My early years In the navy were a huge influence on who I am today. I feel anxiety if ‘adrift’ (late) for anything, I meet deadlines and I still iron sharp creases, in clothes to name a few. What I also learned however was how to get-along with others.
In my first ship (HMS FEARLESS) I was in a messdeck (accommodation compartment with 3 tiered bunks and lockers in a space not much larger than a small lounge-diner of a modern house) with about 30 other ratings. We worked together, went ashore together and shared each other’s highs and lows. People moved on and new people joined but the togetherness remained.
Looking back I find the diversity of my mess-mates quite remarkable. People from all cultures, social class, beliefs about life and religion. We looked after each other, loyalty was never discussed but always there; some say you have to experience this ‘bond’ to grasp its significance. This spirit was layered, your messmates, the ship, the service (the army v navy rugby match is a highly competitive event) and there is a bond between all service personnel which extends to veterans who will gladly reminisce their shared experiences in each other’s company.
The point is we had to get- along, there was no privacy, wherever we served there were common values. Younger mess members followed the lead of seasoned messmates and you quickly learned. Of course it wasn’t all rosy, there was bullying and some individuals just didn’t adapt but on the whole these instances were rare. We learned to accept others for who they were and make the best of what we had to everyone’s mutual benefit; something I carry with me today.
Many veterans find life in civvy street hard. Reunions rekindle the espirit-de-corps but in their daily lives they may find adapting to the wider civilian community challenging, we all have to adapt to get-along. If you or someone you know, whether an ex service person or not, is having trouble getting on with others in life, at work, socially or in the home, get in touch with me at Plain Sailing Therapy and see what I can do to help you improve your relationships.