How I Met Him
Two weeks into my schooling, a bunch of us decided to check out the bowling alley. Some of them bowled, but I didn't want to. So I sat with my soda, watching. Then some guy sat across from me at my table.
He started talking to me. When I got a look at him, I froze. He was the spitting image of my uncle. Glasses, mustache. Same facial features, same build. He even sounded like my uncle. It freaked me out. And brought memories rushing back.
I excused myself, and moved closer to my classmates. We weren't there much longer, then we went back to the barracks.
I hardly slept that night. I had the first nightmare I'd had in quite a long time. The next day in class I couldn't concentrate. That night, we all went to the club on base. And I got drunk.
Almost every night I got drunk. I went downhill fast. I wasn't eating. Eventually, my classmates stayed up at night watching me to make sure I was still breathing. I had more nightmares, flashbacks. I withdrew from my classmates. My class work started to suffer. I started having the shakes in class.
Then one night a guy in my class was helping me back to the barracks, cause I was too wasted to get there alone. We were both in uniform. It was dark. And then suddenly we were confronted by a warrant officer. It was horrible.
He told me to get back to the barracks, and as I walked away I could hear him chewing out my mate. I felt so guilty. After that night, my classmates were pretty angry with me, because my drinking had affected most of them in some way.
The day after that happened, I was called out of class. I was taken to a part of the building I'd never seen. Then I was called into an office. Three chief petty officers sat behind a long desk. I stood on the other side. For a moment they just stared at me. Then one of them spoke. It was him.
I had never seen him before. This is what happened.
He told me to stand at attention while he was talking to me. He looked mean and angry, and sounded angry. His stare creeped me out. He told me he'd heard about what happened the night before. Then he asked me what made me think I could act that way?
I didn't have an answer. I just stood there. The other chiefs kept staring at me.
Then he said, do you know what happens when a woman gets drunk like that? I said, no, chief. He said, it makes her look like a slut. He said that only sluts got drunk like that. The other chiefs chuckled.
Then he said, are you a slut? I said, no, chief. The other chiefs were still chuckling. He looked so angry, but he had this strange smile, too. He said, well, I think you are. You're nothing but a dirty slut, and you know it. He kept staring at me.
I didn't say anything. I couldn't. I wouldn't dare say anything to someone who outranked me. And no one had ever called me that before, so I didn't know how to react. But I immediately felt dirty. And it was so humiliating, with the other two chiefs staring at me and chuckling. Like they thought it was funny. I just wanted to crawl away and hide from everyone.
He was silent for a few minutes, but he kept staring at me. Then he said that after the first part of my schooling was finished, I would be going to the rehab on base. He said that the Navy had wasted too much money on me to just kick me out.
He stared at me for a few more minutes. Then he told me to get back to class.
Everyone stared at me when I walked into the classroom. I was convinced that they all knew that I was a dirty slut. I had no reason to believe that, but the way he said it made me feel so shameful, so dirty. Most of my classmates had stopped talking to me by that time. Somehow, in my mind it was because I was nothing but a dirty slut.
What he said didn't stop me from getting drunk, night after night. I think it made it worse for me. I couldn't get his words out of my mind. I started getting physically sick, puking up bile and bloody looking stuff. There were nights I would be in the bathroom, drinking and being sick, and they'd have to pull me out because the club was closing.
And every night, his words ran through my head. It was like he had shamed me to my core.
Somehow I made it through class, then I went to rehab. I was inpatient there for 2 months. I graduated rehab sober, feeling ok. I went on to finish the second part of my schooling, still sober. Then I had leave time before I was transferred to my duty station in northern California.
It was only that once that I saw him while I was at my schooling, and it would be a while before I saw him again.