Life, Lemons and Lemonade… Part 2 by Allen Katherman

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A note from the editor.
Allen Katherman is a guest writer to mantanium.com this summer. He is a Poker personality, fashion enthusiast, nuclear engineer and a great friend. Be sure to follow him on instagram and check back for more.

Life, Lemons and Lemonade… Part 2
By Allen Katherman

I was given a full ride scholarship to go back to school but it came at a steep cost. A Chemical Engineering degree takes the average college student five years to complete; yet I was given only three years. All my days were filled with studying, studying and more studying and eventually I started getting burned out.

One Saturday, my wife went to go to the store and I stayed home to watch the kids. As I logged into the computer I noticed she was logged into her Myspace account and a new message had popped up. It was from an old high school fling and I vividly remember the words that she wrote to him; “I can’t believe that almost four years later I still feel the way I do about you.” My stomach knotted, my chest began to hurt and my face poured with tears. How could my wife, the mother of my children and my best friend betray me for another man?

All of the sudden, things started adding up. Just a couple of days before that, I had tried to pay for my books with a credit card which was suddenly maxed out. And when I tried to use my savings account, the $20k that was in there was gone. I found out later it was in another local bank under my wife’s name only. Within a week, I went from waking up with a wife and two kids that I loved dearly, to living alone in an empty house, experiencing major trust issues and dealing with almost no money.

Despite the adversity, I still tried to make it work with Melinda. Unfortunately, she quickly moved on to new man and didn’t want anything to do to me. I was only 22, unable to see my children (they moved back to Los Angeles) and in love with a woman that was in love with another man. I couldn’t sleep, I had no appetite and I would cry uncontrollably. To make matters worse, my grades started slipping even further and my command showed no empathy to what I was going through. I remember driving to school one day thinking that I could get my 350Z up to a good speed and “accidentally swerve” into the center divider so I could end it all. It was at that point that I realized I was suicidal.

For a span of about two months I was lost in my depression. I couldn’t work up the initiative to do any school work. I felt like I needed a friend to talk to and it wasn’t uncommon for me to skip class so that I could be available for Melinda to call me. I stayed indoors and hid myself from the world. It wasn’t until my best friend, Shawn, literally pulling me out my apartment that I started getting out and being social again.

Shawn pushed me to put that negative energy towards working out, going out and improving myself. I also started seeing a counselor to talk through all the issues. Between friends that made themselves available to me, Shawn and my counselor, I eventually rebuilt my confidence and took control of my life again. An “accidental swerve” into the center divider wasn’t a temptation for me anymore, and I needed less and less supervision from my friends.

Before I go any further I’d like to thank Shawn, Marilyn, Josh, Tiffany, Denise, Brent, Xavier, Kyle and my mom for always being there for me during that time. Without your efforts, I wouldn’t be here.

Although my personal and social lives were getting on track, I had put off my school work so much that I failed a class and I was facing an academic review board from command. During the board, it was ruled that I wasn’t fit to be an officer and was recommended that I get sent to the fleet (aka “real Navy”). I was in contact with a detailer (the person who ensures proper manning for different billets throughout the Navy) for weeks on end trying to get orders to go to San Diego. It was bad enough that I lost a phenomenal career opportunity, but it would have been even worse had I gotten shipped to Washington, Virginia or even Japan where I wouldn’t even be able to see my kids for the greater part of five years. After some discussion and negotiating, my detailer delivered my orders to Coronado, CA aboard the USS Carl Vinson.

They say that college changes you. Needless to say, after a divorce, having all my money stolen and losing my privilege as an everyday father, that “change” was the least that had happened to me. I found optimism in moving to San Diego. I was excited to see my kids more often and be close to home.

However, it wasn’t long after I arrived in San Diego that adversity presented itself.

My good friend, Chris, was stationed there. As soon as he got word that I was showing up to the ship, he got in contact with me. We were catching up on life and things, and the conversation was going well until he said, “Hey man, I hope you’re ready. Because we’re scheduled to go on back to back deployment and we’re leaving in two months.”

As always, to be continued…

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