Don’t Lose Your Power
I thought I knew what empowerment meant when I set out to design the content around the theme of this issue. That was before the before the panicked rush to the children’s hospital, the muffled voices of the doctors behind their gowns, before there were tiny bracelets for my tiny daughter that read “isolation,” and before I found myself crouched in a hospital bathroom at 2:00am, heaving sobs because I couldn’t fix the problem because no one even knew what the problem was…yet. I was a wild woman, a mother paralyzed out of exhaustion and pain desperate to paint an outward expression of calm. It was life’s irony that I began to understand the definition of empowerment by experiencing its complete opposite.
Of course, fear and sadness and grief are not mutually exclusive of empowerment, but in this moment, I did not permit myself to accept my emotions. Instead, I was giving other sources power over my own self. For example, I was tied to the computer in rare moments while my daughter slept trying to fix problems for other people (probably because I couldn’t fix the glaring one in front of me), giving of myself in ways that had crossed from generous to completely self-destructive.
It was then that I began to look at every story in this issue with a different angle. When Corie Weathers traveled with our Secretary of Defense with the goal of bringing back information to help military marriages, it wasn’t just as some news story. Corie and her husband have been witness and support to marriages that have been lost—some by the immediate effects of war, others by the emotional after effects. For Corie, this was a journey to bring back anything she could that might help save, heal and empower other couples to see one another in a different way, to fight through the fog.
How about Olivia Smith’s “Empower Yourself in the Kitchen?” Certainly, our Libby isn’t implying that the delicious Lemon Loaf is going to save a life, but when Murphy is in effect and your spouse is deployed, the sense of accomplishment gained from creating something—from feeding your family, to feeding yourself—well, it’s just as much a figurative recipe for the heart.
To empower yourself is, at least to me, to retake the controls—something so many of us haven’t realized we’ve given away. It is to accept what you are capable of and love yourself for it; to give yourself a break without guilt or to give yourself a push when needed. Perhaps that push will be in the form of schooling and you will find your power from starting or finishing an educational goal. We hope our first ever Military Spouse Friendly Schools ® list will guide you.
In the end, on day four of the hospital stay, my daughter began to recover and so too did my own heart. I realized that at some point in my life, I handed over the controls of my feelings and had forced myself to be a smiling faced lunatic super hero at all times. Had anyone asked me to do this? I’m not sure. My daughter certainly hadn’t and she was the one to suffer. As I took hold of the controls, it allowed me to be more focused and present, better for myself and for her—no matter what path our future would head.
Your definition will be different. I want to know what empowers you.
Editor-in-Chief, Military Spouse Magazine