Reunions

My high school reunion was this past weekend.

I didn’t go.

I spent Saturday morning at a farmer’s market with my family. Spent the afternoon grilling fresh cut steaks and baking fresh veggie with my husband. Saturday night was full of Doctor Who episodes and snuggling with my husband.

I had planned to submit a photo or two for the slideshow since I wouldn’t be in attendance, but, unsurprisingly, I never heard back from the slideshow coordinator. I’m used to that and given the attitudes of those on the Reunion Facebook page, I haven’t missed much and most haven’t matured much in the past ten years.

In honor of my ten year high school reunion, I’m going to share the post I originally wrote on the topic, last summer. The irony of having my reunion “pass me by” is that I was in Florida for a week just this month, just nowhere near my “hometown”…

 

You knew me when?

Advertisements

Rainbows and Unicorns

This is a difficult topic for me, explaining for my absence while I sort through it all. My husband returned from Afghanistan nearly two months ago and it hasn’t been like you see on TV. It’s not been like the other wives talk about. That running across the room, jumping into each others arms, crying real tears of joy and not letting go. That pure, ecstatic joy that you just can’t control. I want one thing clear before I go any further:

I love my husband. I do now, and always have, love him with all that I am. The thought of not having him in my life everyday kills me.

I just don’t always feel it. When my daughter was born, she was a complete stranger. I didn’t know her, so I couldn’t love her in that mystical way mother’s often describe. There was no instant bond. I had to learn to love her and who she was (and is) growing to become. The way she sucks her finger when she’s nervous. The way she takes showers so she doesn’t have to sit in the bath water. The height of her laughter and her ability to make checks with stripes work magnificently. I had to learn to love her. Taking this pressure off myself when my son was born, knowing I wouldn’t feel that “magical bond” with him, actually made bonding with him a lot easier. I put too much pressure on myself and I always fail.

This is what I did at homecoming. Every homecoming is different. You’ve got the couples that can’t wait to run down the stairs and jump into each others arms and kiss like nobody else exists and the world has stopped spinning just for them. You’ve got the couples who are quietly holding each other in the middle of the chaos, just standing there, silently thankful for answered prayers. You’ve got the couples who are loudly screaming and yelling and jumping around like tailgaters at the Super Bowl after a touchdown, and they don’t care who is around. You’ve got the wives who brought large signs. Babies who’ve never met their father. Children and parents running to their family member, their soldier, their hero. It’s very overwhelming for people like me…

It puts a lot of pressure to feel what they feel, to express those feelings the way that they do, try to find balance and not fall.

I chose to stand at the top of the bleachers waving my arms like a mad woman with the kids on the steps in front of me doing the same. It still took him a minute to find us, but it was worth it. The hard part is that I felt very little for my husband in that moment. There was no “heart knowledge” of the love we have shared for the past seven and a half years. I know in my head that I love him very much, but in that moment, he was a stranger. I was more excited to see him with the kids. Holding them, kissing them, just talking to them. I didn’t care to talk to him myself. Holding him, kissing his face, none of that mattered to me. My children had their father and that is all that mattered. I put pressure on myself and I failed. I expected something different than I had experienced before and I shouldn’t have.

To put this into perspective, since I got married in November 2005, I have seen my mother for a total of 14 days. Three days when my daughter was born in 2006. One week when my sister graduated high school in May 2006. Four days when Little Brother was nearly two, in 2011. I feel very little love towards my mother. In fact, if not for her being my mother, I’m not sure I’d ever have contact with her. When I don’t have constant contact with someone in a meaningful way, I lose my ability to genuinely care for them. This is what happened during the deployment. Nine months of my breath catching when the doorbell rang. Nine months of my blood going cold when an unfamiliar car appeared in my driveway. Nine months of stealing myself for the worst, remaining brave for the kids and putting on a happy face… Nine months of building a wall around my heart to protect myself from the worst outcome possible…

That’s not an easy thing to tear down.

We’ve been working on it since he got home, but in those first few days it was like living with a stranger. We had both changed so much and neither of us knew what to really expect. Nothing seemed to be going right. In the past few weeks, there have been long nights, intimate discussions, and a lot of tears. Old hurts are finally starting to heal and we are coming together as a couple again. It should be romantic. The idea of “falling in love” all over again. In truth, it sucks and it hurts. This is my husband. He is the father of my children. I should have the heart knowledge of love for him. I should feel it after having him gone for so long, but I think I’m expecting too much of myself at this point. The “head knowledge” is there. I know there is no one else I would rather be with. There will never be anyone else. I’ve just got to take the time for my heart to catch up.

Hopefully, with old hurts beginning to heal, this will allow us to come together more fully and allow us to become more vulnerable with each other and that will help bridge that gap between the head and the heart. Some days are easier than others. He’ll do something or say something and all I feel is love. Other days, I truly struggle with the man beside me. The man that has promised to always stand beside me. The man that I promised to always stand beside.

We aren’t standing still anymore. We’ve moved. The ground beneath us has shifted and we are struggling to find where that leaves us once the ground goes still again.

For nine months, the ground shifted, twisted, and turned under our feet. For nine months, we were on different planets, shifting and twisting and turning in different ways. We’ve had two months to work on us. We’ve had some really horrible moments… We’ve had some really great times…

It’s called Marriage.

Soul Mates

The amazing thing about knowing you’ve married your soul mate is when thousands of miles apart, separated by continents and oceans, and having gone months without seeing each other, you still manage to get each other the exact same thing for Valentine’s Day.

That is the status update I posted to Facebook just moments ago. You see, that package, the one my husband sent from Afghanistan for Valentine’s Day, it finally arrived today. I waited all afternoon, just like he asked, so that he could see my face on Skype when I opened it. It’s not a large envelope. Maybe seven inches high, nine inches wide, but it had my name on it and a post mark from an APO and that’s all that matters. Opening the envelope, I pulled out a letter. Just a small slip of paper, carefully torn out of the little green notebooks he meticulously writes everything down in. I know this by the size and line layout on the page.

Along with this tiny, hand-written note is a block of Post-It sticky notes. My husband has been putting these on his computer monitor when he needs to remember something important, like when to call home or something I’ve told him that I want him to take a look into. This block of Post-It notes is about 100 or more thick. At the top of each sticky page is a date, beginning with Feb 14.

From my husband to me.

From my husband to me.

Hand-written on each of these 100 or more notes is a Bible verse, a song lyric, or other writing to show love, encouragement, appreciation or support. Some of them are silly, like the one that reads “Be Sexy (That is all)”, some are more thoughtful and some are serious. But the greatest gift I think we could have given each other was this support, and what are the odds that we both thought of the same thing this year?

My husband and I have always joked and said “Get out of my head!” more times than I can count. If you remember my Valentine’s Thankful Thursday post, I made my husband a book with a deck of cards and two pieces of rope. A list of 52 (well 53) reasons that I love him. Things like “You look hot in your uniform!” and “You kill the SPIDERS”. Again, some silly, some serious, some thoughtful.

From me to my husband.

From me to my husband.

I love my husband so much.

The amazing thing about knowing you’ve married your soul mate is when thousands of miles apart, separated by continents and oceans, and having gone months without seeing each other, you still manage to get each other the exact same thing for Valentine’s Day.

Thankful Thursday: Jan 17, 2013

Letter to a Deployed Husband, Part Two:

 

My Dearest Soldier,

135.

That’s the number of days since the last time you held me in your arms.

That’s the number of days until the next time you will hold me again.

That’s the number of days since the last time I held you close and kissed you fiercely.

That’s the number of days until I will kiss you once again.

135.

The number of days since the kids said “See you soon”.

The number of days until the kids say “Hello”.

The number of days since I drove home in the dark through tears.

The number of days until I drive home with you by my side, through more tears.

135.

The number of days since I made a bad joke and we both laughed hard.

The number of days until the laughter returns.

The number of days since the last time I looked into your eyes and told you “I love you”.

The number of days until I can whisper those sweet words to you again.

135.

It is so hard to believe that we have made it this far without you. It’s still difficult day to day. It doesn’t get easier to go on without you, just easier to find acceptable distractions. We are halfway there, my love. You are halfway home.

My darling husband, my best friend, you are very loved and very missed.

Just keep breathing and we’ll see you soon, my love.

Forever Yours, Forever Waiting.

 

Today, I am thankful for the days. The days that have passed. The days still to come. I have learned a lot about myself so far. I have learned a lot about my husband. There is much strength, much love and much patience that has passed. There is much more strength, much more love, and much more patience to be had. We are halfway there. 135 days since I last saw, touched, smelled my husband. 135 until I can do so again.

My husband is halfway home.

29 Things: #26

26. Buy “embarrassing” lingerie and actually wear it. Wear it again in front of the husband. (There will be no pictures on the wearing, there may be pictures of the buying. FYI, almost all lingerie is embarrassing, we really only wear it because we think our husband’s will like it.)

Well folks, I completed the first part without hesitation. I bought “embarrassing” lingerie.

Just an FYI, if you open a package from a lingerie company, pull an article from the bag and the first thing that pops into your mind is “Well THAT wasn’t part of the description!?!” the “embarrassing” lingerie just because unwearable.

I also would love to know why Frederick’s of Hollywood sends their items in what looks like a giant condom wrapper. Seriously?! Take a look at the photo, if you don’t know what a condom is, I suggest you go talk to an adult. If you are an adult, talk to a doctor. With a proper sized dowel, you could make a giant lollipop out of this.

I was fully expecting a box not this.

I was fully expecting a box not this.

I don’t really understand the fascination with skimpy underwear and bras that effectively aren’t bras. I have never understood what makes these items “sexy”. When most men agree that a girl who leaves “a little to the imagination” is more sexy than a girl who is flaunting her “goodies”, I can’t wrap my head around these “goodie flaunting” under garments that leave NOTHING to the imagination and often show WAY more than any normal woman is comfortable showing.

The wearing it part is gonna take a lot more courage. I did try on a few pieces and OH MY GOSH, I don’t see how that is supposed to be flattering at all! But a promise is a promise. I will do everything I can to make it work and to be confident and sexy in these oh so embarrassing items when my husband gets back.

Just taking one for the team on this I guess. But man, does he owe me big lol

For the rest of the list and an awesome Doctor Who inspired birthday cake, click here.

(Side Note: I am deliberately leaving out a link to the FOH website. There are too many people out there who struggle with lust and emotional adultery for me to say “Find it here!” with a brightly colored hyperlink. If you’re going to do that, you’re going to do it without my help.)

Happy Birthday to Me (you? Mommy?)

When you plan your own birthday “party” and the only people in attendance are you, your two kids, your best friend and her infant son, singing “Happy Birthday” gets a bit dodgy in the middle. I have to admit, the whole thing made me laugh, and for that I was grateful. I really needed to laugh on my birthday of all days. Being near Christmas, my birthday has rarely been the best thing I do all year. Having my husband half a world away makes the whole month of December that much more lonely.

I admit, I did not handle December very well. But 2012 is behind us and 2013 is three days in the making. I have been 28 for a whole four days, and I’ve taken that time to write a list. A bucket list of sorts, but these are all the things I want to do in the next year. Twenty-nine things to do before I turn twenty-nine next December. But first, some birthday cake:

" “The angels have the phonebox”. That's my favorite. I've got that on a t-shirt. " -'Blink', Doctor Who, Episode 3.10

” “The angels have the phone box”. That’s my favorite. I’ve got that on a t-shirt. ” -‘Blink’, Doctor Who, Episode 3.10

Now to my list. Some of these will be silly, some of them very serious. Some will be well within my comfort zone (hence the time constraints placed on some of them), and some are so far beyond anything I’ve ever done that I’m pretty sure they wont get done until after my husband returns from Afghanistan this summer. Wow, this summer… He sounds so close and yet, he’s still so far away.

Yes, the list, sorry about that.

29 Things to do Before 29

1. Complete a book of Sudoku Puzzles in the month of February, cover to cover in order, no cheating.

2. Get shot with a paintball gun. Of course, this means I have to go paint-balling with my husband, but what better way to bond after a deployment then to fire balls of paint at each other, right?

3. Go zip-lining. This one requires me to overcome my severe aversion to heights and falling.

4. Climb a rock wall. No doubt this is a precursor to #3.

5. Read 29 books. This averages 2.5-3 books a month. I got this one.

6. Kiss my husband on the lips.

7. Do Zumba three times a week for at 3 consecutive months. I got the game disk for Xbox Kinect from the husband for my birthday, I will use it to tone the rest of the baby pudge let over from giving birth to children weighing the same as the standard bag of sugar.

8. Finish my first novel: in March and April.

9. Complete my figure drawing sketchbook.

10. Have portraits taken of myself (whether I post them here or just write about the experience I’m not sure yet). This one is an exercise in learning to appreciate my own beauty.

11. Wear three pieces of refashioned clothing in the month of June. (I should have plenty of options by then.)

12. Take one photo of myself everyday for a month (can’t be February, it’s too short)

13. Get another tattoo (I already know what and wear, just need to get on with it)

14. Complete my blog series: 30 Days with Autism that I started in 2010.

15. Blog every Friday  Thursday about something I am grateful for that has occurred in the past week. Let’s keep the gratitude fresh.

16. Write one short story a month, no minimum word count.

17. Pay off my truck.

18. Craft 31 piece of jewelry in the month of August.

19. Give up Soda (once I finish what’s left from my birthday party.)

20. Give up my hair for Lent. Headscarves all day, every day from Feb 13- March 30.

21. Learn to play guitar. Hubby plays guitar… Another one of those re-bonding activities… Maybe while I’m recovering from being shot with a paintball gun?

22. Stop biting my nails (again). To be successful, I have to have real nail growth on a continuous basis during the 12 weeks leading up to and including my next birthday.

23. Lay under the stars with my husband (possible sleep on the back deck, that counts as camping, right?)

24. Blog a video of myself reading a children’s book like I do to my kids.

25. Fire a gun. Another one of those “Let’s celebrate your homecoming” activities.

26. Buy “embarrassing” lingerie and actually wear it. Wear it again in front of the husband. (There will be no pictures on the wearing, there may be pictures of the buying. FYI, almost all lingerie is embarrassing, we really only wear it because we think our husbands will like it.)

27. Take my husband to an archery range. He has yet to see me in my element. Archery was the only sport I was good at in middle school and after the gun range, and a paintball course, archery is a nice change of pace.

28. Fully potty train my son, no more diapers. We are slowly venturing into the world of pooping in the potty. This will save me $60 a month once we get this down.

29. Solve a Rubik’s Cube. (This may take a while)

So there you have it. my list of 29 things. These are all realistic and completely doable. That’s why I chose them. I wanted a list that I could actually finish and say “I did that”. So, I’m a few days behind on some of these already, but I will be updating this list with other blog posts as I complete each number. My goal is to have the list completed by December 30, 2013.

Happy Anniversary!

Though I actually wrote this ten days ago, today dear readers is my anniversary. November 19, 2005

You see, seven years ago today, I waddled my seven month pregnant self down the aisle, leaning on my mother for support and strength, toward the man I would, God willing, spend the rest of my life with. I was 20 years old, on the verge of motherhood and was suddenly a wife. I was terrified. WE were terrified. But somehow we’ve pulled through.

When we got married, the statistics weren’t good for marriages where a pregnancy was present at the time of the nuptials. I believe it was eighteen months. The average marriage when the wife was pregnant at the wedding was lasting about 18 months when we said our “I Do”. That wasn’t encouraging to those who cared about us because, regardless of what we said or how often we said it, I’m pretty sure they all believed we were getting married because of the baby. But there was something more. Something they couldn’t know.

He was put in my life to make me a better person and I was there to help him be one too. That’s what our marriage is about. Loving God, loving each other, loving our kids, and making each other the best we can be. The fact that no one understood this was very evident when I talked to my boss (she was also a friend) about “our song”. While I’m not sure we have an “official” song, there are several songs that have had a large impact on us as a couple and, I believe, the very first one was “The Reason” by Hoobastank.

Now most people from my generation have heard this song. It came out the year after I graduated high school and was very popular at the time. My boss, ‘LuLu’, was convinced this was the worst song possible for a new romance to set as their own. She believed the song was about changing yourself to be good enough for your lover and feared that this was what I was doing. I don’t actually think she had ever paid attention to the lyrics of this song with a hint of accuracy. With this in mind, let’s look at those lyrics:

“The Reason” (from azlyrics.com)

I’m not a perfect person
There’s many things I wish I didn’t do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I’ve found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

Okay, let’s start here. The narrator here is saying “I’m a f**k up, I didn’t mean to do that. I’m working on me, but I know that’s not enough for you right now. I’ll leave, but before I do, I want you to know that I want to be a better person. I want to change so I don’t do this to someone else and you are the reason I want to make that change” I fail to see how this is a bad thing. We all strive to be better people and many of us have people of inspiration behind these drastic behavior changes. Next verse:

I’m sorry that I hurt you
It’s something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
Thats why i need you to hear

I’ve found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is You

Here again, we gain a little more insight into the problem. Whatever behavior he wishes to change has become incredibly painful to the woman he loves. He hurt her pretty badly and has to live with the fact that he caused a great pain to the woman of his heart. He says “I’m sorry. I wish I could change what happened, I wish I could stop the pain, the hurt and your tears. That’s why I need you to listen. I need you to know that I’m trying to be a better person and that you are the reason I want to change. I don’t want to put you or anyone else through this again.” The rest of the song is for emphasis. A “please listen to me”, if you will.

and the reason is You [x3]

I’m not a perfect person
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I’ve found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I’ve found a reason to show
A side of me you didn’t know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you

So this was the song my husband and I chose all those years ago. We chose a song that in the moment was a great one for us. Eight years ago, we chose to be a better person than we were being. We made the effort to always build each other up and to change behaviors that were harmful to ourselves or each other. We strive to be better people.

We are not perfect. We have gone through a lot in our marriage that has knocked the floor out from under us. There have been times that have been so difficult and so painful that it almost cost us our marriage. Multiple times. There have been times where it would have been much easier to just give up. Times where it was my fault. Times where it was his fault. But instead of calling it quits and walking away, we pulled together. We’ve been in marriage counseling on two separate occasions and I’m not afraid to admit it. I had a severe bout of depression years ago that almost destroyed us. I changed my thinking habits, took medications for a while and haven’t had a serious issue with it since 2007.

We’ve stuck with it when it would have been easier to leave. We’ve done amazing things in our marriage and I hope that, someday, our marriage can be a beacon of hope for someone else going through hard times. I want to continue being the reason he strives to be a better man. A better husband, a better father. And I want to be his better wife, better mother, and better woman in return.

At this point in our lives, any number of songs could describe how I feel about my marriage, my husband, my life. Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You into the Dark“, for instance, Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends“, even Alanis Morissette’s “Head Over Feet“. I’ve always communicated better through music. I love my husband more today that I did all those years ago. I can say that without irony, and with full honesty. I love him more now. I’ve watched him grow as a man. I’ve watched him grow as a husband and as a father. I’ve seen him stumble. I’ve seen him fall. I’ve seen every bump and bruise in between. My husband is a better man today that he was those seven years ago. He will be a better man seven years from now.

I miss him terribly, I want him here with me. Personal sacrifice is part of growing. It’s part of learning who you are and what you are made of. I bare this cross with honor for my country. I’ve got your back. So does my husband.

I love you, kid. See you soon!