shit weekly posts in Married Red Pill, or ownership in general. You perform consistent action, reflection, and calibration. While you are acting and putting your pain out there, you can get the perspective of someone who both understands your mental outlook, and does not care to get in your way. I'd go so far to say they enjoy watching you solve it, especially if they can attach their notes onto the success story. Men, perfect strangers, focused on a similar goal … This is the only group I know of that would help a man when he's down. Better than paid shrinks, better than family, and way better than you're fucking wife, girlfriend, or fat-full-time babysitter.
One other lesson that I take, after some distance and time, is how good it is to have fight left in you. I learned that validating that fight with others is wasted effort. I read about men committing suicide after a divorce, a stock market crash, a false rape accusation. I realize they didn't have any more fight in them. I'm not comparing or minimizing what they went through as I see that they wanted to take the easier solution, just make the shocks stop. I will not judge a man for that. I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that I am not one of those men. The world may not give two shits if I live or die, if I succeed or fail
But I do. Someone has to.
Those spiteful symbols did not make me happy. They were my GTFO ice cream cake, a prop for their theatrical production, or my rebuttal production. Tastes delicious, and if chocolate cake was the only thing I ate I would be a fat fuck. I wrote on that old post about getting dragged into the boss office, heels together, berated over something my replacement had done. I didn't feel anything, it was surreal. I was an actor going through the motions, as if you were standing above it all while watching it play out. The play was wrapping up, this was the last show. I just sat there wondering, “she does know this is just a play, right?” Military theater would have me stand straight, eat shit with a smile, and profess how I would take action to rectify the situation. And on top of it all, I would thank the Warrant for the interaction like they were doing me a fucking favor by chewing me out. I don't recall saying anything, just a "K" and left it at that. Funny how pick-up always sneaks into interactions. That letter has more meaning than all the others. The director had already yelled to cut, the scene was over, and here this person was, still treating this as if it were live.
The difference was in being John Hamm, not being Don Draper. This is what I learned. Never accept my fate if a door is open. Never expect others to validate it when I do, and to always remember, it's just theater, and I am another actor.
 There's an inside joke to go with this, I will leave it for another day. Some of the veteran MarredRedPill remember the story of the man with the gilded frame though.
 Frenchie was booted from fleet school. I remember as a last party, I had bought him a cake with GTFO inscribed on the top. We had a morbid sense of humor
 There is a post on authenticity coming, with a reference to the hit show Mad Men. The difference between incongruity of ones presentation (Draper, Whitman) and understanding it as a game (Hamm)