My mouth was hanging open as she told me about her first coffee experience. I couldn't believe how incredibly opposite hers was from mine. The wife she sat next to spent the entire time complaining about the Army, the brigade, the spouses, the volunteering, the moving, the commitments, the people, the everything. She looked lifeless. It was very clear that she hated this life.
As D continued to tell me the events of the evening I was so grateful she has such a good outlook to start off in this life. That she came into it knowing the difficulties - or being aware that there were so many - and that she vowed to face them. That she had a new husband who was dedicated and kind. They were going to be a good team. I know this young wife is going to make a difference in the lives of those around her and it made me so aggravated that this stranger had said such things. If this was any other new spouse, who knows how her reaction would have been. D let it roll - she knows better.
Over my few years in this life I have met so many different types of women. The quiet leaders - who are a constant - calm under pressure, giving gentle guidance when necessary. They can sometimes be misread as disengaged but I assure you they're not. They are watching. Taking it all in. Some of my best 'teachers' have been these types. There's the loudmouths. Okay, I'm a loudmouth. Who are always smiling, laughing, talking, talking, talking, talking, shaking hands, giving you info, asking questions, patting you on the back. We can be very intimidating in a different way. We mean well. You can laugh at us. We're probably used to it. My husband is the first to make fun of me for it. There are the "leaders" who don't really act like leaders. They hold a 'title' because of who their husband is but aren't committed. They aren't engaged. Stay calm - they probably have a right hand who is. There are those who hold a 'title' because of who they are married to and do care. Who have the right intention, who help because that is where their heart is, not because they 'have to' but because that is where they find their purpose.
I can tell you stories for hours and hours about the different people in this life. We are varied, some of us 'fit' into a category, some of us don't. Some of us change. Some of us remain constant. We come from every possible walk of life and that is just another part that makes this life so incredibly beautiful. The people.
When I was a child (okay, even as a teen, a bit) I played victim. The world seemed like it was against me in my mind. (I know my mom is nodding her head right now). "Mom! Nick locked me out of my room!" "Mom! Nick called me a conformist!" "Mom! Nick took my drink!" "MOM!' "Mom!" "MOM!" Yes, I was that child. I took every little thing to heart. Took everything as an offense. I was as whiny as they come. I was (and am) the middle of five. I still take an awful lot to heart. It's just how I am.
But I won't be a victim to this life.
It's easy to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders when your soldier deploys, or then have to move AGAIN, or you leave your hometown for his job. It is easy to hate that you can't find a job for yourself because his job will always take priority, his job makes you move every two to three years, his crazy, unpredictable hours make it impossible to plan for anything significant. It's simple to despise the fact that you don't know if you can make that family trip to the beach because you don't have a clue what his schedule will be like next year, next month, next week. It is easy to go crazy among the white walls that surround you because you don't want to hang pictures or paint or decorate because this isn't your "home" this isn't your "house." You aren't even your own person anymore, you're a dependent. Oh, how awful!
Tough love time.
You can feel that way if you want to. That's fine. It's your choice. Your life. But you aren't gonna make it. Sorry. But you won't. I have known many victims.
They are all divorced.
We all have times when we straight up hate parts of this life. There are parts of this life that I really, really have to fight through because I am fighting for my family. I said before that it breaks my heart that my boys will go to so many schools. It really, really brings me to tears thinking about it. But I can't let them see that or know that because that is my worry - not theirs. What they perceive from me is what they will take into their own little hearts.
If you believe in marriage, in your spouse, in bringing your children up to be happy, good, loving people you don't get to play victim. There is no room for that. We all fight the same battles, we all fear the same things, we all feel beaten down at times.
Moving all the time sucks. Deployments really, really suck. Having to make new friends is intimidating. Being the new girl is not easy. Transitioning your children is quite an undertaking.
But you get better at the moving. You get to redecorate all the time. Unpacking is sometimes like Christmas. Deployments make you stronger. They can strengthen your marriage if you work through it. Everyone else is just as scared of having to meet new people. Almost everyone is the new girl at the same time. Suck it up. You owe the best to your children. You brought them into this life. It is up to you how they view it. You children are always, always watching. They take in more than you realize. You are responsible. They didn't choose this - you did.
These things cannot become bigger than we are. No deployment is bigger than your marriage. No move is bigger than the love you have for your children. This is a battle - and I mean that in the strongest of ways. This a fight to live, to thrive, to make it through intact, together, stronger.
You have to fight for your marriage, for your children, for yourself because you don't get a do-over. This is it. Now or never. Sink or swim.
Victim or Warrior.
Which one are you?
"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown
"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.