Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Strong Women Get Sad, Too.

A random, yet highly important, rant. Written in March 2010, a little over halfway through my husband's last deployment. I share this for all of the strong women, who just want people to understand that they, in fact, get tired, too.

My husband is away. In a war zone. For an entire year. He left on August 18 at 2:30am, which means he’s been gone for 7 months, 16 days, and 15 hours. I know because I count—all the time. And saying goodbye the second time was almost as hard as the first. I used to frequent news sites, but now I avoid them. I don’t need to read about how dangerous the world is, because I see it in my dreams. I miss him when I shovel the snow alone, mow the yard alone, and when I wake up alone. I miss him when our daughter wants him to come to her Veteran’s Day assembly and when our son asks me how long a year is—again. I miss him when I see couples hugging and I’m reminded that I won’t feel my husband’s hug for months. I miss him when I’ve had a rough day at work and when I’ve had a great day at work. I just miss him—all the time. I know that no one can truly understand this unless they’ve lived it. And thankfully, I’ve been blessed enough to know some people who have lived it. And I know that people mean well when they say “hang in there” or “you’ll make it, you’re strong” or “just stay busy and the time will fly by.” Well, I am busy—busier than I’d like to be, and I am strong—stronger than ever. But, what people seem to forget is that even busy and strong women get sad, too.

Staying busy does not make the time go faster, it just makes me more tired. And being strong does not keep me from hurting, it just keeps me from having a breakdown—or at least, having one in public. Well, that’s not exactly true. I am very careful not to show how much I am truly hurting in front of my coworkers or, especially, my children. But, when the sweet woman at the post office (who due to my weekly packages now knows my name) asked me when he was coming home—I lost it. I started crying. In the post office. And something tells me that the sweet woman has been in this position, or something similar, because she didn’t say “it will be ok” or “hang in there.” She just gently touched my hand and said “I’m sorry.” And somehow, those simple words, from a complete stranger, meant so much. She didn’t expect me to be ok or tell me how quickly the time will pass. She just acknowledged my pain.

It’s amazing how much two words can help, can heal, and can push you to make it through another day. Those simple comments from friends like, “that really sucks” or “I hate deployments” have helped so much more than words of encouragement. I’m angry and sad that my husband is gone. And I’m starting to see that other people are angry and sad with me. And sometimes, even strong, busy women need that, too.

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