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Liz D: Resilience

What’s life like as an Army wife?

Make a plan and write it down on a sheet of your best stationary.  Take that plan, tear it into shreds, throw it up in the air, and dance around in the confetti!

I knew going into this venture with my husband, Troy, that life was going to be challenging.  That it was going to be difficult.  I knew we would have time apart. I grew up an Army Brat, so I knew all about the long hours and uncertainty.  Luckily I have some really amazing women in my life who have helped me through Army wife life.  These women always press on.  While soldiers are out serving their country they take over and keep on daily life as a mother.  They try the best that they can to make life “normal” for their children.  I feel like I’m now amongst those “ranks” of spouses.

Resilience: noun [from Merriam-Webster dictionary app]

  • :the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
  • :the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.

Four years ago my perspective on life completely changed.  If I can pinpoint when the absolute worst days of my life were it would’ve been the days following July 7, 2013.  On that date I woke up and looked at my phone and knew something was off and wrong.  I had my phone set to do not disturb because it had been a very stressful deployment when Troy’s unit was in Afghanistan.  I was a key volunteer for the unit and my phone was constantly ringing.  I needed to set boundaries and so I set the do not disturb function on my phone.  Once that feature had turned off for the day someone was finally able to get a hold of me.  To make a long story short I had received a call that an Army wife never wants to receive.  Thank God it wasn’t someone showing up on my doorstep but it was still gut wrenching to me.  That day my husband had been hit by an IED and had been wounded.  You may think I’m a horrible person for saying this but I had already been told by Troy’s commander where he was injured so when I received an official call from the Army and they told me “your husband has sustained an injury to the buttocks” I had to stifle my laughter because I just imagined him as Forest Gump, pressing on even after getting hit; I had been told he walked away cursing the incident.  I knew he would be expecting ice cream after that. Which by the way, the movie gets it wrong, he didn’t get any ice cream and I got an earful about that from him when he was finally able to call me.

Even though we were able to share a laugh I was still worried and anxious for him.  Yet, I had to press on.  Even though I didn’t sleep, I had a very important appointment to go to a couple days later.  At the time we were living in Georgia and our son was seeing a team of developmental doctors a couple hours away down in Florida. I had a standing appointment that week with the lead doctor to receive our son’s testing results.  My suspicions had been confirmed that our son has Autism.

Not only was I coping with the news of my husband’s injury, but I was also coping with the news of our son’s diagnosis.  Luckily that’s where triathlon comes in.  See, this is a blog for Skirt Sports and even though it’s a very personal story, I hope it helps reveal my why.  I had already been registered for a series of triathlons in Florida before the worst week of my life happened.  I say week because I truly didn’t rest until about a week later when I was able to be in Troy’s arms again.  That series helped me cope.  It was already giving me an outlet to deal with a deployment and a pending diagnosis of Autism for our son.  Even though the circumstances of life had drastically changed and I was dancing in the confetti, the triathlons were still there to help me through.  When I competed I would leave absolutely everything I had out on that course.  It was refreshing.  I ran my fastest 5K during a Sprint triathlon that season.   I even ended up on the podium a few times, which totally amazed me.

My perspective on life changed. I learned how to dig deeper into that place inside you that you didn’t even realize existed.  In that zone you can accomplish more than your mind will allow you to.  In that zone you walk the fine line of this hurts, I can’t do it anymore…but you can; you’ve already survived the worst days of your life.  You’re resilient, you bend but you don’t break.  You’re resilient, and those “craptastic” painful experiences of the past are in the past.   You cannot change the past so don’t linger in it, don’t try to go back to a person you used to be.   Use it though, let it help build you into a stronger, healthier, and best version of you possible.