Friday, August 26, 2011

Opening the Door

I expect this to be a long post, and one that gets very personal.  I heard this poem recently, and it put into words some things that I have felt for a long time but didn't know how to express.  It's amazing how something can offer so much clarity and you haven't even sought it out, or realized that you needed it.  I'll start with the poem, and then explain how it touched, and healed, my soul.

The Words
by Serena, a military spouse

The words were there all along.

I kept them chained
My back turned
Ears covered
Eyes shut tight.

Then hit my stride
began to breathe.....let down my guard.

They were waiting
Simmering there in the dark
To seize the day
And forge the crack in my defense.

Striking furiously, without mercy
They laid me




Wimpering in anguish and despair.

"I Cannot Do This Anymore."
I struggled not to hear
to block them out
to flee.

They were relentless, determined to be reckoned, delighting in their voice;
bathing over me with their poison.

"You Cannot Do This."
"You Have Failed."
The words have left their mark.


Clinging to my last reserve, I hear familiar voices pleading through the din.

Four tiny, trusting eyes
My one true love
My friend
All beckon.....

"Stay With Me."

"You Have A Choice."

Harkening to the hopeful voice

I choose to stand
And greet the light....
                          however dim.

To rise and dress the wound
replace their chains
and start again.

To live the story to its end.

There's more beyond the dark.

I struggled for the first few months of the last deployment.  My entire support system had disintigrated.  I was pregnant.  I was lonely.  I was worried.  I was scared.  I had very few people I could turn to.  I sought counseling, but all three of the counselors had one solution - move home.  But that seemed like even more stress.  How could moving across the country with five kids by myself, TWICE in one year possibly be less stressful than the life I was living at that moment?  I desperately cried out for help, and didn't feel like anyone heard me, or worse, cared.  Talking to my husband made it worse because it caused him to worry about me and things at home, thus taking his mind off his task at hand.  I couldn't breathe, I didn't recognize myself, I was broken.  I went home from the hospital after having Camden by myself.  I spent 3 days alone with all five of my kids, and I was exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally.  Every part of me was depleted.  I had a friend stay with me for 3 weeks, and then Chip came home for 18 days of leave, and then I was alone again, for another 9 long months.

I remember the day that this poem was my life.  It was a beautiful day, but I was in my own hell.  I needed an hour, just to breathe, to gather my thoughts, to regroup and move on.  I called every person I knew and NO. ONE. could help me.  I had one person who I thought I could depend on, but she was immersed in her own crisis.  I was sitting in my living room.  It was quiet.  Brenna was in school.  The other four were occupied.  And I was alone on my couch.  This was it.  I would either be consumed by those words: I Cannot Do This Anymore........or I would face the world on my own.  Five little lives depended on me.  They had no one else at that moment.  I HAD to put the pieces back together.  I had no other option.  It was by far my darkest hour, and the light at the end of that tunnel was so very, very dim.  But I grasped it with every fiber of my being.  I picked myself up, I walked over to my newborn son, I kissed his forehead, and made a vow to take every day ONE day at a time. 

I didn't realize until just recently how much the decision to depend only on myself had impacted my life.  We all hear about how soldiers coming back from a deployment are different.  The things they endure, the things they see and participate in, through no fault of their own, changes who they are.  But we hardly hear about how a deployment changes a spouse who is back home.  I didn't fight in a war, my life was never truly in danger, and I still had all the comforts of home.  But being alone for 15 months, being both mom and dad, and doing everything on my own.....that all changed who I am.  It's not a bad thing.  I became more independent and stronger than I ever thought I could be.  But the conscious decision to depend only on myself impacted me deeply.  I didn't realize this until I was trying to do everything on my own, even after he returned from the deployment.  Instead of him being a partner in my life, he was more a nuisance, something else I had to take care of.  It's a hard transition to make, and in the process of that transition, we moved to another duty station.  These last 2+ years have been such a roller coaster ride for us.  But, I'm learning to open that door again, to need someone again. 

The poem was part of a video that highlights suicides among military spouses.  While I've never contemplated suicide, I have been in the darkest parts of my soul.  I have seen friends and family struggle with depression, and I know that while it was my hardest struggle, it may not seem that hard to some.  Many military spouses have gone through more deployments, have had major life events and crises happen during deployments, and my journey is just one of thousands.  But it is mine.  The pain I felt is not unique.  But rather, it is what bonds military spouses together.  We can all relate.  We are not better than any other spouse, just more resilient and perhaps even a little stronger.