(For any new military families out there - this post is for you.)
"One of the most painful things in life is losing yourself in the process of loving others too much, and forgetting that you are special too. When was the last time someone told you that they loved you just the way you are, and that what you think and how you feel matters? When was the last time someone told you that you did a good job, or took you someplace, simply because they know you feel happy when you’re there? When was the last time that ‘someone’ was YOU?" - Source
I've been told that I'm pretty independent, have a good head on my shoulders, etc... Feet on the ground with my head in the clouds just enough to keep life interesting. I hope that's true. Those are all great compliments.
Truth is, I just have a great set of tools in my back pocket. Different people in my life, through good and bad experiences, have helped me craft them.
Some are borrowed from bits of wisdom from the most obvious sources (i.e. my family, religious up-bringing, friends...). Most were forged from moments were I was given the choice - be miserable, or find a way to be happy.
Given those 2 very clear options, picking myself up by my muddy ole' bootstraps seemed the only real option. So, broken heart, bruised ego and all, I figured out this simple truth:
"No one can give you what you're not willing to provide for yourself."
Not health, not self-esteem, not hope, and certainly not happiness. People can add to all of those things (and occasionally wound them), but they can't define those things. And if you can't give them to yourself, how can you give something you don't have to someone else?
Learning to carry my own sunshine with me has probably been the most useful tool. And if I don't feel 'sunny', well, I'm worth buying a little bit of it. Funny (Completely True) Story:
I was having a down-day during one of My Sailor's early deployments. I got out of the house and took myself grocery shopping at one of my favorite markets - Tacoma Boys
. It usually offered a lot of local meats and produce, and it gave me a reason to get the heck out of dodge.
Lucky for me, there was this beautiful bouquet of flowers for sale.
Without thinking twice, I grabbed them.
I had the clerk ring up all my groceries on my account, but the flowers on My Sailor's.
Later that night, I emailed him and said, "Thank you for the flowers! They are beautiful!" I then explained who 'he' bought me flowers.
At first, he was shocked. You see, for those not in the military world, there is no 'pre-deployment time off'. No 'vacation' days to get ready. Months worth of conversations are suddenly squeezed into very tight time frames. Extra shopping, packing, etc, is all done in the hours that would usually be spent unwinding after a long day's work. As far ast the Navy is concerned, it's very much 'business as usual'. There is no time to pre-order flowers and gifts for arrival at home during deployment. There is no time for handwritten love letters to be hidden around the house. Birthdays, anniversaries, and major holidays often go nearly completely unrecognized out of necessity. There are simply too many to attempt to 'make up' for, so we've naturally just celebrated them whereever we were with whomever we're with. (For example, last year My Sailor didn't get to shop for Christmas for anyone. In fact, come to think of it, we haven't shopped for Christmas gifts for each other in a few years now. Well, last year I had time, so he got something, but he felt aweful that he didn't have time to get me anything. And, well, you know we stink at Thanksgiving in general- and if you don't please, by all means, relish our shame and read about it here.)
Buying myself flowers on his account wasn't an attempt at being passive aggressive. (Seriously... who has time for that kind of BS anyway?!) It was about me getting what I needed. A little romance and completely frivolous, momentary peace of mind. When no one else could give it to me - it's a gift I could give myself.
Okay, so it's not EXACTLY
like an unexpected gift spontaneously showing up on your doorstep. But it had the flavor of what I needed.
Friday wasn't much different.
My Sailor had expected to be home between 5-7pm - in time enough to grab a quick dinner out and a movie before an early bed time. I started (foolishly) looking forward to it just a tiny bit. He was 'sure' he'd get out just about on time. Maybe 8pm at the latest...
Well, 5pm came and went.
So did 6pm.
By 8:30pm I was starving and still had no word. (No, they can't call when they are running late.)
By 8:45pm, I gave up on going out to dinner with him, got myself all dolled up and headed out to a favorite local haunt
for a glass of wine and spinach salad.
Around 9:15pm, I left the eatery and checked movie times. The film I was interested in didn't start until 10:30pm, so I had lots
Disappointed by the way my evening was turning out, I decided to head to a local gourmet market to pick up a few things.
That's where I spotted these beauties.
exotically colored roses. Any other kind of rose, while always appreciated, is just 'okay'. Bicolored roses (that aren't pink) are awesome.
Next to purple orchids, they are my favorite flowers.This was the last bouquet.
I didn't think twice about grabbing them for myself. I had to stop by the house before going to the movie anyway, so I had time to properly vase them before heading off to my movie. (Since it was passing My Sailor's usual bedtime, I had given up hope of meeting up with him at this point.)
So I bought myself a $15 smile.
Sure, I could have spent that money on something else - something we
needed. But taking care of me is
taking care of us. He counts on me being able to take care of myself when he's not around. It helps eleviate his worry to know that I'm going to be okay, whatever comes. He knows I can reason things out, find a resourceful solution, and won't sit on my hands crying "Woe is me." Looking out for us as a team means that I pull my weight. It means that I look out for my heart when he, well, can't. It's one mistake I learned from in my past. So one of the tools I always keep in my back pocket is called "Resourcefulness." It's a handy tool to have around, no matter the situation.
(For the record, I also trust that he can do the same.)
As for the movie - he eventually made it back home before the movie started, so I skipped it (for now). But The Conjurering is probably in my future tomorrow!