Ideas Are Not Experiences
I have been contemplating our recent adventure in military life. Let me paint you a picture: we were living in Oklahoma City, had had our first child Leo a little over a year ago and were finally getting settled. We had a church community, a group we did life with and were finally feeling like we were getting settled into being parents. (As much as new parents could feel like they're in control: not a whole lot)
I had been feeling off all day. A feeling that I had recently experienced not too long ago. Nausea, dizzy spells, and exhaustion. We were pregnant! Joy overcame me. As well as fear but mostly joy. I waited for my husband to get home for what seemed like forever. We eventually got time alone and he looked at me with a look I knew all too well. "Sooooo. There's something I need to tell you." Those eight words were always followed by something he knew was going to be difficult. That he knew was going to throw our lives up in the air again. Immediately, I said "ME FIRST! We're pregnant!" He was excited and then sad. "I have to go to Korea." I literally laughed in his face thinking it was a bad joke. "No seriously." he said stone faced. But I'm pregnant! I guess I can have the baby, then fly over there afterward; many spouses have done similar things before why not me? "So when are we due to leave?" I asked quietly. "It's an unaccompanied tour for a year. Families are not permitted to be on base."
Am I strong enough to do this? Will this break me?
You are strong, Milspouse.
Needless to say, I was shocked. We had been lucky and he had never deployed before. Sean had gone TDY (Training or like a business trip) for a few days, couple of weeks or even months, but a year?! A whole year?? Was he going to be there for our daughters birth? Would he be able to come home at some point or would he miss the first year of his daughter's life? How will Leo be? I know he is just 15 months but will he remember his daddy?
What is the situation in Korea? Is it a war zone? Is it safe? Will he come home? Am I strong enough to do this? Will this break me?
These were only a few of the thoughts that were rushing through my mind at the time. It took about three seconds for me to realize he wasn't joking. This was real. And queue the ugly cry.
A few weeks later I confided in dear friend who offered an ear to how I was handling everything. After having what I like to call emotional word vomit, she offered some condolences and then said one of the few statements that truly get under my skin as a military spouse: "Well, you knew what you were getting into." Although this civilian friend was really just trying to help me through this experience, what it tends to do when spoken is chip away at that military spouse armor that we have tried so hard to cultivate. We are all human and I knew this was said out of love, the hope that it would comfort me or because she just couldn't even begin to understand how I must be feeling. The truth of the matter is there are some things that civilians will never truly understand and that's ok. I propose a different mindset for everyone to consider:
I ask that we start realizing that ideas are not experiences.
Just because you have seen Nutella, you have researched the product, and may have even asked people how they feel about Nutella; it does not compare to tasting the hazelnut goodness that you can put on just about anything. Until you experience this, you may compare it to something disgusting....
So remember people, keep in mind that ideas are not experiences, we are all in this together and Nutella is God's gift to humanity.