Right now, to me, it's more than just a day of eating turkey and watching football. In fact, yesterday, I stayed in my pajamas all day, and ate leftover spaghetti.
I have a LOT to be thankful for. I am truly one blessed woman. I'm a firm believer in everything happening for a reason, and I am thankful for the experiences of this past year. I'm slowly learning...
As you could tell from previous posts, I was not doing so well with being back in Alaska (from summer vacation). Ever since I was a teenager, I've dealt with clinical depression and anxiety. The Black Cloud comes and goes. It especially reappears when a I go through any major life changes; I do best when I have a routine to follow, and once that is broken, my brain goes haywire. (I am thankful that I have a husband who does his best to understand this...illness).
I tried my hardest to not fail myself or my family. I saw living in Alaska as a challenge that needed to be conquered. I was determined to have a positive outlook, and enjoy the adventure. Truth is, I knew that I was in trouble when we crossed the Canadian border.
Having grown up in small town Louisiana, and having been a lonely (almost only) child, I quickly learned as an adult that I could never do well in any near state of isolation. I need lots of people. I need lots of things to do. I think I've mentioned before that I'd most probably be at my best if I lived in a big high-rise near the ocean (Miami maybe...I dunno, I've never been there).
When I returned to Alaska after our summer vacation, I lost all motivation. I didn't want to go back, and hid my tears from the kids on the last leg of the journey home. We came home to a cold empty house (Phil is overseas at the moment), and I knew right then and there that I could not do it anymore. I'd purposely left Alaska and spent so much time in the Lower 48 during the Summer, to shorten the time that we had alone in Alaska without Phillip; waiting for him to come home from his second deployment in the year and a half that we'd been there. Even though I enjoyed the trips to New Jersey/NYC and Washington D.C., and then Louisiana and Gulf Shores, Alabama, I regretted that I left Alaska at all. Because leaving, and then coming home was so difficult.
I got so sick. I wouldn't eat. I did my best to take care of myself and the kids (and to hide any negativity from them). I couldn't fathom spending the Holidays in Alaska, and away from family in Louisiana. I couldn't see going through another harsh winter there either; I saw our first winter as adventure, the upcoming one...not so much.
I went back and forth, on a daily basis, on trying to decide what was best for all of us. Should I try to stay? Should I go home to family? I had my children to think about. Should I uproot Gabe from his school and friends? Leaving meant that when Phillip came home from his deployment, he'd come home to an empty house, and then we would have to spend more time without him, waiting for him to fulfill his commitment in Alaska. I didn't want to put any of us through more time, than necessary, apart. After weeks of worry on everyone's part (Phillip and family included), during a conversation with Phillip one morning, we both decided that it was best that I just go home.
Hardly anyone knew what I was going through. I hide my feelings well. But, a good friend of mine who knew what was going on (partly because of what I wasn't saying, she said), told me that the Peace that I was feeling at having made a decision, was proof that I made the right one. A close family member reassured me that it sounded to him like my decision was not a selfish one; if anything, I was doing it to be a better wife and mother.
It was a long process, but the kids and I finally got the Official Orders to leave Alaska on Early Release of Dependents.
On Halloween night, I took the kids trick-or-treating. We came home and got ready for bed. Usually, at around 9 pm, we would go upstairs and cuddle for a bit in my bed before going to sleep. On that particular night though, I told Gabe that we would have to stay up later to wait for a special packet of information (that Daddy was sending over via UPS) to be delivered that would help us with the move. When the doorbell rang, I asked Gabe to get the door (as I was fumbling with my camera, and pretending to look at Halloween photos). He fully expected to see the UPS man.
I was able to get video of two very surprised and incredibly happy children, as Phillip walked through door; he'd come home on Emergency Leave to help us with the whole sticky relocation process. I can't tell you how Thankful I was that he was there to help us, and that we got to be together for that brief (but very busy) amount of time.
Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, November 9, the kids, the cat, and I said goodbye to Phillip and to Alaska. He went back to his duties overseas soon after we left Fairbanks.
The three of us are content to be back home. Even Pichou, the cat, who wasn't so keen on airplane travel, seems excited about, and comfortable with her new surroundings.
This evening, I'm so very Thankful for having the support of family as the kids and I make a new life here in South Louisiana, until the four of us can be together again on a new assignment. Gabe is in a new school, and adjusting to new classmates. Sarah will start a new pre-K next week. We'll getting back into the swing of things with karate and ballet classes soon. I've found an awesome apartment with a lake view, and fountains to listen to. And, the kids are with Phillip's parents in Texas right now, visiting family for the holiday while I get some much needed mental and physical rest.
I can't totally poo-poo on the whole Alaskan experience. I made some genuine friends there that I will miss dearly, and hope to see again in the future.
As for the "Black Cloud", it's still there. It's just not hanging directly over me. It's moving off to somewhere out in the distance, and hopefully won't return again anytime soon.