At the time, leaving the Army after a successful 13-year career was the most challenging decision of my life. I had decided that it was time for a new challenge; a new way to improve my happiness.
Yes, of course, money was an issue because the work-to-hour ratio in the Army is fantastic (providing you're not on exercise or deployment). However, the stress levels were outrageous for me and it was causing a lot of pain, not only for myself but for my family too.
It didn't take long to realise that I wasn't myself anymore. I was certainly unhappy and had become very snappy and unnecessarily grumpy. This was something I have never wanted to be. I had always perceived myself as a positive individual, happy, and willing to make changes and take chances to make my life more fulfilling.
So, I had made my mind up, the time had come. After yet another argument with the CSM (Company Sergeant Major) who is a WO2 (Warrant Officer Class 2), I knew exactly what I needed to do to change my life; to become the real me again.
As ridiculous as it seems, the argument stemmed from Pancake Day – Yes, Pancake Day, but hear me out on this one. I wanted to organise a special lunch for my peers to give them the chance to enjoy free pancakes which I and a friend would make at work. The idea behind it was that it allowed everyone the chance to socialise, relax, and enjoy a good old pancake. I went through the procedure of casting a vote within the company lines. 90% of the soldiers decided in favour. The other 10%, well, they just didn’t want us to spend the money we had saved each month on a pancake lunch. After the vote was concluded, with a strong 90% majority, the CSM and the OC (Officer Commanding) still deemed it to be a NO! – Reason: soldiers would stay past 1330hrs to continue chatting, resulting in a loss of production time on vehicles and guns. They would, however, accept the pancake event to take place after 1700hrs (End of the working day).
Everyone sat around in the restroom discussing the Pancake Day - they had all heard the rumours that it wasn't going to happen - so, I had to take control. I stood up and said, “ Who wants pancakes at lunch then?” A load of hands went up (near enough everyone). “Who wants it after work?” No hands went up. So, I turned to the CSM and OC and said, “There's your answer”. I was then told, "It's after work or no pancake event!"
“All due respect, sir," I rudely replied, "if you don’t trust me to kick people out before the end of lunch, I can’t be arsed with it, and you can shove your pancake event up your arse. After all, it is only to enlighten and improve morale for everyone. Work has been stressful for a lot of the guys who have been grafting until 2200hrs, sometimes even later.”
Later that day, the CSM had to have a private word with me. The OC and CSM understood my frustration and agreed they would now allow the guys to finish work at 1500hrs for the pancake
event to take place - which baffled me because they didn’t want me to have it over lunch as they thought people would try and skive off work after 1330hrs. Now, they were agreeing to allow them to finish 2 hours before the end of the day. So, they had gone from losing zero-hours production to losing 2 hours - wtf!
So, another week went by and we had our pancake day, which was very successful, but, due to the arguments with the top corridor and the amount of stress my job had caused me, just to get them to listen, I thought, "Well, f*** this for a game of soldiers." I knew it was time.
The 'Seven Clicks to Heaven' they called it (signing off). It was more like 50 clicks, and some pretty silly questions. I listed my reasons for leaving on an A4 sheet of paper and delivered it to the OC. He read it, but he couldn’t agree to it. He said that he wanted me to stay. He offered me a new posting to a different unit and, I must admit, the offer was appealing and it did cross my mind to accept. However, I felt determined to stick to my decision on this, and it was now or never.
Throughout the year’s notice, it felt very hard to get my life back in order. I was in the process of selling my current property and purchasing a new one, planning a wedding, continuing my normal work, doing courses, and the soul-destroying task of job searching. It felt like I was being pulled from pillar to post. It was one of the worst years of my life: the stress; the anxiety; the general negativity from people at work. It was unreal.
Times became so hard for me that I sought the help of a counsellor. In fact, the 6-week counselling sessions really helped me out. I was able to talk to someone who was really able to see my situation from outside of the box. She really helped, and this enabled me to see things from a fresh perspective and block all the negativity that I had been unable to deflect.
I started to believe in myself again. I knew I'd made the right decision, and the time had finally come when I was out in the big wide world. I was still job searching and, lucky for me, I had a half-pension bonus to fall back on. Ideally, I wanted to start work as soon as possible and this is when it struck me. I knew my brother was going through the exact same pain like myself. The only difference was, my brother had served less than half the time I had (5 1/2 years to my 13 years), and he was treated much better! Being a senior rank meant I would have an inevitable interview with the CO (Commanding Officer) - the highest rank in the regiment - and this didn’t happen. He wasn't bothered about seeing me but he saw others. My brother, the lowest rank in a different regiment, had an interview with his CO and he got wished the best of luck. As you can imagine, at the time, this made me feel worthless, cheap, and it made me feel as if the 13 years I had dedicated to the armed forces had been for nothing; as pointless as a broken pencil. Anyway, after going through all this pain, anxiety, and stress, only one thing kept me going: CrossFit. It made me feel free again and it enabled me to safely release my anger and tension on everything (especially, when lifting heavy weights, as CrossFit allows you to dump the bar).
There is something about the noise it makes, it feels great, and it's so rewarding when you PB. There were times when I panicked about not having a job and I even broke down and cried to myself. I had a mortgage and a wedding to pay for - who wouldn’t panic. This is when my brother and I thought about starting a clothing company for people going to the gym.
It all started with some logos and the name Trident. Why did we choose Trident? Well, it was how we overcame the three points of pressure that dug so deeply into our soul: anxiety, stress, and negativity. These were the three elements that plagued our lives during that year of transition and we would never forget them. We had to overcome them on our own and yet we didn't want anyone else to suffer in the same way we had.
We had fought against those three areas of oppression to believe in ourselves again and we said that we wanted to help others believe in themselves too, to overcome negativity and anxiety.
We believed, if we could go through all of that, over the course of a year, other people could achieve far greater things. We separated the Trident into three prongs. Each prong would represent each one of the opposite feelings we had. Anxiety would become Fearless, Stress would become Faith, and Negativity would become Positivity.
With this in mind, we became even more determined to prove our worth, denounce those who showed negativity towards others, and show how we would make something of ourselves, and justify our decision to leave the armed forces.
We both understand what it is like to feel down and worthless when the world is against you and nobody believes in you. Trident Fitness is an emblem against Fear for those who need Faith and Positivity; to give them hope in the face of adversity, and help them to understand that they too can believe in themselves and achieve greatness.