Saturday, November 28, 2015

It's Embarrassing....

...and humiliating, and just plain HARD.

I really HATE writing posts like my Christmas Wishlist post.  It feels to me like I am begging.  Like I am whiny, and ungrateful, and needy, and really just want everyone to gimme gimme gimme.  Which is the FURTHEST from the truth.

We have been there.  We have received the Toys for Tots gifts, and those ones from people at church who donate to some underprivileged child listed on a slip they got off the Christmas tree in the lobby. And while we were grateful for that help, it's EMBARRASSING.

That year we got the Toys for Tots presents...I felt horribly guilty.  Because I felt like we were taking stuff from people who REALLY needed it.  When in all honesty, we were exactly who the program was intended for...parents struggling and not being able to put presents out for their children at Christmas.  

The year we got the gifts from the good-hearted people at our was HUMILIATING.  Not that we weren't grateful for the clothes and toys, because we WERE.  But because we thought others needed the stuff so much more than we did.

The sad thing is that we are a military family...a SENIOR ENLISTED family.  One of those families that *SHOULD* be able to be giving back to the other military families who are just starting out.

And yet:

  • The military just moved us to a state we didn't ask to move to.  A state that is a VERY expensive place to live.  
  • We had to sell our house in another state because we couldn't afford to maintain two residences.  We lost a LOT of money on that short-sale.  
  • We make on the VERY low end of not-poverty-level for this state. 
  • We moved before I was able to complete my hours to become licensed so I could easily find work in my newly-graduated field.  So now I am having a HARD time finding work because I don't have a license.  
  • EVERYTHING is more expensive here.  EVERYTHING.  
  • The raise my husband gets every year...does NOT cover the rising cost of living, nor does it cover the difference between what we were able to live on in the other state and the VERY expensive place we currently live.    
My husband is a brilliant man.  He is working on his 5TH Masters Degree...all of which he has done while active duty in the Navy.  He could be doing almost anything else, and making more money than the military is paying him.  He has tried to go into the Chaplaincy.  He is too old for the Air Force and Army, and the Navy keeps changing the rules and just when he meets one, they add something new.  It's exasperating.

So, while this post is not supposed to be about money, in reality, it IS.  Because it is EMBARRASSING to have to tell your children repeatedly that you can't afford something...and you hope they don't get the idea to hate the military, or God because of how deprived they have been.  And it is HUMILIATING to not be able to participate in activities or to have to ask for help in order to participate, because everything requires money.  And it is HARD to keep doing this for years on end, seeing no end in sight, because people who don't understand what it is to live the military lifestyle are the ones in charge of our paychecks.  And THAT is exasperating.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Christmas Wishlist

I don't think I have *ever* actually written a list of what I want for Christmas.

As a child, I think I figured I would just be disappointed because I wouldn't get what I wanted.

As an adult, finances have never been really fluid, and besides, gifts for my kids ALWAYS come first.

But, this year I thought I'd write something to help out.  Because how can people get me what I want, unless they KNOW?!?

In that vein, my list:

  1. I want my son to be able to come up to visit. 
  2. I want to go a WEEK without some type of drama. 
  3. I want enough money to grocery shop, without having to rob Peter to pay Paul.
  4. I want to actually be able to decorate for Christmas...which means I need a tree. 
  5. I want to be able to give my kids and my husband, and my parents (and maybe my siblings and their spouses, too!), and my inlaws. And our amazing neighbors.  And maybe the kids' teachers (never been able to afford that, so that's an extra).  
  6. I want a job.  (You can find me on LinkedIn.  I can also send out my resume. Really.)
  7. I want to be able to pay for my daughter's field trip, and the other daughter's college application, and the other daughter's grad school application.
  8. I want to be able to get the glasses that 2 of my children desperately need.  
  9. I want to be able to go to a Christmas play, or musical, or something put on by children, that is NOT secularized.  I LOVE watching little kids reenact a nativity scene!! 
  10. I want to dress up, and go to some kind of adult party.  
Now, in reality, I don't know that any of these will happen before January.  December is ALWAYS a hard month.  And 3 of my children are working in a mall over the holidays, so they'll be BUSY...and the son I want a visit from is working TWO jobs, so I'm not sure how he'd be able to take off the time.

I also recognize that I am likely to be chided for this post, considering that YESTERDAY was Thanksgiving Day.  Ahem.  I am really pulling at straws to find things for which to be thankful...I don't need any help with the always-present guilt-complex.

Frankly, my disappointment with the holiday season started a bit early this year, and I'm cynical enough to doubt that it's going to change much in the next month.  I'm open to being proven wrong...just realistic enough to recognize that I probably won't be.

You will notice that I am NOT asking for THINGS for me.  *I* don't need anything (except the job...I REALLY need the job!).  I have SO VERY MUCH.  What I am asking for is things that will help reduce my stress level, and that of my husband, and will make my family happy.  Why? Because THAT is what I want to give to my family this year.  I want to give them a great start to 2016.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Connection and the Internet

I know that a lot of people bemoan the advent of social media, and blame it for all kinds of disconnectedness.

I see the memes going around on Facebook.

I don't believe them.

Oh, I do think that people are less connected, in some form or another.  I just don't blame it on social media or cell phones or the internet.

Admittedly, my perspective is a bit different than most.  I thoroughly enjoy my social media accounts.  I laugh along with all of the cat memes and the dog-shaming pictures.  The cute animal videos get me every time.  Don't get me started on the military reunion videos.  There WILL be tears.

I DID have a MySpace page, back-in-the-day.  
I used to instant message with my grandmother on AOL.  

Now, I have a few different accounts, and love them all for various reasons...but sometimes I feel overwhelmed, also for a variety of reasons.  

As a military spouse, and a mom with children in other places, I use my social media accounts to keep in touch with people.  

I have friends all around the world, and I can keep in touch with them, and know very quickly that prayer is needed, and how to pray intelligently.  

I use my accounts to network.  
For trying to find a job. 
For help with recipes.
For help with children. 
For help with cars, and moving, and pets, and finding a new hairdresser in a new town.  

But more than all of that....

Social media helps me feel connected.  
I grew up feeling disconnected from EVERYONE.  
Some days, I still do.  

Through the use of social media, I can more easily maintain connections with important friends from old duty stations.  

I can keep up with what is going on with my sister in Savannah, my cousins near Atlanta and Asheville, my brothers in South Carolina, my aunt and uncle in California, and my friends in churches we have attended in South Carolina, Texas, Montana, Virginia, Massachusetts, and other places that they have spread out to.  

I can rejoice with friends from college when they welcome a spouse, a child, or a grandchild.

I can weep with the friends who are weeping over a loss...of a child, a spouse, a parent, a pet, or a job.  

I have been able to find friends who I have not been able to be in contact with in years.  

So, please remember that while YOU may be frustrated with the drama you see on your social media, others may welcome it, and may be using that exact drama as a tool to help them pray, and to connect with others.  

 PS.  I still don't want to see your political posts, no matter how much I want to stay connected with you.  I just don't *do* politics.  

Happy Birthday, Dear Wawer!!

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler
18 Years ago, this amazing person entered my life.  
I am ever-so-thankful to be her mother, and I am excited to see what God has in store for her! 

She is colorful and fun.

Photo credit:  Heather Paxton 

She is friendly, even when it's hard for her, and is especially sensitive to others who are hurting. 

Photo Credit: Heather Paxton 

She is creative.  
She IS Batman.  

Photo Credit: Heather Paxton
Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

She's a SENIOR, and I am NOT ready for that.  

I love you, my Wawer!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Am I being punished?

Some days I feel like the world dislikes me a LOT.

Not because I am a Christian, though there seems to be an air of suspicion around that.

Rather, I feel like a child being punished for things I cannot change.

I feel punished for placing the care of my small children in front of getting a degree and having a career.

I feel punished for finishing my Master's Degree in my 40s, and trying to start out in my career field at this "advanced" age.

I feel punished for moving many times, going where my husband is sent by the military.

I feel punished because having a "later" start on my career means that things are tighter financially than they "should be" for someone my age.

I feel punished for not having a relationship with my mother.

I feel punished for not being an extrovert.

I feel punished for my PTSD symptoms.

Reading back through this, I see that I feel punished for being me, for *not* being who others think I should be, and for a myriad of things over which I have never had any control.

I *KNOW* that punishing me is not the intent of anyone.  However, being marginalized because of my age, because of my gender, because of my status as a military wife and mother, because of my traumas, and because of my personality really feels like an unending set of blows from which I am having trouble recovering.

Honestly, I know that somehow God is teaching me something through all of this, and that HE will work it all out in His timing...and because I know that, all of this is a challenge, but is not insurmountable.

I just have to remember that while I'm in the thick of it.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Underneath the "nice" Laura

Inside of me there is all kinds of not-so-nice stuff.

Very few people actually SEE the junk.

Like many (I suspect), I am very good at hiding the *real* me.

I smile when I'd rather cry.

I laugh when I'd rather scream.

I beat myself up when I am tempted to lash out.

I dress nicely, wear makeup, fix my hair, make small talk, all when I would rather be somewhere else, doing something different, away from people altogether.

The not-so-nice Laura breaks things, and swears, and screams mean names at people (and animals), and hits, and hurts, and really doesn't like herself.  It has been a lot of years since the not-so-nice Laura has escaped the confines where she is buried, but make no mistake - - she IS still there.  There is a lot of rage buried deep inside, and frustration, and too much hurt, and humiliation, and fear in there, too, and some days it feels like all of nasty, festering junk is pushing at the confines, and I am sure it is going to escape.

The ugly under-side of me is as much a part of me as is the nicely dressed mom at church, or the busy mom-playing-taxi-driver, or the chief-cook-and-bottle-washer.

A painful part of this is that too often believers say that my "self" should be gone...after all, I have accepted the forgiveness provided through Jesus' death and resurrection.  When people say those things to me, there is an unsaid expectation that I am not allowed to talk about my ugly side, because it should be GONE.  After all, I have been a believer for more than 30 years...I should have released them a long time ago.

And yet...I HAVE been a believer for more than 30 years.  AND all of the ugly IS still there.

Some days I wonder why.

Is there more I need to *DO*?  I don't think so.  After all, Scriptures make it very clear that my salvation is by FAITH, not works, and nothing I can DO, and nothing anyone else can DO will take me out of the hands of God.

Another question this the result of my PTSD?  Frankly, since I don't know life aside from PTSD, I couldn't say whether or not this is a direct consequence of my PTSD, and thus can be logically blamed on the source of the PTSD.  I just don't know if this is a struggle I would have even without my diagnosis.

I DO know that some days I struggle to keep my anger under wraps.
I DO know that some days all of my inherent negativity wants to spill over on everyone in my life.
I DO know that some days all I want to do is curl up in my bed, and drink until I can't remember anything.
I DO know that some days peopleing/adulting is the hardest thing in the world.

I also know that QUIT, and GIVE UP are not part of my vocabulary.
I know that, even though I am exhausted, and grumpy, and tired, tomorrow morning I will get up, and get my kids out the door to school, and I will do the things, and I will be a friend, and a parent, and a spouse, even though I want to sleep, or drink, or eat all the sugar.  I will keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing the things God gives me to do, being the person I am convinced He wants me to be, and trusting that HE will take care of all of that nasty stuff down inside of me, trying to force its way out.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My story

My story is MINE.  

It probably doesn't make a lot of sense to people who are not in my head.  Pieces of my story probably seem out of place, if you haven't been part of my life since the beginning of the story.  But, my story explains who I am, and how I got to where I am.  

My story is COMPLICATED.  

The pieces of my story are many and varied, like the different colored strings in a piece of tapestry.  Viewed from the back, or unfinished, or only a small piece, each piece may not seem to fit with the rest of my story...but God is the master-designer/weaver/artist, and He knows what the final picture will look like.  

My story is a WORK IN PROGRESS.  

I don't know the end of my story.  There is no way any other human can know the end of MY story.  Only the Designer knows what He has in store for me.  I can only trust Him to be designing something of beauty to Him, and work with the strings He has given me.  

I have been reading Brene' Brown's Rising Strong, and watching some of her videos, and one thing that has struck me is the importance of each person's story.  Not just the story that is polished for public consumption, but the internal story that is tied to their perception of the world around them, and the meaning they make of the events in their lives.  

In light of that, and the continued urging of a few, I am going to work on writing down pieces of my story.  I don't want to lose things that God has woven into my life because my memory gets fuzzy.  I want to be able to tell my children "look what God did here."