Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Getting Kicked When I'm Down

I have to admit that I was taken aback when I finally read through the comments on my blog post from yesterday. I developed mastitis again yesterday and spent the last 20 hours unable to move. I finally get around to checking my email and now I feel terrible. I feel like I'm getting kicked when I'm down.

I am not sure why my post was taken as me feeling some sense of entitlement to anything. Obviously it's nobody's obligation to shovel my driveway. I thought that went without saying? However, I do know that I have shoveled many neighbor's driveways, mowed their lawns, and delivered homemade cookies. I don't care if it's a handicapped person, a single mom, a military family, or a picture-perfect family in a happy marriage with 2.3 children-I'd go out of my way to help any of them. Perhaps it's because I believe God calls me to love my neighbors? I know not everyone believes that... but I do. And so I choose to see the goodness in people.

My neighbors all offered their support and graciously offered to bring meals and snow blow our driveway. They said this when we moved into the house. And yes, I could go and ask them to follow through. In many ways, it's my own damn fault. I don't like to ask for help and don't like feel as though I'm a burden to others. As such, I choose to do everything myself. That's obviously a personality flaw within me and is not a reflection of anyone else's willingness to help. I am stubborn and I like to think that after making it through the last 12 months without help that I can make it through the next 12 months.

My frustrations stem from the military. Yes, my husband chose this career. No, we didn't know we'd have 2 sets of identical twins and having 6 kids is nobody's job but my own. But I do believe that "the system" is failing us. The military puts much stock in their family support programs. They promise our soldiers that they'll take care of their families when they're away. I haven't seen it. My frustration is that the military is letting families fall through the cracks.

Is it any wonder that military spouses are committing suicide in record numbers? Is it any wonder that military spouses feel they can't talk to anyone about their troubles? Hell, I posted something on my own blog and I get absurd comments about Haiti and having no legs. How about instead of belittling military spouses, we let them feel safe to discuss their concerns? How about we show a little support for a lifestyle that, although chosen, is very difficult for all involved? How about taking into consideration the fact that the person behind this computer screen is struggling, hurting, and feeling alone already?

The article I linked to above specifically mentions geographic and social isolation and a challenge for National Guard families. In many ways, I am struggling with the same challenges. I am not near a base and don't know anyone here who has a deployed spouse. I chose to leave Georgia and the military community because I thought that my family could offer more support during this deployment. In reality, it was probably not the best decision and I may have been wrong to choose to move to Virginia. But, what's done is done. Now I'll have to find support somewhere, somehow.

It's the criticism of military spouses, both by civilians and each other, that has led to the secrecy behind our struggles. As mentioned in the article above, military spouses are "hypervigilant of the fact that it's their soldier, not themselves, repeatedly putting their boots on the ground and laying their lives on the line." I often feel as though I have no room to complain. After all, it's not me risking my life. It's Jason. (And shouldn't he be assured that his family is taken care of when he's gone?) So, we "suck it up and suffer in silence." We love our soldiers and we have to be strong for them, even when our world is collapsing around us. We can't ask for help or we're seen as weak, or expecting something from others.

My sister-in-law has shouldered much of the responsibility of watching out for me and the kids while Jason is gone. She works full-time, has a paralyzed husband in a wheelchair, and she homeschools her son. She has enough on her plate already... and yet she won't hesitate to drop everything and help me. The thing is, I shouldn't have to burden her. I don't expect it, and usually I don't ask for it. She just knows that there is no way I'll make it through this without feeling loved, cared for, and appreciated. Thank goodness somebody understands that!

This afternoon two teens from a local church came and shoveled some of our driveway. Much of the snow had turned to ice already so it's still a big mess. But they came, out of the goodness of their hearts, and expected nothing in return. My children were blessed to witness the generosity of perfect strangers and were thrilled to carry out donuts to share with them. There are still good people in this world after all.

I hate to do it, but from now on I think I'm going to delete any negative comments. It's not that I don't appreciate constructive criticism, but more that I can't handle it right now when my emotions are already raw. I hope everyone can understand.
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