“I learned how to kill people.”
Those were the very first words my future husband said to me. Back in 1981 I was a typical fifteen year old girl who lived in a small country town. We went to the same high school where I was a cheerleader. It was the beginning of my sophomore year. I had seen him in passing and knew he was a senior on the football team. We were both waiting for our rides one day after school near the main entrance. He had joined the Army Reserve program and his shaved head told me he had just returned from boot camp. I said hello and innocently asked ,”So, what did you learn in boot camp?” He looked at me with narrowed eyes and stated “I learned how to kill people.” Then he turned and strode away, leaving me standing there shocked. It was a strange encounter that I haven’t thought about in years. Looking back, its spooky and foreboding of my future with him. Many months later at the end of the school year, he made a much different impression on me in the high school library when he asked me out. He seemed so normal and charming. I was so ridiculously, unbelievably innocent and naive. If I had paid attention, the mental illness flags were all waving in my face. I am the world’s dumbest woman for sure. At least that’s how I see myself. I think I must be a little “crazy” too. I look back and like every one else, just can’t believe I even went on a first date with him. How can I not blame myself? If only I had known. Hindsight is foresight. I can’t rewind my life, but I can go forward and learn and make my life better starting now. I have definitely educated my girls in every possible way I could. Their decisions will be their own. I have taught them to be independent and think about the kind of future they want for themselves. They definitely have firsthand life experience dealing with and recognizing signs of mental illness.