Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, August 30, 2012

 I wrote this a while back and should have posted it then but here it is. How I met my husband the short version ;)

There comes a point in your life where you stop and realize that where you have been has shaped your future. I am not always proud nor do I often enjoy talking about my past. However it has gotten me where I am today. The past doesn't shape the future it merely gives it a starting to point. We all hold the shape of future in the palms of our hands. It is what we choose to do with it that gives it it's shape.

Sometimes our most memorable moments come when we least expect it. Those moments are the ones that have the power to take our breath away. It's these moments I have been thinking about lately.

There was a night in May several years ago that a friend I worked with and I decided to go out to eat. We got ready, went to eat at BWW and had a great time. While we were there I said to her " Since we got all dolled up why don't we head to the Cowboy and hang out there for a little while." Well we did. On that night, I met the absolute love of my life. He came to sit with me and my friend. He told me he was taking me home with him and to work the next morning. Which to some people would probably sound completely crazy. But to me it was the sexiest thing I had ever heard. I loved at that very moment how confident he was.

This one particular moment in my life has forever changed the way I look at things. I had never in my life met a man who had a confidence about him you could feel just by standing next to him. Nor had I ever met anyone who could make me feel complete just by holding my hand. I have come to find out a lot about myself by being with this incredibly amazing man. I have learned I am stronger than I ever imagined. Not because I have to be but because I want to be. I have learned I can love someone completely and not worry about what could go wrong. I have in the past always held back my love, waiting for the ball to drop, something to go wrong. In my past that has usually been the case. Something good followed by something bad. I have learned that no matter what I have someone that loves me for who I am, not for who I try to be when I am with them. I can actually be myself for a change. I have learned I actually like who I am. That who I am is a person that can face challenges, sometimes several at once, and adapt as needed and carry on without falling apart.

My husband gives me the confidence to be who I am.

The 7 stages of grief during deployments.......

7 Stages of Grief modified for the military family....

This is the first phase.You don't want to accept the reality of it. It is a emotional wall to protect yourself from the next stage. You may stay in this stage a few minutes, a few days, or a few weeks.
As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.

You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase. This phase may or may never actually go away. Depending on the situation. You may slip out of this phase and come right back to in an instant. Be patient with yourself and being willing to lean on others during this time.

Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.

You may rail against fate, questioning "Why me?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I will never drink again if you just bring him/her back").

Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your loved one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair. This is when having people around you who have been there helps. Rely on your fellow spouses. Listen to things that may have helped and determine which ones may help you best. It is ok to feel this way, but the goal is to try and not stay in this phase as hard as that sounds.

7 Stages of Grief...
As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly. The light at the end of the tunnel may have appeared for whatever reason. This is a bright spot try to focus on it.

As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems. The feelings of I can't do this alone start fading away as if almost never there.

During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before .However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you have done well making it through your journey. This phase is almost always hit closet to return of your loved one. Take this time to start making plans for their return and how your life will be once they are back. This is also a difficult time. Sometimes almost as hard as them leaving to begin with. Be patient.

7 stages of grief...
This is meant to help those through a deployment. This is in no way the exact same coping strategies to someone who has actually lost a loved one in a permanent manner. It is simply meant to help those going through a deployment that there are actually going through stages of grief as well. Too often we tend to think our feeling our silly when they are in truth similar to the stages of grief.Take time to feel each stage and do not beat yourself up for going through one or more stages more than once. It happens. You can be fine one day and not the next. Don't be so hard on yourself. One day at a time is all anyone asks of you, and so should be all you ask of yourself.

Exerts taken from recover-from-grief.com
These are there strategies. Simply altered mildly to meet the needs of military families.

A new Me?

For the first time in my life I (me?) Yes I am the primary bread winner for our family. My husband thinks it is great. I am the one who is having trouble with it. Now it isn't were are we going next? or What is the Navy's decision of where we go....... Our next move the family follows me...... That is the exact phrase straight from my husbands mouth. The next time we move hunny we go where you want to go and where the money is for you. So why am I having trouble with this?!? I wanted to move up in my career. This is what I worked my butt off for the last two years and our family struggled through. Yet I still have little twinges of reality. I am the one the family depends on. I know now how my husband must have felt doing this for so long. It isn't that I don't want to work, I love what I do. I really don't even know what bothers me. I have the best support I could. A husband who supports me and kids who do also. So what is wrong with me?!? 

I love our life. I love working again. Things actually are going great. So this feeling must be just one of things that will go away right? I am hoping so.....

On an up note I do enjoy my job. I enjoy the fact that I get paid every day to do what I love. I love even more that people appreciate what I do even more. Being able to touch other people's lives gives me more joy than anything in a while. I enjoy even more being able to give my family things we have missed while I was in school. :) 

So maybe I am the one person in this world who can feel strange when everything is going so well.... But I do. Maybe after 32 years of being the one who just "helps" with the family income it will just take some getting used to..... Here is hoping!!! 

This is a new adventure for the whole family. And as with any other adventure in our lives we will get through it together. Because that is what we do. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Year, New changes.

So with this new year our life has taken a dramatic turn. 

Each new year always promise changes and sometimes being a military family you never know what some of those changes may mean. This years offers the promise of some exciting changes. I am graduating from school to hopefully start working again. The husband's ship is in dry dock so no underways anytime soon thank goodness! We have a teenager this year, with the oldest officially turn 13! And we may be buying a house sooner rather than later. All this means we may eventually have a temporary separation due to having a house to assume responsibility for. So once again separated from my love but by choice which I almost think is worse sometimes. When he is deployed I can "blame", if you will, the job. But thinking we would be doing this to ourselves this time seems insane. We know we need a house. We know the housing market where we are moving to is on a up swing. So rationally buying the house we want while we can still afford it makes good sense so we aren't stuck with less house for more money. But why on earth would we commit to that knowing we would have to spend time apart again? (I over-analyze everything I know) I love the houses we are seeing for the money we know we can spend. I just have a hard time making that leap of faith sometimes without rationalizing everything completely first. (What can I say, it's the nurse in me LOL) So we house hunt from 1600 miles away........

I am very excited to be starting a new path in my career this year. Having stayed home the better part of the last two years, I miss working. So getting back into the swing of being a contributing member to the household income will be awesome! Now having a renewed passion for kids and especially OB nursing makes going back to work a very promising adventure. 
I must say having my husband home has been the biggest change so far. Granted he came home in July but duty days and stuff sometimes it feels like I miss him just as much some days. I look forward to "normal life" but this life still has a lot to offer us. Retirement isn't for at least another two years so we do have a little bit to overcome. Hopefully though only the one more move. I have enjoyed being able to meet new people even in a location I don't like. This life just always offer new challenges that test me daily. No one thing is perfect or imperfect. I have learned the approach to things is the key. Living life based on others is not for me. Living it the best way I can is. I can do what I can everyday to approach each day with strength, happiness, and positivity. I have learned anything other than that is not good for me or the family.

This is a great year! I have a beautiful wonderful family I love dearly! Nothing else matters other to keep things going in a positive direction! <3

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions

When your growing up Christmas is a magical time. All you think of is the presents, time out of school, and yummy treats. The magic is all around and you have all the faith in the world. As you grow up and realize the effort it goes into the magic. The time spent running around to stores, cooking, preparing, traveling, etc. All these things you still do because of the eyes of the children who look back at you the same way you did when you were a child to your parents. 

This year has made me stop and think back to a lot of the traditions we used to have when I was growing up. As a military family sometimes not everything can go the way you want it to. The days of hopping from family member to family members house on Christmas and having big family dinners have all but faded into history. Now your lucky if your within 500 miles of home if you are even on the same side of the world. So traveling back isn't always as easy as it used to be. Because duty days still exist. Stand down doesn't necessarily  mean you get the time off you want when there are so many in the same situation in your unit. They have kids too so you understand when they want the time off just as much as your husband or wife. But when you stop and think about it Christmas traditions may evolve but never truly change.

The family meals with family gathering around talking about old times are simply replaced with "famliy" meals. The meals with your military family gathered in whoever is house is hosting it this year. Your still with family so that hasn't changed. You just have people gathered around you may not have grown up with. The scene is still the same though. Women gathering around the kitchen bringing in dishes of homemade goodies. Talking about this and that, mostly shopping and kids. The men gathering around the TV watching whichever game is on, swapping stories of the good ole days and all the war stories. Kids running around playing and laughing trying to sneak treats from the kitchen. So things may have changed a bit but essentially the same. 

The life has it's ups and downs. No one ever said being a military family would be easy. If it was everyone would do it. But those that do have a few things many people would never imagine. We have family everywhere we go. Because no matter where the military takes you you are always part of a family that embraces you. You have decorations on your tree from your children and those who are like nieces and nephews even if they may have no blood relation. Your card collection goes up each year as you either move or change duty stations because each new duty station presents another set of new family members. 

So as much as we try to preserve old traditions we truly have been blessed with our own unique ones. While we may have our own traditions for our families that we do have the ones we share are just as special. Including others in our lives is an important part of the holiday season isn't it? After all the reason we celebrate is because a child was born to share himself to such an extent that we would have a reason to celebrate for centuries to come. Sharing, caring and giving of ourselves is part of what makes the season so special. 

So while our families may be far and our traditions may be sometimes not what we expect. They are just what they are supposed to be. Time spent with people we love and care about celebrating a special time. So no matter where you are or what you are doing from our family to yours Merry Christmas! May 2012 be a year of great blessing for each and everyone. Even if I don't know you personally you are part of our family because we are all in this life together. Thank you for sharing your time with us. God bless!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Falling into fall....

I was asked if I was ok because I hadn't posted on here in a while. Well in all fairness I am or rather should be. My husband returned home safely from deployment. That above all else is a victory.

I am also a full time nursing student which takes most of my time now days.

The truth is I just have avoiding writing anything down. Writing means you have to face your feelings. That is the last thing I want to do right now. When all you feel is like your falling everyday there is no real reason to write. Just dodge the landing. Landings are painful and generally permanent depending how long you have been falling.

So keep from thinking about falling or landing or drifting or whatever it is I am doing these days I spend most days lost in the kids, or school work, or something, anything to keep me busy. Then when I can't keep busy anymore I fall asleep. To get up and do it again. Get up worry about bills, kids, behaviors, family, school, husbands work, my lack of it, supper, laundry, dishes, homework, tests. This day in and day out. Feel guilty because there are family burdens at home you know you should be there to help with and aren't. You know you should help because you get reminded enough by your sister who also doesn't help but your the nurse and oldest so of course it is your responsibility. You are the experienced one in class everyone looks to for help even when you can't always give it because you have your own stress to deal with.For some reason your kids decided they don't want to be the good children they used to be anymore and start getting in trouble at school to the point you almost dread answering the phone. Your ex husband decides not only does he not want to pay child support he wants to make your life a living hell while doing so and at the same your husband's ex wife apparently got the same memo and decides that she wants to start causing problems as well.

No I may not be "OK" always. But is anyone's life perfect? No. I could spend my days continuing to spiral. Fortunately I have my 2 year old bright spot who keeps me laughing. I have friends in class who keep me motivated to get through the next 9 months we have left. And my husband who tells me everything will be ok. Yeah sometimes I want to cry and pitch a fit and make everything go my way ( or try ). However, there is a good chance that would not work. So why waste the time and energy?

I have come to find, in the last several weeks, that meditation and laughter works wonders. I can depend on myself more than ever. And my husband truly is the greatest man in the world. He proves it everyday. Even when I stress about everything he reminds me nothing is as bad as I make it out to be and we will get through it together.

So my new favorite thing to do is to fall into fall........ Falling in love everyday, Falling into happiness, Falling into new blessings, and Falling into new changes with open arms. Everything happens for a reason. Embrace change if it wasn't for change we would be stuck at start with not end in sight......... I personally want to pass go and collect my $200 :)

Master of Illusions

I sit sometimes and I think. I think about lots of things. What color is my mood ring gonna be today?...... What am I going to do to make myself laugh instead of cry today?........ Wonder what he is doing?....... Can I really do the things everyone says I can?...... Why do people think I'm superwoman when I am really not?...... What I feel like I have it together today and tomorrow when I get up coffee may make me completely lose it?... Yeah my mind never stops. I am a mom, a Navy wife, a nurse, a student, daughter, and sister. I don't know how to shut my mind off. Most days I try spending my day trying to fill it with positive thoughts. Rainbows and butterflies and all that good stuff. And I put on a good face most days, I laugh and cut up with friends and family. I smile and say everything is going to be ok, because as a wife that is what I do. As a military wife that is what I have no choice but to do. Yet when everyone leaves and I turn the lights off my mind becomes my enemy once again. I have had a feeling that not many understand. After all military members make up approximately 1% of the population and of that not all of the 1% have spouses or significant others. But those that are significant others know the feeling well. My mother described exactly how she felt as a spouse and daughter of the military and oddly enough it is exactly how I have felt these last months. It's called a black hole. Webster defines a black hole as this: a celestial object that has a gravitational field so strong that light cannot escape it and it is believed to be created especially in the collapse of a very massive star. Now I know in theory how I feel is not EXACTLY the same. However, my husband is the massive star in my life, aside from my children, and not having here makes me feel as if the world collapsed leaving no light or emotion left to escape from my body. I feel cold and alone most nights and even on my best of days the hard reality of walking up the stairs to the bedroom to see the bed half made and his pillow on my side is rather daunting. The strongest I can be evades me at bedtime. I spend most of my day avoiding my room.

I have spent most of my almost 31 years doing things alone even when I have had someone in my life. I have worked since I was 16. I had my first child at 18 and did most of the raising of her on my own. ( Yes her father helped some and still does but things happen and life doesn't go according to plan. And at 20 I was a single mom ) I lived through a hell of a marriage hiding to most everyone that knew me how horrible it really was. I survived divorce and raising two children on my own. Through all of what hard times I fell on, I still at least felt alive and had feeling regardless of what they may be ( sadness, anger, joy, etc. ), I had feelings. Now my world, even though it is still fully functional and running, is empty. Not permanently but still for now empty. The emotions I want to have are not there. I want to FEEL but my reason for feeling is fighting a war no one can win. No one ever WINS a war they just get through it. He does his job and does it well and for that I am VERY proud of him, but knowing how much he would rather be here only adds to my emptiness.

I know in my heart the feeling will go away. All I need are those strong arms to hold me again and my world will be once again back to normal. The thing is I have tried for months to figure out what was wrong with me. I am not the first nor the last to be a deployed service members spouse. So why is it so much easier for them. How can they be put all together and I fall apart at the seams. Well my friends I will tell you. You see what no one tells you is the magic of the ID card. Yes that is what I said ID card. This card gives you the power to be the master of illusions. What we do as spouses is become great illusionists. We show the public what they want to see. A proud spouse manning the home front with ease and make juggling 30 things look effortless. We do what has to be done and at the end of the day we get lost in ourselves. We have our 0200 crys ( not of course for anyone else to see because tears are NOT military issue ) we hug our pillows as we drift off to sleep and meet our spouse in the dreamland that exists during deployments. We take our superwoman hat off but only for those brief moments we ALLOW ourselves the luxury. Then the hat goes right back on and we show the world what it wants to see again. It is not a perfect system. We should not have be the one who bears the world on their shoulders, but we do because our spouses bear the world on theirs and marriage means bearing the load together. So we do what every good military wife does we suck it up and go on.

What I learned from this little awe inspiring moment is this: while what we do is support our husbands what we do is survive. We live the lives we want to live. We may have our black hole moments but eventually they pass. I may not be out of mine yet but I am working on it. The other thing I learned is we as spouses generally expect too much from ourselves. While I would LOVE to think I am more than capable of handling the things that go wrong without being phased by it, that is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. We expect that everything we do while our spouse are away must be perfect because they are giving it their all. Reality though is we are human ( shocking right? yeah I was kinda blown away too ) and as humans we are ENTITLED to NOT be perfect. A wise saying once was said. " To err is human, To forgive divine." The thing with this saying , and I am taking it out of context so bear with me, is this we are human and we will make mistakes but to forgive ourselves of these transgressions is heavenly. If WE can't forgive ourselves how can anyone else? Aren't we entitled to the same things the other 99% of the country is? The answer to both questions is yes. We do deserve it if we ALLOW ourselves to. All we need is more people to encourage each other to believe this.

I am not saying the nights are not still going to be lonely. They will be. Its not going to make everything ok but what it will do is take part of the load off our shoulders. We don't have to do everything ourselves. It is OK to ask for help sometimes. It is OK to have a cry because your lonely or EVERYTHING has went wrong today. Its OK that you feel like you will never feel the same way again. The key is knowing its ok to feel that way and then figure out how you want to take that energy and use it. Clean, start a hobby, walk, go be a crutch for another spouse, start a support group, or just get out a get some sunshine on your face. The energy used to degrade yourself is better put to use in finding a positive spin on the situation. Your life is what you make it. I have been told that so many times but it never rang true until now. If you sit and keep to yourself it will not get any better. Ask any spouse of at least a number of years. There are essential items that are needed for deployment, some they tell you and some they dont. Of course you need all the paperwork and numbers and lists. You also need at least 2 REALLY good friends that live near by. Did you count your shoulders? You have 2 thus why you need 2 good friends ( I call mine my chosen sisters ). You need them to be there D day, and for day 47 when everything hits you at once, and T minus 4-0 days when you can't keep yourself together long enough to remember your name much less the kids, camera, phone and car/house keys. You need a 15 minute block everyday to have YOU time. Meditate, sit and stare at the TV, Listen to music, or cry for 15 minutes everyday. Otherwise you lose yourself. Too many wives ( myself included ) put too much on what they feel like has to be done. The perfect everything. Perfect exists in 2 places : Heaven and Hollywood. Otherwise everything does NOT have to be perfect.

It may not happen overnight but if we take time and make ourselves a little imperfect maybe we can make our lives a little easier.Because in the end when the horrible time known as deployment is over there are two things that matter 1. He came home to you. and 2. He came home to you. Ask any service member and they will tell you it's not what you wear, or how things went while they were away, or what you will have to eat when you get home. ALL that matters is HE came home and YOU are who he came home to. The person you said your vows to only wants you at the end of a pier or on a bleacher or in an airport. So that all they went through gets left there and the world is right again for both of you. We may not be perfect and neither may your spouse but when all is right with your world its pretty dang close.