What We Gave Up

Written by Patrick Rifino.

I sit here thinking about the uniqueness of conflict; and not just war, but everything in between. Men have often left the comfort of their beds to venture into the unknown, whether it be civil unrest, disaster relief, or pandemics.

As someone who has profited immensely off such strife I sit in my house today sipping on some expensive craft beer wondering what I have to show for it. I often used to peer into my bank account and find solace in either a pending statement, the overall growth of investments, or even look at my net worth calculator and figure out how much closer I am to joining the elusive transition from “thousandaire” club that droves of contractors have gotten lost into the stoic everyday millionaire.

 I used to think that what I lacked in intimacy I made up for with stories or being the most interesting person in the room (in most cases). The attention garnered from even former service members who were now living a “traditional” lifestyle was also a form of currency. Ultimately though, I was never happy. I was jealous of them, as we would leave the bar or restaurant they would go home to their families and I would grab some random nurse that had some sort of self-help issue to fill the void of what I am missing. 

From the detachments and deployments in the service to acting as a nomad throughout the world, I guess I could say I’ve been in this game since 2010.  I’ve had girlfriends and even a fiancé for a minute. But eventually it wears down on them and I don’t blame them at all. As each gig comes up and each deposit comes into my account I wonder how worth it any of it is. 

I recently got back from Haiti and as much as I wanted to go it was solidified by a knee jerk reaction due to a break up. I left to forget her and move on, but I couldn’t. I sat on a rooftop in Port Au Prince thinking about her constantly. Ultimately my lifestyle is what drove her away. It’s what made her so fearful of me and  the idea that one day I could be gone never to return and she’d look back at the last several years wondering what she gave up. 

I’m still sitting back wondering what all could have been. I’m honestly disappointed in myself for still feeling anything. I’m supposed to be able to cut ties with humans and detach myself from less than desirable situations. But for months I sit here thinking, and an idle mind is the most dangerous thing a man can have. 

I gave up someone who may have been able to keep me centered and I’m back to square one. A fat bank account, a nice car, women in and out of my bed, but a sense of emptiness. At least I have all the stories right? But oh what we gave up. 

My advice to those in this game is to give it up for a woman if you find her. Unconventional, yes, but the game will always be there. Wars are fought everyday and there is always something burning or a flood somewhere. But to find someone who gives you the true feeling of wholeness is the whole point of the game in the first place. 

I tell you all this as someone who has made the money, has the stories, and has had his fill of one night stands. I would trade it all to have a night with the woman I still love, who has moved on and found the anti-me.