It’s Not What it Looks Like

It’s Not What it Looks Like

Have you ever heard of something or seen something and before you actually saw it you had in your mind what you thought it would look like? Then when you finally see it or learn more it looks nothing like what you visualized? I’ve had this experience a few times in life as I’m sure many of you have.

Whether it be a cake you ordered looking nothing like what you ordered but tasting great or looking just like what you ordered but not tasting so good. Maybe it’s a person you met and their voice doesn’t match what they look like. I know I’m not the only one who’s met someone and they’re all of 15 but has a voice like Barry White Lol! Maybe you’ve met someone and learn that they are 56 but look like they’re 35! You ordered something online and on the computer screen that color looked really great but when you get the package and open it, it’s not quite the color it appeared to be. Oh this one really gets me- the commercials on tv with the food that looks amazing! You go to the restaurant and order the exact same thing you saw and when they bring it out you’re like what is this?!

Either way at some point we’ve all experienced seeing something or receiving something and it not quite looking like what we thought. That’s what depression looks like. You might see someone looking great, working out, making good life choices, being a great parent or spouse, volunteering in the community, helping at church, going to work and being productive. Doing everyday life things and you’ll have no idea that they cried all the way to work. They were late picking up their kids because they couldn’t get out of bed. They canceled plans because something came up but that something was they couldn’t take another moment of having to smile around people and pretend to be ok when they physically just can’t move.

Depression doesn’t look like someone crying all the time or being sad everyday. It doesn’t look like someone who is always angry or confused. It does not look like someone who’s life is falling apart. As a matter of fact it can look like someone who has all their ducks in a row. I know because I’ve suffered from depression on more than one occasion. And there are still some days I have to fight against it. People around us often don’t know it because we work really hard to hide it. We go to great extremes to be the best version of ourselves so that no one will pick up on it. But it’s there. And when we get home behind closed doors it comes out in full force. Because being alone is our safe place.

Those who suffer from depression don’t want to burden others which is why we try to hide it. We don’t want someone feeling like they always have to cheer us up or watch us like a hawk. A part of us feel shame because we don’t even know exactly why we are depressed. We look at our lives and say “Man, I’ve got it good. What’s the problem?” I can’t tell you how many times I said this to myself during my husband’s deployment. I had been through a few deployments before in my previous marriage but this one was different. There were a lot of surrounding circumstances that I’d experienced in previous deployments that were similar to this one like just getting married, having a baby. But this time I just couldn’t seem to shake this downward spiral I was on. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I didn’t want to talk to people but I needed people. My kids kept me moving forward but even that was exhausting. Parenting is already a lot of work but parenting three kids including an infant, working full time, newly married, husband deployed and a list of other things it was just more than I could mentally and emotionally handle.

We don’t want people feeling sorry for us so we aim to put up a strong front. And truthfully we are strong. It takes a lot to get up everyday and take care of your family, work, be there for friends, be productive etc. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that we feel like we’re dying or drowning. It doesn’t change the reality that we want to lock ourselves away, sit in the dark and silence and not have to face another moment of feeling like this. There are moments when the things we are feeling can be all consuming. It’s almost like not being able to breathe. Our thoughts can feel like mush. We can’t remember simple things including how we got home from work. It’s like being on auto pilot. We’re just going through the motions, trying to make it through another day. And while we really do want to be left alone at the same time we don’t. We want people to show us that they care about us and that they want to help.

If you know someone who is suffering from depression some things you can do to help are:

  1. Listen. We want to be heard and understood. Not fixed. We are trying every day to do our best. Solutions like “Just shake it off” do not help and under devalue what we are feeling or going through.
  2. Keep us busy. Invite us to do things or offer to come over and sit with us to watch movies or something fun. We may say no but strongly encourage us to do something fun.
  3. Highlight the postive. Say positive things to us to encourage us. At times we can struggle with seeing the good in things and having someone give us a gentle reminder can go a long way.

Also here’s a link that can help you understand a little more what someone who is dealing with depression feels like

If you know or feel like you are depressed some key things to remember are:

  1. You are not alone. There is someone who has been where you are and made it to a better place. Check out this article that discusses a survey on how people with depression really feel but won’t say out loud sometimes Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about how you are feeling. 
  2. Try to do things you really like. Find or remember your hobbies and aim to do those things. They will take the focus off of how you feel, even if for a short time frame.
  3. You will not feel like this forever. It feels like it will last forever and that you will never feel normal again. It’s not true. You will. Keep putting in the work. Keep trying. Better days are ahead and YOU CAN LIVE FREE OF DEPRESSION. I know because I do.

Remember that looks can be deceiving but depression is very real. I know at times we feel like certain issues can be talked about repeatedly but they are being talked about repeatedly for a reason. People are suffering in silence and sometimes all they need is for someone to give them a hug, check on them, tell them that they are loved and show that they truly care. It goes a long way in helping someone recover and move forward.

The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture

Family is so important. Being a military brat has taught me that family is not always the people you grew up with or have a blood connection with. A lot of the people in my life now that I call family I’m not even related to but I have either known them most of my life via the military or they’ve come into my life during a crutial period and we developed a strong familial bond. Growing up military and marrying into the military I have a slew of aunts and uncles scattered all over the world; people I haven’t seen since I was a child but I still call them aunt or uncle. My kids have the same connections with people that they’ve known all of their lives that they call aunt or uncle with cousins attached.

I think because of the experiences I’ve had with having so many people in our lives not be actual relatives but become “actual” relatives it opened my mind up and allowed me to be more open to certain situations in my life. If you’ve read some of my previous blogs you’ll know that I am divorced and remarried. One of the toughest situations in divorce is when your spouse moves on and brings another person into your children’s lives. It is not an easy process and there are a lot of mixed emotions. Sometimes it depends on the circumstances of the situation and other times it could be personalities that clash but my situation didn’t start off on the right foot. I had no desire to meet or get to know the person that my ex had brought into my children’s lives. This was part immaturity on my part and there was still alot of pain that I was trying to work myself through. Many times my ex husband brought forward the recommendation of us meeting and building some type of report under the premise of if something happened to him he wanted to insure that the children stayed in touch. I would always respond that won’t be a problem. I would never keep the girls away from their brother. I think it was easier for my ex and his wife to want to open the lines of communication because they were both products of divorce and I was not. I did not understand why it was even necessary for me to talk to his wife as long as I could communicate with him. As long as she was kind to my children, communicating with her wasn’t necessary for me.

Over time, as God began to work on me, I started to see things differently. I started to grow and learn more about myself. I started moving forward and I stopped operating out of a place of pain and anger. Most importantly, I stopped thinking about what wasn’t necessary for me but more so what was necessary for my kids. I still had a great relationship with my in laws and would still go and visit. This meant that there would be times where I would have to share space or be in the same area as my ex and his wife. Initially this was uncomfortable but over time the more I saw them and spoke to her the easier it became to continue to speak to her. We would see each other during drop offs for summer or the holidays and these moments also further increased my openness to learning more about the person that was aiding in raising our daughters.

By the time I met my husband I had gotten into a much better head space. I was able to directly communicate with the girls stepmom and even sometimes preferred communicating with her over my ex! (Who would’ve thunk it?!). But getting married again further opened me up to the importance of building relationship with the girls stepmom. I further saw the value in it because once again I removed myself and my feelings from the situation and focused more on what was best for the children. Not only that I further understood my ex husbands position when he wanted me and his wife to get along. I wanted him and my husband to get along as well.  I also found myself thinking how blessed are my children that they have two sets of parents? It doesn’t seem like a blessing initially because they are going back and forth between two homes, with separate sets of rules and expectations but really it is. They have two rooms full of stuff, they often recieve lots of gifts at Christmas not just because of us parents but the grandparents they’ve inherited and other family members that send them gifts.  They get to go to places like disney and other theme parks in Florida sometimes twice a year because they get two separate family vacations. But the most important thing is the amount of love they recieve from all parties involved; people who want the best for them and want to see them succeed in life.

Too often I have seen relationships fall apart and the parents can’t seem to get on the same page especially when there’s a step parent involved. While we may not always agree with the other parent or the step parent, they aren’t the enemy. (It took me a long time to come to this realization). The girls didn’t always have the strongest relationship with their dad but over time it enhanced and grew to something beautiful. I have always encouraged that relationship and I think his wife did the same. No matter what we may feel about the other parent what is most important is that we push our kids to connect with that parent, to love that parent, to respect that parent. It is immature and selfish for us to stand in the way of that relationshiop with both the biological parent and the step parent. The best advice I can give someone who is in this type of situation is stop making it about you. It’s not. It’s not about your feelings or how much you’ve been hurt or what they have put you through. Your feelings have nothing to do with the kids and they are something you need to personally work through on your own or in therapy. I am aware that there may be extenuating circumstances that make these types of situations difficult or even impossible but for situations that aren’t parents need to learn to step outside the box of what people normally do or your friends saying “I wouldn’t want anything to do with her/him!” Believe me I get it. I stated numerous times that I would never have a relationship with or even speak to my kids step mom. Let’s just say God made me eat those words!

Now we are in a place where we can share holidays together and other family events. It’s not weird or uncomfortable for all four of us to be in the same space and hold conversations, have dinner, talk about the kids or other experiences. It took work. A lot of hard work for all parties involved. And it’s still not always easy. Often times when people over hear me talking to my ex on the phone or hear about us all doing something together they stare at me like it’s the craziest thing that they’ve ever heard. But what I think is crazy is that more divorced or broken couples don’t aim to make these kinds of situations their goal for their kids. You don’t have to be best friends. You don’t have to talk everyday. But establishing that relationship helps make it to where your kids don’t feel like they have to choose between parents. It makes it so that for some holidays or some birthday parties your kids can have all of their parents and siblings together in one room (which makes my kids really happy and that’s the point). I am grateful that my children have a stepmom that is caring and wants to be there for them. I am grateful that she is active in their lives just as I am sure that my ex is happy that my kids have a step father around to play an active role in our girls lives, to protect and care for them. Family isn’t always the people you choose but they can be the best people for the life God has blessed you with.

It’s Your Unique Journey

It’s Your Unique Journey

Have you ever watched something happen for someone else and wondered “How?” I know I am not the only one who has had experiences where I really needed something to happen. I’ve prayed about it and done all of this leg work behind it and just knew that all of my efforts were going to pay off only to turn around and see that exact thing come to fruition for someeone else. While I expressed joy and excitement for them I would also think “Wow, how did that happen so fast? What did they do differently from me? I wonder if they have any ideas that could help me?”

Truthfully, most of the time the situations where we see things happening for others and not for us has more to do with our journery and not someone else’s. We can talk to that person and say “Hey what did you do to get your home sold so fast?” or “What did you do to get 1,000 followers?” or “How did you find your husband and know that he was the one?” but the steps that they took and the decisions that they made can be shared with us- doesn’t mean that it would work for us. While it’s awesome to share and acquire knowledge, when applying what we’ve learned sometimes that exact blue print that the other person shared may not yield the exact same results that they achieved.

I’ve learned that often times people may not share everything that they had to go through behind the scenes to reach that level of success or to meet that particular goal. Because a lot of the times it’s hard. There are a lot of things they had to struggle through and overcome to get there. There may have been a lot of preparation and work, blood, sweat, tears, doubts, frustrations that they had to endure to reach those results. A great reminder is a message I’ve heard in church where the Pastor says “Don’t be jealous of what others have. You didn’t have to walk through what they walked through to get what they have.” I’ve found this to be so true.

When I started dating my husband, many people would ask me questions about our dating process. They would ask how I knew he was the one. When we got engaged people really started asking more questions about pretty much how I got this man to propose and eventually marry me! I would even find myself encouraging other single friends about how to trust God and how to find contentment in their lives because that’s how it all happened for me. Those were some of the steps I took to prepare myself for my future husband. But exactly how I did what I did may not work for the next person. I could try to explain things step by step but that doesn’t mean it would happen for them exactly as it happened for me by following those steps. Not only that, the hell that I had to walk through to get to where I was at was not something anyone would choose to walk through even knowing the end result. Don’t get me wrong I would choose my husband a million times over again in this life and the next and the next but I know he was meant for me.

What I didn’t know was that I was going to choose to get married at an early age without knowing the importance of seeking God first and secondly, ensuring that the person I was marrying had the same goals in life as I did. I didn’t know that over the course of that marriage I was going to lose my mother, my father, my mother in law, myself. I was going to endure some very tough situations regarding infidelity, physical assault, consistent arguments, anger, unbearable pain, birthing a child without the father being present, long deployments or other separations, raising two kids mostly alone, divorcing with no job and struggling to survive depression. If I had said to the people asking all of these questions about my love life hey this is how you get there… “First you have to go through all of the things that I listed and then tack on several years of being alone yearning, desiring so deeply for God to send you someone to love and to love you that you’ll make really poor decisions in the dating department; decisions that you hope your daughters never make. Then after walking through all of that you’ll eventually get to the good part.” well that wouldn’t be as appealing.

It’s not about how someone does something. It’s more about their personal journey. We all have dreams and goals that we are trying to achieve. For some it’s having a family for others it’s having a career or traveling the country. We may encounter people along the way who motivate and inspire us. We may learn from people about their different experiences or what it took for them to reach their level of success. We can hear about or read about how someone achieved their success or met their goal  and we may be able to take certain parts of their journey and apply it to ours. But every step they took will not benefit us because we have to take our own path. Our journey is unique to us. We can overcome different circumstances and obstacles via encouragement from others’ words or examples, but applying what we’ve learned and how we learned it is unique to us. 

I have a home that we have been trying to sell and it hasn’t sold. Yet. But I have prayed and believed with so many people on the selling of their home. When we put our home up for sell I was confident that it wouldn’t take long. We had sowed seed and fasted so this home was as good as sold, right? Then the strangest things started to happen. At least three people that I was in relationship with put their home on the market to sell and literally within a day or even a week’s time frame their homes sold. Meanwhile my home is still just sitting there months later. I can’t tell you how many times I rejoiced with them and then had thoughts of “Ok what did we do wrong? What are we missing? How in the world did that happen? Maybe we didn’t put enough work into it?” I mean the thoughts would just start pouring in. But one day I stopped my word spiral and as I prayed God reminded me that I was not on the same path as them. He was doing something different for me and in me and that I just needed to trust the journey that I was uniquely on. He reminded me not to worry about how it happened for them and when it was going to happen for us, but that IT WOULD HAPPEN. 

So sometimes instead of focusing on the plan; instead of thinking of what steps we can take or trying to mimic the exact process of others, we need to learn how to remind ourselves that we are on our own separate journey. As we walk our path we can and will pick up different things that may fit into our puzzle but we should not get discouraged by the fact that everything we picked up to use didn’t work exactly how we thought it would work. God tailors certain things specific to each person because He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we need. He knows what set of skills we need to acquire to move forward into the next phase of life. Embrace your unique journey. Ask God for the wisdom and knowledge you need and as He leads you continue to walk your path in confidence knowing whatever it is that you desire IT WILL HAPPEN.