And it reminded me, once again, that sometimes, what we need is not to keep powering through no matter what.
Sometimes, we need to accept that it's time to be still and stop trying to fulfill the expectations and wants of others.
Sometimes, we need to just be still within ourselves.
And that is more than okay.
I know I’m not alone in experiencing a state of low-level anxiety when walking through a deployment. I worry about the man I love. I hand-wring about my kids’ coping skills. I angst over car repairs, home repairs, and business transactions that are all on my shoulders.
For the last month or so, that anxiety has been a constant companion. Orders we thought were locked in ended up being up in the air. “Current events” caused our military affiliated population to have a collective rise in blood pressure. And I kept asking myself why I couldn’t be better at thriving during a deployment.
Yes, you could say there has been some anxiety here.
I’m supposed to be kayaking today, but I’m not.
One of the things our What If projects have had at their core was kicking back at fear and anxiety.
I’ve wanted to do a What-If Kayaking adventure for a long time. A few years back I found myself longing for a “thing” that was mine. My husband loved art and woodworking and biking and took time out to do those things when he was home. I wanted something that was mine. I wanted it to be a little bit unique and something that would push my limits. We happen to live in the Pacific Northwest and this truly is the Outdoorsman’s Mecca. Kayaking looked like a great way to take advantage of ALL that the area has to offer.
I’d taken a canoeing class in college which I’d enjoyed when I wasn’t feeling terrified and overwhelmed by figuring out how to steer and desperately wanting to avoid being the student who landed in the lake (especially with the guy who would one day be my husband right there to witness my potential humiliation).
So here I was 12 or 13 years later wondering if kayaking could be my thing. I looked into it and even found classes offered on base. But there was childcare to figure out and then… I got pregnant. I couldn’t really imagine shoving my pregnant body into a kayak—at least not as a relative newbie. So I decided kayaking wouldn’t be my thing at that point and put it on the back burner.
Until…. What If Wednesday. And then I put it on the top of my list. Maybe with Devin there I could finally follow through. Maybe with Devin there being new with me it wouldn’t be so scary to try.
So we waited for the weather to change and our schedules to mesh to make it a possibility.
Today was supposed to be that day. And I’m not on the water.
I’m not on the water because as this weekend drew closer and closer I noticed that instead of a feeling of butterflies and excitement I felt dread. As much as I’ve longed for this thing to try, I’ve also always been intimidated at the prospect. When I thought about doing something with Devin this weekend what I found I really wanted was to just sit with her and talk.. Talk about the little stuff and the big… Our kids and our husbands and our frustrations and worries.
I take our What If projects pretty seriously.
Part of me feels like I am letting you all down by not being in that tiny boat and out on the water today. Couldn’t I be showing myself that I’m bigger than the anxiety monster and going out there and having a great time? Shouldn’t I be doing that? Isn’t that one of the ‘consolation prizes’ we give ourselves during a deployment—trying new things and learning to be independent.
I don’t want to let you all down. I don’t want to let myself down. I don’t want to run away from a challenge.
But a bigger part of me feels like I have done right by myself. I can’t get out from under this deployment no matter how much I want to. I can’t control the X factors of life or the gremlins that land on my doorstep when he’s gone.
But I can control some of the things I have anxiety over.
I am grateful that Devin will wait for me. I’m grateful that she gets it. That she knows that there are times to push yourself (or your friend) to step into the unknown and meet it bravely and there are times when the best thing to do is to step back and instead do things that nourish your soul without raising your heart rate.
Right now doing what’s best for me… Taking care of me… Doesn’t look like stepping out on a limb. It looks like taking a weekend and choosing to be quiet with my kids. We’re going to go hiking or to the beach later, so we won’t be sitting here not experiencing the world. But it feels foolhardy to me to take the squeezing feeling that never leaves my chest and increase it today.
I WILL do this What If challenge, but I will do it at a time when I can approach it with anticipation and excited butterflies in my stomach rather than this feeling of dread. Devin has promised that when I’m ready… When adventure and the stamping out of fear is what I need, we’re going to take on some kayaks together. Stay tuned… THAT blog post is coming.
For today my What If is this: What If I listened to the quiet voice within that is whispering ‘take it easy’ instead of ‘kick it up a notch?’. What if I trusted that sometimes it’s ok not to push the limits? What if I believed that my friend will be willing to stand by me when the time IS right? What if sometimes it’s ok to be still and know that meeting the every day challenges of a deployment counts as something courageous too?