I am a habitual creature. I dread the alarm clock and reach for my phone to slowly ease into the new day with my drug of choice – Facebook. I get my news, info and morning kick start from my ever-present handheld device. Right or wrong, it is my way to start the day. Yesterday morning I received a group message from a friend who had recently PCSed.
This is her note in a nutshell: Hey friends, I was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 weeks before we PCSed, and I have a radical mastectomy scheduled for May 17th. I feel confident in my medical team and the outlook. I miss you and please get yourselves checked.
My heart sank, and I wanted to reach through the phone and hug her tight. I was stunned by the burden she carried silently during her PCS. I always admired her kind heart and humor, and I now added strength and grace to the list. She is a social worker by trade, and her words and actions mirror her chosen profession. We were only neighbors for a short 8 months, but she is the type of person you feel you have known forever; she is what I call a new old friend. She orchestrated an OCONUS move with three animals and three children while processing a life-changing diagnosis she kept to herself. Wonder Woman bows to MG, and I know she is going to give cancer the beat down it deserves.
As I scrolled through her words on my screen I was reminded of the stories we all have, but do not always tell. I consider myself to be open and honest, but I am a bit of a contradiction. I blog about personal issues, but few people know my deepest thoughts, struggles and fears. As an Army brat and Army spouse, I have learned some hard lessons in sharing too soon or too much. I do my best to choose my words and listeners wisely. I know I am not alone in keeping secrets. You never truly know the burden someone one is carrying until they pull back the curtain and let you in.
No matter how picture perfect lives appear to be we all struggle. We have people, experiences and moments that have shaped and scarred us with equal force. Much of our reaction and interaction is based on those past experiences. The hurt, pain and rejection we have met along the way builds resilience, but it can also build walls. The older I get the more I try to remember we are each fighting something. I once read though we are grown women on the outside we are still little girls who just want to get invited to the party on the inside. To be included, appreciated and loved are timeless and universal needs.
My mom was a school counselor, and always had a “Kindness Matters” sign in her office. I saw it every time I was able to pop in for a visit, and her favorite motto stuck with me. I smile when I can, and do my best to give the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes an inappropriate finger gesture is more justified than a smile, but I still smile. Why? Because I see the little girl in you, and I hope you see the little girl in me too.
“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.” ~ John Steinbeck