dear memory

This past year has been life changing for me...not to sound super cliche or hokey... but it really has.
Perspective altering. Heart wrenching. Passion honing. Skill learning. Purpose driven. Independent living. Friend showing. Heart healing. Grace filling.

When life is happening you don't really see the subtle change in every day thinking and living. But when you have a time block that is surrounded by something and you reflect over that, the change is kind of unbelievable.

God has shown me so much grace in this season of life. I used to be the girl that fell apart when Barry would have to leave for a week... and now I'm at 10 months and still standing. WHAT?

My husband last kissed me & held my hand on a sunny afternoon inside of Nashville's airport.
When he walked away, my heart shattered in a thousand tiny pieces. As soon as he was out of sight I wanted to keep standing there waiting for him to turn back around and come home with me but I knew if I waited one second more that I'd start bawling and wouldn't be able to stop. So I walked toward my car and fixed my makeup and headed to a coffee shop I had never been in before and didn't think I'd run into anyone I knew. After drinking my chai tea I headed over to work where I knew everyone... my worst nightmare in my thinking at the time.  I remember giving myself a little pep talk in the car and telling myself to hold it together at least for the afternoon then I could go home and cry. It worked. I'm a bit of a professional when it comes to hiding emotions I don't want others to see. One of my best friends and co-worker had left homemade cookies on my desk with a note to say she loved me and my mom-in-law hugged me really tight and told me I was going to make it. Then my kids prayed for "Mr Barry & Ms Emily". Those three things made me realize that being at a job where I knew everyone and I had kids asking about Barry, was actually going to be my saving grace. My kids have the ability to make all my worries evaporate... they have loved me with such care - it's crazy how much a little human can understand about missing someone and feeling lonely. Everyday I've been left with hugs and kisses and sticky fingers intertwined with mine and my world has been better because of it.

Within the first few weeks I began to understand why military wives are among the strongest of women and I was humbled by the fact that this was only the first time my best friend in the world had been shipped across the sea while many other wives had lived with this their entire marriage. Once I realized that, even though I knew my hurt was just as valid and real, I knew I had nothing to complain about. I could do this without losing my mind. When I felt like complaining and pitying myself, all I had to think about was the conversation I had with a special forces wife who hadn't seen her husband but a few times a year for a week or two at a time for several years. My self pity would disappear within moments.

I threw myself into loving my kids with abandon and made an intentional effort to reach out to people I didn't know as well as love the people I already had in my life. I set goals for myself to accomplish before Barry arrived and have thus far come pretty close to doing all of them.

I've become more independent than I ever was... learning how to fix things around the house, pay our bills, create a budget, clean gutters, work our lawn mower and feel like a beast doing it. I set out to learn how to meal plan and use the food I already have in the pantry to save money and I'm now pretty good at doing so. I've made our house even more of a home by adding new colors to walls and curtains and furniture. Best of all, I had fun doing all of this stuff.

I've been blown away by the amount of love and grace people have shown me while Barry has been gone. After a while my walls started breaking down and I couldn't stop the tears when I wanted to anymore. I ended up hiding in bathrooms sometimes or making lame excuses to friends about not being able to make plans. Thankfully I'm blessed with some friends who saw right through that and would come over just so that I had someone to cry to or not talk to. New friendships were built and are now some of the strongest ones I have. Beautiful things have formed from the heartache it could've been.

My relationship with Barry has strengthened as I'm continually reminded that communication is always something that can be worked on in a relationship. Facebook messenger has been a gift from God as it has been our really only consistent way of communicating. We've talked about things we never really have before. We've been able to stay in touch and grow together throughout this more than we could have a 100 years ago and for that I'm again humbled and so incredibly thankful.

I'm not trying to say this thing has been all roses and no thorns...

I've learned what it means to actually want to hit someone square in the face when they make a stupid remark regarding the military or start whining to me about not seeing their boyfriend/husband in a couple days. I mean seriously? If you have that opinion or feel that way... I'm the last person you should be talking to about it. I've never had my patience put to the test quite so much and I haven't always liked the outcome of my heart reaction, but I've grown through it. I've watched as people intentionally stepped out of my life in the moments I needed them most and learned that that's ok, because other people stepped in. I've been shown through God's grace where I've lacked grace for others and have been able to give more because of how much I've been shown through this year.

One of the dearest people in my world asked me a few weeks ago what I had learned about myself and my marriage through this entire process and I didn't really know how to respond because even though I had realized a lot of what I was learning as I was going, I was also just trying to coast through most of this deployment. I hadn't actually broke it down and tried to understand it myself, until being asked...

I've definitely learned that I'm a people pleaser... almost to a fault. I will make myself irrationally uncomfortable and overworked to make sure I can be there for other people. Not that that is necessarily bad, but it can be, the way I do it. I used to not set aside any time in the day or even in a week for myself to just rest or do something I enjoyed. Happy to say that during this time where I've had to fight most of my own battles, I've learned to say "no thanks" or "I can't do that" and do it without feeling guilty. I've learned how to state my opinion without backing down and to stand up to people when they are being rude. I've learned that it's ok to just relax and watch an entire tv series in a couple short months. I'm finally ok letting my introverted self be introverted. I've had more intentional days alone than some people think is good for me, but it is good for me.

I've been shown how lucky I am to have a husband like Barry. Someone who takes care of me and thinks of me in everything he does. Someone who takes time to plan surprises for me because he knows how much I love surprises. Someone who finds my ridiculousness cute and funny. Someone who just loves me. Someone I respect more than words do justice because of who he is, how he treats people and what he does. I know without a shadow of doubt that Barry is the perfect man for me and nothing has proved that more than feeling just as loved when he is thousands of miles away as when he is home. It excites me to the bones that he'll be home soon and that we'll be able to get to know the person each other has become over the past year. I'm just in love with the idea of working on all the stuff that has happened and making our relationship that much stronger. I'm sure we're in for loads of adjustments but I think it's going to seem fun simply because of who I'm married to.

This whole thing has taught me how incredibly amazing and important it is to overcome one's fears and experience new things. I'm excited to be even more adventurous than we have been together, once Barry gets home!

Last September was the last time I felt him hug me....
So soon it is that he'll be stepping off a plane and I'll be back in those strong, loving arms of his.

1 comment:

  1. Hey! :) Remember me? I know it's been a while ... haha! Remember when I used to read every single post of yours and leave you a comment? I'd like to try again ... starting with this post. :)

    This is such a powerful post, Em! It makes me feel stronger and inspired and guilty and humbled all at the same time. You are such an incredibly strong woman! I'm so sorry that I wasn't there for you while Barry was gone. I really didn't do my job as your bosom friend. But I am so grateful that God brought other people into your life to encourage you and be a shoulder to cry on and help you through so many things. And I am so thankful that Barry is home with you now ... and that he is such a good man. I am so thankful that he takes care of you.

    Thank you for being so wonderful and strong and determined. You inspire me! And thank you for being my best friend in the world (apart from my Darrell). :D It was soooo good to see you this weekend. Thank you for staying with us. I pray for you and Barry often, and I will keep praying. And I will work harder at being the second half of our bosom friendness. Thank you for always being my friend. I love you!!!


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