Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Back Burner

I am a giver by nature. My mom used to say, that I'd give someone my last dollar and she's right. I totally would. If you're family or friend, you've probably at some point, been the recipient of a gift that didn't come on your birthday or holiday. I most likely saw something that reminded me of you and couldn't resist buying it. Giving in a tangible sense, hasn't always been an option due to our financial circumstances at times, but when it is, I seriously cannot help myself. It drives my husband nuts but it's part of who I am. But I'm not someone who just gives presents, I like to think that I give my time and "talents" when I can. I often put other people first before myself. It's not that I think that I don't matter but I just naturally find myself concerned for the well-being and care of others and like to do what I can when I can. As wonderful as this all is, it means that I put myself on a back burner many of times. I don't even realize that I'm doing it. Mostly that's because I truly receive more of a blessing as a giver. The thing about back burners is that they are hardly used and when they are it's for the less important part of the meal or for something that doesn't need much attention. It's often forgotten and when it's finally remembered, the results aren't always pleasant. I've been on the back burner too long.

Sometimes being on that back burner is intentional. It comes from a place of not wanting to be noticed or not wanting to deal with things in your life. That's why I've been there lately. It's mostly been survival mode. If I can say one thing about 2014, is that it's been full of some hard times. It's been much easier to focus on other things and other people than myself. If you've read my blog at all in the last few months you'll know what I'm talking about. From being alone with two kids waiting for my husband to return from Afghanistan to essentially having to abort my child due to an ectopic pregnancy, things have not been easy. I've had to deal with the emotions that come from these hard times. The easiest way to feel some sort of normalcy was to eat my feelings. I found myself slipping back into old eating habits that I thought I had finally conquered. One of the worst being waiting till my family was all in bed to indulge in junk food without having to feel guilty, at least for the time being. Guilt from over-indulging always comes. I blogged for a while after my surgery but I could never get over this nagging feeling that people just wanted me to suck it up and get over it already. So I tried that. I didn't really get over it. I'm still not over it. I just pretend to be. The truth is, I've got so many dang emotions bottled up inside right now, that I hope no one lights my fuse because it won't be pretty. But I'm trying to deal.

In the midst of all of this, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Of course, I see myself at some point, in a mirror everyday but that doesn't mean I'm always really looking and when I am, I put on my denial glasses or I say that I'll deal with it later. Well, later came in the glimpse and it was like a sucker punch to the gut. The disgusting, over-sized gut that hadn't been there just a couple months ago. The heartbreaking truth was that I had done it to myself, again. I had no one else to blame. I had put myself on the back burner, intentional or not, it was the way that I have survived the last couple of months. It's the way I survived most of last year. By putting everyone else above myself. Because, if I thought of me, I'd have to deal with the heartbreak of my husband being overseas, of being alone when my daughter arrived by c-section, of moving back to a place with no friends or family, of having my baby and part of myself taken from me. Dealing with me meant truly dealing with all of the hardness of life of late and it was easier to focus on everyone else than to do that. But that glimpse made me focus in on myself and I didn't like what I saw. The last few days have been especially hard as I've had to take a close look at myself, deal with the pains of life, and try to put things behind me so that I can move on and become a better me. I have a lot of work to do physically but it's not just that. I have a lot of work to do mentally and spiritually for myself as well.

I'm taking back control of my life. At least the parts that I have control over. I'm moving myself to the front burner. Don't get me wrong. It's OK to be on the back burner every now and then, as long as your mindful of the pot, keep it stirred, and take it off when it needs to be moved. It's not OK to put yourself on the back burner and leave yourself there until you no longer recognize who you are. That's where I feel like I've been so I'm moving myself forward. The rest of this year is about a better me and taking care of myself so that I can continue to be there for my family and those in my life. Today, I wrote down my goals and a game plan to achieve them. I'll write more about those later.

If you're struggling with being on the back burner or life has been hard lately, take a glimpse whether that be physically, mentally, or spiritually. Really take the time to look at yourself. Have you lost control? Have you allowed your circumstances to define you instead of dealing with them? There's always time for a change. Give it all to God and make a plan. Start small. Do the things you know to do and do them well. We can do this.

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." - Maya Angelo

Peace, Love, & Healthy Living,


Monday, July 28, 2014

Emptiness and Project Me


That's the word I would use to describe how I feel right now.

For the past few weeks my home has been filled with people I love. As our friends were packing for their move, the kitchen was one of the first things to be put away. Once I discovered they planned on eating sandwiches for their remaining time, I was having none of it. There was no way that I was going to toss out food on a regular basis while they ate poorly for a few weeks.

 It was decided that I would cook each evening and they would come have dinner with us. What was designed to be a blessing to them turned out to be the greater blessing for me. I enjoyed every minute of it. I enjoyed the planning and cooking. I enjoyed the conversations over dinner. I enjoyed it when they lingered after dinner was finished and the kitchen was clean and we played games or goofed around. I enjoyed having my home filled with love and laughter.

Everything seems so quiet now. So empty. The rest of my family seems to be taking it pretty well but I'm struggling. Much more so than I ever imagined. It actually feels a lot like grief. I look around and see things left behind or things that remind me of them and the tears come unbidden. Yesterday morning as we drove to church, we passed by their old apartment, only a few away from ours. My heart was sad. I felt alone. You don't realize how much you need other people in your life. I was used to being alone and not having any friends. Now it sucks going back to that. My husband has people that he works with. After lunch he went out with a few to shoot his bow. I'm glad for him but it makes my loneliness feel sharper.  I think the thing that bothers me the most is the feeling of being alone. Of course I have my own family but knowing that there were others who would be there for you, to have your back, made living here away from our own families much, much easier.  I know it's part of life, especially military life, but as  I've said before, knowing something and actually experiencing it are two totally different things.

I know it will get easier. Abigail starts back to school in a few weeks and our lives will be back on a routine. Once they are settled I fully expect FaceTime to be a huge part of our lives. And we are planning a trip to see them just after Christmas. Five months feels like a really long time but life has away of passing by in a hurry so it will be here before we know it.

One of the best ways of getting over things is to immerse yourself into a project. This time the project is me. I've neglected myself long enough. Since my hubby has been home and I lost the baby, I've slipped back into some really old and bad habits, mostly emotional eating which equals weight gain. I'm thoroughly disgusted with myself. I worked so hard to lose weight and get my life on track only to allow circumstances to control me instead of the other way around. So today, I'm getting back to the basics. I'm setting goals and writing them down. Starting with the larger goals and then smaller ones to help me attain the bigger ones. It's time to find myself again, to feel better. My posts will most likely be more frequent and more about weight loss and healthy living again. Those posts are more for me than anything else. I find that I need that accountability to stay on track. I hope you'll join me on my journey. Either by starting one of your own or by reading through mine.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What They Don't Tell You

There's a lot of things they don't tell you about military life when your spouse is being recruited. They give you the highlight reel and tell you that having watched Army Wives on tv doesn't matter because it's nothing like that. And about that they are right.

People will tell you that every post is different. Every unit is different. And your personal experience with the military really depends on where you land. Everyone's experience is not the same.

Disappointed is not strong enough a word to describe my feelings when I learned that we were headed back to the state of Louisiana for Ryan's first duty station. I mean when you join the military you imagine getting to go places you've never been. We had just spent the last two years living and mostly being miserable in Louisiana. And as I researched Fort Polk it was very hard to find anyone who said anything good about it. But getting my husband back after being gone to training most of the year, I would have went to Timbuktu, gladly.

So, we found ourselves in a new place surrounded by new people being newbies to the army life. The unit my husband was stationed with had been rumored to be deploying later that year and my worst fear was confirmed. We spent the majority of our first six months here with my husband being in the field, working late nights, and rarely seeing him except for the weekends. I remember being angry because I distinctly remember the recruiter stressing that "family" was a main priority for the army. As far as I could see, it wasn't. They didn't care that I had cooked dinner and kept it warm for over two hours. They didn't care that my husband had only been home a few minutes before being called back in to work. It was all very frustrating. Add in the fact that I didn't know anyone and it could be pretty miserable.

They also tell you how many friends you'll make. Maybe things were different in the military of yesteryear but most people aren't very nice or friendly. I seriously have a neighbor whom I always smile and speak to when I see her and all I get are icy glares and a mumbled reply. I've never had a full conversation with her so I can't imagine why she's like that. In those first 6 months, I was utterly alone.

It wasn't until I returned to Fort Polk in anticipation of my husbands return from Afghanistan that I made any friends. You can read more about that here. They aren't the only ones but they are my closest and dearest friends here. In the words of my six year old, "they're are our friends but more like family." It's a running joke about how quickly and how closely Stephanie and I became friends but there are just some people you click with, some people you are just meant to be friends with.  These are my people.

So let me tell you one other thing they don't tell you about in their highlight hard saying goodbye is.

This is their last week here. I'm an emotional being. I feel everything in a big way no matter what the emotion. So, today, I find myself on the verge of tears. I'm not ready to say goodbye. It's so completely selfish. They've done their time in this hole and they are getting to go to a place closer to home. It's a good move. So I really just feel sorry for myself. It's hard to imagine people taking up so much room in your heart when you haven't known them that long but it's just the way it is.

Military life may not be everything I imagined it would be but for the most part it's been a blessing. Had we not gotten those orders to Fort Polk, I would have missed out on making some lifelong friends. So in the words of Winnie the Pooh...

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Million Dollar Question

They say that time heals all wounds. It's not true. Time may make the wound less painful but it's still there.

It's been a couple of months since my surgery for the removal of my tube including my baby. I haven't updated lately because there really hasn't been much to say. It's taken this long for me to begin to feel like myself again, to feel the dark cloud of anger and depression begin to lift.

The thing with grief is that it can suck you back in at any time, without any warning. Today has been one of those days. Maybe it's the fact that I haven't felt well all week or maybe it's because I finally had the last part of this madness done this week but I've felt overwhelmed today. I've felt anxious, tired, and emotional. I've caught myself thinking about our baby and how far along I should be. I've been over thinking about over thinking. It's a vicious cycle.

The last part of the madness was my HSG test. Basically a catheter was inserted into my cervix and dye was ran through my remaining tube to check for any blockages or problems that could cause infertility or another ectopic pregnancy. I was nervous and alone for this test. I was prepared for intense pain and bad results. But astonishingly enough there was neither. I haven't heard official word from my OBGYN yet but according to the doctor that did my test, my remaining tube is clear and I am good to go if we want to try for another baby.

That's the million dollar question. Do we want to try again? Part of me says no. Part of me doesn't want to risk the heart ache and grief a second time. Part of me just wants to move on. The other part of me, the one that's always wanted three kids says yes. Go for it. I'm not sure which part will win out. Only time will tell.

I know that I will live with this wound the rest of my life. It's a part of me. It's a part of who I am now. I'm still struggling to reconcile the person I was before the surgery with the person I am now. I know that somewhere there is a happy medium. One that will allow me to love and miss the baby that is no longer with us but not be a person tied down to her grief and pain. Someone who can live life to the fullest even when her arms are empty of a life she thought would be there.