I decided to do a final blog and wrap up what I have learned throughout this deployment. The list is long so I decided to only touch on a few things. When we talk about personal growth there is too much lip service that goes with it and many times we don’t stop to think about what personal growth really is. For me, personal growth is a lifelong process and a true introspective look at myself. It was something I had to ALLOW myself to do. I had to constantly remind myself of this. If I had not stuck to my goals I set for this deployment I am convinced that I would have come out of this deployment a bit broken. Instead …the goal of “use positivity and…to do this with grace” was a driving force for me.
I had goals for myself, but I also had hope for my blog. I hoped that someone, somewhere, even if only one person, would get strength, smiles or positivity from it. I have had the honor of receiving emails and messages from people I will probably never meet thanking me for the words of inspiration and encouragement along with many kind words from friends and family. There is no way that everyone will ever know how motivating and helpful those words were.
Throughout this year, I truly saw how positivity will make changes. Changes in a person. I could have easily spent this whole year pissed off about being without my husband and complaining all the way through. Heck, I did some of that eight years ago with Major’s first deployment. I knew going into this that would not get me very far and I not only wanted, I needed to do things different this time. So, I vowed to take this as a learning challenge. I was going to stay positive and learn as much as I could about myself and the benefits would sew themselves into my life.
Positivity. Being positive was something I thought I was prior to this experience. I am definitely a crass and sarcastic person and always will be….but I now see I wasn’t overly positive about life. There is something very different about being truly positive. It brings you peace.
There were times when I wanted to give up, there were times I relished in my independence. But, overall, I accepted this experience for what it was. I didn’t fight the fact that I was going to change. Change would be inevitable and if I didn’t fight it I would allow the transformation to better me.
#1. I learned that deployment permanently changes children. They become a little more grown up, they learn to worry silently, but they also can learn to express their feelings and be more open about what hurts them. I found that children wont say that they are sad of anxious and they wont act out those specific feelings. Children will be sad and anxious in ways that don’t match. Children’s sadness may look like anger, fear, or excessive happiness. Remembering this allowed me to nurture and care for my children in ways that I never thought possible. I had to slow down and see that. I found that through loss, I have gained a relationship and bond with my children that few are ever lucky to have. We went through ups and downs, discussed feelings, opened up, and each of us had to apologize at some point this year. But we are stronger because of it and I love that.
#2. I learned that dogs (specifically our two german shepards) will act naughty for an entire year. They will think it is ok to get into the trash, no matter how many times you tell them NO…. and then the minute their master walks in the door they act like obedient nice pups again.
#3. I learned that its ok to eat out when your too tired. That mom-guilt of another night of take out can quickly be vanished with the justification of a side of apple slices. Mommy guilt is inevitable but reminding yourself you are doing the best you can in a situation will bring some relief.
#4. I also learned some hard lessons in life…..I learned that there simply are people who don’t want to understand military families circumstances. Or maybe it is that they are too busy or don’t care to. However, my positivity allowed me to see things this way……Its ok to accept this. It is their choice just like we have our choices. So they can choose to not understand, and I will choose to accept that and move on.
#5. I have learned that one of the best gifts my husband has ever given me was his phrase….”carry on.” This gave me strength. After all what are our choices in life? When things get tough or we just don’t want to do something we can….quite or carry on. What will quitting give us? Regrets, pain, loss. But to carry on….we may be tired, we may be frustrated but things will move forward.
#6. I learned that friends were essential to my survival. I have the most amazing friends and they helped out when they saw I couldn’t. My friends know when I wont ask for help and they are the type of people who will just step in and do it without waiting for me to ask. They know there are times I still struggle with asking for help. Like, brief get togethers or sitting and talking in the driveway…I know they have other stuff to do, but they also know that sometimes taking a short break out of life to help a friend out, pays you back ten fold. I would not have survived this deployment without them and without those “time outs”
#7. I learned that being human is better than being a super hero. It is safe to say I am fairly strong willed and hard headed. But I learned that there are times that I needed to be not tough and allow my softness to spill out. I learned that being tough is great, but its like a pressure valuve. Sometimes you need to let out the pressure and allow yourself to be vunerable. Thank you Cyd for letting me do that with you. If you’re a fairly private person with your emotions finding someone you feel safe with to spill is great.
#8. I learned that it is actually possible to love your spouse even more. When Ry returned and was back into my arms, I thought how in love with him I am. Then I thought maybe it was because I had missed him so, but no, as I sit here tontie and type and look at him…I am even more in love with him then ever before. I am proud and that pride has allowed me to gain a level of respect for him becaue of our mutual need for each other in our life.
Finally, I will continue to learn about myself and search for understanding and meaning. Because our new journey of readjusting has begun. There are difficult times ahead and some already had. But that is our choice, our understood sacrifice for what we believe in, what we hold tru and what we want…freedom and pride for what we have and have worked so hard to maintain. Deployment was a gift, A gift of learning, loving and growing.