True heroism...is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.
- Arthur Ashe
Deployments are tough–for those serving so far from home–but also for the families they leave behind. As a Marine mom, I know how stressful it is to wait and worry while someone you love is deployed. But I also know the toll that kind of worry can take. Because of that, it’s imperative to take time for yourself while your soldier is away.
Easy to say, but difficult to do.
It’s hard to go on with life, especially the fun parts, when a loved one is at war. I felt guilty for enjoying life when my son couldn’t. I didn’t want to do the things he enjoyed. It just felt so wrong, almost like I was taking away from the sacrifice he was making.
Of course, even then I could see that this line of thinking wasn’t true. It didn’t matter though; I felt like a traitor every time I caught myself having fun. It took a conversation with my son, half a world away, to make me realize the effect my behavior was having on him.
Jimmy confided that his biggest worry was how we were doing here at home. More specifically, how I was doing.
He told me he wanted more than anything for me to take care of myself while he was away. I could hear the worry in his voice, and I realized instead of helping him, I was adding to his stress by not taking care of myself. I resolved then and there to make a change.
At first I struggled. I had to force myself to make the effort. But the results were worth the effort. As I began to reconnect with the things I enjoyed, and more importantly things we’d enjoyed as a family, my mental outlook improved. I was better able to cope with the stress and fears of deployment.
God used my son to remind me that retreat is never the way to win a war, even if the battle we fight is internal.
Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.