To this day, she's still our big sister in many ways.
She's the one who took on the first group when Melissa PCSed from it, believing so much in "Me too" that she's carried it 6 years.
But I'm telling her story.
This is her story.
I met Melissa at a Women's conference at Fort Riley in February 2010. I had never felt like I had a story as a spouse.
I was resilient, I was strong, I never let deployments or all the time that he spent away from us be a hardship, etc. I just....was.
I say at the table listening to Melissa speak and I started to cry, let me set this straight, I am not a crier unless I am mad or really, really hurt, but I cried.
I connected to another spouse and it forced me to go up and introduce myself to her and volunteer to keep the Riley group going when she left to go to her next duty station. I even stalked her on Facebook and thanked her for how she was kickstarting this drive in me to help others change their lives. I finally felt like this odd-ball person had found a sister in all this.
Only took me 20 years.
This is why I came to Her War Her Voice, a place I call home.
So why do I stay? What keeps me here? Why am I still leading the Riley in-person group six years later?
Has it really been six years?
I stay because of the women that I get to call sister. The women in the community, the women on this team, the women at Riley, and the women at the retreats.
I stay because I need them as much as they need us.
I cannot imagine not having this community in my life.
It has changed me.
It has given me a voice.
It helped me find my superpower.
It gave me a home.
It helped me to realize that I did have a story after all, one that I get to choose the path it takes and the ending it has.
It has given me purpose.
I stay because here I am home. I never truly felt connected at home growing up. I made my own home with my husband and children and I was connected to them. I had friends but didn't always feel like I was truly a part of the group because I'm a nerd and I'm awkward and I have been the butt of many jokes over the years.
Here I don't feel that way, here I feel unique and amazing and blessed.
I am home and home is where I will stay.
I thank my lucky stars every day for putting me at that event so I could here Melissa say these words: "me too".
I thank those stars for giving me the women of this team because of them, I am home.