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Lessons of Military Life

Dream to a Nightmare Part 2

By Logan RiderPublished 3 years ago 7 min read

I arrived at St. Hubert Military base outside of Montreal on the first weekend of February. I was surrounded by a group excited yet nervous young men and women jut like myself. I engaged in a discussion with another young man on the bus and he was saying he has been waited to do this his whole life however he did not want to get his hopes up because he did not what to expect. I felt the exact same way. We arrived at the base in St. Hubert around 19h30. We grabbed our gear and hopped of the bus. Almost immediately there were drill instructors yelling to form ranks so that they can take attendance. In my head I was thinking "Well here we go". We were brought into a briefing room and were given a run through of what we should expect over the next 15 weekends in St. Hubert. We were going to learn drills, rifle training, military professionalism and ethics. We were shown our sleeping quarters and were told that our wake up call tomorrow was going to be 04h30 for physical training. I panicked in my head. I have never in my life woke up at 04h30 to workout. It sounded like insanity to me, but I knew the world that I was walking into. I looked around and few other guys had the same kind of "What the hell did I get myself into" kind of look on their faces. The instructors told us that we had an hour to get settled into our sleeping quarters, get our gear organized for morning PT (physical training) and talk amongst ourselves and then lights out at 11h00. I put my head the pillow at 11h00 with my mind spinning. I had conflicting thoughts of feeling very excited about all the challenging adventures that I was going to face the next but always starting to doubt myself feeling that I bit off way more then I can chew. All this overthinking was causing me not fall asleep and before I knew it was 04h30 the lights in the barracks suddenly went on and a group of very loud booming voices entered the sleeping quarters. Over the next 15 weekends we were put through hell, very strenuous physical training, very little sleep, drill training for parades, rifle training, and military codes, principals and ethics. In the month of May of that year I had my graduation ceremony from my basic training. My parents attended the event and they said that it was one of the proudest days of their life. As great as it was to see how happy my parents were of my I was somewhat unsure if I was capable of doing this on a long term bases. It was exciting and engaging work however at the same time it was incredibly stressful and exhausting and was starting to question my ability to handle this career. Little did I know at the time it was not because of my stress tolerance it had to do with my maturity level. I was only 22 years old stepping into a military career and for a lot of young men and women thats when they start off, however for me at 22 years years I was not quite the person that I needed to be to thrive in this environment long term. I was going to soon realize that its not what I thought it was. An amazing experince and great career and finacial opportunity was slowly going to turn into a nightmare. After basic training finished in May I had about a month off from training. I returned home caught on some sleep, rested recovered , and and at the end of June I was shipping out to Valcartier, Quebec for 6 week extensive training. To become a fully qualified soilder I needed to complete my Soilder Qualifications (SQ) and my Infantry Qualifications (IQ). Those 6 weeks consistant of brutal field training exercises. Unlike BMQ where we were only training in St-Hubert base on weekends in Valcartier we were training for 2 weeks straight and every 2 weekend off for a total of 6 weeks. It was a very challenging and exhausting experience. The biggiest issue that really bothered me during my training had nothing to do with any of the training and skills we were learning. The issues had to do with my interaction with the other recruits. During my BMQ the recruits were all invovled in training together for weekends. During our summer training we were together all week sometimes 14 days at a time. I found myself during these long weeks of training struggling building any kind of social bond with the boys. When we had our occational down time which was not often however that was always our opportunity to bond with each other I found myself quiet withdrawn, and standoffish. I could not quite figure out why but it was starting to bother me why I could not make effort to enjoy myself when we had male bonding time. I was part of the platoon however I did not feel like I was part of the platoon. I found myself having moments when were on our down time to just escape from the platoon and go into the woods by myself and isloate myself. I would isloate myself from the rest of the boy and just dreading that time when I knew that I had to return to the rest of the platoon. I would charish those weekends where I would hop the bus on a Friday and get to be home in my own bed and in own space for 48hrs and then totally dreading the idea of having to get back on the bus on a Sunday evening and return to Valcartier. For the life of me I could not figure out why ? Why did the social environment of the military not excite me. We were all supoosed to bond as fellow warriors and bond like a band of brothers. I would here stories from older veterans in the unit how they met their best friends in basic training and they having remained best friends for into their aging lives. It seemed all the other men and a few women in the platoon had no issue bonding with each other. I felt awkward, alone and isolated. Not because anyone was making me feel like that it was all in my own head. It was own insecurity that I was not able to kick. When I was taking the bus home one Friday evening I was starting to think that maybe it had something to do my lack of a realtionship with my father. I had an ability to analyze everything when it came to self reflection of my own behaviour for better or for worse. During the school year I was taking psychology classes and applying alot of the principals that I learned and applyied it to my won life and my own development. Maybe my lack of bonding with a male role model as young boy gave me a negative framework about myself. I have always had difficult time making friends as a young boy and primairly felt somewhat of a lone wolf which cause me to be teased and bullied as a young boy. In military life I becamce very clear to me that there was no room for a "lone wolf" type personality. You had to be social and be a team player at all times. If not teasing and hazing would come into play. By the end of August it was the graduation parade for the all the recruits that survived basc training. Despite my self viewed poor performance, I survived. My Mom and step Dad were there in the audience smiling cheering taking pictures. After the parade they both pulled me aside and and gave me a hug and said they were so proud and happy for me. I put on a fake smile and thanked them. Internally I was not proud of myself of what I accomlished and I should have been and that tore me up inside. I returned home with my Mom and step Dad. The school year was going to begin and I was going to return to The Black Watch Unit on Tuesday nights. I was to earn the rank of Private in my first Tuesday night meeting at The Black Watch. Proud? not so much. More like unsure of myself. How long would that feeling last and when will I start feeling like the man I should be feeling like? Time will tell. Upward and onward.


About the Creator

Logan Rider

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