Walking the Plank

“We build too many walls

and not enough bridges.”

     ~Isaac Newton                               

I walk the plank. Every time I get the chance. Every time I have the courage. I have always spoke up – spoke out – spoke back. Well, that last one is to a degree. When I know without a doubt that an injustice has occurred, then I will speak back. When I have been pushed to my breaking point, then I will speak back. I have been called a SNITCH.  People tend to be mad at me. Probably because I have patience and yet no patience. I have absolutely no patience for those who don’t own up to their mistakes. It’s a contradictory life.

I started this journey with a story about my induction into the Army life – into being an Army Wife. Yes, I can be accused of whining because I was. Then again, the traditional Army Wife culture is contradicting itself. It’s imploding. The Army is a-changin’ and not everyone is keeping up. So I recognized that I was caught up in a no-woman’s land. In my search for purpose, I made the decision not to perpetuate the mean girl drama. At first the decision was made out of self-righteousness and it took me a bit to find the realness. Why not be a mean girl? Why not join the pack and surround myself with friends who aren’t really friends? Because that’s not me. I serve and I serve OTHERS NOT MYSELF.

Myself. It’s all too easy for me to sink into depression. And I have many, many times. Before my motto, “The only one I can control is myself” I took direct assault from others’ actions, words and thoughts I attributed to them. I turned these slights, however real or imagined into painful, negative self-talk. I attributed my want and desire to take care of others as weakness. What changed my attitude? The realization that I am the only one in my head! I do this to myself. No one else. I CAN control myself.

Where are we? Oh, yes. Step 4 – pride. It’s a good habit to take yourself down a notch or two every once in a while. Helps you keep it real. But just make sure you don’t start believing it! That includes when you talk yourself up too. It’s so easy to fall in either of those traps. Your invisible robes are absolutely gorgeous darlin’. Pride espouses contradiction – it can pick a person up and tear them down in the same breath. Pride is the sword that can pierce others for no other purpose but a sad hate. And the Army world is no different than the civilian world – pride bears no branch nor wears any rank.

So I am struggling with how to wrap this post up. I had dreams of grandeur. I was building bridges remember? <Insert tolerant smile.> For now I walk the plank. Because I can. And my first bridge will be my hands that reach for others around me. To the younger spouses who want to be part of something more than themselves and to the older spouses who realize life is too short to live in a bubble. Excuse me – I have some walking to do! Thanks for joining me.

~ This chapter of my life began December 19, 2011, on the day I married my husband, Craig C. Smith, an active duty soldier with 29 years of serving in the Army under his belt at that time. Three years later  I jokingly and naïvely announced my official title of “Army Wife” on Facebook when I received a used copy of “The Army Wife Handbook” by Ann Crossley and Carol A. Keller only to be told by one of Craig’s longtime friends that apparently I married Craig for his social security check. I am so glad that was cleared up for me! I thought I had married Craig because I love him. Even though I can seem tough, I am an extremely kind-hearted and introverted person. Comments like the social security check really hurt even though I am may seem otherwise. I have forever been told that I think outside-of-the-box and it’s helped me on many occasions, this being one. As a child, mother and wife I have been molded to be a caretaker. 3 ½ years of marriage and a rocky introduction into Army life, I have found my purpose; to take care of others. To use my creativity and empathy to share experiences, encourage others to share experiences; to knock down some walls or at the very least, to pick at the cracks. Thank you for taking this journey with me to find and share my voice. I hope to help others find theirs. 

 This is the final installment in Jennifer’s “Learning As I Go” series.

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