I told a story today… one that didn’t seem to present opportunities for depressing self-exploration… but reality is often different than we think.
I sat over lunch and praised my home renovation guru and good friend for rescuing me in my time of need. I returned from my Thanksgiving ‘vacation’ to find a leak in my bathroom ceiling. It turns out the moisture was coming from the pipes in the upstairs bathroom. As this is the law of military wives (that your house will only fall apart when your husband is away), I turned to my most obvious source of help. Not to any nearby male but to one of my girlfriends instead ( a military wife too, of course). When I have a problem that needs fixing, I call her. Needless to say, after some very emotionally satisfying demolition, the problem is fixed (save for a big hole in the drywall but that’s The Husband’s problem).
What I went on to describe over lunch, was my unique support network built within my strange little rural military life. It took a long time after moving here but I finally did establish a strong support network. It started with four Mommies. We have grown since then to include many dear friends but I go back to the original four when describing my support because they fell into such interesting self-identified areas that met each need a military spouse might have. The friend I spoke about this day was the women I turned to when I needed something done. She’s the fixer. She’ll jump to action when a need is identified. A friend all women need. Another naturally fell into the role of parenting support. When I can’t pick up Big Dude at school or I need a coffee and a distraction for the boys, she steps in. She offers and escape and a respite. The third came to be my emotional support. If I need a non-judgmental and unconditional ear, she is there. Even though those roles have shifted over the years and that support group has expanded to include new and valued friends, I got back to those three key roles and rely on them.
It was the next question over my lunch conversation that threw me. I was asked what role I played in that group. I immediately quipped I was the dark cloud. It was meant as a self-depreciating joke but, upon further reflection and with all this cancer and illness surrounding me, it really seemed all I brought to the table was need.
However, the more that thought settled, the more it seemed real. I began to wonder what I really did bring to the table. My sister and I have commiserated time and time again about the seemingly endless challenges that face our family. First it was terminal cancer of our Father. The years followed with more family drama, with miscarriage, disability, illness, depression and now more terminal cancer.
It has resulted in a hesitation to say anything at all in social settings. I feel like I am constantly bringing the room down. If I followed the old adage ‘if you can’t say anything good, don’t say it at all,’ I’d be permanently mute (hence the lack of posts lately). There are those women that can’t talk about anything but their kids… well, my conversations topics have become limited to illness or kids… that’s even worse.
I’m tempted to leave this post like so many other draft posts that never made it past the draft stage because it seemed too negative to publish, but at times I think maybe it’s okay to put these thoughts to the world. More and more people are caring for ill parents who are far from elderly. The so-called ‘sandwich generation’ is balancing kids and parents all at once. I’m not alone, even though it feel like it. Maybe it’s time to put myself out there so all the other ‘dark clouds’ can feel a little less dark.
For now, all I’m asking for is a little sunshine.