Sharing Me

Emotion always has its roots in the unconscious and manifests itself in the body.

~Irene Claremont de Castillejo

Homecoming is so close I can feel it breathing on my neck! It’s been so long since I have seen my husband’s face, hair, skin, hands, – everything. Although he was home for a short time before getting redeployed it felt more like an R&R than his homecoming. We didn’t even get to enjoy a ‘honeymoon’ stage with the holidays, moving, our oldest going to a new school, and then the re-deployment. Even though we did the whole homecoming thing not too long ago I still find myself feeling the same reservations – specifically on touch.

As much as I dream about running into my husband’s arms to hold on for dear life, kissing him until we can’t any more, and having our bodies feel close again, I can’t remove myself from wondering if my space will feel violated? As well as how can it be violated if that space has been untouched because of a separation I have been longing to end?

As a military wife you learn to adapt and mold into whatever you need to be for any and every situation. Living months without any sensual, loving touch was difficult to get accustomed to at first but after time goes by its like you become comfortable with solitude and being untouched is as normal as waking up every morning.

Most people don’t allow just ‘anyone’ to touch you. I for one am no big ‘hugger’ – until I create an emotion for you. When we are out in public, to most people, it would be completely uncomfortable to have a stranger go up to you and put his/her hand on your shoulder as you converse. (I would probably be a bit scared too) Now if I know you this person (as an acquaintance per say) it might still be a little uncomfortable but more in the realm of okay. And thus, if I ‘know you – know you’ (in the sense that I have factual feelings for you) I would not only be okay with your hand on my shoulder but would expect more.

Children, for example, are the most honest and truthful individuals on earth – just because it’s all they know to be (a good thing, I say).  Most toddlers do not freely go to strangers unless they sense trust and an emotional connection. If you force them, they most likely will cry, kick, and scream. Conversely, if you take your time building that emotional bond, the toddler will slowly move towards you at their own pace and in the most genuine way ever.

So, here I am, feeling like a toddler faced with a stranger – and that stranger is touch. I know I love my husband and I trust him and have an emotional connection – but his touch is a stranger to my body. His touch needs to start over. His touch needs to work on a bond. His touch needs to earn my emotional connection. I expect it to not take too long but initially sharing me is going to be easier said than done.

Since the initial deployment my emotions have gone through shock, trauma, and recovery and all along the means used as the primary expression for these feelings – touch – has been suppressed.  I too need to retrain my mind and body to allow touch to be reintegrated into my life again. Touch – be it a hug, holding hands, a kiss, or a stroke on the face – is essential in a marriage and any loving relationship for that matter. So although, I am feeling a bit anxious about touch – I do recognize that I would fail at my love if I don’t walk into confronting this, even if it is a slow process, in the end it will be success.

Now I’m not quite sure how common this feeling is amongst most military wives but I wanted to be authentic about what is in my tumultuous thoughts and possibly in the other less outspoken military wives. And no – I’m not saying I plan on avoiding my husband’s touch like the plague. We will have our picture perfect – almost poster type homecoming moment, it’s after that moment has passed that worries me.

The human body is not an instrument to be used, but a realm of one’s being
to be experienced, explored, enriched and, thereby, educated.
–   Thomas Hanna

Wordless Wednesday…A Little Pink in a World of Camo

Today a very young Military wife along with her newborn baby girl will be putting to rest the man who was is her everything.

I have followed Mrs. P’s blog, A Little Pink in a World of Camo, for some time now. I love her honesty, humor, and cuteness –> her posts are always great to read. Last Wednesday, however, I found myself crying and my heart breaking for someone I never met but felt I knew. Mrs. P wrote about how her life turned upside down in a matter of seconds. On Sunday, March 14th, 2010, her husband, a USMC Cpl, died while on operations in Afghanistan. Her strength to come back to her blog and write about it already makes her a thousand times stronger than I.

As Military wives, this is our greatest fear: That our beloved doesn’t come home ‘safe’  – but when I come across something like this it becomes such a reality that it scares me even more. My heart and prayers go out to Mrs. P and her family. I pray that she continue to find strength and comfort in her wonderful memories that will live on with her forever.

This is just another reminder to truly embrace life and never take it for granted. Cherish every moment because we ultimately will never know God’s plan (nor understand it). I know I for sure took for granted the little bit of days I had my husband home before he re-deployed with no warning. We could have shared more emotions, exchanged more hugs and kisses, and just stared at each other –> but instead we chose to go back into our familial ‘roles’, chaotically setup house, and independently do our own thing only because I fell into thinking I was in a safety net of my husband being home. Now, although my situation is completely incomparable to what Mrs. P has experienced and is experiencing, it’s just that it has made me take a step back to reflect my life – our life.

Mrs. P, you are an amazing woman and yes! you will ALWAYS be a Marine Wife. God’s love and ((hugs)) to you.

Rest in Peace Cpl Jonathan Daniel Porto

 

Calling all Military Spouses, Girlfriends, Fiancés, Children, Friends and Families: NEED YOUR INPUT!!

Hello Everyone!!

I haven’t been able to ‘post’ anything lately because I have been preoccupied with a couple of projects and ideas I’ve put on the back burner. Now with the hubby re-deployed and with being in a new location (still quite unfamiliar with) I decided to attempt to use my time wisely and take advantage of solidarity and make it as productive as possible!

One of those projects is putting as many creative ideas and activities families and friends (specifically children) can do independently and together during times of deployment. Now, I know – we military wives are very creative during these times 😉 I have come up with quite a few of my own and others I have searched for as well. But I would love more!!

So here is my question to you:

What is your favorite activity, creative idea, gift, surprise, care package theme, and/or homemade letter/card that you sent or did while experiencing deployment on the homefront??

It can be ANYTHING! Please email me your idea at: Homefront_wife@yahoo.com

I am truly so excited to get this project going and out there to the public!

Thank you all for your support and suggestions!!!

An Open Letter to the Military: Regarding the Recent Deployment to Haiti, Rumors, and the Homefront

Dear Military,

As you know, it has been about 20 days since my husband deployed to Haiti. I am almost 100% certain that the inbox of our FRO (Family Readiness Officer) has been inundated with inquiries regarding our service men’s and women’s return date. I, as a spouse and a mother of two little girls, am not immune to the desire to know either but have moved away from asking since I can already predict the answer is not yet known. However, this does not eliminate the frustration and anxiety that I and other spouses are currently experiencing. 

It is obvious to those involved that our stress and overwhelming dissatisfaction about this deployment is more so in relation to the fact that our men and women just got home from their recent 7 month deployment. It is a constant fear of mine, as well as voiced in other spouses, that our ‘family time’ will be cut short or worse non-existence upon their return due to the realization that they must start ‘work-ups’ to deploy again in the near future.

With the rumors looming around us like a plague it is easier said than done to not grab a hold of one and hold on to it until it is shot down. At times, for me, it can make a huge difference in my day to follow a rumor for a couple of hours instead of looking into an endless tunnel with an indefinite end. Occasionally, I even welcome them – even more so to get me through the ‘rough days’. Currently, the rumor that has grabbed my attention is that some spouses have been given a return date. It would truly be infuriating to know that a selection of spouses is receiving more information regarding homecoming while other spouses are counting up days instead of having the opportunity to count down. Although my logic comforts my emotions in the belief that this too is nothing more than a rumor – it still is very challenging to overlook.

I am aware that representatives of the unit are not authorized to provide specific dates and/or information until they are given permission to do so. Reflecting on the circumstances and the barriers around the deployment, I began to contemplate ideas or ways we as spouses can be alleviated from the stressors of this current situation. I understand with a full heart of compassion that Haiti needs the help of the International community to assist them in returning to, at minimum, what their world was like seconds before the earthquake. I am proud to be part of a nation that can assist in this mass effort providing extraordinary and grand humanitarian relief. I am aware, via the news and updates from the CO (Commanding Officer), that our service men and women are consistently and productively providing this assistance where needed as well as supporting NGOs. What would be reassuring at this time for us spouses on the homefront, and to say the least – encouraging, maybe to tell us what the determining factors are in regards to the length of this deployment? Is there a list of areas/towns in Haiti that need to be visited first? Is there a group of NGOs that must be assisted? Is there a goal of how many people of Haiti need to receive direct assistance from us? At this point – anything is truly better than hearing nothing. Speaking for myself, I feel that if I received an update more often, even to say that ‘nothing new is known’, would be more consoling than passing another day with silence amid incessant rumors.

Nevertheless, I appreciate and applaud the rapid planning and organization of the upcoming “Family Appreciation Day”. My daughters and I are truly looking forward to having a delightful time as well as the given opportunity to meet other spouses and families in which empathy can be utilized at its best. This being the first event I am attending, since recently moving into the area, I am unaware if there will be Chaplains and/or counselors at hand to casually introduce themselves and “check-in” on us spouses and children and possibly go as far as extending their therapeutic services. With the present unexpected back-to-back deployment along with the added strain of it being ‘indefinite’ it should almost be anticipated that risks of anxiety, depression, and even alcohol and drug abuse may be high amongst family members. I say this not only as a  licensed professional in the field of mental health but also as someone who is facing these circumstances and know what a difference it  would make to hear someone come to me and say they understand how difficult this can be and simply ask me how I am doing.

I hope that my letter does not find you bothered by my spoken standpoint for my desire to know something that may very well be unattainable, but with that, I hope you can also understand the position I speak from. It would be more than a blessing to just have my husband home already, but as I mentioned – at this point knowing anything is better than knowing nothing.

Until then, my prayers are with him, the entire military, the people of Haiti, and the families of those here on the homefront. I not only pray for strength but that we may also continue and strive to be optimistic during this fractious time.

Sincerely,

A Military Spouse

PS: Missing You On My Birthday (A Poem)

A candle is lit as I’m surrounded by love

Each one singing the traditional song

To wish me happiness and wealth

in the new year to come

 

I tearfully think of the year that has passed

And remember every moment that was oh so sad

The memories escape me of happiness and cheer

As I fear the older I get the more anguish I may feel

 

My heart skips a beat as they call out my name

It startles my mind pondering about the pain

I lift up my eyes and quickly realize

I have nothing to fear

For God has made my life heavenly and divine

 

It’s time to make a wish and blow out my candles

You can see in my eyes my desires are clear

All I want for my birthday is my husband to be here

Ridiculous and unattainable I know

But there is no way to discourage what the heart implores

 

A gush of wind comes from within

Grazing my lips to extinguish the flames

To end this year’s celebration overflowing with dismay

 

I yearn for my husband and I to embrace

Allowing the passion that has been temporarily displaced

Due to the distance that lies in between

But never allowing our love to cease

Continuously feeling like a riveting machine

 

I look forward to being with family and friends

Although I desire this day coming to an end

It’s not that I mind wrinkles or aging

I just not having my husband home

Can sometimes be enraging

 

Thank you all for the birthday wishes

And making my day special

I hope you understand

My whole day is not depressing

It’s only that even more so today

It hurts me further

That my other half is not present

Forever Young

As my birthday approaches all I have been thinking about is what another year means for me. Am I any wiser? Am I more experienced? Am I more wrinkled or saggy? Do I appear older? Should I feel old? Am I more mature or should I be more mature? Is time flying past me?

As a child all the way to teenage years I looked forward to my birthday as nothing more than presents, cake, and more privileges. It was a day I had the ‘license’ to do whatever I wanted! Birthday parties and outings were planned – every year out-doing the last. I especially remember my Sweet 16. I had an extravagant (Spanish-family type) party that resembled a wedding. I wore a big poofy white dress and had my cotillion in red flamenco-style dresses and the boys in black suits. My husband, then boyfriend, was also there is in his rank-less military uniform straight from boot-camp. I remember thinking that day I had became a real woman – 16 was the age of true maturity and independence – yea right! As the years past on, 18 was the last birthday I celebrated with the same enthusiasm I had as a child. After that, it was just another reason to go out and get together. 

Then 25 came and went.

That was the year that ‘age’ had a new definition. I wondered if now is when I could no longer be considered young or at least mid-20’s? Was it time to be called a late twenties woman and to accept that I was aging and had to start taking life seriously (or more so than before)? Yet, at the same time, I fell into the trap of anti-aging and began to ponder ways and ideas to manipulate my body’s normal transitions.

Women for years have been manipulating their bodies and appearances to come across as beautiful and young within their culture. Women succumb to many cultural traditions, from Chinese foot-binding, Burmese neck rings, African Lip Rings, Victorian corsets, to today’s anti-aging creams, plastic and cosmetic surgery, extreme dieting, and constant beautification of hair, nails, and make-up. All aiming to be the youngest, most beautiful, and sought-out woman in their community. 

You see, I come from a family of straight-forward ANTI-aging women. As a child I knew very well to never ask a woman their age. I watched my Mamita (my maternal grandmother) buy expensive creams until she found the perfect one, immediately dye her hair at the site of anything gray, constantly use lotions, and would hear her pass down secrets to my mother. The women in my family are always in constant worry about finding a wrinkle or gray strand of hair. Some more than others have facials on schedule, have nightly cream regimens, get their nails done weekly, never miss a hair dye appointment, get cellulite reducer massages, and even have had plastic and cosmetic surgery.

Basically, the older my sister and I get, the younger the older women in our family get.

My Mamita today is in the late stages of Alzheimers (bless her heart) but even with the disease her mind never ceases from asking for her lipstick – how is her hair – wanting her nails painted – and quickly snapping if you mention aloud she is ‘old’. I laugh with a heart full of love in her presence and I wonder if this is the future that awaits me – wrinkly, gray, saggy, soft, and in denial.

My Mamita at 81 years old

My Mamita, today at 81 years old!

I myself am in no way resistant to this anti-aging mentality the women of my family are infected with. I do wear make-up daily (cover-up, blush, and lip gloss at minimum), I do own a ‘pick me up’ bra, I dye my hair when I get bored of the color (which, actually, within the past year I have only done once), and I don’t normally mention my age. But – I don’t get my nails done, I have never had a facial, my lotion of choice is plain ‘ole Jergens, I only get a massage if my body hurts, and I have never done any extreme forms of beautification (such as purchasing expensive mascara).

My fears of aging are more in the lines of health and time passing me by too quickly and not completing my bucket list. We all know the saying, “they grow up so fast”, when looking at children. But I remember as a child, the days felt long, a month felt like forever, and a year felt like an eternity and now, within the past two years – days fly by, a month is quickly gone, and last year felt like yesterday. The older I get – the more I appreciate a second, a minute, an hour, a day – because if you’re not paying attention – it will pass you by.

I welcome my birthday as I did any other. Looking back into the past year I can’t believe where life has taken me. Last year, celebrating my birthday in Virginia, it never even crossed my mind that I would be back home with family and my husband would be deployed. I never knew I would spend a birthday without my husband. I never knew I had the courage and strength to raise my two girls alone – all while keeping my deployed husband active in their hearts, minds, and lives. I never knew that I would finally start sharing my writing and be out of the professional workforce. I never knew what it meant to truly lose a loved one. I never knew what it meant to see others around you begin to get sick. I never knew what it meant to be alone. I never really knew how much I took for granted. I never knew I would be feeling this way on my birthday.

Our birthdays are not about aging and appearance, it is about our life, our wisdom, our experience and that is why to the people who love us we will always be beautiful – even at 81! I look forward to growing old – because it will mean another year God has blessed me, another year I have my children, another year filled with experiences, and another year with my love.

I will embrace every wrinkle and every gray hair with open arms because they are symbols (or scars) of my life. Just this past year I have learned so much more about myself, my marriage, and my family – I can’t wait to see what I will know in the years to come.

I may never really aim to be forever young, even though I am partially anti-aging. All I know is that I will always aspire to be healthy and young at heart – and will greet life and its experiences as they come.

Tomorrow I will welcome an extra candle on my cake. It will represent my new wisdom, my new knowledge, and my new life (and possibly a wrinkle or two). And of course, you all know what my wish will be.

(Miss you beh, even more so on my Birthday)

To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent –

that is to triumph over old age.


— Thomas Bailey Aldrich

The (im)Perfect Military Wife

When one thinks of a military wife, the immediate poster type super mom and trophy wife comes to mind – which is the Perfect Military Wife. She is sweet, calm, always kind and sincere, knows everything about the military from ranks to benefits and history. She carries herself proper and her children are always well-behaved and neatly groomed. Her home is spotless and beautifully decorated. She cooks everything from breakfast to dessert, and welcomes everyone over for dinner. She is as fit as her husband and is always educating others on healthy eating habits. She is the most understanding woman you know and never complains about life in the military. She is involved one way or another in every event on base and volunteers her time constantly to anything related to the military.

Other military wives look up to her in admiration and constantly seek ways to resemble her in any form. You can read about her in popular military magazines and newspapers and see her receive awards and certificates of appreciation. She never has an excuse to help others and is the first person on line to help her community. Each and every task, errand, chore, and event is done with a big bright smile. Her husband, family, and the military is her air – life to her is about keeping it altogether, happy, and (well, like her) perfect.

Every military wife knows what it takes to be the super-military wife/mom. Our capes hang in our closets and the third invisible arm is always ready for any situation. We often hear about how strong, patient, tolerant, understanding, and loving the military wife is – and even though this all true in just about all military wives – we fail to hear about the (im)perfect wife that at times lives dormant within all of us and for some, more often than not.

The (im)perfect military wife has some of the same characteristics as the perfect one. She is kind, sweet, sincere, and loving. However, she may not always be in her Sunday best when shopping in the commissary. She can be found in the aisle of diapers and chicken with no make-up, an un-ironed shirt, comfortable mothering flats or sneakers, in a ‘bad hair-day’ cap, and possibly in (gasp) sweatpants or track-suit, all with a frazzled face.

When asked her husband’s rank, her cluttered mind may result in her quickly forgetting and pausing to think about it. Same goes for the chain of command, the ranks and their corresponding insignia. She has yet to learn every single acronym that exists in the military but still smiles and nods when confronted with one in conversation. She lacks the knowledge and detail of all military history but can throw a great BBQ for fourth of July.

When it’s time to pack up and move again to the next duty location – she is almost never organized but instead jittery and stressed. She usually waits until the last few days to pack or until the morning the movers come to put the ‘untouchables and valuables’ to the side. And even though she has done it a hundred times – Google is where she gets all her information (every single time) about Tricare, DEERs, entitlements, ID processes, and such.

The (im)perfect military wife strives to be healthy and fit, but when emotionally drained she loves to indulge on cupcakes and cookies and prefers the couch and a chick-flick as opposed to a treadmill and water bottle. A meal for the family sometimes comes from a frozen box that mysteriously converts into a warm meal when placed in the square magical electronic thingy. She fancies the thought of hosting a dinner or just coffee and sometimes even plans the whole event – but when it comes down to inviting, her shyness to meet and talk to new people shoves those ideas to the side. And when invited to similar events, in addition to the shyness, the anxiety of speaking about possible military topics she is not fully informed on take over and she declines the invite.

When deployment comes along, no matter how long, she temporarily gets upset at Uncle Sam and cries while cursing the military for taking her love away. She momentarily resents her husband for leaving her behind and then cries for the mishmash of feelings she is having. She yearns for husband daily and misses him constantly. She easily becomes vulnerable to sleep-less nights, toddler-like break downs, going over her budget, and forgetting the car needs an oil change.

She allows her children to misbehave every now and then when daddy is away. She sometimes spoils them in an effort to take away the sadness of deployment in their eyes. The children scream, cry, pout, and have tantrums every so often – but mostly when in crowded places. At times they beg for candy on the grocery line and even for a balloon on a stick all while she frantically searches for her ID card in order to shop. They spill ketchup on their shirts and are incapable of keeping their hair neatly done throughout the entire day.

The home of the (im)perfect military wife is just like her – (im)perfect. Piles of laundry await folding on the coach and there is usually something in the dishwasher, be it clean or dirty. Now and again the garbage overflows – all depending if the husband is deployed or not. People with allergies to dust must always give a 48 hour notice prior to visiting. And the dogs roam free like the kings and queens of the castle (need I say more).

Every year she aims to be more involved and active in the community and base events. She aspires to volunteer and ‘make a difference’ but her mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion limit her as she realizes she may just not be as ‘strong’ and put together as those military wives who do. You definitely don’t read about her in magazines and newspapers and you may not even notice her if she was right next to you.

The (im)perfect military wife and perfect military wife may be different in their public appearance, mannerisms, and child-rearing ways but the core of what makes a military wife is unchangeable.

No matter the situation a military wife never loses her love, support, understanding, and patience for her husband and the military. The military wife at the end of the day is able to balance and multi-task the day’s priorities. She has the power of cure-all kisses for her children and enjoys any moment spent with them (good or bad) because being in a military family you quickly learn how to appreciate time spent together. Although it may be expressed differently, a military wife always misses her husband when he is away.

A military wife truly cares for others, especially other military wives. They try to be involved at any level – even if it means donating items or monetary gifts anonymously. A military wife knows what sacrifice is and takes it with a grain of salt. She smiles when it comes to moving (again) only because she is aware that her reaction will reflect in her children’s reaction. A military wife never likes pity and finds it difficult to accept assistance. Most importantly, she prides herself in her family, her husband, and her country.

So next time you are on base or in the commissary and you notice the (im)perfect wife in her untied sneakers, track suit, hair in clip, with screaming and crying children searching for her car keys – before you say “oh my, look…” remember that she too is a military wife. She too is strong. She too is brave. She too is caring. She too is missing her husband. She too some days is me and she too some day may be you.