Brotherhood: Bound in Blood II

Brotherhood: Bound in Blood II

The second installment of a 4 part series: About how my brothers helped me through a rough time.
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“I just can't do this anymore…” my girlfriend told me in between sobs on the phone. “This is just too much for me.” Make that ex girlfriend…

Nearly every Rat at VMI who matriculates with a girlfriend (or boyfriend) has their heart broken at some point in the 6 months that is the Ratline. It's pretty much inevitable. Your sweetheart at home can only wait so long. The infrequent contact, the changes to the mind, body and spirit, the stress and the constant reliance for support proves to be too much for many college age young women. They are growing and changing in a much different way than their Rats at VMI. This is to be expected. However, mine came at the worst possible time.

My relationship with a girl I went to high school with ended over the phone after two years. I had snuck into JM Hall (the cadet chapel) right before exam week in December of my Rat year. I was at a really low point in my life. I was getting a D in Statistics and equally struggling in Chinese, was taking all kinds of abuse from my cadre and the Rat Disciplinary Committee daily, knocking out hundreds of push-ups a day, constantly screaming knowledge at the top of my lungs, eating horrible food and coming back to a roommate who I clashed with quite a bit. There were so many times that I told myself I was going to transfer after this semester and that this wasn't worth it. My life seemed like a nightmare and I've never felt so depressed and empty in my life. At least my brass and shoes were shiny and I could march well….

So it was not a fun time in Rat Forbes’ life, but I'm not trying to make you feel sorry for me. The truth is, my experience was not unique at all. My 470 classmates can tell you the same story. Some had parents die, others were in danger of flunking out, while some were more worried about making ends meet for their family. We all suffered. Together. And it is because of them that I was able to find the inner strength to stay and finish strong. Why? In a word: Love.

Everything at VMI is a team activity, and I mean everything. You're constantly relying on one another for support in the classroom, in the Ratline, on the sports field, in military exercises and most importantly, you rely on your Brother Rat for emotional support in one way or another. If you quit, or leave the Institute, you impact so much more than just yourself. You might have been someone's support, and didn't even know it. Or maybe carrying those sandbags and logs up the hill will be a little bit tougher without you there to help. Or perhaps the cadre will put more pressure on your roommates without you there to share the heat. If you quit the team, you're hurting so much more than yourself.

So you keep going. And sometimes it isn't for yourself. It's for your Brother Rat to the left or right of you. You just put one foot in front of the other. Keep. Moving. Forward. No matter how bleak things might seem, you just keep grinding. Because it is love that holds you together. It's love that makes a 20 mile ruck march doable. It's love that allows you to laugh with your roommates after a sweat party (Google that one) and commiserate together during Hell Week. It's all love.

So back to newly single Rat Forbes… I walked back to barracks and strained (also Google) my way to my best friend's room to tell him what happened. He was able to cheer me up like any good friend would. It was that night that it really sunk in. I lost a girlfriend that night, but I had 470+ brothers at my back. And nothing is ever going to change that.

So if you take anything away from this, know that you are loved. And no matter what life throws at you, no matter how hard it may seem, you will always have people around you to catch you when you fall.

Rah Virginia Mil’. 18...

Cover Image Credit: Tag Second

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There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

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If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

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Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

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There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

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"Listen to the birds sign a sweet morning song."

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I'll be the first to admit, I'm not exactly what you would call a "morning person." That being said, I think it's high time I bring some joy into my mornings. I mean, life is beautiful, and by not enjoying mornings, I think I'm missing out on a potentially enjoyable part of life.

So if you want to start enjoying your mornings like me, here are ten things you might want to try doing to start your days off right.

1. Make a happy and healthy breakfast.

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Make some toast, eggs, fruit, granola, or yogurt. OR, break out the bacon and have a good time. Any of those options sound like a good morning to me.

2. Drink a fresh cup of coffee (or tea).

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For me, I don’t think anything could beat the smell of a coffee being made in the morning. So whether you’re into coffee or tea, use a nice warm drink as a way to bring a little joy into your mornings.

3. Smile when you wake up.

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Start your morning with a good old-fashioned smile. Look in the mirror, look at how wonderfully made you are, and take a moment to smile and take that in.

4. Try to stay off of social media when you first wake up.

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I know, it’s all too easy to become glued to your phone these days, BUT I think that’s a few moments of time away from it, and away from social media, can be a good way to stay positive in the mornings.

5. Journal your thoughts going into the day.

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Take a pen, pencil, and a piece of paper, and take a moment to write down your thoughts, feelings, emotions, or anything else on your mind going into a new day.

6. Put on clothes that make you feel happy.

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Put on whatever outfit makes you happy, whether that’s a cute sweater or a t-shirt. Wear something that makes you feel good.

7. Watch the sunrise.

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OK, so I know you might not be able to do this every morning, but I think that watching the sunrise is the perfect way to start any day. What could be better than taking in all of these wonderful creations?

8. If you can, sit outside and enjoy our planet.

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On that note, take some time to sit outside and enjoy the early morning and the world around you. Start your morning off with some time to really just sit back and take it all in.

9. Spend some time reading something you enjoy.

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Grab a good book, a magazine, or whatever it is you might like to read. Take some time to clear your mind, and then fill it with lots of good writing.

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Arguably my favorite thing on the list, I truly can see no downside to listening to the birds chirping away in the morning. If you can, take some time to listen to nature’s sweet morning song.

Hopefully you can try one of these tactics to brighten up your morning, and in turn, maybe even brighten up your whole day. We live in a wonderful world, and I think that it's time we start to recognize that.

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