I learned a long time ago to surround myself with positive people. If you are negative, full of anger, mean or just downright pessimistic, I don’t need you in my life!
My epiphany happened between April and July of 1999. During that time, my husband was deployed to Albania. It was definitely not his first deployment. But it sure was his first deployment to a near combat zone. And it was a deployment while we were stationed on foreign soil, away from my comfortable surroundings of America and my family. I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call my mom & dad. Cost of international calls at that time were very high. I couldn’t even email them. They didn’t have a computer. My only support came from the wives of the soldiers deployed with him.
We were on a very tiny installation. It only housed one unit, and the whole unit deployed. They were an MLRS unit, called GRIDSMASHERS. They had track vehicles and could level anything with their rockets in an entire “grid square” (1,000 square meters). My husband, well, he was a wheeled mechanic. He was an outcast in this group. But, they needed a wrecker operator to pull broken track vehicles, and he was it. When their unit deployed to Albania, the whole installation went. Very few stayed behind for the Read Detachment. But, all the wives of the deployed had a support group. Or so they liked to tell themselves.
The FRG (Family Readiness Group), as it was called, was nothing more than a clique. Most wore their husband’s rank, especially the officer’s wives. Granted, they usually got more information about the deployment than the enlisted families did, and it was their responsibility to disseminate that information to all the families involved. But when the meeting morphs from information dissemination to hens cackling in their little groups, it just really isn’t anything more than high school all over again. I didn’t need it. I surely didn’t have the time for it. In high school, then, or now.
My husband and I hung out with a couple of other families before the deployment. When the guys deployed, one went home, one worked as much as I did, and the other, well, I hung out with her every so often until I realized that she never had anything positive to say. It was always “My husband’s a generator mechanic. They don’t need him.” “This deployment is stupid.” “I hate the Army.” Eventually, all I heard was “blah blah blah.” She was bringing me down with her. I was always depressed. I never had a smile on my face. And I cried…a lot!.
Luckily, it wasn’t long into the deployment when I decided to cut myself off from her and focus my attention on the few of the girlfriends who really needed my help through the deployment. My husband was a platoon leader and in charge of several single soldiers who had girl friends. They were locals, not US citizens, but they still cared about their men (at least for that moment). However, the FRG refused to keep them informed since they were not legally married. I took it upon myself to keep the ladies informed. I brought them to the meetings and kept in contact as best I could with them. I became their rock when they worried. I became their shoulder to cry on. I became their rationalization when their fears took over. It eventually dwindled down to one lady who really clicked with me. And we became fast friends. And she was the only one who married her boyfriend when the guys returned.
It was great to be surrounded by positive energy, rather than that constant negativity I got from my previous friend. Before, I found myself scowling, fearing, crying, angry all the time. That was so much easier to do it seemed. But when I cut myself off from her, and became the pillar of positive to the girlfriends who needed it, it was so much harder to put on a smile every day. Despite my own fears and resignations on this deployment, I had to remain strong for them. If I faltered, who would take care of them? So, I put on a smile every day, and didn’t let it bother me. That was the hardest thing to do.
There was a time, a month before he returned home, when I found out the whole unit was coming home at the end of June…except a chosen few. Those few would be the first to enter Kosovo. And my husband was so lucky. I found out on a Friday, after work, at an FRG meeting. After my friend left that night, I couldn’t sleep. I did not leave my house all weekend. I did not answer my phone. I pretty much locked myself in the bathroom and cried. My fears all came rushing back, 100 times stronger. He was a mechanic. He had no formal security patrol training. There were land mines to watch out for. There were still battles going on in Kosovo. And I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was the one who was supposed to be strong for everyone else. I was the one who never crumbled. But I did.
No one was there to be my pillar.
It took me all weekend to get it all out of my system. I vowed from that point on to be positive, think positive, and always keep a smile on my face–no matter what. The girls needed me. Other spouses needed to see positive, regardless if we were friends or not. And, it helped me through the day, taking one day at a time. His return home was uncertain, and I just counted it as one day closer to his homecoming. Although that was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, I feel I grew to be so much those four months.
I hope you’ve made it this far. Why did I tell you all this? A good back story is appropriate every now and again.
Writers have a tendency to be self-mutilating. We are always our own worst critic. At least the good ones. We get enough negativity in our writing life just by being around ourselves. Negativity breeds negativity. Misery loves company. And if we don’t get out of that funk, we are bound to listen one day and just give up. It’s really that easy.
Writers are introverted by nature. At least the Internet has opened our doors and we can mingle with other writers from time to time. We can see each other’s struggles, share in the joys and the sorrows, and the most important…know we are not alone. We all need encouragement, support, and positive energy to combat our own fears. We need people to help pick us up when we are down, encourage us when we want to give up, and help make us a better writer. This is why I believe in KT Hanna’s #WriteMotivation campaign so much. It’s hard to be positive. It’s easy to give up. But the support we get from this group really does help to keep the positive in our sights.
Here’s hoping that we can continue the #WriteMotivation campaign for all time to come. Spread the love. Pay it forward!