Bethany Saros signed up as a very young woman:
I’d joined the Army right out of high school. The life had seemed so glamorous, and my recruiter swore up and down that I would be a world traveler.
Glamorous? Part of becoming a soldier is learning to kill. And part of it is agreeing to subordinate yourself to the commands of your superiors. Unsurprisingly, Bethany Saros did not enjoy her military training:
But as an innocent, home-schooled girl from the suburbs of the Midwest, I was unprepared for military life. I sobbed my way through basic training. As a child, my tears had been a way to pacify an overly strict father, so whenever my 4-foot-11 [?] male drill sergeant got in my face, I dissolved into waterworks.
She found it difficult to compete as a soldier even against other women:
One day, we were learning to use pugil sticks (which were basically giant Q-Tips we used to beat each other to a pulp) and I was going up against a tall, frail-looking girl everybody thought I could take. But she came at me so mercilessly I never even had the chance to raise my stick before I was on the ground wondering what in the hell just happened. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” the female drill sergeant screeched at me. “YOU DIDN’T EVEN FIGHT BACK!” (Cue crying.) This scenario seemed to be a metaphor for the rest of my military career.
After five years in the army her life was a mess. But she was pleased to be posted to Iraq because she thought she might find spiritual peace in the desert (what about the mission?):
By the time my boots hit the sand in Iraq, I was tired. I had spent the last five years getting pummeled by life in the Army — an abusive marriage, a nasty divorce, an unsuccessful relationship, getting raped by a co-worker, and an alcohol problem that had only added fuel to an already roaring fire. Though I was on the road to recovery with six months of sobriety under my belt, I was mentally and spiritually exhausted. Truth be told, I was looking forward to a year in the desert. As a child in Sunday school, I’d heard stories about saints who went to the desert looking for spiritual peace — the very desert where I now found myself.
Instead of spiritual peace she found a fellow soldier to have an affair with. The likelihood is that she embarked on this affair in order to get pregnant and be shipped back home. But she doesn't present the narrative this way. Her rationalisation hamster runs very fast to present an alternative grand narrative.
a) She denies embarking on the hookup to get pregnant:
When I met J., I wasn’t looking for a relationship. But Iraq had turned out to be more alienating that I’d originally thought. I was disconnected from everything familiar, surrounded by people who did not understand my sobriety or my sudden need for spirituality, and I felt more alone than I ever had in my life. J. was fresh out of a relationship where he’d been cheated on and was feeling rejected and hurt. After a month of friendship, we sought solace in each other’s arms. We thought we were in love...
b) She denies knowing that she could get pregnant from having sex for a period of six weeks:
That couldn’t happen to me. I had been married for two years without getting pregnant. I’d been in a year-long relationship without getting pregnant. It was impossible that I’d get pregnant in a relationship that had barely been alive for six weeks.
c) She portrays herself as the victim of the male soldier who deceived her as to his real intentions, despite the likelihood that she also deceived him about her real intentions:
That night, I finally was able to get in touch with J. “Are you really pregnant?” he asked in disbelief.
“Yes. I went to the doctor this morning,” I said.
“Listen,” he said. “I cannot think of a worse time to tell you this but …”
I knew what was coming. “You’re getting back together with K., aren’t you.” It was more of a statement than a question.
The conversation that followed consisted of the usual phrases that go through breakup dialogue — you lied to me, how could you, etc. Except I couldn’t slam down the phone and write him off as a jerk for the rest of my life. We had created a child together. We had decisions to make. Decisions that I was in no condition to make but had to be made anyway, fast.
“Are you going to keep it?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I can’t do an abortion. I just can’t.”
“OK,” he said. “I am going to be there for you and the baby. We will work this out. No matter what, I will be there for you.”
Strong words spoken in the heat of the moment, just like everything else about our relationship.
She continues on with the same rationalisations:
I thought of J. and how he was in Iraq, consequence-free, at least for the time being. I had no way of knowing that his promise to be there for me and the baby would be meaningless, that I would eventually have to go after him for child support...
She had no way of knowing that a tour of duty fling wasn't likely to lead to a commitment? Again, it's likely that the guy got played, but she doesn't want to present it that way.
In the end it's clear that Bethany Saros was made to be a mother not a warrior:
But I wasn’t going to let the little person snuggled up in my belly down. One day, my son would be old enough to ask me questions, and I wanted to be able to tell him that I gave him the best life I possibly could. At the end of the day, my son was the only person I would have to explain myself to.
But what a wasteful and circuitous route to motherhood. If what was really important to her was the maternal instinct to protect her future children, then what was she doing in the army in the first place? She needed training not in the military, but in selecting a suitable father for her future children.