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  • I came across the Leap Year Project on Facebook last week. I was feeling especially down, as if I'd hit my bottom, for weeks. It seemed like a good outlet for my current frustrations and I choose to take a leap and try it. It couldn't hurt anything, it can't.

    I chose my leap. It is "To find my place in my new life."

    Why did I decide on that? There are so many other great causes out there, I know. I've dedicated most of my life to causes that benefit others, and I fully understand the importance as well as the benefits of self-sacrifice.

    It's been ten months now. Ten horribly long, nightmarish months. It saddens me to think that I've wasted so much of my life being so unhappy, but inside I tell myself that I can't help it. There are too many outside forces that effect us all, our happiness, our well being. It's part of living life connected to others I suppose.

    I have to say that when my husband told me he wanted to leave the army I was happy. Coupled with leaving my family behind and starting a life as an army family, our first year of marriage was rough. My husband had already been in the army for several years when we met, and back then I thought that nothing could be harder than starting that life. I always thought that ending it would be so easy. It had been a whole two years since we left my hometown, the first year one of the hardest of my life and the second, hands down the happiest year of my life. I respected his decision, we both thought it was best in a way. No more long separations or chances of deployment sounded great. He had already given and sacrificed so much. He needed a change of pace after his fairly long, stressful career so he quit, so to speak, we left and relocated our family once again, only this time in reverse.

    I was excited to come "home", or at least I tried to be. The kids could be close to all our family and get to know them, and we could be with our families too as a married couple and independent family for the first time in our lives. I didn't realize that all the things I thought would make it easy to transition could also make it hell. While I never expected everyone to drop what they were doing and make effort to incorporate us into their lives, I did expect that they'd want to. That they'd want to help us through this rough time, because if anyone knew what we were going through it should be those closest to us, or so I thought. After all, they had told us how desperately they missed us and spent the entire two years counting down to our imminent return.

    The first thing to go was the friends. All those people I'd grown up with and known for years, whom even though I didn't speak to often in Texas, assured me that they were "so EXCITED" we were all coming home. It was disappointing, but not exactly unexpected. They all had their own lives and circles I wasn't, we weren't, a part of. We both come from very small communities and had chosen to return to mine since my husband had been gone from his own the longest. Outsiders aren't exactly warmly welcomed here, even former insiders.

    Next went the family. That was the hardest. It wasn't abrupt; in a lot of ways I wish it had been. A lot of them were unwilling to accept my husband, among other things. They didn't like him because he was too regimented, or too straight forward. We were, in my family's eyes, too hard on our kids because of how we chose to raise them. Nothing extremist mind you, just structured.They didn't understand anything about the life we'd been used to living, let alone wanted to admit that maybe we were all having a hard time adjusting and needed help. To them being back here was the answer to all our problems and oddly enough, it quickly became our biggest problem. Looking back now I think that they were looking for reasons and that any they found would've been fine. I had changed a lot since I had last lived here, but I was so happy. I was at a loss as to why they couldn't see that and if they did why they refused to accept it. I love my husband and we have a good, solid marriage and happy kids. It hurt, it hurts, to have the people I thought knew me the best treat me so horribly because they refused to accept.

    It didn't matter to anyone that we were struggling. Our oldest son was angry a lot. He missed our old life, the army, his friends. Everything. He hated, and still dislikes, nearly everything about where we are now from his school to our new house. It's been hard to try to help him through it all when we ourselves couldn't seem to grasp onto something solid here to pull ourselves up on. I don't and can't blame him for how he feels, all I can do is be there and let him know that he's not alone.

    Our daughter is still quite young. She has loved being here around family, the few times it's happened. We had her while we were in Texas, and she is the newest member of both our families. She's the only one our transition hasn't effected in a negative way. I'm fortunate that at least she can be spared this awful time we're all going through. She gives us all hope with her happiness, light, and fervor for life, something I hold on to and am thankful for. Thanks to her, even if only for a moment, we can all enjoy some time in a happy place.

    My husband was the most depressed the first couple of months here. He had a job lined out in the area before we had moved and after we got here it completely fell through. In a lot of ways it was a hard blow. He didn't know what civilian life was going to be like, and even though I'd tried to tell him that it wouldn't be as great as it seemed, he was very optimistic when we had left Texas. It's all been so hard for him, to have everything taken away for a choice he had made for his family, for it now to be hurting us all so much.

    He's had a terrible time finding a job and now we're at the point where we are both looking for work. There's nothing here for either one of us to do that will support us. I know that it's not much different from many other families out there. As much as we'd love to relocate back to where we were, something that he wants the most, it's just not a possibility for us anymore. We had expected help from our families, his family is about an hour away from mine and from where we live now. When combined, our families are located in a good chunk of the state so it seems probable that they'd be able to help us with some opportunity. His family has made little to no effort to incorporate us into their lives, let alone mention a good opportunity to help us. It's been a hard truth that he's had to struggle with as well as I. I think we'd all be ok with their lack of help, so to speak, if they wanted to be in ours or included us in their lives. He seems to be on the up and up though, despite it all, unlike myself. I admire him for that.

    Life doesn't take a day off, not for me, not for anyone. To me it all seems like a long string of bad events and I find myself, still to this day, constantly thinking back to the happiest year of my life. A life far away from here in a place I had grown to love. A place I had grown my family, my very own family, far away from the influences my husband and I had grown up with. I can honestly say that I've never known such deep hurt, disappointment, and devastation until now.

    My family has always had a saying "Forgive and Forget" but I feel somethings just can't be either, more so now than ever. I feel filled with question and skepticism. So what happens now? It seems as though there is no answer to that question out there for me. I feel as though I've lost everything to gain a lot of very hard life lessons I never wished to learn. No longer an army wife in an army family, I have to find my new role, my new place in my new life. I throw myself into my most important role, being a mom, in the hopes that my kids are spared as much suffering as possible through this. One step at a time, one day at a time I will keep moving forward though, despite everything that's happened to us, to me. I'm taking a leap hoping to find my way, my place, knowing that tomorrow might not be better, but at least it won't be today.
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