Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Few Steps Back

Sometimes, we just need to let go.  As we slowly move through life in the military, we learn to adapt and become stronger, building brick walls around our hearts as we go.  We begrudgingly move through deployments trying our best to ignore the feelings of emptiness that threaten our success.  We tell ourselves we are ready to move and that a change will be good.  We guard our tongues when all we really want to do is scream at the military for making it so hard because we know that no matter how hard we try, we cannot change our circumstances.  We deny our minds access to think about the things we are missing because of our duty to the military.  Every so often, though, a brick becomes loose and the wall crumbles a bit.  With hardened hearts, we quickly try to patch it back together before it falls completely.  We push the thoughts to the back of our minds hoping that with time they will just go away.  We are unwilling to lose strength.

Randall and I had just gotten the kids to bed and sat ourselves on the couch ready to watch our evening television shows.  I was ready to decompress for the day and forget about the thoughts going through my head.  Randall, with his impeccable instinct, noticed that I had been quieter than my usual self lately and asked if everything was okay.  He makes a habit of checking up on me regularly, but I generally tell him nothing is bothering me and that I’m just tired.  But this time, something urged me to talk to him.  Something in my head told me that he needed to know what was on my mind.  I broke down. 

The truth is, my heart has been yearning for those things I miss.  Growing up, it wasn’t just me, my brother, and my parents.  It was my entire family—grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, close family friends—and I never missed out on anything.  Now, family is hundreds of miles away and we see them only but a few times a year.  When I talk to my mom on the phone, I find joy in hearing about the family get-togethers and the new things that my one-year-old nephew is doing, but deep down it breaks my heart because I can’t be there myself.  I think about Randall’s brother and sister-in-law, who we haven’t seen since January of 2010 nor have we met their baby girl who just turned a year old.  I am saddened by how little my kids get to see their grandparents because of how much I treasured seeing my own grandparents while growing up, and how they don’t get to play with their cousins.  I miss always having places to go and people to see, people who, no matter what, were always happy to see me.

And then there are my dreams.  For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed about a house, a big and beautiful house in which my family and I would settle down.  I fantasized about lots of windows to let light in, a wonderful gourmet kitchen which opened to the living room, and a large deck outside where I would sit and drink my coffee while listening to the birds in the morning.  I dreamt about the memories that would be created in this home.  I visualized my kids running around a large yard in their bare feet, or sledding down a hill in the winter.  I see myself looking out the windows admiring the plush, green leaves in the summer, the beautiful colors on the trees in the fall, the softly-falling snow in the winter, and the first blossoms in the spring.  I miss the seasons of the north where I am most at home.  Now, despite my acceptance of my current circumstances, I can’t help but crave this dream and wonder if it will ever happen.   We have made some wonderful memories in the places we have lived, but all of these places are temporary residences we inhabit based on where the military sends us.  We acclimate to our surroundings but, for me, there is always a void, always something missing.

It felt good to vent my feelings, although Randall struggled with it because he couldn’t fix what was making me sad.  But there is no way to fix it, and that’s okay.  Being strong all the time is extremely difficult and no one is perfect.  It is inevitable that our bricks will crumble a bit here and there and we will regress.  Honestly, I am grateful that I miss these things so much because it means that I had a happy childhood.  It means that I paid enough attention while I was little to appreciate what I had.  It means that I learned to dream big so that I would have something to strive for when I got older.  The military lifestyle is nowhere close to the way I grew up.  But because I cannot change my circumstances, I can choose to accept them and create a new lifestyle, one that my kids will look back on one day and miss just as I do.  Every so often we fall a few steps behind in our journey towards strength, but eventually we catch up, all the while gaining a little bit more perseverance.  “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” –Serenity Prayer


  1. Great post-- well worded. I feel ya girl.

  2. Boy, do I relate to this. I have so many of the same feelings, having grown up in the same town and gone to school with the same kids all through school, knowing people wherever you go, etc. I miss that in our nomadic life and I miss it for Julia, too. We do the best we can, but there are times when I struggle with it. On a brighter note: can't wait to see you in a few days!!

  3. So, I'm not the only one!! I've broken down and cried over so many things, recently too. My heart yearns for "home" and the ability to raise my children the way I was raised. They won't know the difference though. With parents who love them so much, they will think they had the best childhood ever. :)