I had done the right thing. I’d provided a healthy, loving environment for my children, but I’d not considered my own needs. Everything around me was so different. I went from a big house to a small one, and I had a new job and a new reserve
squadron. I’d thought if I moved back to my childhood home, I’d
find friends – people I’d known growing up. I’d hoped
for some kind of support system. Not the case. Most people I knew
in childhood had moved from Selinsgrove, so I had no one outside my immediate
My reserve unit three hours away by car, even if I’d found
time for a social life there, I couldn’t form friendships with people
who lived a hundred and eighty miles away. In California, I’d lived
in a military community, worked in military hospitals and shared much in common
with the people around me. Looking back on it now, I realize even with
all those anchors, I lived a fragile existence. Now completely adrift,
lonely and uncertain of my ability to make friends, I didn’t want even
to take the risk.
I made more money with my reserve squadron flying five days
a month than full time work on rural Pennsylvania wages, so I started flying
more and took a part-time job at a nursing home my family owned.
I was pretty
far-gone, not in touch with reality and held onto life by a thread. As
a nurse, I knew the dangers of drugs so I never got involved, but instead,
I got drunk every day. I worked nights at the nursing home, and in the
mornings after I got the girls off to school, I closed the drapes to shut the
world out, curled up on the floor in my darkened living room and drank. I’d
have a couple shots of vodka then a couple more, then more.
always stayed indoors alone, and I kept the curtains closed. Sometimes,
after morning cocktails, I napped before the girls came home from school. Sometimes,
I could sleep then. In the evenings, I cooked dinner, and if I didn’t
have to work, I put the kids to bed, sat on my floor and drank some more.
- Carol Jean now exhibits the PTSD symptom, hypervigilance.