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An Epiphany Shared for #WriteMotivation

Hub’s Motto while in Albania

I learned a long time ago to surround myself with positive people. If you are negative, full of anger, mean or just downright pessimistic, I don’t need you in my life!

Hub’s Living Conditions In Albania

My epiphany happened between April and July of 1999. During that time, my husband was deployed to Albania. It was definitely not his first deployment. But it sure was his first deployment to a near combat zone. And it was a deployment while we were stationed on foreign soil, away from my comfortable surroundings of America and my family. I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call my mom & dad. Cost of international calls at that time were very high. I couldn’t even email them. They didn’t have a computer. My only support came from the wives of the soldiers deployed with him.

We were on a very tiny installation. It only housed one unit, and the whole unit deployed. They were an MLRS unit, called GRIDSMASHERS. They had track vehicles and could level anything with their rockets in an entire “grid square” (1,000 square meters). My husband, well, he was a wheeled mechanic. He was an outcast in this group. But, they needed a wrecker operator to pull broken track vehicles, and he was it. When their unit deployed to Albania, the whole installation went. Very few stayed behind for the Read Detachment. But, all the wives of the deployed had a support group. Or so they liked to tell themselves.

The FRG (Family Readiness Group), as it was called, was nothing more than a clique. Most wore their husband’s rank, especially the officer’s wives. Granted, they usually got more information about the deployment than the enlisted families did, and it was their responsibility to disseminate that information to all the families involved. But when the meeting morphs from information dissemination to hens cackling in their little groups, it just really isn’t anything more than high school all over again. I didn’t need it. I surely didn’t have the time for it. In high school, then, or now.

My husband and I hung out with a couple of other families before the deployment. When the guys deployed, one went home, one worked as much as I did, and the other, well, I hung out with her every so often until I realized that she never had anything positive to say. It was always “My husband’s a generator mechanic. They don’t need him.” “This deployment is stupid.” “I hate the Army.” Eventually, all I heard was “blah blah blah.” She was bringing me down with her. I was always depressed. I never had a smile on my face. And I cried…a lot!.

Luckily, it wasn’t long into the deployment when I decided to cut myself off from her and focus my attention on the few of the girlfriends who really needed my help through the deployment. My husband was a platoon leader and in charge of several single soldiers who had girl friends. They were locals, not US citizens, but they still cared about their men (at least for that moment). However, the FRG refused to keep them informed since they were not legally married. I took it upon myself to keep the ladies informed. I brought them to the meetings and kept in contact as best I could with them. I became their rock when they worried. I became their shoulder to cry on. I became their rationalization when their fears took over. It eventually dwindled down to one lady who really clicked with me. And we became fast friends. And she was the only one who married her boyfriend when the guys returned.

It was great to be surrounded by positive energy, rather than that constant negativity I got from my previous friend. Before, I found myself scowling, fearing, crying, angry all the time. That was so much easier to do it seemed. But when I cut myself off from her, and became the pillar of positive to the girlfriends who needed it, it was so much harder to put on a smile every day. Despite my own fears and resignations on this deployment, I had to remain strong for them. If I faltered, who would take care of them? So, I put on a smile every day, and didn’t let it bother me. That was the hardest thing to do.

The 1st Picture of Camp Bonsteel, Kosovo

There was a time, a month before he returned home, when I found out the whole unit was coming home at the end of June…except a chosen few. Those few would be the first to enter Kosovo. And my husband was so lucky. I found out on a Friday, after work, at an FRG meeting. After my friend left that night, I couldn’t sleep. I did not leave my house all weekend. I did not answer my phone. I pretty much locked myself in the bathroom and cried. My fears all came rushing back, 100 times stronger. He was a mechanic. He had no formal security patrol training. There were land mines to watch out for. There were still battles going on in Kosovo. And I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was the one who was supposed to be strong for everyone else. I was the one who never crumbled. But I did.

No one was there to be my pillar.

It took me all weekend to get it all out of my system. I vowed from that point on to be positive, think positive, and always keep a smile on my face–no matter what. The girls needed me. Other spouses needed to see positive, regardless if we were friends or not. And, it helped me through the day, taking one day at a time. His return home was uncertain, and I just counted it as one day closer to his homecoming.   Although that was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, I feel I grew to be so much those four months.

I hope you’ve made it this far. Why did I tell you all this? A good back story is appropriate every now and again.

Writers have a tendency to be self-deprecating. We are always our own worst critic. At least the good ones. We get enough negativity in our writing life just by being around ourselves. Negativity breeds negativity. Misery loves company. And if we don’t get out of that funk, we are bound to listen one day and just give up. It’s really that easy.

Writers are introverted by nature. At least the Internet has opened our doors and we can mingle with other writers from time to time. We can see each other’s struggles, share in the joys and the sorrows, and the most important…know we are not alone. We all need encouragement, support, and positive energy to combat our own fears. We need people to help pick us up when we are down, encourage us when we want to give up, and help make us a better writer. This is why I believe in KT Hanna’s #WriteMotivation campaign so much. It’s hard to be positive. It’s easy to give up. But the support we get from this group really does help to keep the positive in our sights.

Here’s hoping that we can continue the #WriteMotivation campaign for all time to come. Spread the love. Pay it forward!

Love you KT!

26 Comments

  1. Comment by SittieCates:

    I agree with the points you’ve raised here, Jamie. Surrounding yourself with positive people is really good. And, yes, writers are, by nature, introverts. Glad the Internet has paved the way for us to meet. All the best!
    SittieCates recently posted…#AtoZChallenge Post: C for Chronicles of a Clocksmith by M. Doerner-MillerMy Profile

  2. Ping from Fear | Caring for My Veteran:

    […] since I had my epiphany to live life as positive as I could, I hated feeling this way. I knew what I needed to do. I needed […]

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    […] This is a shot of my work notebook. I thought it fitting for this Post-It since my main theme at work is “Laugh or go crazy.” If I didn’t find the humor in it all, you’d find me in a bouncy room hugging myself…although, that does sound inviting.                                                                                                                                                                 Read about the time I learned to survive. […]

  4. Comment by Ida Chiavaro Reflex Reactions:

    I remember some fanatically religious people asked me who my pillar was once, or my source. It took me a long time to find out the answer was me. You are right, being a writer is a tough often self deprecating pursuit, but it’s not as lonely as it used to be and every negative has a positive

  5. Comment by Fida I:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I picked up some tips here and there (:

  6. Ping from Numbers, Numbers, Everywhere! And Not A Number For Me! « WriteBackwards:

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  8. Comment by Cheyenne Campbell:

    I’m late to the party on this post as you know 😉 but I had to reply as well. I can only imagine how it felt to go through that process, and what that weekend locked away must’ve been like for you. I am so amazed by others’ strength, and inspired, and your and your husband’s story is no exception. Learning how to keep positive, focus on the positive, and essentially let go of what I can’t control is what I’ve been trying to do for so long. Sometimes I succeed, but as you say, it’s easier to cry and fear. I aspire to being able to do the harder job of pushing through with positivity as you’ve done and do. It’s a great help to know it’s possible. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  9. Comment by Valerie:

    great post. it is very difficult to disentangle oneself from a negative influence and choose a healthier path. good for you! i’m sure you gained a lot of life experiences overseas that will add depth to your writing. when i use difficult/negative experiences in my writing, i think somehow it takes the sting out of them and makes me lighter.

  10. Ping from Outlining a Novel Woes & #WriteMotivation « WriteBackwards:

    […] me through the negativity was remembering the saying — “Never give up” and also my post about the Epiphany I had on negativity. Everything is a conscious choice. I went to bed that night, praying, thinking, and […]

  11. Comment by Catherine Johnson:

    Great story Ladyjai. Isn’t it so easy to get sucked into a negative debate far quicker than a happy one. I must get using that hashtag, it looks like a super idea. Is this a second blog of yours? I commented on the other one a little while ago.
    Have a great day!

  12. Comment by rddenton:

    This is beautiful. I can’t begin to even tell you how beautiful.

    You are an amazing woman, Jamie, and I hope I will one day be able to express to you and your husband how grateful I am for *both* of you. For the veterans in our lives, there are also families who stood firmly beside them even though they were scared, worried, or plain-old missing their deployed loved ones. The families are just as strong, and I’m just as grateful for your sacrifice, as well as your husband’s.

    For you to be able to bring this around to both life positivity and writing, it’s the sign of a true writer. 😉 We all need positive motivation around us, people to grab us by the shoulders, drag us out of the mud, and say, “LET’S DO THIS THING!”

    Your blog post just helped me do that. I can’t wait to retweet this thing.

  13. Comment by Angela B:

    Alright. I’m following you here now. Woot!

    I have to say that this story you’re sharing is one of great highs and lows but of the strength you have inside.

    I wholeheartedly know you were write to cut off the viral negativity and be something positive.

  14. Comment by Jacob G. Adams:

    Such a great post. I tip my hat to you for pulling yourself through what you did when you had to. It take an incredible amount of strength to pull through when it feels as if you have none.

    I too, believe in KT and what she’s doing with #writemotivation. I’m very happy to be apart of it.

    I hope your writing has been coming along well. And I will keep your story in my mind as I continue to write. Because my own negativity (this story sucks, my writing is no good, no one would read this) sometimes gets the better of me. But I have the core belief that as long as I am honest in my writing, someone will appreciate what I have to say.

    • Comment by Jamie Dement (LadyJai):

      Isn’t it sad we, as writers, always are our own worst critic? I mean, it’s good in moderation. It makes us rethink our story. It brings out the editor in us. And it makes us better writers. But when it sticks around too long, it eats at us, brings us down, and mutilates our words. I’m glad I was able to help in some way. I know it’s hard to be positive all the time. But maybe, with everyone’s support, we can get through the self-deprecating nonsense that runs rampant in our heads sometimes. 🙂

  15. Comment by Ceridwen (@CeridwenT):

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Jamie. I can’t imagine how hard it was for you.

    You were very strong, others could have continued surrounding themselves with negativity only so they could feel like victims. And being a victim is so comfortable (though in the long run it takes a heavier toll than being a fighter). It takes courage to be a fighter, it’s often painful, and we find ourselves alone many times.

    Still as you said, internet is bringing people together, and campaigns like Writemotivation make it possible for us not to feel so alone and hurt. Keep writing!

    • Comment by Jamie Dement (LadyJai):

      It’s so much easier to put the blame on someone else, isn’t it? So much easier to be the victim and get the pity. But when you stand up to the negative, take responsibility for your own life and happiness, people bad mouth you. :/ It’s good to see your insight to. And thanks for the motivation! 😀

  16. Comment by Quinton Roberts (@qjroberts):

    I really don’t have much to say.., just wow. Amazing post, and I agree with you completely. There needs to be more positive emotions going around than negative ones, and most things I keep seeing tend to point towards the negative.

    The few who are positive really are those you want to be around though. There’s just something different about them that makes you want to stick with them, even if they aren’t in the best mood at the time.

    Did you update your theme recently? I swear there was a different one last I was here 🙂 Either way, your site looks great!

  17. Comment by Alexandra:

    You are a goof! Why have you never said anything? You could have told us..and we could have been strong together…When I seen the sign on the tent..i knew right away where it came from..i still have the picture too! You were such a great friend at that time and even though it’s rare..it good to still be in contact! Thanks for all that you did back then and trust me..i still think back to that time often and how you made it possible to stay informed…Thanks again Jamie!

    • Comment by Jamie Dement (LadyJai):

      Alex, I don’t know if I could begin to tell you how much you helped me, even if I didn’t open up like I should have. I really haven’t been able to ask for help, all my life. Just hate to burden people with my troubles. But really, you were there for me the same as I was there for you. I just didn’t see it until I wrote this, really. I have always had a problem opening up to others. I thought I was supposed to be the strength for you. And if I faltered, well, I wouldn’t have done my job now would I? At least that’s what I thought.

      In my old age, I am starting to learn to open up and ask for help (especially dealing with many of the problems surrounding my hubs and his issues). It’s just hard to ask or help. But that is what makes us stronger, right?

      I am very blessed to call you my friend, Alex. I think of you guys often, even though we are at great distances.

      • Comment by Alexandra:

        Well..it’s good that you learn..asking for help is hard..but always being the strong one is impossible. It will wear you down and eventually you have no choice but to ask for help because you are not strong enough to do anything anymore. And believe it or not..a lot of people like being asked for help..makes them feel like they are doing something good…oh wait..you do know that..!
        I think back to that time and wonder if you still have all those beany babies and if you hung up that quilt you made. I also remember all the kittens …I love cats. I remember you showing me the letter from Anthony with all the cute cat prints…..and even though we don’t talk everyday or month..or even year…you have touched my life in a positive way at a time with need for positivity…and these days..i do as you did..I help out the girlfriends…if i can..that is just what good army wifes do…right?

        • Comment by Jamie Dement (LadyJai):

          Funny you mention Beanie Babies, we just gave away nearly all of the ones I collected over there (except the exclusive bears) to the Salvation Army for Christmas. We still have our kitties. Have you seen my Facebook photo album for them? We lost GoofyKat (StupidKat) and MikeyKat a few years ago (the ones you knew in Germany) but we surround ourselves with the love of kitties still. We have 3 Scottish Folds, two of which are Oxymorons because their ears are straight. 🙂

          I have always wished we kept in touch more often than we do. But with the military distancing us, it does make it hard. I’ve kept up with your status updates and pictures, what I can, on Facebook. And I always wish we could talk face to face again, or on chat. But, at least, the internet is here for us in some way. (The internet is the only way I am connected to friends, really).

          This post has been had a very unexpected outcome and I am so happy it has brought you here. Your comments surely have touched my heart and I am so glad I have made an impact on your life. Sometimes, I wonder how much I’ve impacted, if at all. But you really made my day, week, month! I am so glad you are continuing what I did for you! You make me proud!

          Even though being positive is HARD, it is the only way to really live!

  18. Comment by prudencemacleod:

    Thanks for sharing your story. How true it is, surround yourself with positive people and enjoy that upbeat feeling. I too found that road in the late 90s and it has made a profound difference to the quality of my life.

    May your journey be blessed.

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