celebrations, challenges

My Superpower

I had the thoughts that many probably do…”Will they still want to hang out with me?” “Will they think that I am no fun?”

All the worries. The anxiety. But years later, I’m happy to say all those worries were unfounded. I still have most of the same friends. Even though I don’t drink. A testament to the quality of my friends.

I have a long history of alcoholism in my family. My dad, my grandparents, many more. I didn’t have my first drink until I was 21 and away at college. But, I quickly made up for lost time. As an adult I fell in love with beer. I collected IPAs as a hobby, but would drink spiked seltzers and sweet cocktails at times too. I did many things I would like to forget. I probably did others that I actually did forget because I was too far gone to remember. It’s not something I am proud of. I am grateful I never hurt anyone.

I gave alcohol up a few times. Once when I was pregnant. Another when I thought I was too dependent. And the last time I put the bottle aside was several years ago, when I decided I was serious about losing weight and wanted to see how much giving up drinking would help. I was surprised not only by the weight loss, but also by how little I eventually missed drinking.

Now, years later, I go to wine night and have a mocktail. I am sometimes the sober buddy for another friend who is attending but not drinking. I recently went on a wine tour for a friend’s birthday and just watched others partake. I smelled the wine. I touched a few little sips with my lips. But in the end I just enjoyed the company. I enjoyed people enjoying themselves. I held everyone’s bags and jackets while they took vineyard photos. (I don’t usually take photos with drinks since I am a teacher and we are under higher moral scrutiny by many.) I ate a lot of cheese and crackers. Win win.

Being the all-time designated driver is not a bad thing. In some ways you can be the hero. Saying no to what isn’t healthy for you can be a superpower. I’m grateful for friends who accept me as I am and value me as a person and not just as a drinking buddy.

challenges

When the Call Comes…

The phone rings and orders are assigned. No choice you are under contract by the military to do the job you have trained for. It doesn’t matter if you have a civilian job. It doesn’t matter if your closing on a house. It doesn’t matter if you have an exam in college. It doesn’t matter if you have pets. It doesn’t matter if you have a newborn.

You have orders to serve. Less than 48 hours to arrive fully packed and ready to go. You need to hit pause on your life and report for duty. Pandemic or not, you have to go. No excuses. This is the life in the fast lane as a soldier called up on orders.

Final destination may be unknown. Total timeframe may be extended. The unit is ready. Now it’s time to see the execution of the practice plans. 

The above is a snapshot of a whirlwind experience with a loved one. The many pieces that need to be handled while the soldier is serving. Mock missions or real missions, they are all the same. Time away. Unknowns. Feeling like a government-issued piece of property.

Some love the life. Some hate the life. Some get bored over time but a contract is a contract and those who commit to serve must honor their commitment even if it means being ripped from normal life in the blink of an eye. Soldier boots are not for the faint at heart.

Deployed is the official word to some. Active orders to others. It’s all time you miss your loved one and wonder when they will return and if they will return safely. Add in a pandemic and stress levels elevate. How does a military unit assemble and socially or physically distance? How do soldiers adapt and modify field training? Is travel safe for soldiers but not the public? Is there a quarantine period upon return?

For me I’ve been fortunate with my experiences over the past 10 years. My loved one however has lost close friends while serving. It’s never easy in my mind to adjust but there is always a worse situation aside from yours.

For now I wait. For now I cover the home front until said return. Luckily we have technology for the times when it’s available.

Keep my soldier in your thoughts. The final stretch is nearing and any extended cycle would not be fun at this point in the military career. Military life extends beyond the solider. It includes the support system. As I said before a mother’s worry never ends. Some days are just harder than others.