Hey everyone!! I know it’s been a hot minute…I think of you all often & how I can engage with you (Follow my Social Media @MissAl_Leigh for more active engagement!) on a more regular basis & my current game plan is…to not have as much of a game plan. I’m going to try to relax & see what comes naturally. My first thought is that means more Blogs/Vlogs that are just me talking to you, story time!
Today’s Story Time is something I also discussed last year, click here to read that post! I am proud to say that I was again invited to speak at Macy’s at the Brea Mall regarding a promotion they have with Got Your Six. Today is the last day of the promo so if you’re a Macy’s fan or want to support this group effort, make your way to a store ASAP, give $3 & get a 25% Discount Pass – 100% of the profits will go towards benefitting the groups I’m talking about today & more! I was specifically speaking on behalf of a non profit I’ve volunteered for – TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
My purpose for going to Macy’s is not really to discuss the promotion or the Charities in great detail. That information is given to the employees & easily accessible online – if you’re interested, please click the links above! My purpose is to tell my story & put a face to a name so that when they’re trying to encourage Guests to spend the $3 they can use me as a talking point or a frame of reference in their mind like, “Hmm, if someone “like her” could benefit, maybe this Guest will have a connection as well”. I am not the typical “military charity beneficiary”, after what I’ve been through most people are surprised I still volunteer at all, but that’s the type of person I want to be. I don’t want my demons to stop me from being a source of learning, growth, & positivity. I will admit, these presentations are extremely stressful, writing this post is hugely challenging, especially because of the fear that the co-star of my story or his family will see this. Unfortunately for him, I will no longer be silenced.
About 6 years ago (Wow! Time flies.) I met a guy & we fell head over heels. Sounds great except that, even with all the demons I’d danced with, I’d never seen anything like his dance card. He was/is a Veteran, a Reservist in the Marine Corps, and had semi-recently come back from a tour in Iraq where he was on the front, serving our country as a “Grunt”. He had seen and done things that I will never understand & I thank him for that. I quickly became invested in “the cause”, doing research & becoming well versed on PTSD/TBI, Veteran’s rights/causes, & volunteering.
A wonderful relationship quickly became sour and eventually dangerous due to a combination of being too young/immature, moving too fast, and his refusal to seek help for PTSD. There are, of course, many versions to this story, but I think that sentence sums it up best. I stayed for 2 years, through a cycle of abuse & apologies. The hilarious part – HE LEFT ME. It was the best thing that ever happened to me but I felt like I had died. I felt like HE had died. This was not just giving up a guy, this was my LIFE. We had lived together, we knew each other’s families, we were “engaged to be engaged”, we had PLANS. I knew in my head that being with someone with that much rage was only going to end badly for me, but my heart kept telling me, “Be strong, stand by him. He’s going to get help & everything will go back to normal”.
It was extremely difficult for me to move on, especially because I felt so passionate about Veteran’s causes but now had no outlet. I tried to continue volunteering but every face looked like his, every voice sounded like him, it was too much. By chance, I stumbled upon TAPS, a group for SURVIVORS. They focus on those left behind when someone in the military passes away. I appreciated that their outreach included even the most seemingly removed people, random classmates, civilian co workers, GIRLFRIENDS – not just immediate family & fellow Vets. Additionally, the death could happen in any way, car accident, cancer, etc, not just war-related, so I felt like I had some “room to talk” based on the deaths I had been exposed to in my family. I have enjoyed volunteering with them ever since as often as I can because I feel I can identify with their volunteers & the recipients of their cause.
That is roughly the story I shared at Macy’s last Thursday morning in the hopes that it would make people think. Hopefully it makes you think & encourages you to get involved in whatever causes you’re passionate about. On another note, if you’re at all curious, I HAVE moved on & have been dating an AMAZING guy for almost a year, our anniversary is July 9th! He was my friend through the whole above mentioned ordeal & I’m grateful that the dark road I once walked down led me to the place I’m at now.
Thank you for reading, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment or write me an email about anything I’ve discussed here – don’t be shy, I certainly was not!