We arrived home in Valdosta from our Europe trip on October 1st. Thankfully, our house survived Hurricane Irma without any damage other than gutters clogged with pine needles and small branches. A couple of tall pine trees in our yard snapped in half but luckily they landed in the yard, not on the house or fence. Our yard guy was awesome enough to cut up the largest pieces and move everything off the grass while we were away.
At mid-month, C and I joined some friends at Disney World for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We were at the park from 5:30pm to 11:30pm and C actually stayed awake the entire time. This was our first time we have been in the park after dark. C dressed up as Moana this year; she is Hawaiian born and has the hair so it suit her well. She had the BEST time with her friend and we got to meet some rare characters like Moana and Princess Ariel (with legs) and Prince Eric! It was fun seeing so many people (kids and adults) dressed in costumes and the park decorated with pumpkins and fall leaves. We went Trick or Treating at stations throughout the park, saw a few parades, and loved the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular Show at the end of the night (although C was a bit scared that the witch spell was real). We stopped at Disney Springs and then Costco the next morning before heading home. Our proximity to Disney is one of the few good things about living in south GA. I’m thankful to be here during this magical Disney loving age of C’s life.
At the end of the month we had an extra special treat – we got to see J again! He was sent across the world to attend a conference in Colorado for a week so we flew out to join him. His parents and sister also flew in for a few days. We went to the Denver Zoo for a Halloween Boo at the Zoo event, we did some shopping, we went to the Museum of Nature and Science, I took C ice skating for the first time, and we drove up to Fort Collins for a day, going to the Museum of Discovery and spending time with one of J’s old friends from his Academy years. We loved Colorado, we loved being in a big city with all the options that go with that, and my body loved the low humidity environment. We are so lucky that we got this bonus time together this month.
Saying good-bye to J in Europe wasn’t too hard because we knew we would be seeing him again in a few weeks. Saying good-bye in Colorado was much more difficult because we won’t see him again for over three months. I realize that isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things (we’ve gone through nine months already!) but these few months include Thanksgiving, my birthday and J’s birthday (our big 4-0!), our wedding anniversary, Christmas, and New Year’s… none of which will be the same without him.
Despite some great events, this month was honestly really rough. It’s hard to be briefly reminded what it’s like to be back together as a family, what it’s like to feel healthy and vibrant again, and what it’s like to be in a place that fits the lifestyle we want to live… and then have to leave J and return to this small town in the swamp in which I’ve now spent six years of my adult life.
Returning from each trip, it took my body at least a week to uncomfortably readjust to the environment here. It’s like I’m allergic to this place which could actually be part of the issue. It took me years to recover from mold and allergen exposure in Hawaii and now I’m hypersensitive to those things.
Feeling physically unwell just adds to the anxiety and stress that I already feel. I got so low and overwhelmed this month that I shut down for a while. I didn’t want to go anywhere, do anything, or see anyone. This blog post is many weeks late because I couldn’t find the motivation to work on it and in the instances I did, I just spilled negativity onto the page which I wrote and deleted a dozen times.
People often tell me how great I’m doing this year… only I’m not. I am a complete mess right now. Thankfully this year has been going smoothly with no major upsets but it is still extremely stressful just being a solo parent living far from all close friends and family while my spouse is in a war zone. Long-term stress wreaks havoc on your body and health. I feel like a walking example of the physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms of stress. I have had cortisol surging through me daily for so long that it is taking its toll. My mind and body have reached their limit and I am worn down. Granted, when C was a newborn and J deployed, it only took me two months to get to this point. I should be proud that I made it nine months this time.
To make things worse, I stress myself out even more about feeling so stressed in the first place. I really wish I wasn’t such a deep thinker. Yes, my husband is deployed for an entire year and our nearest family is 800 miles away but other than that, we are extremely blessed with a very comfortable life that I’m incredibly grateful for. I know that my struggles are menial in comparison to others which makes me feel like I shouldn’t complain about anything. I have to remind myself that everybody has struggles and the degree of severity when compared to others doesn’t make the struggles any more or less important for the person going through them. I’ve been asked, what do I have to be stressed about? Just because I don’t have any outwardly obvious issues going on doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with things. I struggle with worrying about J’s safety every minute of every day; I struggle with feeling alone; I struggle with my health reacting poorly to this environment; I struggle with depression, anxiety, and anger (especially when I don’t feel well physically); I struggle with not having anyone to tag-team in parenting during those moments I’ve had enough and need a break; I struggle with worrying about how my level of stress is effecting C and how it’s affecting my health; and I struggle with living in a town that drains me and hoping that wherever we go next will be a better fit for us.
Rest assured, we’ll make through. I’m making it work although that doesn’t mean that I’m doing it particularly well. I’m simply writing all of this down to remember it. There is nothing that anyone can do to help unless they can bring my husband back safely or move us out of the southeast. Those things will happen for us eventually, we just have to wait. It’s just hard to be patient when the end is in sight… and the end is in sight but it isn’t. We know we’ll be moving in 2018 but we don’t know where yet even though we expected to by now. That is another stressor in itself.
Just tell me that it will be okay and that I’m not alone. Tell me that my body will survive and recover from living here. Tell me that someday everything will connect and make sense. Tell me that better things are coming.
Month 9 events:
Month 9 accomplishments:
Onto month 10!
“In the face of challenge and uncertainty, sometimes the best thing you can do right now is just hold on.”
~Rachel Stafford, Only Love Today