Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't take it personal...

Why is it that you may have many wonderful friends, and great number of supporters, but have just one not so supportive person, or a handful, and you become obsessed with why that person or persons doesn't like you?  I really hate that about myself.  

Funny thing is.. I tell my kiddos all of the time that you can't please everyone, and that you won't like everyone, but the key is to simply learn to coexist.  If you attempt to make everyone happy, you will either run yourself into the ground, or you will end up offending someone very important to you.  Yet, when I feel even the slightest inklings that someone doesn't like me, it starts to burn at my very core.  I begin running scenarios through my head as to what I could have possibly done to make them not like me.   That then moves on to what I can do to turn that around and become friends with them.  If it is someone that has authority over me I usually end up doubting everything about myself and any ability I just might have.  I will begin to doubt whether or not I should even be doing what I am doing.  

Why do I feel such a need to be liked by all??  

Lately I have really been struggling with this.  I felt as if a handful of people just really didn't like me.  It has been a tough path, and has really brought many questions and deep pondering.  I keep wondering if God is closing a door, or leading me to another place.  Just when I think I have overcome the feeling of not being liked, or the awkwardness of my presence, yet another incident occurs, and I again start reeling as to what I am missing, what have I done, why don't they like me?!?  I again wonder if God keeps trying to change my path, send me where I am needed.  

Then again, maybe God needs me to heed my own advice...' don't take it so personally, not everyone is supposed to like you'... because in earnest, I need to live my life as to not bring shame to Him.  If I am trying so desperately to please others, and in doing so I change who He had made me to be, then I am missing out on His purpose for me, I am becoming of this world, and not set apart for His.  Maybe these people are meant to show me where I am still so desperately seeking human approval when I should be seeking His approval.  

AACK!!  I hear all of this, I am doing my best to listen to it all, but my core is still reeling, trying to understand what I have done, and what I can do to make it better.  So.. I will be trying to let go, and let God.  Some people are just not going to like me.  I have to try and be ok with that, because you know what.. there are some people I am just not supposed to be good buddies with... we are just meant to coexist... so, I just have to adopt a mantra about all of this... 'don't take it personal'

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reclaiming Saturdays!!

Not too long ago Saturday was my favorite day.  We would sleep in a little, and have breakfast together as a family.  That was when the kids were little.  Saturday morning cartoons would entertain them while my DH and I would do breakfast.  Lunch was usually just a sandwich, and we would do some sort of activity, play outside, go to a park, or watch movies if the weather was bad.  Finally ending our day with a great dinner together at home.

Then one year we were waking up and rushing out of the house to spend the morning at games, which evolved another year to marching competitions, and eventually landing to the only day where we would just totally veg because the remainder of the 6 days of the week we ran like chickens with our heads cut off.   My DH and I have adopted a new tradition on Saturdays in that we get up, go get a coffee from our favorite drive thru coffee shop, and then take a morning drive.  That is when we get most of our talking in.  Some Saturdays we have to get up earlier than others due to the 'mandatory fun' that has been scheduled in that day.  Often times we would pick up breakfast and bring it home.  Dinner had become whichever fast food appealed that day.

This particular Saturday was not really any different than any other Saturday my family had grown accustomed to.  The boys had activities going on at their high school, the girls wanted to do things with their friends before heading back to college, and of course this past week was a crazy busy one, as usual.  I woke up this morning just as tired as I have on the previous Saturdays.  My DH and I headed out for our morning coffee and drive.  As we headed back home we questioned breakfast options.  Our usual fast food breakfast was not an option because for Lent, our family gave up fast food.  Then as if a distant memory invaded my taste buds, I said, 'I am really in the mood for Belgian Waffles'.  So, off to Walmart for a new waffle maker, and supplies, then home we went.  DH and I were so excited about doing brunch.  We had a blast in our kitchen preparing our brunch, and laughing and talking, all 6 of us.  The kids headed out their various ways, DH and I handled a few little tasks in the house, and had a quiet day at home.

After a bit the kiddos are back and laughing and talking, and the subject of dinner comes into the conversation.  With that, homemade pizza became our next quest.  Out to the store to acquire the ingredients, home to begin preparations, and once again, we are laughing, talking and having a beautiful time.  I remember why I loved Saturdays!!  We all love cooking, and conversations and great bonding occurred over these activities.

The meals were fabulous, the family time incredible, and all just what the doctor ordered.

Saturdays are back!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The sun will come out....

Not too long ago I was having breakfast with a dear friend and the topic of military mourning came up.  Now I know what you are thinking, we discussed the mourning over loss of life, but this is not the case.  My wonderfully wise friend said that she came to realize that military spouses are often in and out of states of mourning.  I listened intently while she explained. 

 She so eloquently spoke of how we are always losing something due to the many moves.  That our families are usually living far away.  Just when we develop a great friendship, one of us has to leave.  We may be leaving a job that we love, a home that was just perfect, a church that felt like family, and so many other beloved things.  We are constantly packing up our lives, familiar neighborhoods and routines and starting all over, forever leaving that life behind.  It is a loss, and the heart always mourns a loss.  What she laid out before me was the catalyst of a major epiphany. 

 For years, well, almost 19 now, I have always had to fight to be me.  Some days it was so very easy, others I had to wear that happy mask and pray it didn't fall off.  I can't even begin to tell you how many anti-depressants doctors have put me on over the years, and how they didn't help.  Many times I have questioned God as to why I just can't be what I remember.  Where did she go, and why did You let her go? I would blame so many outside factors, and get angry when doctors would tell me, 'Well, you are a busy mother of four, no wonder you feel the way you do.'  As my friend continued to explain why military spouses are in and out of mourning, she mentioned the word grief.  At that point I knew it was time to take to heart what she was saying.

Let me back up a little.  Last June my DH deployed to a combat zone for the first time in our 18 years in the military.  He has gone on TDY (temporary duty), or other training missions where he has been gone anywhere from two weeks to 4 months, but we have never experienced a time in our lives where we absolutely could not see each other, or be together for what would be an extended time; in this case six months.  We also had never experienced a time when he was in combat zones.  During the time he would be gone, I would experience yet another first, packing up children and moving them to college.  

I remember clearly the day my DH told me he was going to volunteer to deploy.  I heard all of his reasoning, and I tried to understand why he was volunteering, but an ache that I will never forget made its home in my chest.  What I didn't realize is that everything in me, at that moment became numb.  My mind started racing at everything that was about to change.  We were on the downhill slope of our darling daughters last months of living at home, and I instantly realized that I would be moving them to college on my own.  I went into auto-pilot.  

The time passed quickly from the day I learned of my DH's pending deployment to the day he actually left us.  We had many 'lasts' with the girls, last concerts, last awards, etc etc.  I watched as many mothers broke down and cried.  I teared up, but didn't break down.  The last few days prior to my DH's leaving, I would tear up, but not break down, yet, the ache in my chest grew stronger, and sometimes would catch my breath.  Dropping DH at the airport for the six month deployment again, tears, no real break down, but the chest became heavier.  Then came the day to move to college; tears, no breakdown, but chest hurt more.  

I thought my chest pain must be health related, so I buried my head and started trying to take off weight.

It was at my Wednesday morning Bible study that God first planted the seed my friend watered at that breakfast not too long ago.  At the end of the study, another beautiful lady, who had been sitting next to me, and listening to everything going on, and watching me intently, stopped me and said, I need to share something with you.  I sat down with her, and she put her hand ever so gently on my arm and said, 'sweet girl, I think you are grieving'.  I was taken aback.  This wonderful lady had just recently lost her wonderful husband.  She shed tears in our study, and my heart ached for her, and I had been praying for her.  When she told me she thought I was grieving, I was dumbfounded.  She could see my surprise in my face, so she went on to explain how her doctors discovered that she was struggling with overwhelming grief.  She had read up on the subject, and shared with me the various stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  She thought I might be somewhere between the first two stages.  I went home and thought about it, but really took it no further.  You see, at that point, not only did I have a husband who was deployed, had moved my twin darling daughters to college on my own, I was having to be nursemaid to my youngest son who had broken his ankle in a football game and required surgery to fix it.  I didn't have time to grieve.  

Flash forward a bit to Christmas Eve, my DH made it home early.  What a beautiful and wonderful Christmas present right?  Yes.. it was, but again... numb.  I was numb.  My older son was having health issues, which turned out to be mono and cytomegalavirus, AND my DH came home sick.  No fairytale homecoming like I had hoped for.  The long winter just kept making the numbness grow.  I was but a zombie walking around, doing what needed to be done, and yet, thinking I was fooling everyone.  I wasn't.  My pastor, a new pastor, sensed a distance in me.  His questioning started my own questioning, and my beautiful friend's explanation of military spouse mourning began unveiling what I have struggled with for all of these years.  

That first lady was right, I was somewhere between denial and anger.  I found myself so angry with my DH at times for leaving me with all of that to do.  I found myself angry with the army for forcing us to a place where he felt like he needed to deploy, and yet, I was still so numb and would not allow myself to cry.  Then came the bargaining: if I could just get all of the weight off, feel beautiful again, then all of this other stuff will be ok.  Well, a good portion of the weight did come off, but my friends, the other stuff was not ok.  Depression set in.  That is where the pastor found me, in a dark depression.  Thank you Lord for not leaving me there but a few months.  Acceptance is where I am now.  

It has been a long journey... almost 19 years to be exact, and this LONG post proves that.  I got pretty good at faking it, and it hasn't been all mourning all 19 years.  There have been some beautiful times that I remember and felt to their entirety.  There is very little I would change because that would mean I would change where I am today.  And yet, with every move and every change, mine or other's in my life, I have mourned without realizing.  I know my friend will read this, and I want to thank her for being God's messenger, even though this is the first she will have heard of this!  :)  

You don't have to be a military spouse to be experiencing this.  Mourning happens to all of us for various reasons.  I hope that by my sharing this blog, if anyone reads it, that if you find yourself feeling a little out of sorts, maybe you too will realize that you are mourning something.  It doesn't have to be the loss of a loved one, it can be the loss of something as simple as a wish.  

The sun will come out tomorrow....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring cleaning

For so many years I have never really had to spring clean.  The military always took care of that for me because I usually had to move.  All of our belongings would be loaded up in boxes and onto a large truck, we would be left with an empty house to spruce up for the next occupant, and then would meet up with our belongings at a new house, in a new town, generally a new state, with a new life just waiting to unfold.  We would begin busily arranging furniture in our new home, and then unpacking the belongings with an opportunity to clear out any excess.  Spring cleaning was pretty much mandated for us.  Along with the physical spring cleaning, emotional and mental spring cleaning usually took place as well.  A new locale meant old hurts could be left behind, as well as old ways and maybe even old identities if need be.  It was a fresh new start thanks to the military.  

As this spring approaches, I am feeling unusually bogged down.  I was having trouble putting my finger on exactly what was going on then I realized, I need to spring clean!!  We have been in our home for almost 4 years now.  That is the longest I remember living in any one place for my entire life.  I did live in a town for the first seven years of my life, but after that, I have moved, on average, every 2 years.  In the past I have begun to get restless, but that is not the feeling I am having now.  It is hard to describe the actual emotion I am experiencing.  Life has gotten the best of me in the last little while.  I am ashamed to admit that, but the first step to healing is admitting, so there it is.  I have allowed life to live me.  That is unacceptable.  And yet, describing the state of my mind, heart, and emotions at this point still is just out of reach.  So the analogy of spring cleaning fits perfectly.  

My home definitely needs some spring cleaning.  It is plain old amazing how much stuff a family of six can accumulate in almost 4 years!  Another thing that amazes me is exactly how much is in my home that I haven't used in those four years.  Time for a yard sale, or a large donation.  

Another amazing thing about physically spring cleaning your home is how it can actually clean up the emotions and mental state of mind.  I don't know about you, but when a task seems overwhelming, I have a very difficult time taking that first step to begin.  I am intimidated by the daunting task.  My intimidation leads to a feeling of inadequacy, which ultimately leads to a feeling of insecurity, that tailspins me into a depression, thus leaving me in a place that always needs to be spring cleaned.  

It took some heavy bricks from God to get me to realize how silly I have been.  I mean honestly, it was either pack up and move, or get off my duff and take care of business.  I am quite content where I am currently living, and the army has no plans of moving us, so the latter option is the path I must take.  Time to arm myself with clutter busting gadgets and gizmos. I do believe my home, family, and inner-self will thank me.  OH, and if you don't hear from me for awhile, send out a search party, I might have gotten lost, or better yet, send allergy meds because I might be overpowered by the dust bunnies!