Posted by: joshjasper | February 24, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane

It’s funny how a person’s mind works.  During the last hour of my flight today to San Diego I was reading “Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse.”  (I noticed the lady sitting next to me giving me a funny look for my reading choice)  I got to the point in the book about dissociation and repressed memories, and it suddenly occurred to me that this was the first time that I was flying into San Diego since my first trip back on October 23rd, 1995; the day I joined the Marine Corps.

All of the memories that I had forgotten were coming to light.  As we were descending into the airport, I remember doing the same 15 years ago on a plane full of young men that were completely clueless as to what they were about to experience.  That flight was actually my first experience flying in an airplane.  As I was exiting the plane today, I remembered entering that airport for the first time and waiting in the terminal with seemingly hundreds of guys my age.  No one knew what we were supposed to do upon our arrival, so we waited, and we waited.  Finally, a sharply dressed Marine approached our group and very calmly introduced himself and asked if we could all make our way to the parking lot.  He had informed us that buses were waiting outside to take us to the recruit depot.  So I gathered my belongings and I made my way to the door.  The next memory I had still seems hard to believe.  I couldn’t have been 2 steps out of the door and another nicely dressed Marine was waiting for us outside.  Only this guy was not calm, not in the least.  In the middle of the parking lot, in front of children, families, and even the elderly, this guy started to scream. He was acting like he had lost his mind.  Now don’t get me wrong, I knew what to expect going to Marine Corps boot camp, but come on, we’re still on civilian soil!  I really didn’t think my first day was going to include laying face down on the parking lot of the San Diego airport while someone was educating me on how disgustingly worthless I, and everyone around me was….again, in front of innocent bystanders!

Soon thereafter more than 100 guys were crammed into a school bus and ordered to put our heads between our legs and close our eyes.  For whatever reason, we were not supposed to see how to get from the airport to the training station.  After what seemed an eternity of driving, I managed to take a peek outside the window.  What I saw next nearly made me laugh out loud.  We were still in the parking lot of the airport!  We had been driving in circles, zigging and zagging through the parking lot to make it seem like we were much further from the airport than where we actually were.  It was clear that the mind games had officially begun.

I had forgotten all about that first day in San Diego until this afternoon.  I guess my brain decided that I needed to store  only so many memories of adult men screaming at me while in boot camp.  By no means I am making light of individuals that have repressed memories due to abuse experienced.  I simply share this memory to illustrate how easy it really is for us to remove something completely from our brain if deemed necessary.

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Responses

  1. Wow. I can see why you wouldn’t have wanted to remember all those details of boot camp (or hell, as I would’ve called it!).

    Fascinating stuff. I had to laugh when you said you flew in a plane for the first time at about 20 years of age — I was the same way! Flew out to NC while I was in college. Now both of my boys have been in planes before they were 1.

  2. Mike-
    It is pretty remarkable how things change from one generation to another. Isaac flew to LA when he was just over 1.

  3. Josh you have brought back some memories. My first location to be stationed at, NAVY, was San Diego in October 1994 and I had the same type of treatment in the parking lot and on base. I have supressed those memories because it was a horrible feeling to have someone screaming at me like that. Has this treatment changed? If not, is the military considering some of the repercussions that this treatment has?

  4. Yeah waiting at the airport in SC to go to parris island during the night because they didn’t want us to see how to get to the base and how to leave.


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