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Posted in Veteran Woman

HOWDY!!

Howdy and welcome to my page!!  Not sure how you got here (I’ve had that problem more than a few times lol!!) but so glad to have you here.  Well it seems I survived another Thanksgiving – YAY ME!  Last year at this time, I was trying to get my head out of my butt and get my life back on track after surviving a horrible year-long marriage that left me pretty well financially and mentally BROKE!!  But see, here is the thing – stuff like that is only temporary. Why?  Because I am a woman and better yet – I am a WOMAN VETERAN!!  I’m sure so many of you have made some TERRIBLE mistakes in your time so you can totally relate.  Oh, BTW’s – I plan to be VERY transparent and open about things in my life on this page.  The one thing that I have learned in my 43 years is that Transparency is Freedom!!   Like many of you, I’ve lived many parts of my life in secret.  Always worried that if someone knew about this or that, they wouldn’t like me – or worse – they wouldn’t let their kids play with my kids.  This weekend I finally was able to watch “Bad Moms” and let me tell you – that move was spot on!!  For us women of service, I think it is even worse.  We have to put on a face and “fake it till we make it” because Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines with “issues” don’t make rank!

So I’m gonna keep this first post short because as those who know me will tell you I have SERIOUS Dorie syndrome!!  I can get off subject in the blink of the eye!  I just wanted to welcome you all to my page.  I hope that if you are a woman veteran, you find comfort from this page by finding out that you are not alone in your feelings and struggles.  And if you are not a female veteran, I hope this page provides some major insight into the struggles that women veterans face after leaving the service – as well as the struggles we had while still in.  I must forewarn you!!  Some topics may be sensitive in nature and not for the faint of heart, but I can also almost guarantee you might pee your pants from laughing so hard!  (For some of us older ladies, peeing our pants while laughing is old news lol!!)   As most of us are, I am quite the busy bee but I am going to try my hardest to post a something at least every couple of days or more.  PLEASE post feedback or send me messages with topics of interest to you.

I do have one request!  I very much believe in the power of words!  What I mean is that so many of the blogs and Facebook pages for veterans tend to be nothing but a gripe session.  If you are having issues, please do reach out for help, but please try and refrain from making a comment thread of nothing but continual complaining.  We can’t change the past nor can we change what people say and do, but we can change how we react to it and not let it dictate our lives.  POSITIVITY BREEDS POSITIVITY!!!  Also, please (TRY) to minimize the use of profanity.  I know that is hard – believe me – I am a Sailor!!  Ok that’s all for tonight.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

 

Posted in Veteran Woman

Imaginary Friends

 

Hey ya’ll!  Sorry it has been so long since last posting.  My Dorie has been keeping me so busy plus I’ve been dealing with a migraine for several weeks.  Anywho…

What a crazy couple of weeks that have passed.  Things with my Women Veterans group has gone to overdrive, plus I’m in the process of starting my own business and I volunteer with Dress For Success (I’m a volunteer and a Board member).  But even thought there needs to be a new word in the dictionary to describe the level of “busy” that I am – I still feel great and still have reserves for whatever comes my way.  Why am I telling you this?  Not to brag on myself or anything!! I mention by busy status to point out how being Dorie has kept me sane.

I meet new people almost daily – both veterans and non-veterans.  I constantly talk about how staying busy, engaging in HUMAN interaction, and stepping outside your comfort zone is the key to overcoming your anxiety, depression, and another similar issues you may have.  In this age of social media, it’s not only our teenagers that have become slaves to the online community of interaction.   And while there is nothing wrong with getting on closed groups in Facebook and finding a connection to others, I do believe it is not healthy when that becomes your prime source of interaction.  I HAVE met people who found success through these groups such as losing weight or other things because prior to that they literally did nothing but stay home and eat and watch TV or for those with major medical issues that keep them bedridden. And also people that have lost a loved one or maybe are dealing with a spouse with PTSD or other issues and found an online support group.  Those are great to get you “started” on the road to recovery and healing, but those are exception with mitigating circumstances and should always be a starting point for eventually including real humans in the process.  For the rest of us able bodied people – interaction via Facebook groups and chat rooms should only be a minor piece to our daily interactions.  Maybe a place to seek advice or information when you don’t know where else to turn.  I “troll” many Veteran Facebook groups and other support groups – not because I have nothing else to do – but because I want to know if someone here in our area or someone I physically know from outside my area is needing information or advice regarding veteran information.  So much bad and incorrect information is put out in these groups that many times leaves the veteran more confused than when they asked the question.  But I also troll the pages in case a local veteran posts of being in dire straights (mentally or otherwise).  Something I have noticed is that many people get on these sites and ask questions or share stories or offer support to others in the group – all of which are great things – however, they are almost completely void of doing this with live human beings right here where they live.  At first, I get irritated – but after thinking about it, I realize they must have something else going on that makes them prefer the safety of “virtual” friends over flesh and blood.  Have they been so hurt by real humans in the past that close, personal relationships are not only uncomfortable but also just not an option?  Or do they have a single issue that they want others to focus on rather than having many people with many types of issues which takes the spotlight away from helping them with their single issue?  Regardless of why – the fact remains that there is something more going on which drives them to safety of virtual friends.  If you don’t like what they have to say, you can always block them or un-join the group.  You can’t do that with real people.  Well you can, but it’s much more difficult and so much drama comes with it!

I used to be that way.  After I made E-6 in the military, it was much harder to socialize because of fraternization rules.  There were fewer women at that paygrade as compared to E-5.  Plus, I was a single parent – which made it more difficult to socialize.  I was not longer in the party mode – I was in Mom mode.  It got MUCH worse after putting on my Anchors (E7).  The majority of my last 5-6 years of service was spent isolated from a social perspective.  I didn’t hang out with other (of my paygrade) on the weekends.  So after several years of it just being Go to work, Go home – my only interactions were with  my kids.  Yes, I had a neighbor or two that I occasionally interacted with but from a distance because their husbands were lower in paygrade than me.  But after I left service – it was like getting hit in the face with a brick!  I was alone in a town where I had no family or friends.  I was so accustomed to only interacting with my kids that I was completely lost on how to “make” friends – civilian friends.  Plus the idea of paygrade restrictions was still in my head so I would meet people that were of higher paygrades (civilian job equivalent) and think we couldn’t possibly be friends.  Also, I just didn’t know HOW to be a civilian or a friend.  All of my friends from high school I had pretty much lost touch with over the years so I didn’t know how to do “normal” stuff.  So the cycle of go to work, go home became my norm again.  Yes, I faked the interactions as work – they were work-related and not personal.  I shied away from getting close to anyone at work.  I was so relieved when I had two female veterans start working with me.  That made it easier.  I faked it a LOT back then.  I seemed so outgoing and unafraid.  But the reality was that I was scared and had panic attacks and sank into depression more and  more because of my lack of REAL human (not children or dogs) interaction and relationships.  Once we (me and the other 2 female vets) started this women veterans group, it was still a bit awkward at first, but quickly became my safe haven.  Being around them more and more helped me practice the “being normal” part of social interactions.  Do I still get anxiety going into places that are mostly civilian and being expected to socialize and interact?  HELLS to the Yes!!  But I do it intentionally now – tackle my fears head on.  Yes, I do have conversations on Facebook and in social media groups but that is a small piece to my connection to others.  My confidence has grown, my anxiety has lessened, and my depression is kept at bay for the most part.  HUMAN interaction is a basic need of all humans.  It is what we were designed for. We were not designed to live a life of solitude.  Also, you can’t cut out people in general simply because a few hurt you in the past.  Yes, you learn to be more selective in who you really open up to and call your BFF, but you still must socialize with those who get on your nerves or who have different thoughts and opinions than you.  Why?  Because learning how to deal with difficult people or how to remain accepting of those whose ideas differ from yours keeps you sharp.  Also, it helps you to learn why others are the way they are.  If you write off every person that thinks differently that you, well for one, that is hypocritical and totally against what God teaches, but it also doesn’t help you grow as a person.  It is OK to have different opinions – that’s what makes us all unique.  But you can’t live in a world filled only with people who think exactly as you do – you will never learn anything new.  Also, it’s important to understand and realize – it is OK to trust again after being hurt.  Absolutely keep your guard up but don’t put a lock on that door.  We learn from our mistakes and from things that hurt us.  Things can’t be peachy all the time.  God sends us difficult times (broken relationships, death, etc) in order for us to really cherish and appreciate the good times.  You can NOT shut down because of bad things that have happened to you in the past.

I just had a passing thought while typing this.  Those that truly get what I’m saying here will laugh and say “yeah that used to be me” but those that I’m really talking to will say “yeah, I know someone like that” and totally not see that THEY are indeed the ones I’m talking to!  For me, I just got tired of the lonely, miserable life I was existing in.  I wasn’t LIVING.  I DID what I had to DO to get where I WANTED to be.  I want to be surrounded by people – pleasant and not so pleasant – but mostly those with a zest for LIVING and willing to do whatever it takes to live out that dream.  If you can dream it you can have it – plain and simple.  So get off you Facebook and show up unexpectedly at a meeting of people you may or may not know.  Oh- here is a trade secret – find a wing-woman.  Find someone you know or sort of know and ask them to go with you so you aren’t completely a fish out of water.  Just do it.  I won’t lie – it will be unpleasant at first.  But kinda like jumping into the pool when it’s cold – you get used to it and then it’s not even a thing anymore.  But back to my original concern – if you have options – human options- don’t discount them or write them off because of your fears of getting close to people again.  Having imaginary friends on a Facebook group or in a Yahoo chatroom or other similar social media outlets is not really interaction and it really does NOTHING to help you grow or move forward.  It may help at first, but true healing happens when  you learn to trust real humans again.

Posted in Veteran Woman

The Generation Gap

In a time when we have so many veterans coming back from war and military service, the need for services and resources to help them transition back to civilian life is great.  There are many government programs (both federal and state) out there as well as numerous online resource outlets on places like Facebook.  But the one thing that has been proven many times over to help the most is for new veterans to get connected to other (seasoned) veterans as soon as they can after leaving the service.  Of course there are some exceptions where veterans transition smoothly and “don’t have any issues” but for the most part a higher number of veterans do struggle than don’t.  Many will immediately seek out a Veteran Service Organization such as the VFW or American Legion or others along those lines, but the newer generation of veterans (both female and male) are mostly turned off as soon as they walk in the door.  There is a HUGE generation gap among those currently running those organizations and the younger generation of veterans needing their support/camaraderie.  Yes, I’ve heard there are some really great posts out there in different areas of the country, but depending on where you live and the culture of that area, most of them are all the same.  I’ve worked with Veterans for the past 4 years in both paid and volunteer capacities helping them get connected to jobs and benefits and other services.  I always ask if they are involved with (VFW, American Legion, DAV, etc) and I almost unanimously get the same response from them.

Many vets, both male and female, choose not to get involved with the Veteran organizations because of the mindset on how they are operated.  Most of them are bars (and allow smoking) and the members go there every evening and get drunk (often times leaving their families at home).  Today’s generation, for the most part, lives a healthier lifestyle which does NOT include smoking.  And with so many veterans having issues with substance (drugs/alcohol) abuse, hanging  out at a bar is simply not an option nor is it recommended.   And even if they were single and did drink – most feel unwelcomed (as a Veteran) within a few minutes of walking through the doors!  I recently did a poll among the women in my organization (I founded an organization strictly for female veterans).  I asked the question of why they did/did not become members of a veteran membership organization.  Almost every single one of them (with a few exceptions) said they were not made to feel welcome when they entered the building.  Many of them were told they needed to join the Auxiliaries.  That is just UNSAT!!  Also, since many young male vets also don’t join, they just didn’t feel like it was the place for them (a bunch of young women mixed with a bunch of old men).  I get that the bar generates much of the revenue necessary to pay the bills but there are other options.  I’ve been to posts that don’t have a bar and they’ve come up with other ideas to generate revenue for the Post.  Also, much of  the Post activities are outdated and really only cater to the older generation crowd.  You must start looking at ideas that will appeal to women and younger generation male veterans.  And you must accept that women (and many men) do have kids (many times as a single parent) and in order to get their interest, you should figure out a way to make accommodations to that effect.  Instead of a smoke-filled bar, how about bringing in some couches and gaming systems – an actual lounge area for the younger veterans to relax and enjoy.  And what about a sectioned off area with kids’ activities/toys to keep the kids entertained?  I’m not saying the entire Post needs to be kid-friendly because adults do need kid-free time, but having that option for those of us with young kids would entice us more to want to spend time there.  Until you start trying to make changes to keep up with the current needs of veterans, your membership is going to dwindle and the important service you provide for our rights and benefits will suffer because there will be no veterans to take the helm when you are gone.

What I’m about to say may offend those who served during Vietnam but it needs to be said and I TRULY mean NO disrespect to your service.  Vietnam was a LONG time ago.  I’m sorry the country didn’t welcome you back with open arms – but you can NOT change the past!  You also can NOT stay in the past.  You’ve spent your entire lives bitter and angry about it and it really is time to move forward.  I mean ZERO disrespect by saying that.  Yes it was wrong of our country not to honor your sacrifice but staying bitter and stuck in that mindset is not only NOT healthy – it is NOT productive.  Shit happens – move on.  I say that as a woman/person/Veteran that has had much “shit” happen in her life but I didn’t let it consume me.  The things you do TODAY can help to ensure our benefits and respect as veterans is preserved for future generations to ensure it never happens to them.  But your (stuck in Vietnam) mentality is pushing your replacements (the next generation of veterans that should be taking the helm of these organizations) away.

I go and check out different Posts just to see if I would feel welcomed or comfortable there.  I’m on several committees of veteran leadership in my community.  Of course I’m one of the youngest (if not THE youngest) person in attendance.  The overall mindset of the leaders of the organizations is so outdated and behind the times for the most part.  I was at a meeting of one this past week and OMG did it get a little heated!  I do my best to bring in younger vets to get them involved (oh, this wasn’t a Post organization, it was a committee of organizational representatives) and I’m a pretty tolerant and patient person.  But I was ready to poke out my eyeballs after this one!  I highly respect the leader of this committee but the mindset of how it is being managed is just outdated.  Just like the Vietnam veteran that continually brings up how they were treated when they returned home (the PAST), issues that happened over 20-30 years ago were brought up in regard to why a certain policy is in place.  And while I know in my heart that these leaders truly do care about veterans and their struggles, they are hugely out of touch with some of the REAL issues – not just the issue of the veteran but also with the system.  Speaking of system, the accounting and paperwork for many of these organizations are also outdated.  Since the majority of the leadership are older generation veterans, they are not in sync with social media – which is exactly where they need to be in order to reach younger veterans as well as the public in general.  Only posting events in the newspaper or sending via email lists is NOT productive in this era of social media.

I do want to mention that I have found a Post that I plan on joining.  This particular Post is not a bar.  They actually use Bingo as their main revenue source.  And they get involved in more activities that younger generation veterans would be interested in and they truly welcome women veterans and our ideas.  Anywho…that’s all I have to say about that!

 

Posted in Veteran Woman

You aren’t handicap!

So this week one of my Vet Sisters was approached 2 different times about why she was parking in the handicap parking spot.  Once by an older man and once by another woman.  I’m sure many of you (vet sisters) can relate to this.  They assume you are using your husband’s DV plates so you don’t have to walk far.  You know, because we don’t look like a veteran or we are to pretty to have served in the military.  And then, of course, the always faithful “you don’t look disabled.”  For some, this conversation causes the blood to begin boiling, and very graphic Alley McBeal moments enter our minds.  (If you ever watch Alley McBeal, she would have the moments of (daydream) of crawling over the desk and beating the crap out of the person that just walked into her office).  Too many times, we fall victim to being pulled into this nasty curse-fest yelling obscenities to the person that made the comment about the parking.  I should mention – this “you don’t look disabled” isn’t just about being a woman – ALL veterans with invisible wounds have probably encountered a conversation like this.  If only the images and thoughts in our minds were visible – like a movie that someone else could view so they could fully understand the how debilitating these invisible wounds really are.  Funny thing, though, and I just thought about this – does a person with a heart condition or lung cancer “look” disabled?  No, but they are usually much older and well if an old person is parking in the handicap spot then they must be handicap.  But a young, healthy looking girl with no apparent mobility issues (no missing legs, no cast, etc) can’t possibly have a condition requiring her to have quick access to the building or to her vehicle!  I wish that those people who feel so inclined to curse and say horrible things to a woman parking in a handicap spot (yes, for my friend, she was called a Bitch that day among some other obscenities) – I just wish for one moment, we could give them our brain and the paralyzing control it sometimes has over our bodies.  I wish they could feel the walls closing in on them, feel as though they are drowning yet there is no water, feel the tightness in their chest that makes them think they are having a heart attack, feel so paralyzed that they literally just fall to the ground and go into some sort of shock, or worse – feel like they are back in a place such as taking mortar or small arms fire because some sound triggered flashbacks to a time they were attacked downrange.  If you could just experience event a hit of any of those feelings, you would understand why she needed to park so close.  NOT ALL WOUNDS ARE VISIBLE!!!  But lets go a step further.  How many of you DO have mobility issues and “suck it up” as you are trained to do in the military, but with every step you grit your teeth from the pain.  Pain that gets worse depending on the weather.  How about the mother who has small kids on top of the physical ailments.  You see her lifting a case of water into her car so she must not really be disabled right?  News flash….she lifts that case of water because she has no other choice.  She has to buy groceries.  She has to provide for her kids.  She does things she knows aggravates her condition because she HAS to – and then just deals with the pain.  But because she is woman and she “looks” normal – she can’t be disabled.

Here’s the deal – NOT ALL WOUNDS ARE VISIBLE!!  And yes, there are some with serious handicaps that CHOOSE to NOT park in the handicap spaces.  And there are some who may not have as severe of a handicap that choose to use the spaces.  It isn’t your place to judge or decide for them.  If someone is parked in a handicap spot that does NOT have handicap plates/placard, then by all means say something because that is against the law.  But even in that situation, you don’t have the right to curse or invade their personal space.  Call the cops and let them handle it.  But if you do see a handicap plate and don’t think (in your opinion) they are handicap, simply keep your mouth shut and keep on walking.  You have no idea what that person is dealing with.  It’s bad enough we have to justify or prove that we served to the many uneducated folks that seem to not realize women serve in the military.  But for those with medical/mental health issues that resulted from our service, having you in our face demanding we justify to you (who made you the handicap police anyway?) why we are parking in a spot that both the VA and the Licensing office validated us as being authorized to use – well it’s just a slap in the face to our service.

Posted in Veteran Woman

Letters From Martha’s Closet-2

The following is a combination of a week of journal entries after I found out my husband was involved with other women.  This is almost 2 years old to the date. I will never forget this date…I don’t know if it’s because it hurt so bad or if it’s because it was a turning point in my life.  This made such an impact on me as a woman.  The confidence was gone and the gut wrenching pain was so unimaginable I can’t even describe it.   I AM NOT THE SAME WOMAN TODAY!!!

So I post today because as I…no WE my husband and I, have come to an entire different stage in our marriage.  As you already know I had an extreme love affair with alcohol and as life has unfolded over the last two years there is no difference (in my opinion).  It hasn’t been easy by any means but “If you want something you’ll find a way.  If not you will find an excuse”.  After being divorced once well you have a whole new perspective on commitment.  Enjoy.

Letters from Martha’s Closet-2

It is now Tuesday and Sunday I found out the worse news a wife could hear, it’s not just another woman, it’s multiple woman.

We just bought the house and things have been bad, but this bad I never thought. Why did he leave his phone that day?  Why did I have to be nosey…did I really want to know this?  I can’t get the visions out of my mind.  Like a film reel over and over and over… I want to puke.  I want to drink, A LOT!  I can’t even put into words the gut wrenching pain this has caused me and I literally want to curl up in a ball a die.  I am supposed to be his best friend and wife.  These are things he should only do with me but now I just feel like I am nothing but a lie, I am a cover up for the life he really wants. Our marriage is now tarnished and I feel worthless.

How did I fail him so bad that he had to do this to me? What about the kids?  Why couldn’t he just tell me he was unhappy?  He begs for my feelings but now has run to other women.  Here I am on day two and the pain won’t subside, will it ever go way?  There isn’t a moment that I don’t feel sad or hurt or physically ill.  God please take this pain away.  I can’t even begin to repair anything in this marriage until I can think straight.  I want to forgive him so bad and I know he didn’t get here alone.  I have contributed to this with my lies and my love affair with alcohol.  Isn’t it the same betrayal?  I have been on this path of self-destructive behavior since retirement and now somewhere inside I have to find the strength to put things back together.  Somewhere we have lost the connection we once had.  The passion for life, the desire for one another is completely gone.  I am so lost God just send me a map or a starting point.  I’m reading and praying and reading and praying and nothing is working.  I can’t turn my mind off until I’m so shitfaced I am in a blackout…really God how this is helping my situation?

In the first pages of the first pages of the Bible you created the heavens and the earth. You created woman from a man’s rib and then they became one.  A unity of one flesh. If we are one then he should feel this pain too, right?  Adam and Eve sinned together so does that mean that we will always sin and betray one another?  Sin is sin but this is inflicting pain on one another.  My drinking and his woman there is no difference but how do I make it stop?

I am trying very hard not to think of the other woman and pray these pains and insecurities will fade with time. I love him and when he shows me the smallest bit of affection I still want to melt in his arms,  but I feel so dumb that I let my guard down.  I let him knock down all the walls to my heart and now he has left me with an open bleeding heart that I can’t guard anymore.  Instead I literally drowned it in vodka.  I can’t even remember the last time he touched me and meant it.  I don’t know when the last time I felt his love and desire for me…desire for me and who I am not just a body to have sex with.  I know marriage isn’t supposed to be like this but I have no idea why we are here in this place but if it’s to draw us closer then please God start that process, I just can’t handle more.

Now here I am seven days later and the betrayal is still first on my mind when I wake up, throughout my day and I can’t sleep knowing more of the details that’s have revealed themselves throughout the week. Do I stay or do I go?  I want to hurt him so bad but what good will that do?  I feel just letting this go will make me look weak not just to me but everyone that knows.  However I know that opening up, loving him and showing him just how much he and this marriage means to me it will show strength…. Question is am I that strong?

My fight or flight instinct has always been to fly. I have always been the one to hurt before I can get hurt.  As that being the normal now I don’t know what to do?  Divorce will just hurt more.  To learn and grow from this together will make us stronger won’t it?  We attended a new church today, together at that….could this be the start of the new beginning?  The message couldn’t have been better.  It was exactly what we needed…SHAME AND GUILT.  It hurt me to hear the things that were being said but I know it’s what we both needed to hear.  Our marriage will never be the same.  Things will never “go back” to the way they were, but that’s ok because this hurtful sin will make us stronger and better.  I believe that.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain FAITH, HOPE and LOVE but the greatest of these is love. We both have the faith and the love, but I feel like right now I am the only one that has hope this will work.

Posted in family separation, Veteran Woman

Military Mothers

All Mothers question whether they are doing right by their children.   Am I too hard on them, am I too lenient, do I give them enough attention, etc.  It’s a never-ending cycle and it honestly doesn’t stop once they turn 18.  It begins as soon as we realize we are pregnant.  We worry about eating healthy, being physically cautious with our bodies, limiting stress (when possible) and some go even further as far as reading to the unborn child and/or exposing them to specific music in hopes of stimulating their brains in hopes of them being born smarter.  After they are born, we spend 18 years of protecting them, teaching them, and loving them.  And always asking ourselves if we could be doing something better for their overall well-being.  For mothers who are also serving in the military, the burden of “how is this or that going to affect them” is taken to a whole other level.  We have to leave our children – sometimes for a year or longer – and more than once.  We find ourselves in the dilemma  of choosing between having a career or being a good mother.  How can I be a good mom if I’m choosing to leave my child for an extended period of time?  And by “choosing” I’m referring to the fact that I “chose” this career option, therefore I technically “chose” to leave them.  But the conversation we have in our heads is more along the lines of “I am a good mom because I’m choosing to secure my kids’ futures by serving in the military and banking on the fringe benefits of the job.”  For me, the end-result of having job security – stable income, health benefits, etc – is what justified the sacrifices I’ve had to make.  But it doesn’t make me feel any better about how my choice of military service might have affected my kids.  But was it the best choice for THEM?  There are different versions of the military mom situation.  You have single moms, married to a civilian moms, and dual military.  When you are single, you have go on a deployment and hope that the family you’ve chosen to keep your kids is raising them according to your own values.  If it’s a married family, you pray the parents don’t have marital problems which could affect your kids.  When you are dual military, many times both parents are deployed at the same time – leaving the kids without either parent.  For the married to a civilian moms, your spouse assumes all the duties that normally would be yours and you have pretty much been replaced.  On deployment, you can’t take a personal day to attend your child’s award ceremony or sports event.  We literally miss everything!  We have to focus on our jobs while trying not to think about how our children are having all their “firsts” with another mom.

I think back to my own son.  He is 19 now but during most of my career he was in school.  I was a single parent most of that time.  Not only did I miss out on stuff with him, but HE missed out on so much.  I worked shift work so he could do sports or other extra curricular activities because of my work schedule.  Both of my kids missed out on the whole “family” experience.  We lived overseas a lot or we lived in another state.  My kids didn’t grow up with aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents.  I mean, yes, they know they have them, but they never got to really be around them as kids.  It was always just me and them.  My son is kind of an introvert now.  I wonder if it is because of how I had to raise him.  He had to watch his sister at a very early age because I didn’t have childcare available during my working hours.  I also wonder if how I had to be with them has affected them in other ways.  What I mean is this – when I had to leave for deployment I didn’t want to have a long drawn out dramatic departure with crying kids and all that.  It was simple – Mommy had to go to work.  I was kind of standoffish with him.  Not because I didn’t love him but because I didn’t want him to have that sadness moment plus I had a job to do and couldn’t afford the luxury of sad thoughts of missing my son while out to sea.  I guess they call that “compartmentalizing” but whatever they call it – that’s how it had to be in order for me to function.  So did I raise my kids to be strong and resilient – or non-emotional?  These are the thoughts I battle with in my head everyday.  I’m home now and I treasure every moment I have with both of them.  I want them to be independent and know how to take care of themselves – but I also want them to be my babies forever lol!  My son was too young to really understand the idea that when Mom left “for work” there was a slight chance she wouldn’t return.  But for many moms (and dads) that is something their kids are very well aware of.  How do you leave you child knowing you may never return because of the dangers of war?  How do you explain to your child WHY you are leaving them and risking death.  How do you explain to your child why you miss all their important events when all the other parents seem to be able to go?  How do YOU go to work and focus on work, wondering if your child is mentally ok without you there.  How do YOU focus on work instead of wondering if you child is doing ok in school.  YOU don’t think of those things.  You go to work and “forget” about your kids.  I don’t mean “forget” like for reals, but while you are deployed you HAVE to have your head in the game or people could die.  So you tuck away any sad thoughts about yours kids and try not to even think about them until you pull into port (Navy) or something along those lines for the other branches.  And when you do return home – sometimes over a year later – they aren’t the same kids that you left!  They’ve grown, their lives have changed, and many times they see you as a stranger.  And if you left them at a time of turmoil for them (such as them having school or behavioral issues) they see you as having just left them instead of being there like all the other Moms.

Ladies – I’m here to tell you – YOU DID THE BEST YOU COULD AT THE TIME UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES!!  You can’t look back with shoulda/woulda/coulda or “what if”.  You made the decision to serve and protect our Nation and preserve a future for generations to come.  With that comes sacrifice.  You have to accept how things have turned out and work from there.  You can’t continue to beat yourself up for things that you’ve done in the past.  All you can do is make up for it now by being the mom you wished you could have been.  But take that advice lightly.  Don’t become a helicopter mom!!  Don’t expect your kids to jump on your new bandwagon right away.  Give it time.  But don’t every apologize for decisions you’ve made because you were basing them on a future that you hoped to provide for them.  First, and foremost, DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO THE PINTEREST MOMS!! Most of them are on meds (or need to be) just like many of us lol!  They are no better and no worse than we are.  They made decisions on how to raise their kids just as we did.  Kids are resilient.  For the most part, they will give you hell now but once they become adults or parents themselves, they will realize what sacrifice you actually made for them.  And if they don’t, well that is why we have doctors with a couch!  Stop beating yourself up about how your kids are acting and blaming it on  your decisions to join the military.  It is what it is – accept it and move on.  You can’t live your life according to the decisions of your past.  I’ve had women comment to me in the past about how I could join the military and leave my kids like that.  My response was along the lines of it not being for everyone and they only take the best so for them not to feel so bad lol!   You can’t let others’ opinions of you and your decisions affect you.  You did what less than 1% of the population had the balls to do!  That, in itself should give you satisfaction.

Posted in Veteran Woman

Feeling like you belong?

imagesga1rwb5oMe again the non-writer that just types. (I’m horrible with English writing) I really want to give a shout out to you ladies for inviting me to be a part of the Women Veterans Group. I have felt so disconnected since I left the Army. Yesterday I met with a small group of other women veterans and for the first time in a long time I felt like I belonged to something bigger than myself again.
You see… I moved back to the Corpus area because I had family and friends here. Shortly (4 months) after moving back my father was promoted by his employer to a Sr. Vice President position (awesomeness for him) and my parents moved to Houston. Yeah I know that isn’t far but for me it feels really far. My mother has a rare blood cancer and we have always been close. She was more excited about me and my family moving to Corpus than I was. That all changed in a blink of an eye. We talk everyday now!!! Then I get back after being gone 7 years and also all of my so called friends are still doing the same thing, in the same place and didn’t grow as people in our society. I use to come home on leave and it was always nice to see everyone but looking back… What did we do??? We partied like rock stars. I guess looking back I didn’t notice it as much because I was home to visit and have a good time. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy going out as much as the next person but I’m not one to party like a rock star everynight. Now I have felt hurt, lost, confused, angry, sad, and mad. My plans didn’t work the way I wanted them to. What do I do now? Which way do I turn? How am I going to get out of this depression lonely stump of life? I’m a social butterfly and I always have been; but lately I have felt like my wings have been clipped. I can’t get anywhere. I know this is common with many Veterans and I’m just now after 2 years trying to figure this out. I mean I joined the Army to have a better life for myself and my children. I was a single mom and oh man was that a hard adjustment for me and my children. Even coming back and finding out that my family had to move and my friends (most of them) are not really my friends… I’m ok! I will adjust!! The people I thought had my back here in Corpus don’t have my back and most of them can’t even take care of themselves. Where does that leave me in their lives? Well it leaves me nowhere unless I want to change me and well I like the woman I have become. I like being able to pay my bills and have money left over for me or my family to do extra activities, but something is still missing.
You ladies have shown me that there is more to being a Veteran Woman than just a girl that served. That I can achieve my dreams after the Army and that no one can stop me but ME. I’m not the greatest at keeping up with things I should unless they are something that I know must be done. I procrastinate sometimes but I always manage to get the job done. So THANK YOU for showing me kindness and warmth. THANK YOU for just listening and letting me be a part of this fabulous group of women. THANK YOU for showing me that I can have a group of really awesome ladies that understand the same feelings and crazy emotions I get from time to time. I hope to get more involved in the months to come. Thanks for letting me vent today. Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Posted in Veteran Woman

It starts with YOU

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I spend a LOT of time on Facebook – just ask my family.  For me, though, it isn’t about searching for some drama to interject myself into.  It also isn’t a place for me to blast to the world my self-pity and lack of self-worth in hopes that a bunch of positive from mostly random strangers will help me feel better about myself.  I like to keep up with ACTUAL news and current events both local and national.  I also use it to find ideas for projects and other things that I enjoy.  NO DRAMA!!  I’ve “unfollowed” and/or “unfriended” many people (both family and friends) because of the constant drama they seek out and/or instigate.  Ok, back to my point – which isn’t about drama on Facebook lol!

One of the things I see over and over as I troll through FB pages and also comments on posts in certain closed groups is people who are perpetually miserable.  They spend so much of their time – literally you can look at their FB and see how much time they spend on their by the posts and comments they have made – either pointing out their own misery in life or having nothing but negative things to say about others.  They’ve literally made a job out of being and promoting misery and negativity.  As you read this is important that you know where I am coming from in being somewhat judgmental about this topic.  I do have mental health issues – I have struggled with major anxiety and depression most of my adult life – to the point of it costing me my military career.  I HAVE BEEN THERE!!  By no means am I about to put myself on some pedestal above others struggling with mental health issues.  They are serious issues that you must get help for and then stay on top of it by self care and self-awareness.  But what separates me from so many of them is that I refused to become my illness.  Every heard of the term “self-fulfilling prophecy?”  In a nutshell it means that what you believe or feel about yourself will come to be.  If you believe there is no hope – you will surely not make it.  If you believe you are damaged, you life’s actions will be that of a damaged person.  If you believe things are out of your control – they will surely be out of your control.  On the flip-side, if you believe you are your past (mistakes, hardships, traumas, indiscretions, whatever) do NOT define you – they surely will NOT.  If you believe you were destined for something better – your future will be 180 from your past.  Some might say “mind of matter” but whatever you call it, your belief and outlook on things WILL determine the outcome.  So back to Facebook trolling, those who are stuck in this constant state of posting negativity and lack of self-worth will always stay in that state until THEY DECIDE they want a different life outcome.

So back to how this post relates to me – this week in the first month of this new year has given me so much elation and joy.  All the bad things and bad choices that make up my past – and MY DECISION to not let them define me truly paid off.  I would also say those things didn’t dictate my attitude towards life but in actually it they did by making me more determined to reverse the trends of my past.  So what was so great about this week?  For the last two years I have been working literally non-stop helping veterans and started a group for women veterans where I live.  In the beginning it was just a thought to have a place for women vets to get together and make friends and also offer support to each other.  It turned into so much more.  I found my calling in life which was to help all veterans in need but especially female vets.  I felt compelled to take this group to the next level and make it some kind of “official” thing.  I found a couple of other like-minded women vets who are now some of my very best friends and we worked beyond our regular day jobs and family responsibilities to serve our sisters and further the reach of our group.  And just as a side-note – these other women that ran this obstacle course with me also did NOT have “perfect” lives and struggled with mental health issues.  So on Monday of this week, I received an IRS determination letter granting us 501(c)3 status.  To some, it’s like “oh congrats” or “that’s cool” but for those of us who have pretty much lived for this group over the past couple of years, this was a HUGE accomplishment.  All of us involved in this process have been “that girl with issues” and at some point in our life had been at the bottom of the barrel and/or thought we were worthless and even suicidal.  So to get a letter in the mail telling us that we CREATE an official non-profit organization was like “WHAAAAAT?”    We ain’t so jacked up after all lol!

So back to that term “self-fulfilling prophecy.”  We truly became what we saw in ourselves.  We did not let our mental health issues or any other thing from our past control the future we wanted for ourselves.  All of us had been, at some point, in that place of “oh my life sucks” and “I’m worthless” and other such thoughts.  The day we individually MADE THE DECISION that WE HAD THE CONTROL over where our futures took us.  I’ve written about this before.  You have to make the CHOICE to spend your life in misery or get off your A%$ and do something about it.  Oh and BTW….you can NOT accomplish that by hiding in your house behind a computer, completely void of actual human interaction.  Messaging people through social media does not count as human interaction.  It’s hard – especially those with social anxiety.  Stop saying “I can’t” because what you say is what will be.  Remember “The little engine that could?”  That isn’t just a kid’s storybook tale.  Make yourself get out of bed.  Make yourself go to a group.  Just MAKE YOURSELF who you want yourself to be!  And anytime you feel inclined to say something or post something on social media – first ask yourself if it is positive or negative.  If it is not positive or encouraging – keep it to yourself.  It really does start with you.  Stop labeling yourself a “victim” and instead a “survivor” I know not everyone agrees with me on this topic but I can almost guarantee the naysayers are those who are still in a place of misery.  The first step is the hardest but it does get easier with each passing step.  And again I want to add that mental health is NO LAUGHING MATTER.  If you are dealing with mental health issues, YOU MUST SEEK HELP!  You must seek counseling of some form.  And don’t think a pill will fix you!!  There are some who truly need the “happy meds” but don’t take that as your first and only option.  A little pill is not going to change how you view yourself.  And no amount of doting by random strangers on Facebook is going to fix your self-worth.  How you feel about yourself is all on you – so start doing things that YOURSELF will be proud of.  I’ll be honest – GOD and CHURCH is what helped me.  It helped me so much more than any professional counseling did.

Ok enough for today because I could literally go on about this all day lol!  Bottom line – you ARE  in control so get busy making it happen!