Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Hero, My Friend

I love my husband!

In June, we will have been married for 11 years! What? It doesn't seem possible when I think about it. I was a baby when I got married. I was only 20 years old and full of preconceived notions and fairytale dreams about marriage and what it was like. It didn't matter how many marriage books my parent's made me read or how many times my dad told me that "love is blind but marriage is an eye opener," I still went in to marriage with the wrong idea, that somehow it was easy. The, "and they lived happily ever after," is a big pile of cow manure if you ask me. I'm sure there is not one married couple out there that will say they've been happy every day that they've been married. If they do, I say they are lying and you can't change my mind. Ha!

Our marriage has had it's fair share of dark days. Days where I wondered if it was really worth it at all. I'm sure he would tell you the same thing. I am not an easy person to live with. I'll admit it. I can be negative and moody. I speak without thinking. I'm selfish and think only of my own needs and wants. I'm not proud of it. I'm ashamed really. In the last couple of years, I have really begun to see and try and change the negative things in my life. I'm not saying I've figured it out completely but half the battle is recognizing it, right?

Marriage is hard and if you really want it to work, you have to WORK! It's not in our nature to put other people's needs above our own. We are born with an innate ability to look out for number one. Some people are better at it than others, I guess, but I'm not one of those people. It's sinful and shameful but it's the truth. One sure fire way to turn things around in a marriage that is lacking is to start putting your spouse above yourself. Sometimes that means doing things that you do not want to do. At first, it will be hard and you may find yourself bitter about the situation but I promise, if you keep WORKING at it, one day you'll find yourself doing something that you used to hate and realize that you are enjoying it. Not because it's your thing but because you are doing it with your spouse and making them happy makes you happy. Funny how that works. Once you have the hang of that, you'll find yourself looking for ways to make your spouse happy and can I just say, happy spouse, happy marriage. And my friends, they will reciprocate. Maybe not at first. They may wonder what you're up to in the beginning! If things have been difficult, you've been difficult, they may be gun-shy but you keep it up, they'll come around. Trust me, I know.

In the beginning, when my husband joined the Army, people asked me all the time how I felt about it or why now? He was 30 after all. If you graduated from a Christian college designed to prepare you for ministry and you join the military and not as a chaplain, you get weird looks and awkward silences. At first, it was hard to answer. It caught most people by surprise but the truth is, we'd fought about him joining the military for years. It was just a mostly private war that few people knew about. I was completely against it. You can read all about my thoughts on him joining the Army and me becoming and Army wife here. But in the end, it was the right thing for him and the right thing for us. I know I've posted a lot lately about my anxiety and depression over the last month waiting for him to come home from deployment. Yes, this past month has been particularly tough but I will still tell you that this was the right decision for our family. I have had more peace, more stability, more love for my husband in this season of life than any previously before. I came across this quote on Pinterest a while back and it sums up how I feel about him being in the Army, "you know you've made the right decision when there is peace in your heart."

Peace? Really? Isn't your husband in a war zone where people want to kill him? Yes, yes he is but that still hasn't erased the peace in my heart. I may be a mess right now but it's not so much worry about him but just the all consuming need for him to be home and for our family to be whole again. Because you see, right now, this is not a dark day of marriage. The sun is shining, I'm a better person, my husband is loving what he does, and we are truly best friends. It's taken a lot of work to get us to this place and it will continue to take work, really hard work. But it's worth it. It is SO WORTH IT! I want to enjoy this season of our marriage together, not apart.

I love my husband! My hero. My friend.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hurry Up and Wait

At the end of this week, I'll have been back in Louisiana for a month. On the days where both girls are crying, I'm tired, and there are a million things to get done, I feel like I've been here forever. I feel like there is no end in sight. On other days when the sun is shining (a rare thing since we've been back), everything is quiet, my girls are smiling and happy, and I feel OK, I'm amazed at the length of time that has passed. I'm amazed that I've done it on my own. I knew coming back without my husband being home would be hard but there was just really no good time to come home and get our lives on a schedule before he comes back so we bit the bullet and just did it. It's been good for us. I've gotten things done and the house mostly in order. Abigail has gotten acclimated in a new school and Charlotte is finally comfortable in a new place and on a good routine. So now we are just waiting. Waiting is truly the hard part.

Nearly three years ago, when we were in a different situation, we were in a waiting period and I was having a hard time. You can read about that here. Waiting has never been my strong suit. I get frustrated, irritated, and upset. I just want what I want and I want it now. It's not a very Godly attitude and it's something I constantly have to work on and pray about. I try and distract myself or find something else to do when the wait seems excessive. But when you are a stay at home mom (which I wouldn't trade for the world) there is only so much cleaning, cooking, diaper changing you can do. So, I find myself sometimes with empty moments and in those moments my mind and heart are at war with each other. My mind tells me the facts, things I know to be true but my heart, it likes to ignore my mind and tell me something completely different. It makes me worry and feel frustrated. It reminds me that I'm lonely and anxious. I then try and remind myself of the facts and let my mind be in charge but it's easier said than done. I'm ready, beyond ready, for this season of life to be over. I'm ready for the elephant to get off my chest and for the rock in my stomach to disappear. I know, that we may find ourselves in a similar season again and maybe next time I'll be stronger and more ready for what's to come but for now, the end is near and I am extremely glad.

One of the things that I've been waiting on recently finally happened. I had thought all along, once this one things happens, I'll feel better for sure. But I don't. Not really. Now, I just have a new set of things to worry about and stress over. I guess in life, there are always things, no matter what your situation, that can drag you down, make you worry, fill mind and heart with stress and it's what you do in those situations that matter. I'm not proud of all my moments. There are times when I let it all control me instead of surrendering it and letting it go. But today, today is a new day. Today is a new chance to let it go and focus on the good.

There is an old adage that when I'm in the middle of letting the stress and anxiety control me, irritates me to no end but when I'm thinking clearly, it's a good reminder that better things are still to come..."This too shall pass." And it shall. There will come a moment in time, when deployment will be officially over. My husband will be home and our family will be whole again. Maybe then, I'll be able to look back over this time and see some good in it, instead of all the heartache, loneliness, sleepless nights, and anxiety that come at me from all sides now. So, for now, on this day, I'm choosing to breathe deeply, finish my coffee, and focus on the good. Like the beautiful baby sleeping away in her swing.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

It Is What It Is

Today, I am sitting here, wishing my hubby would get online so I could talk with him. I really, honestly, do not know how wives did it back in the day when the only form of communication was handwritten letters. I cannot imagine, going weeks without hearing anything from my husband. I would have gone crazy! Well, crazier than I already am. Ha! Say what you will about technology, but I, for one, am extremely grateful for how far it's come. Earlier this week, when I made my first post, I was feeling really down and anxious but after being able to Skype with my husband, see his face, and hear his voice, I felt refreshed and restored. I felt like I could make it through the rest of this deployment, however long we may still have.

I never knew that the end of deployment would feel worse than the beginning. Yes, the beginning was heartbreaking. I remember sobbing in my vehicle as we drove away from him and Fort Polk, headed to spend deployment with my family. It was so hard to get myself under control but I knew that for mine and Abigail's safety that it was necessary. I would be fine for an hour or so and then my mind would take me back to that moment, of walking away, not knowing when or if I'd see him again and my heart would break all over and the tears would come. Also, the dumb radio stations I was listening to kept playing songs like "American Solider" and "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" which did NOT help matters. It was probably because it was only a few days away from the fourth of July but it felt like torture.

Here we are, nearing the end, and I feel worse than in the beginning. Not so much sad as anxious, irritated, and stressed out. I met with a photographer yesterday, who is a fellow Army wife, and she said it's always the same with her. The beginning sucks but you're figuring out how to live your life without your spouse and there is so much to be responsible for and take care of and so you do it. The end is different. The anticipation is suffocating. You are just ready for it to be over. It's so close you can almost taste it but yet it's still so far because there are so many Army protocols and rules and regulations. All there to protect you and your solider, of course, but infuriating none the less.

Did I mention the photographer? She's amazing and she's going to be taking pictures at the homecoming ceremony! I am beyond EXCITED!!! I really wanted to have someone else be in charge of the picture taking, because, well, I want to be in the moment! I haven't physically touched my husband in almost 8 months! Abigail has not hugged her daddy in almost 8 months! We have an almost 3 month old that has never been held by her daddy. I want to BE in that moment but I want the pictures, the proof that the moment happened, raw emotions and all. I am so thankful that she is going to be there to record this amazing moment in our lives.

Today, I'm going shopping for a homecoming outfit. I know that my husband could probably care less what I'm wearing and probably won't even notice but it matters to me. As I'm sure it's mattered to all military wives who've been in this situation. I sort of had an idea in mind with some clothes I already had but when I actually tried the combo on together, it didn't work out how I imagined so now I'm back at square one. At least the kids outfits are taken care of.

Last week we bought materials for Abigail to make a sign to hold at the ceremony. So, this weekend we'll work on that to help us pass the time and hopefully keep me from dwelling on what's to come and stressing myself out.

It's funny how I never really felt the need to blog this whole time but now, I'm so full of emotions and words that I just need to get them out. Thanks for listening. Thanks for caring. I leave you with the motto that I've said to myself over and over this whole deployment and will continue to say because it's the truth...

"It is what it is!" I know that. So, when I feel myself stressing or being overly anxious, I have to remind myself of that and remember that worrying won't change anything.

"25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?" Luke 12:25-26

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Elephant On My Chest

The last few days, I've found my emotions full to the brim and nearly spilling over. I am weighed down by them. Just when I think I have things under control, the giant elephant of emotions flops down on my chest again and I can barely breathe.

So much has happened since I last blogged back in August of last year. My husband had been gone to war for a little over a month. I was getting adjusted to living with my parents, my kid going to kindergarten, and being pregnant. The months sort of flew by. I am incredibly thankful for that. It seemed there was something to look forward to each month, which kept my mind off the fact that my husband was a million miles away and I had no clue when I'd see him again. With the passing of time came November, Abigail turned six and our sweet Charlotte was born. The anxiety I felt then was huge. How was I going to go through a c-section without my husband physically there to hold my hand? I had a lot of "what ifs" that ran through my mind the last few days leading up to her birth. Thankfully, technology, saved the day and with my mother by my side holding my iPad, I got to look into my handsome husband's face, on the other side of the world, while my doctor and her team, took care of Charlotte. Being able to see and talk to him, calmed me greater than any of the medication they pumped into my IV.

After a few days in the hospital, it was Thanksgiving day and time to bring Charlotte home. But really, it wasn't her home. Our home was sitting empty in Louisiana. I am so thankful for my parent's and all they have done for me during this deployment. Being there for us leading up to and after Charlotte's birth is something I'll never be able to repay. We celebrated Thanksgiving and then looked forward to Christmas. In the month between Charlotte's birth and Christmas, I experienced some health issues. None of them super major but they left me feeling like I'd never be the same again. We traveled to Georgia for Christmas and while it was a joy to be with my extended family, I never felt more alone than I did on Christmas day.

I held it together most days. There was the occasional day that my emotions would sneak up on me, leaving me in tears, with no explanation other than, I was pregnant and I missed my husband. I didn't break down during the birth of my daughter or the days afterward. I kept my mind on her and what she needed but Christmas day wore me down and knocked me out. That morning we were able to Skype with Ryan but instead of it bringing me joy, it made the pain I kept pushed down even more real. All of the emotions and realities of what we were going through came to the surface. I was miserable. I tried to control it the best I could during the call because I knew it wasn't fair to him for me to break down and fall apart but once the call was over, I did. I never could muster much enthusiasm for the rest of the day.

Once Christmas was over and we were back in Florida, time sped up again. Plans began to be made for the girls and I to return to Louisiana. Deployment was going to be over soon. Sooner than I'd anticipated. Thankful that my husband would be returning soon but sad to leave behind my parent's and my support system, we loaded up a u-haul with the things we had brought with us and the things we had accumulated over the past 8 months and made our way back to Fort Polk. But not on the day we had planned. The freak ice storm the day before left I-10 closed for more than 24 hours. But soon we were on the road and on the way home. Because of our delay, my parent's were unable to stay and help us get settled. My dad helped me unload the u-haul while my mom kept the girls occupied. The next morning, after breakfast and grocery shopping, they were on their way back to Florida and I once again found myself alone. Alone, with not one but two children. Solely responsible for their well-being. I had much to do to get my house in order so I focused on that and willed the tears to stay put. A day or so later, I had one of my health issues reoccur sending me to the emergency room, with two kids, alone. I struggled greatly with my emotions. But my mom reminded me that I am strong and that God is still in control. So I forged ahead taking care of the things that needed to be done.

We've been back nearly a month now and things have not been easy. Actually, it seems like it's one thing after another that leaves me feeling broken, run down, tired, anxious, and lonely. I am so amazed at the military wives who have done it all alone the entire time. You, my friends, are some seriously strong and courageous people! You deserve a medal! I am in awe of you. Because, if you've felt like this these last 8 months then I don't know how you are holding it all together. I feel on the verge of breaking down at least twice a day. That's where the elephant comes in. I know my husband is coming home soon. There is nothing else to look forward to, other than that, and the anticipation of it feels like it might kill me. I'm not kidding. My chest is tight, tears are constantly in the corners of my eyes. I feel anxious, nervous, excited all at once. I just wish he could be home now because even though I know it's close it still feels like it's never really going to happen.

I know you mean well and I thank you for your words but saying, "it's almost over. Hang in there. You can do this," actually does not help. Because until you've actually walked in my shoes, you don't know how I feel and telling me things that I already know only makes it feel worse. I'm sorry if that seems mean or cruel but I need you to know. And yes, we chose this life, we knew deployment would be a part of our journey, but saying that doesn't help either. You don't really have to say anything just pray for me. I'm only keeping it together by the grace of God and He's the only one who can calm my heart and steady my emotions. Just because we chose this journey doesn't mean I'm not ready for this part to be over. Part of me is missing and I won't feel whole until I have him back, safe, in my arms again!

Just typing it all out has relieved some of the weight of my emotions. Thank you for listening. Please pray for me, our girls, and my husbands safe return. Love to you all!