Lisa Kruse-Robles is a mother, wife, makeup artist and graphic designer.
It's not often that I break down. So when it happens, I'm at a loss.
Many things in my world are upside down. I try to be a good friend, supportive mother, loving wife — yet, I seem to be floundering on all of the above right now.
My husband is at war. He's stationed in Afghanistan and won't be back for three more months. He's been gone for 10. This was our first Christmas apart in 11 years. I didn't think it would affect me much, but it has.
The place my husband is stationed is a teeny outpost just seven miles from the border with Pakistan. He says they see "activity" every day. Imagine the fear it evokes for him, as well as for us. It's awful.
My boys miss their daddy. It's not been a stable road for them, either. I feel sad that I am not able to draw more from myself to give to them. I did it for 10 months, and now am just exhausted.
The challenge facing a military family is more than just getting through a deployment. It's also handling all of the other challenges that come with family life, during deployment or not. In my case, it means coping with two different forms of cancer. Although I'm cancer-free at the moment, it's hard to escape the feeling that something is lurking somewhere in my body, ready to spring at me.
We do not have family nearby, nor do any of my friends live close to me, so getting a break for myself is a rare thing. To top it off, my eldest has developed separation anxiety, something he'd never had before. Therefore, I'm unable to hire a sitter unless I prepare him days in advance for it. And even then, he still freaks out.
Do you know what it feels like to have your child sit outside the bathroom door, waiting for you? Or running down the street crying if you were to ever leave? He's in counseling, and this may be a circumstantial problem related to my husband's deployment. Yet watching him hurt, I feel helpless. On comes the guilt.
I have an amazing counselor whom I adore. I just can't ever get to her because of the childcare issues. I've distanced myself from my many friends and have become almost hermit-like in my existence. That's not me.
I detest feeling vulnerable, yet vulnerable is how I feel. I hate it. I'm so exhausted that I can barely stay awake. It's not good for me, nor is it good for my children.
I'm offering all these personal details in the hope that someone will read them and feel less alone. Minnesota's lack of military bases makes it harder to feel connected to others in our community. Our state tries to support us, but it's easy to fall through the cracks into isolation.
Being a military family does bring a sense of pride — knowing my husband has fought for freedom in such an ill-planned war. I can't begin to imagine how he feels when an IED takes out the truck in front of his. Just as he cannot imagine the ache of watching a child flounder because his daddy has been yanked away from him.
I'm simply sad. That's all.