Real Army Wives: Time to Build a Support Network
******This is the 12th chapter in the series The Real Army Wives, stories from a young military bride at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003.******
Previous chapter: When Alan First Deployed: My New Friends at 9-1-1.
I followed through with my vow from the previous night to hop off this crazy train and get myself some help. What kind of help, I had no idea, but I figured I’d try the doctor’s office first.
Military clinics are a unique entity. The appointment line system in and of itself is enough to make a person go absolutely mad, but somehow I managed to secure myself a same day appointment. I must have called at 7:59 am, and God was just smiling down on me that day because it’s normally about impossible to get an appointment.
I remember that every single time I would go to the Fort Hood health clinic they would circle my BMI (too low–which I can’t even imagine now) and take my blood pressure and my heart rate twice, because “that just couldn’t be right.” Ha! Yet it took 13 more years to figure out I needed heart medicine. We always just thought I was nervous, which really I was.
On that particular day of desperation, I saw a female, civilian physician who I’d never seen before. She was probably in her 60s, a thin, upbeat woman with short white hair and glasses. I liked her immediately, which is very unusual for doctors. Don’t you love it when things actually work out?
Telling my shortened tale of woe to this doc, who we’ll call Dr. Jones, was a humiliating thing to have to do, but I knew it had to be done. I told her about my jaw and my inability to sleep before 4am. I even admitted about calling 9-1-1, though I doubt I told her how many times I had done it.
The tears came. I couldn’t help it. This was so embarrassing. What kind of adult can’t even handle living alone? Well, me, I guess.
She asked me if I was depressed, but I didn’t feel like I was in general a depressed sort of person because I’m not, but the situation was definitely getting to me in a bad way.
After listening, Dr. Jones told me a little part of her own story.
Apparently, she went to medical school in Chicago. Her apartment situation was on the wrong side of town. Dr. Jones confided that she had once even accidentally left her keys in her front door!! She said a neighbor knocked on her door, handed her her keys, and reprimanded her kindly, “Girl, this ain’t no nice neighborhood. You can’t be leaving your keys in the door!!!”
So Dr. Jones counseled me that while break-ins do happen, most people are basically good. She reassured me I would be okay.
Then she prescribed to me a 30 day supply of Ambien, a sleeping pill. Dr. Jones said that it would fix both my sleeping problem AND my jaw.
My jaw?? How could a sleeping pill fix TMJ? That was because the jaw was the result of constantly grinding my teeth, which I was doing, unawares, in my sleep.
I’ve never left a doctor appointment so relieved. Maybe I was a touch embarrassed that I needed sleeping pills, but mostly I didn’t care. I just couldn’t wait to get a full night’s sleep and be able to eat potato chips again.
And you know what? It worked!
My jaw stopped hurting within a couple of days, and I stretched that Ambien out to well past 30 days and then never had to take it again.
Sometimes when times get hard enough, we just need a little boost to get us through.
Unfortunately, I was still actually more depressed than I was willing to let on to any doctor.
My life was not working out as I’d planned it at all. My Mr. Right was oceans away, and I could only hope that he would even come back. This was a tough situation to work through. There was no way around that.Sleeping pills could fix my physical problems, but they couldn't fix my spiritual problems.Click To Tweet
However, the sleeping pills did provide me with some mental clarity during the day. Y’all! Sleep is so incredibly important. Never underestimate it!
The sleep allowed me to look at my life and examine myself more honestly and realistically.
My whole life I had always been a spiritual person. From the age of 4, I remember looking up at the sky and simply feeling the all-powerful presence of God. I didn’t know anything about Him. My family did not go to church, but I knew He was there. Creation testifies to the Creator.
While I was 4, a neighbor invited me to church. I was so excited to go with her and finally learn who in the world was God!! I can still remember the blue dress that I wore the first time I went, with the white lace at the top and the pretty sleeves. That was the day I first heard about Jesus.
After that, there was no turning back for me. I wanted to know more, and more, and more. My mom started taking my sister, my brother, and me to church herself. It was extremely difficult to take my big sister, Amanda. As I mentioned before, Amanda was blind, mute, profoundly retarded, and handicapped from birth.
While Amanda was mute, she could yell, just not talk. She often yelled out, but not with words, and she rocked back and forth, shaking her wheelchair enough to make it roll whether the brakes were on or not. Plus, it’s a lot harder to carry around an 85 pound person than a 30 pound toddler.
It was almost impossible to take Amanda anywhere. Therefore, after the first few years, Mom began to let Amanda stay home with my dad. It was just Mom, my brother, and me that went to church from then on.
But Amanda was a blessing to us too. From her we had all learned more about love, compassion, sacrifice, work, and serving.
From God’s Word, we found comfort and healing from some of our own hard situations.
By the time I was seven, my Mom went forward and accepted Jesus as her Savior. I got saved soon after her, and my little brother did a few years later.
We firmly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sent to Earth to reconcile man to God. God loves us, but we are sinful. There’s a price for that sin, but Jesus paid the price for us, and we need only believe with our hearts and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord.
Salvation is a gift of grace, not a work that we accomplish. Not one of us is any better than any others of us.
Over the years, starting in middle school, I became a devout student of God’s Word. At that age, it isn’t enough to hear a preacher say something. You have to examine the truth for yourself in order to believe it.
But between high school and college, I somehow seemed to have put too much of my faith in the Bible study that I was doing rather than in what Jesus has already done for us.
You see, after getting married, it was harder to keep up my Bible study routine. Alan was always there, it seemed, and reading my Bible isn’t something I can do if I’m not alone. As the deployment approached, and I needed comfort from the Lord most, I was praying and reading my Bible less and less.
I didn’t mean to. It was just a new routine to work out.
Once Alan deployed, I was stuck in this absurd mindset that I couldn’t reach out to God because I had not been reading my Bible every single day. How ridiculous! Ya’ll! Reading your Bible doesn’t benefit God nearly as much as it benefits YOU. Your Bible reading doesn’t make you more worthy either. Only Jesus makes us worthy.
Whether I read my Bible or not, God was still there. I could have called out to Him at ANY time, any place, and he would have heard my prayer. But at the time, I was stuck on stupid.
That’s when I realized that I had become puffed up, thinking highly of myself because I read my Bible so much and thinking that was why God answered my prayers.
That year I learned that God doesn’t work that way.
He is not a bank that you deposit prayers and study in and then cash out in hard times. No. God is always here. He’s always available. We need only seek him. We need only have faith. He will always be found by those who seek him.
Suddenly, I was seeing clearly. I don’t think Alan had even been gone much more than a month before I realized how foolish I had been.
I wasn’t just depressed because of my circumstances. The problem was that I was focusing too much on my OWN problems. I was being self-centered, and I was depriving myself of even praying under some foolish notion that I didn’t deserve answered prayers.
God answers our prayers because He loves us, and you know what? He still loved me, and I finally realized that once I got my head all sorted out!
I vividly recall bending down on my knees, at the foot of my bed, with tears all over my face and probably snot too, and realizing all these things as I prayed. This is where life had brought me–to my knees!!
My next steps were suddenly crystal clear. This year wasn’t about “how I was going to get through this” at all. Instead, it was time for me to focus on helping my friends “get through this”. It was time for me to build a support network.
Time to Reach Out to the Other Real Army Wives
I didn’t have much to give or many talents that I could think of to use, but I could cook, and I had a cute little duplex to visit with friends and neighbors in.
So from that day on, my mission was to gather Army wives in my living room and attend any outing I was invited on. We would laugh, we would cry, we would gossip (sorry, but we would) and encourage one another, and none of us would truly be alone anymore.
There was Elsie across the street, who seemed to be doing just fine, but I needed her. I was going to have to start with building that bond. There was Sarah, the bubbly specialist’s (or was he a corporal??) wife I’d met at a unit sports day before Alan left. There was Katie and little Garrett, and Ashley and the gals from church, and so many more that I was yet to meet. But I was ready to get started supporting others and no longer thinking ever so much about myself!
Come back next MONDAY for the next tale in this series of Real Army Wives stories, right here on storiesofourboys.com.
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