I’d already had most of my injections and managed to stay out of trouble except when Valdez was on duty, then I couldn’t do anything but be in trouble. I was his whipping boy. Everybody in the platoon knew he had singled me out and the other drill instructors knew it also. I know this because when he was off duty they used me in a leadership role, to demonstrate how to do things to the other recruits. But in the eyes of Valdez I could do nothing right. He must have made me do 10 times the calisthenics that everybody else had to do. I’d also estimate that he punched me at least 10-15 times during the course of boot camp.
I was in excellent physical shape when I got to boot camp, but Valdez was making a brute out of me. It seemed like the more he piled it on me, the stronger I got. I eventually reverted to my old safety zone of disassociation that I mastered while being raised by a crazy woman. After a while the man had no effect on me at all. When he came in, I checked out. I began to feel that I was in control, not him.
He could scream at me all he wanted, I wasn’t listening. His abusive and vile words just beaded up on my face, ran down my body, and collected in a puddle at my feet.
He could punch me, but I wouldn’t react, I couldn’t feel anything. I'd just straighten back up and look right through him like he wasn't there. My mother could give him a run for his money in the physical abuse department. I already knew how to take pain.
He could make me do calisthenics all day, I wouldn’t quit. By the end of boot camp I'm sure I could out perform him or anybody else in my platoon with ease.
He was just too stupid and self absorbed to realize that I wasn’t really there.
It seemed as if he eventually started to believe that I was squared away, and along with the other DI‘s put me in for my first promotion. He came to believe that I had fantastic self discipline, he told me he‘d never had a recruit survive what he put me through. I'm sure he was mostly patting himself on the back though. What he did was mistake my ability to take abuse and disassociate, with self discipline.
I actually did get a promotion out of boot camp. Only 6 out of the 60 platoon members got promoted, and thanks to Valdez I got one of the spots. On graduation day he actually had the nerve to congratulate me, and tell me I did a good job. I just turned my back on him and walked away. He had no control over me at this point, so I had no reason or obligation to acknowledge his existence.
Besides, other than the fact that he beat the hell out of me on more than one occasion, and exercised me into the ground every time he saw me, I won…
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