It was a dark time for many. It was during a troubling time for yours truly. I was stuck in a time loop that would Groundhog Day pale in comparison.
I was in the US Navy, onboard an actual ship. We were technically on a deployment but we were in port during the “half way” point for maintenance.
My job, at the time, was what many army personnel called “KP” duty. I was the guy that ran the skullery, which was the dishwasher. It was nasty and hot. People treated you like shit and made your job harder.
(One of the positives is that you could spray hot water at a stainless steel plate, then bank shot the stream to hit someone. The person was around a corner and didn’t always suspect you were doing it).
When I wasn’t doing that job, I was either sleeping or drinking. The drinking part became a problem. I had limited time to do anything fun. I usually spent it drinking. My life was shit anyway. (This was after I got kicked out of school, accused of sexual assault, then threatened with involuntary commitment to the psych ward of a nearby Navy hospital).
I didn’t care about much. For the most part, I had given up on the actual specialty that I went to school for. Outside of my real job, I had a few friends but many of them had their own hell. I also had ended up on the radar of our command’s drug/alcohol abuse counselor. It was an informal type situation but that was one step away from getting in the system.
If you got in the system, you generally had to stop drinking. It was going to kill your career. But the irony is that no one I remember in the system ended up with an honorable discharge. It was a fuck around that was designed to protect the Navy, not to help you not kill yourself slowly.
9-11 hit on a weird day. I had woke up late, no one came and got me. There were a bunch of people glued to the TV in our ship’s galley (lunchroom for civilians). I had saw a building with smoke coming out of it. Murmurs were abound. I wasn’t there a few minutes and another airplane hit the buildings. I rushed to wake up my friend from NY.
We stood there in awe. Then everyone ran around like chickens without heads. We made preparations for leaving port on an emergency sortie that never came…
Long story short, we were one of two ships that didn’t leave. It was a dark day for the military also.
The most terrible thing I ever had to tell anyone is that the darkest day for many was a saving grace for my four year haul. Through directives and a change in oversight, I was given a second chance to clean myself up. I put in a little more work. Many of my supervisors ended up with new orders. The Navy wasn’t interested in losing people at the time. The reserves were called up for certain specialties.
I was promoted a few times. I still wasn’t the best sailor but I was good enough for that time. I made a few friends that helped make things survivable.
I still struggle with the urges to get comatose shitfaced at times. But I deal with stress/stressors instead of dosing myself and praying that they disappear.
9-11 was twenty years ago. Twenty years ago became a better time in my life.
(Bless the people of NY and those that lost their lives that day).