I could write a book based on what I don’t post on Facebook. Oh, it would be quite an interesting book, too.
I recently went through a tough time, and struggled for weeks to keep putting one foot in front of the other. My stress was related to something going on in our military lives.
My real source of stress, though, is how our youngest son was reacting to this unavoidable series of events.
After three weeks of trying to keep a positive mood in our house, I was worn out physically, emotionally, spiritually, and any other way you could imagine.
My strong, positive attitude was melting into a pool of tears right in front of my family and friends.
While I was struggling, I posted none of this on Facebook, not one word. I also didn’t curl up into a ball and blame my pain on the military. I cried, slept when I could, and reached for support through my faith, family, friends, and photography. Photography has become my “therapy.”
This Army life can be very hard at times. Throw into our lovely lifestyle one very emotional special needs child, shake it up and add a dash of the new school-year stresses, and I became a self-imposed hermit, hiding from the world.
And, you know what? It’s perfectly OK to fall apart some times. But it’s much easier to stand back up when I have a good support network in place. Sometimes I have to reach out and ask for help when I’m feeling weak.
That’s not easy for me to do.
I’ve accepted that my husband will be gone through much of our military life. If he’s not traveling or deployed, he can be so busy at home that he’s not truly present.
Acting as the sole parent at times can be very hard. At times like this I’ve found strength through my friendships with others who’ve lived through separations. Last week I sat outside with two friends and talked for hours about how we were going through similar struggles.
I’ve also accepted that my non-military family and friends may never understand our Army lifestyle choices. I’m blessed to have wonderful civilian friends, but they often shake their heads when I give them yet another new address.
About 15 years ago we had to move to a new home across post. My husband was unable to help move our household goods because of work. While family members lived only two hours away, their schedules were already too busy to help out, as well.
I was pregnant with our second son, had just been in a car accident that threatened the pregnancy, and ended up in a mess of tears in front of an Army friend. He understood, and the next day arranged a group of our friends to help us move our belongings into the new home.
Eight years ago, our real-estate agent couldn’t believe that my husband had orders which forced him to change his duty station within months, leaving me alone with our three young boys. I was on my own for months to fix up and sell our house while he adjusted in his new job 1,500 miles away. Our Realtor thought it was lonely enough for her fiancée to leave town for two weeks on business travels.
Our real-estate agent had no idea how strong I’d grown over the years of doing things on my own. She didn’t know how much stronger I have grown because of support through military friendships. While I was in Pennsylvania, I was already reaching out to people I knew here in the Fort Hood area.
When I’m lonely at a new post, feeling tired and weak, I make an effort to reach out to old friends but also work to make new friends. I’ve also tried to be more observant to friends who might need some support, as well.
I am a tough cookie, but have realized that even the toughest cookies crumble at times. While I might be living through stress now or in the future, Army-related or not, I must focus on the goodness that each day has to offer. I have to allow the stressful times to help me grow stronger.
And I have to remember to ask for help when I need it, too.