Give Yourself Permission to Cry.

8d0f69ef7e45bda62769ad9315a3131f--sweetest-quotes-quotes-loveSometime between the hamburger I could hardly stomach and standing right there in front of him, I resolved that this was going to actually happen.  My husband was leaving for war.  Again.  I knew logically that I’d done this goodbye before, that I knew I could survive deployment, and that the only thing I needed to focus on was that he needed all the love and support I had to give.  The thing about logically knowing something and actual feelings is that they live on separate planets that eventually collide.

Over 500 Iowa soldiers said their final “See you later”‘s on Saturday.  We lifted our eyes to meet our best friend’s gaze and forced out the words that we’d play over and over and over again in our minds for weeks to come.  One last hug.  One last “I love you.”

In that moment time stops.  It’s not necessarily what you say but how you say it and it’s not really about the “goodbye” but more so freezing that second of time to hold onto.  It’s a moment we cannot have regrets with.  It’s a few seconds of time that we spend knowing we may never get it back again.  It’s being willing to let go, but being strong enough to hold on.

Hundreds of wives came back this weekend from Texas without their husband or boyfriend with them.  Each of us carry a sort of grief that can often go unnoticed because we are, in fact, military wives and we are strong.

As a 23 year military wife with four deployments I am here to tell them, “It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to vent.  It’s okay that you came home, looked around, and felt utterly and totally alone.  It’s okay that you want to stay in your jammies and binge netflix Hallmark movies.  It’s okay to miss him already.  This is the hard part.   That last hug still resonates and we have yet to get into our deployment routines.  Right now, today, is probably the worst pain you are feeling or will feel.  Let it be what it is.  Cry it out.  Scream it out.  Give yourself permission to feel this.  If you don’t, you’ll bottle it all up and it will spill out into the deployment in ways that could hurt you, your spouse, and your children.  Don’t listen to people who say, “Just be strong,” or, “It will be over before you know it.”  Listen to your heart.  Feel what you need to feel in these next 72 hours.”

Then, we will pick ourselves back up and we will forge ahead.  We WILL be strong.  We WILL be tough.  We will do things other wives could not fathom to do.  But for right now, while that kiss still lingers on your lips, please give yourself permission to feel.

Journal it out, call a friend who will listen to you (without trying to relate to you or give you advice), pump out some reps at the gym, get a babysitter and lay in bed with his pillow and bawl for an hour.  Whatever it is you need to do to process this monumental life experience, do it.

Even if it’s just to have someone acknowledge that you are a bad ass who just went through a hell of a hard time; find that person.  You deserve to be heard, validated, and loved through this.  It’s essential, because after about a week it’s your job to suck it up and get on with it.

In the chaos that is this kind of pain, never forget, while few will understand there are those that do.  Find them.  Hold onto them.  Reach out.  Don’t isolate.

A good cry never felt so good.  Have at it ladies.  Get it out.  There’s plenty of time for us to be tough.  And tough we will be.

 

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Empty Nesting is for the Birds

The day my baby girl left for college, the last of my three children to fly the nest, I found myself in a heap on the bedroom floor.  I did all the right things saying goodbye like not bawling incessantly, not clinging to her clothing and pulling on her to stay just one more minute, and while I did get tears in my eyes when I saw her own mailbox; I let her go with some ambiance of grace.  Coming home, however, was a different story.

The house was empty.  Like, empty, empty.  The pitter pat of little feet had long subsided and the busy noise that lived here had taken it’s exit.  It was eerily quiet.  I paced.  I paced for a little while and then stopping short on the hallway of memories I keep on the wall in my living room I realized … those days were gone.  It was over.   My parenting, as it were, was no more.

Down to the floor I went.  I grieved, I cried, I bawled, I wretched.  Lying there, memories flooded through my thoughts and I saw vivid images of my children growing up.  At each memory I felt sicker and sadder.  While everyone had told me, yes everyone, “It’ll be great!  What a relief!,” about empty nesting, this was so far from the truth I was screaming my shock.  No, I was a grieving mama and I simply had to sit with it.  No one told me how empty I would feel.

I thought, “I was just getting it right,” then they up and leave.  I thought, “They’ll never need me again,” or, “Did I do it well enough?”  All my chances, in that moment, were gone.  What was done was done.  Yes, I was in a very dark, scary place!

I went to the internet to read up on other empty nesters and all I got were thin definitions of the term I was living in and several lists of things to do to “get by.”   Create lists of things you’ve always wanted to do, start a hobby, call on friends, volunteer, etc., etc.  But these are all just busy things to avoid the real issue that I knew I was going to have to face.

It had to be about me now.  That’s the example I could set for my children.   That life goes on, is still wonderful, and that under no certain terms do you ever give up.  I knew, in those first days of empty nesting, that I had to go through the stages of grieving successfully and then come up with a plan.  Not a “stay busy to avoid thinking about it” plan, but a real one.  Something with meaning and purpose.

With my husband deployed I couldn’t focus my energies on him, though I do have a dear friend whose empty nesting resulted in the healing of her marriage and that is exactly the kind of thing I knew empty nesting was supposed to be.  A time of healing, changing, growing, and getting back in the game.

I could write, I thought.  But, about what?  I pulled out my laptop, dusted it off, and went through almost two pots of coffee just staring at the blank screen. Okay, that’s not going to work.  I tried reaching out to friends.  Some of them, in their busy lives, were too busy.  I was even actually told I was high maintenance by one friend.  That made me sad.   I didn’t want to be high maintenance, but I did want healthy friendships, so I paid attention to the friendships that filled me with purpose and inspiration and decided not to feel bad about the others.  Still, something was lacking.

My Kiddo's

My three fly the nester’s

I volunteered, thinking that if I could get involved with a cause I was passionate about, that would fuel me to continue to become a better person.  But, I was told they were “Cutting back,” and even though I had some ideas, it just wasn’t the right timing.  Back to the drawing board.

The thing about empty nesting is that it’s not that your children will never need you, want to spend time with you, or not come around on breaks and holidays.   They will, and mine do.  It’s just, well, different.  They’re adults now.  They don’t need to be mommy’d.  It’s time for the relationship to change, and while it eventually will turn into something astronomically beautiful … the in between of figuring out what that looks and feels like is hard.

For instance, when I text my son and he doesn’t respond I can’t get upset.  He’s busy.  It’s not a personal thing.  If he comes over for dinner and leaves right after, at least I fed him and I know he ate that day.  If my daughter calls me because her stipend didn’t go through at college and she’s in a panic it’s not my job to fix it, it’s my job to encourage her to fix it.   When my children, when being the key word, come around or call or text … it’s my responsibility to be the mom they need NOW.  Not the mom I was.  The kind of mom who listens.  The kind of mom who validates.  The kind of mom who doesn’t stick her nose in their business.  The one who shares her thoughts, not necessarily her opinions.

And as we morph into those kinds of mama’s we absolutely have to look at ourselves as women.  For this is the time that we, as women, show our children who we are.  Creepy, scary, difficult; but this is when they’ll get to know us on a brand new level.  I want to show up for that, don’t you?  I’ve just got to find that woman before they notice I may have lost her along the way.

So, I write.  Starting with this, on this new day, I am determining myself a woman of value who has the opportunity to get to know herself all over again.  What I do, where I go, with whom I do it with is totally and completely up to me – it’s time to rebuild.

So I started rebuilding by having my daughter and my grandchildren move home.  What?!  Okay, so I didn’t navigate that as successfully as I’d have liked too.  Ugh, don’t judge.  It was a timing thing, with my husband being deployed and her rent having gone sky high, it worked out to have her come home for a year.   I have my beautiful, amazing grandchildren to dote on, love, spoil, and pay attention too.

So, while I’m still working on me – yes, I’m writing right now! – I’m enjoying life’s little rewards that come at times in our lives when we absolutely need them the most.  Now, my next story is going to be, “How to live with your daughter and her children when they move back home after being gone for years.”   HA!

To all my empty nester friends … you’re not alone.  Let’s do lunch.

2016 I hate you. I love you.

You took my best friend.  This a year I will never want back, except maybe the parts when we laughed as she garnered the strength to get up and out of her bed and pretended to me, well, to most of us, that yes, she was fine.  Just a little heartburn,she’d whisper in between smiles.  The cancer never took her spirit.  I remember telling my boss at the time when I needed to be back to work, “I can get another job, I can’t get another best friend.”  Needless to say I have a new job.  I still don’t have another best friend, not like Ames.  Not ever.  Irreplaceable.  She is with me, I know this to be true.  I still rely on her.  As always.  But F U 2016..  Not fair.

And thank you 2016 for my husband.  The deployment two years ago and the one we face that lies ahead this year … can all go to h. e. double l. hockey sticks.  This year though, this year I watched him drink his bailey’s and coffee while he opened up his nascar driving experience and shook his head, “NO WAY!” He exclaimed.  Oh, that smile.  That smile I love even more since the first of the 22 years I’ve been seeing it.  Next year he won’t be here.  Thank you 2016 for him this year.

I hate you. I love you.  You gave me the worst and the best.  You gave me a reality that I often detested but a truth that I couldn’t avoid.  You taught me to stand strong, to be courageous, to fight for what I believe in, and to be forgiving and accepting of other’s in their fight as well.  I have learned much, cried often, laughed hard, grieved more grief than I ever thought possible, and heard the whispers of a beautiful fighter angel.  I hold my husband and my children close and pray prayers of gratitude because I am blessed.  And I don’t deserve it.

As my father said to me after my bestie went on to Heaven ….

“It is what it is and will be what you make of it.”

Dear 2017 …. Here I come.  And I’ve got an Angel at my back so watch out. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Authors Unite! Networking Connections Gain Exposure

tanya wattAny of us that are self-published authors know that exposure and connections are key to our marketing plan.  Well, I’d like to introduce you to Author Tanya Watt of http://authortanyawatt.wordpress.com/about/.  Not only is she an incredible author but she hosts a blog that offers FREE SHOUT OUT’S to authors!  Seriously.  Not a joke.  I was curious about Tanya and what she was doing so after going through her website, reading some of her reviews, and checking out her $5.00 paid promotion I decided … What the heck … why not try it out.

What I discovered was not only someone who is passionate about writing and exposing other authors but someone with whom I truly felt a connection with.  Another cyber-friend to go on this journey with.  Within 24 hours she’d shouted me on her blog, succeeded in exposing me through her goodreads account, tweeted, facebooked and who knows what else this wonder woman has up her sleeve that she’s doing.

Just so you know, she has no idea I’m even writing this blog post about her.  I’m not paid to advertise her.  I’m not gaining anything from this other than wanting all of you other budding authors out there to see what she is doing.  So many of us need one another and this is one woman who is diving in and making things happen.

Please, if your an author check her out.  And, if you are someone who hosts interviews, does reviews, and offers promotions for authors, let me know!

Write on!