Sunday, December 23, 2012

If I Had Known ...

Recently, I heard a woman on Married to the Army: Alaska say that if she had known what the military life had in store for her, she would have run as fast as she could in the other direction.  This sentiment is understandable.  This life is hard.  Incredibly hard.  The countless separations, unpredictable cross-country (or international) moves, constant fear and worry.  It often seems like too much to endure.  This made me wonder:  If I had known, what would I have done? 

If I had known that my husband and I would be apart for more than half of our marriage, would I still have said yes when he asked me to go on a date with him?  If I had known that my life would eventually revolve around where and when the Army decides to move us, would I still have fallen in love with him?  If I had known that our children would cry themselves to sleep many nights missing their Daddy, would I still have stayed by his side through that first 15-month deployment? If I had known that I would spend much of our marriage in fear for his safety, would I still have said yes when he asked me to marry him?  If I had known that I would spend so many nights with a cell phone clasped in my hand, would I still have held his hand and vowed to love him forever? 

The answer is yes. 

In fact, if I had known how weak in the knees I would get when he kissed me on the forehead after our first date, I would have agreed to go out with him much earlier.  If I had known that he would become my best friend and strongest supporter, I would have given my heart to him much easier. If I had known what an incredible father he would be to our children, I would have married him much sooner.  If I had known how safe I would feel lying next to him, I would have held him much closer.  If I had known how incredibly painful it would be to be away from him, I would have loved him even more. 

If I had known what an incredible man I had found, I would have cherished him from the beginning. If I had known what this life had in store for us, I would have been more grateful for every kiss, every moment of joy and laughter, every second of our lives together.  

And even today, as we're separated yet again, I know that despite all of the heartache and loneliness, and even with everything I know now, I still--and always will--choose him. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

The End of the World

Most people agree that the world will not end today, despite the Mayans’ prediction. Some have even interpreted the Mayan calendar to mean that the world will not end, but rather that today will mark the beginning of a new era.  Some say that December 21, 2012 will be the end of fighting, war, bigotry, and violence; and the beginning of brother/sisterhood, love, and compassion.  Given the events we have seen this year, I certainly hope this is true.

A week ago today, 20 beautiful young children and six adults were murdered in an elementary school in Connecticut.  Every day, women are being murdered by spouses and boyfriends—people who they are supposed to be able to trust.  Every day, soldiers are being ripped away from their families to fight wars, many of whom never return home.  I truly, truly hope this will all end.  It has to. 

I want today to be an end of sorts for me, too.  I want – no, I’m going to make today be an end to self-criticism and blame, depression, anxiety, and fear.  Oh yes, please let it be the end of fear.  So much of the pain in our lives is caused by fear.  Fear of being a failure. Fear of being hurt.  Fear that you’re not good enough, strong enough, kind enough, attractive enough … just, enough.  And I believe much of the tragedy and violence we’ve seen in our world is caused by this fear as well.  Fear that leads to insecurities.  Fear that leads us to turn on ourselves and one another.  Fear that is consuming our lives and our world.  It’s time for this world to end. 

Today, I commit to starting a new life, a new world for me and those around me—a world based on love, not on fear.  I commit to turning all negative or fearful thoughts into loving ones.  Instead of thinking, “ugh, I didn’t make it to the gym” or “I can’t believe I ate that,” I will think, “I love and am grateful for my body.” This love will inevitably encourage me to care for my body much more than any amount of self-criticism or blame ever could.

Instead of being afraid to take chances in my career, I will be grateful and courageous.  Instead of thinking, “I can’t,” I will think, “I am capable of anything, and I will.

 Instead of being afraid of failing as a mother, I will be loving and grateful.  I will follow the motto I am constantly sharing with expectant parents: Just love them, then love them some more. And when you don’t know what else to do, just keep on loving them.  With this much love, there can be no room for fear. 

Instead of being afraid in my marriage, I will be grateful for my amazing husband and partner. Being separated so many times by deployments, unaccompanied tours, and schools makes it difficult not to fear.  But, instead of thinking, “I can’t believe he’s gone again,” I will think, “I know he didn’t want to go, and we will get through this together.” 

Instead of being afraid to reach out to friends for help and support, I will feel grateful for the love in my life, and send out love and gratitude in return.  I will surround myself with love—both by giving and receiving. 

Starting today, I choose not to be afraid. I choose to think, feel, react, and live by love. I don’t have power over whether the world will change today.  But, I have power over whether I do.  And today, I choose to make a new beginning.  Starting today, I choose a new world.  I choose love. 

Happy December 21, 2012. Let’s make it a great one.