Some people say I am brave because I went to Afghanistan. And I guess maybe I am. But I can tell you that fear was alongside my bravery. I think a lot of people look at people’s stories and just see the ending and not the fact that there is fear and struggle along the way.
I went to Afghanistan and was part of a Provincial Reconstruction Team. And went to parts of Afghanistan that only a handful of Americans have ever been to. There I was a Civil Engineer building schools in Afghanistan and working with the people of Afghanistan. I had good days where I got to see the beauty of the Kapisa Valley. And I had bad days where things didn’t go as we planned, loneliness crept into the business of my days, and just some overall hard days.
Deploying is Hard
There is a lot of things that happened in my story that are not pretty. Like the days when tears were the only way to get through each problem. There were other days when I had to pretend like things were not as bad as they were. On days like that, I found other things to look forward to. My friend and I built a garden outside our office and it was something that we looked forward to as we watched it grow and change. It was something not typical for the deployment and almost made it feel like we were home.
The hardest part of my deployment was definitely not being shot at with bullets or rockets. It was the day we got shot at with words. When things that were not true were said about us and believed by others. And the work we had accomplished was discounted and set aside. When the people we had worked with for months no longer believed that we were the same people.
That is what lies do and that is why I have so much trouble trusting people even today. Years later the scars that came from the deployment are not the things caused by the enemy, but instead by the people inside of the wire. The people on my team. The people I had once considered friends.
Have you ever had to learn to trust again? When you move you have to build a community to survive the new adventure of motherhood. As a new mom, you might feel loneliness and the fear that you are not doing a good enough job. You are desperate to find people you could rely on, but still so very much afraid.
Afraid that if you put my trust in them you might be betrayed again.
And it took a long time for me to open up, but it was worth the risk. Even though I got connected quickly, my walls stayed up. But eventually, I did share and let people in and this experience has been different. My friends here love me for who I am. They struggle with some of the same things I struggle with and when I reach out for help I’m given the support, encouragement, or whatever I need. It is an amazing blessing that if I hadn’t taken the chance to open up again I would have missed.
The scars from my deployment have stayed with me long after I returned home.
So maybe you think I’m brave for going to a foreign country and into a combat zone, but really I didn’t have a choice. Looking back, I think I’m brave for trusting people again.
Those scars hurt, but I think they are finally starting to heal.