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Anatomy of a Sailor

by Hannah Dalpe 2 months ago in navy

The ugly inside

Anatomy of a Sailor
Photo by Crissy Jarvis on Unsplash

So you want to know what a Sailor is made of, huh?

A Sailor is a simple thing made up of salt, alcohol, and disgruntlement. The salt is coarse-cut with jagged, sharp edges like broken glass that rip up the soul to shreds with every voyage. It stings at every open wound and infects the mind and body with poisonous introspection. The lacerations made by every barbed granule don't heal but instead become one hulking, pulsating gash that swallows everything whole.

The alcohol can numb the pain. Dousing every cut with a splash of whiskey, hoping to God that this is what makes you feel happy again. You feel that pleasant intoxication and the air smells different. You can't feel the rips in your soul anymore, it feels like a prickle from a dead thorned bush now brushing across the skin of your leg. Letting go of the real world to escape into the euphoria that rum brings you becomes a daily routine. Your mind worships the glass bottle sitting atop your fridge, it's the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you taste at night.

Disgruntlement comes when the high dies. You see the real world again and feel the fever return, lighting your body on fire with the agony your soul remembers. A deep disappointment settles on your spirit, showing you the world through a cerulean filter. The truth begins to present itself; You aren't happy.

This is what the majority of Sailors go through every day. On and on, they ride the disheartening and deprecated cruise through the inky waters of life. Routine, routine, routine. Planning out every painful second of the day as not to dissatisfy their superiors. "Circadian rhythm" is what the men with the polished gold or silver bars and stars dangling off their collarbones called it, only it wasn't a rhythm meant for the Sailor. It was a saying rather than a rhythm that allowed those who got paid more to feel better about abusing those who got paid less. After all, sleep is a luxury and not a privilege.

Day to day, the beatings continue. Day to day, the morale will stop. Day to day, the beatings continue. Day to day, more bodies will drop.

Friends come and go. Enemies come and come. Some will wear the same uniform as you, where some may not wear a uniform at all. Question everything, except your superiors. They know all and should be considered a higher being, better than human. Perfection expects perfection. Work harder, not smarter. Mistakes have no place in a Sailor's life. May the luck be on your side if you do make one, but since you signed your rights away that means your superiors are now in charge of your luck and it may not be in your favor.

When this grueling life seems too heavy to bear, the logical path to take would be for help. Asking for help as a Sailor often gets you harassment. Sailors don't need mental health. Only the weak-minded and cowardly think about getting help. "Not in my Navy," they tell you.

Signs and posters that say "See something, Say something" are thrown upon the bulkhead (walls) to satisfy the activist media, but aren't encouraged. Being labeled a "blue falcon" (a.k.a. a snitch) is far worse than the repercussions of saying nothing. Even if something is said, there's no guarantee justice will be served by the khaki-wearing senior Sailors that make up the Judge, Jury, and Executioner.

Battered and broken, you make your way home. The heavy leather boots you wear have strained your calf muscles and rubbed raw blisters against your toes. Permanent indentations in the muscles around your shins have formed where your blousing straps stay. The mental burnout can feel too much at times. A shot or two of whiskey and a shot or two of rum later, you feel relaxed enough from the iron-grip of stress to run an oil-stained hand across your face and exhale the frustration of the day.

Lather, rinse, and repeat.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline - 1-800-273-8255

Hannah Dalpe
Hannah Dalpe
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