I've been looking forward to this for a long time. When Edie sat down with me at a conference in Indianapolis and told me about her plans for Fighting Fear, it took me about 0.3 seconds to say I wanted to be a part of it. At the time we initially spoke, my husband was half a world away in Afghanistan on his third combat tour. Not only did the idea speak to my past, it definitely gripped me right in the present.
You see, I love military families, and I mean that in the truest sense of the word. There is this "family" among men and women who are married to those who serve. No matter where you are or where you come from, you have an instant meeting ground, a mutual understanding. When half of your heart is gone, nobody else gets it. There are crazy things you say that would appall other people... but another spouse knows the meaning behind the words. They understand the crazy laughter, the sudden tears, the bursts of anger... And they let you have your moments of insanity because they know, tomorrow, it's probably going to be their turn.
But it's not just about spouses, is it? When my husband was in Iraq in 2006, I had what ranks as one of the greatest privileges of my life. My FRG co-leader and I decided to reach out to families during our deployment, and I got to know some incredible people. Army moms and dads are amazing, and my heart aches for parents, brothers, sisters, girlfriends, boyfriends... They sit on the edges, sometimes forgotten by organizations that forget soldiers have parents too. My families and I spent that deployment riding a roller coaster together... A roller coaster that managed to dip a whole lot more than it climbed. Out of that 12-turned-15-month deployment, I fell madly in love with some people who still hold pieces of my heart, men and women with whom I shared some of the most emotional moments of my life.
That's why Edie's idea stoked a fire in me. All of us--spouse, parent, sibling, friend--need to know we aren't alone, that these crazy emotions we feel aren't abnormal. We need to know it's okay to be perfectly fine one minute and a little bit out of our heads the next. We need to realize we all have our rituals, whether it's the wife who sleeps in the guest room for the entire year her husband is gone, the mom who leaves the Christmas tree up until August, or the friend who searches twelve stores for Silly String and water balloons to mail to a foreign country.
My name is Jodie Bailey, and it's an honor to spend time with y'all. I hope you find here some camaraderie and maybe a few reasons to smile. Most of all, I hope you walk away every day knowing that you are far from alone, even when the one you love is eight thousand miles away. Thanks for stopping by. I'll see you on Wednesday!