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Beyond Surviving

Initially I viewed this deployment as something I would just have to survive, but now I realize that simply surviving is not enough for me. To me surviving means living in dread, disparity and on the verge of losing it at any moment. I refuse to spend even a portion of my life like this.

I have had days where I simply survived, and those days make me realize I cannot live this way.  That is easier said than done. It is easy to sit on the couch and think poor me or there is no way on earth I can do this.  I have been there, but I refused to stay there.

I realized at a leadership training I went to that I could do more than simply make it through this deployment.  I learned to tell myself that this is the life I chose, and I choose all the stresses that come with my life.  I choose each day to continue in my career.  I chose to become a parent, and it chose to space my children only 15 months apart even though I knew my husband would most likely deploy when they were young.  I did not chose for my husband to enter the military, but I chose to support him and marry someone whom I knew had those ambitions.  I also chose to be proud of his accomplishments instead of being angry with him for being gone.

This simple change in mindset has helped me tremendously.  I have gone from feeling alone and forced to do things to owning my responsibilities and making them a choice, and they are a choice.  I could quit my job tomorrow.  I could leave my kids with my parents or friends all the time.  I could have anger and resentment for my husband for the choices he has made.  I choose not to.

I have also learned to look for the positives, and give myself praise for what I have accomplished even if it is something small.  When I figured out how to replace the furnace air filter and the fridge water filter in the same day I told myself I was pretty kick ass.  Who else was going to recognize I had found and fixed a problem on my own?  If you wait for the world to bring you up you will wait forever especially if you are like me and a bit isolated.

Give yourself the accolades you deserve even if it is for something silly like dragging the Christmas tree out of the basement on your own.  That is an accomplishment even if it is just a small one.  Think of all the women who got to yell at their husbands for a week to get the thing up.  You, my friend, are strong enough to not depend on your husband.  You get stuff done.  You are a rock star!

Finally, and most importantly, I rely on my faith to give me the pushes I need.  I pray often, and I am continually asking God for help and strength.  Not everything is on my shoulders.  God will lift me up when I need him.

The only good book I have read about deployments is called "God Strong".  It is written by Sara Horn, and I highly recommend it for any military wife.  Within the first few pages it felt like she wrote the book solely for me, and is couldn't put it down.  It served as my reminder that I need to focus on God not only on my bad days, but every day.  God gives me the strength to smile when I couldn't do it on my own, and it is God who makes my kids do the cutest things right when I think I'm going to fall apart.

Remembering that God is in control is key to going beyond the shell of an existence that is survival.  With God's help I am thriving.  I am able to stay positive in situations where I would otherwise crumble because I know God is in control, and he has given me what I need to excel where he has put me. I just need to remember to put my full trust in him.

A year give or take is a long time.  Those of us in or facing a long separation from our spouses should seek to do more than just make it.  Our goal should be to have joy in our lives despite the giant elephant that is gone from the room.  We can miss our husbands, we can wish they were here with us and it is ok to be worried about them.  It is not ok to allow those things to direct our lives.

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