Faith vs Fear

Faith vs Fear

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Military Mom Whining

Jeff, in Chicago, when he graduated from Basic Training

Sailor Jeff's birthday was last week, and I'm missing him. He has a very lively, fun-loving personality; I even miss him teasing me.

Most of the time I can handle having my sons deployed, but every once in a while I get terribly lonely for them. Thank goodness for modern technology! I can't imagine what it was like before the miracles of the Internet and other technology. (Actually, I can. Jon was deployed to the Gulf in 1998 before I had access to the Internet; it was miserable.) I have been following Twitter and listening to the captain's recorded message.

It all helps, but what I really want is another e-mail from Jeff. I know he's fine, but . . . Part of it is that I know they had port call in Japan where my brother is, and I'm dying to know if they were able to connect.

I can be patient about some things, but this one is hard for me. I have to keep reminding myself that he's a big boy, he's fine, likely having a great time in port, and I'll hear about it when he has time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Healing Weekend

I hadn't intended on making this blog so personal, but then I realized that mental health is personal.

So, for background information: I am the 4th of 5 children, and grew up in a modest, loving home with nurturing parents. When my mother died from a stroke, I was a sheltered and shy 21-year-old. I married a few months later (without taking the time to grieve), and then had twin boys within a year. Three years later I had a daughter, and then struggled for several years with postpartum depression complicated by unresolved grief, whiplash from an accident, and a marriage that went bad. I eventually recovered, but I still feel the effects of it on occasion, and I understand how painful depression is.

Nearly 5 years after my mom died my dad married Kathy, who was not evenly remotely like my mother. They were married for almost 28 years when she passed away last week. Kathy, for whatever reason, was not very willing to share Dad (or her family) with my siblings and me. There has been a fair amount of pain and other complicated emotions involved in my relationship with her; mostly dealing with the feeling of rejection. I was more than a little nervous about attending her funeral because I wasn't sure what to expect.

I went to Boise with my brother and sister-in-law and met up with our extended family. We were so happy to be all together again for the first time in more than 8 years. It was heavenly. We hadn't had a comfortable place to gather for all those years since my mother's death until my brother built his new house in McCall 3 years ago. The realization that we can get together more often means a great deal to me, and I am terribly excited about the possibility of getting to spend Christmas with them, which would be the first time for me since I was a college kid in 1975. 

Kathy had been a big part of the performing arts in the area, and the service was a very nice combination of musical concert wrapped in a religious ceremony. One of her sons delivered the eulogy and made special mention of my dad; I felt the healing begin. At the reception afterward, her friends and family were warm and welcoming and went out of their way to tell me about how wonderful my father is. I could see that he is well-respected and loved, and that also helps me heal. I came home with a great sense of well-being and peace.

I still have some work to do in letting go of negative emotions related to her, but I am hopeful about it. I learned a long time ago, when I was dealing with my first husband and that divorce, how important it is to forgive. I made the mistake of burying my hurt and anger, and it came back several years later with a vengeance. I discovered that forgiveness is a process of being willing to examine hurtful memories, analyze them, then let them go. The trick is to not dwell on them too long, although sometimes that's easier said than done. It is not necessarily a quick fix, but eventually the hurt eases, and it feels so good to be free of the pain.

David and I both felt that he should stay home this time and go to his family's reunion with his mother and several of our children. He ended up having a good time, and had a long heart-to-heart talk with one of his cousins whose wife committed suicide after a long bout of depression. David came through his weekend alone quite well, although on one of his late-night walks Sunny the poodle got skunked. Guess who ended up giving him a bath? It's reassuring to know that I can be gone on occasion, and he'll be (relatively) all right.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

quick update_8-11-09

We had a good time camping last weekend. I will post the story and photos later. We are on the run this week; my dad's wife, Kathy, passed away, and we are on the way to the funeral. I'm a little nervous about it, but I'm hoping David will stay calm and focused until after we are home again. 

David came through his pre-trip anxiety all right, but it takes away a lot of the pleasure in planning a road trip. I hear at least 3 times that it isn't a good idea to go, that we should stay home, that it's too far away, that he has a bad feeling about it. I've learned to stay calm and focused, and keep packing and preparing for the trip. If I lose my cool, he gets even worse. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm Done with School!!!

I just got back from my LAST class, took my LAST test, turned in my LAST paper! I don't know that it's really hit me yet that this journey of nearly six years is finally over, but I'm happy!

I've been thinking about the events in my life that have taken place since I started school, including: the births of 7 grandchildren, 2 high school graduates, 2 college graduates, 4 deployments, 2 weddings, 3 hospitalizations for David, plus his diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the passing of his dad from Alzheimers, and my job assignment change after 25 years of typesetting and production work.

I think that, even with the added stress of tests and papers, going to school helped keep me from losing my sense of identity through all these events. It also helped to be able to focus on each class, and then enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when they were finished.

What to do now that I'm done with the goal of getting my Bachelors degree? I'm not entirely sure, but I plan to do more with this blog, as well as put together family history stories and do some family history research. No doubt that my "extra" time (is there really such a thing?) will be filled with more family events (including 2 more expected grandbabies), some household tasks that I've put off doing, and if I'm really lucky, time to do some recreational reading and needlework. David and I have also discussed the option of going for a Masters degree, and while I would still like to do that, I think it'll be some time before I actually start to do it.

What I do know is that we are going to relax and play this weekend, even if it means dragging David camping. He's going through the pre-vacation anxiety, but we deserve some play time. I went to the university bookstore and had a really fun book-buying shopping spree (I can't resist books), and I found a small token graduation gift that I can hardly wait to give him.  

I'll post more about the last few weeks with David later, and when I figure out how to add pdf files, I'll add my final paper about the need for mental health education. I thought about posting it here in its entirety, but its 5 pages with a bunch of footnotes long, and I thought it might be overwhelming. It turned out to be an interesting and enlightening project.