An Open Letter to Whom it May Concern,
Life is full of challenges, ups, downs, good times, bad times, accomplishments, and failures. If we didn’t have the negatives, how could we appreciate the positives? I honestly believe this. However, I still stand by my opinion that making lemonade out of life’s lemons is utter bull. Sometimes it just isn’t possible and sometimes, you have no control over the amount or size of the lemons that are hurled at you at blinding speeds. That being said, how you handle the bad stuff is reflective of who you are and most people are made up of more than just one ingredient. We’re strong, we’re weak, we’re vindictive, we’re complacent, we’re kind, we’re cruel, we’re happy, and we’re bitchy. We’re all these things, none of these things, some of these things, and more than these things.
Since my husband has deployed, I’ve constantly dealt with people asking me how I am. At first, I just answered politely, forgot about it, and moved on. Then I started getting offended. Does everyone expect me to just lose my mind and sit around and cry all day? Aren’t I strong enough, adult enough, and a good enough parent to hold things together for my kids, my husband, and myself for a few months? Yes. Yes, I am. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t had my moments of anger and sadness. I’ve cried a few times. But you know what? Under normal circumstances, I’m moody and emotional! I’m not really all that different because my husband is deployed except that maybe I have lower lows. And wouldn’t I be some kind of automaton or, at the very least, wouldn’t there be something wrong with our relationship if I didn’t care that my husband is half way around the world from my kids and me? (At the end of the deployment, I don't really care when people ask me this anymore. But I didn't want to edit the original contents.)
You know what else? It’s rough being a pseudo-single parent. I wonder if it’d be easier if I just didn’t have anyone to miss along with having to handle things on my own. I don’t have an answer to that one. This deployment has certainly had its challenges that our first one did not.
In addition to dealing with an emotional 14-year-old girl who is missing her dad and testing her boundaries, I also have an 11 year old with ADHD and significant learning disabilities and developmental delays. My dogs have both had health issues and have cost me an arm and a leg. My car needs a break job. My extended family has more than its share of health issues that have just cropped up. I live in a house and in a neighborhood that I despise. I have legal issues that have come up that will affect our life for the next ten years at the least. I’m running my own business and trying to expand it. I’m taking college courses that are very challenging this semester. I have insomnia and headaches 5 out of 7 days a week. My husband is deployed to a warzone. Pfft.
All in all, deployments are for the birds. They suck and I hate them and I would never suggest going through one as a means of entertainment. But that’s life. So the eff what? My experiences don’t make yours any more or less important, life changing, or whatever. No matter what you’re currently struggling with, it is impacting your life and therefore, significant to you. My life and the contents therein, don’t take away from you and they don’t, and shouldn’t be, compared to see which of us has the biggest bruise. I don’t pretend to be inside your head and I would appreciate the same in return. You know the saying about walking a mile in another person’s shoes? Well, you’re not in my shoes. Unless you’ve lived my life exactly and perfectly from birth, you can’t truly know what I’m experiencing and more importantly, how it’s making me feel. And for the love of Pete, don’t pity me. I don’t need or want pity and it pisses me off. Talk to me like a normal person or don’t bother talking to me at all. I’m not a thing to be pitied and that’s insulting.
In the grand scheme of things, when I look at the big picture, my life is pretty darn good. Sure, there are things that I would change, but that just gives me something to work towards. Challenges are to be met head on so that you can feel good about yourself when you overcome them. Deployments are challenging. 14-year-old girls are challenging. Learning disabilities are challenging. News that comes in certified letters is also challenging. I’ll deal with all of these things as they come along. Sure, I’ll lose sleep but I’ll keep the makers of Excedrin in business (and eventually, whomever makes ulcer meds, lol). My greatest hope is that I’ll be a positive example to my girls. That would be a true accomplishment. I won’t achieve this by belittling someone else’s problems though or by being a bad friend, bad wife, or bad mom. I hope that when my girls look back on this that they remember that while we were at each other’s throats on occasion, we also came through the other side having gotten our dogs healthy, relying on our friends when we needed a shoulder, being a shoulder to our friends when they needed one, and we became closer to each other by holding each other up. Even though their dad was gone and we missed him terribly, we still laughed every day even if we cried too.