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The art of letting go


One could say that military spouses have plenty of experience with letting things go. From the much-needed purge of items preparing to PCS, to saying goodbye to family, friends, and all things familiar, the ability to let go becomes an essential skill.

And while we may become accustomed to letting go when we have to, no one really talks about how hard it is to let go of things when we want to, or when it’s best only for ourselves to do so. I’m here to tell you that while it may be harder to do, it’s of unimaginable importance.

We set out with our best intentions to take care of our spouses, families, homes, and all of the things that fill our lives day to day. We go on no matter how long or how tired we may be telling ourselves that everything’s fine even if in reality it’s not. More often than not you’ll find ways to continue going on to satisfy each and every commitment, no matter the cost.

I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights to try to make the impossible possible. Those nights rarely brought the anticipated feeling of relief I was hoping for. The day after was usually spent miserable with a fake smile plastered on my face, it was much longer, and I was left not thinking of all I accomplished, but of all that I hadn’t. Night was here again, the day was gone, and the world around me continued spinning but I started feeling stuck.

There was no time to stop and smell the flowers beginning to bloom, no time to have a dance party with my kids in the living room. Just no time. As my texts remained unanswered, my emails ignored, and my peace shaken to its core, I realized I couldn’t go on like this. I realized sometimes we have to allow life to slow us down. Life is about the details and when the details become too blurry to recognize, you’re looking too closely, and you need to take a step back.

One of the greatest things about the community you are surrounded by is I can assure you that it has your back if you allow it. I spent a lot of my time with the Fort Liberty Spouses Club working to assist with the planning of a wonderful event they have every year — VICE Night. About two months before the event, I started a new job as a legal aid with a lengthy commute from Fort Liberty.  I did my very best to make it work and thought that maybe I was having some growing pains, but I could balance everything out.

Not too long before the event, JRTC’s dates — Joint Readiness Training Center, in Louisiana, where soldiers, units and personnel spend about a month training to be mission-ready — grew closer on the calendar, and I knew I’d be stepping into the temporary single-parent role. My responsibilities with the club were too much for me, in addition to two jobs, two small children, and college classes. Midterms were barely survivable on their own. I had to make the decision to step down from the club, and initially thought I was making a huge mistake.

This has become one of my greatest lessons as an Army wife, and as a person. I worried about all of the pieces I was leaving for others to pick up and place, and I was embarrassed that I couldn’t satisfy the commitment I made. Then I was met with kindness, grace, and understanding from every single member of the club, even though it meant more work for them. The show went on and the event thrived. It was a beautiful and successful evening. I did what I could manage and volunteered to assist with set up, attended the event, and celebrated the hard work and persistence of an incredible group of women while supporting the Fort Liberty community.

Bravery is not always doing it all; sometimes it’s admitting that you can’t do it all, and you need help, or to take a step back. Be brave and let your community embrace you. It’s full of amazing and kind people who have been right where you are. Help where you can, when you can, and how you can.

But remember, help is there when you need it too. It’s OK not to be OK and here it’s often expected; helping hands are all around. In the meantime, remember that you are not made of steel. You are meant to experience joy, beauty, and happiness. It’s OK to take time to see the details of your life before they pass you by and you’re left lost in the blur.

Life is too beautiful to miss out on all of the colors.

Editor's note: A previous version of this column incorrectly stated that the Joint Readiness Training Center is where PCSing soldiers spend about a month before deployment. The Joint Readiness Training Center is where soldiers, units and personnel spend about a month training to be mission-ready. CityView apologizes for this error.

Jaylin Kremer and her husband are natives of Pittsburgh. She is studying psychology and plans to go to law school and works as an advocate for mental health and victims of sexual violence. Jaylin is a member of the Fort Liberty school board and first vice president of the Fort Liberty Spouses Club. She believes that small acts of kindness go a long way.

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