05.01.12 Truth & Wisdom

Trial By Fire: Realising How Fierce I Really Am

Trial By Fire: Realising How Fierce I Really Am

BY Kate Edmonds

I am in the middle of a PCS. For you non-military people, this is a “Permanent Change of Station”…in layman’s terms… “A big move”. My husband got orders to a new base, and that means a lot of things. It means leaving our home. I am a Georgia Girl through and through. I grew up on shrimp and grits, bourbon and cokes in college and a whole lot of “Oh, bless her heart”. I am a die hard University of Georgia fan and I can’t imagine living in a place where people don’t even know where it is located (For all you non-SEC football fans, it’s Athens, Georgia. I grew up there).

It means my boys won’t have the lilt of an accent that I have.

It means that when I ask for Coke I may be served Pepsi (ick).

It means moving my entire three ring circus to sunny California. Pets included.

Now, as a military wife, I have always known that a big move would come. Last year I prayed for it, as things went downhill at this base. When we got the news that it was time to pack up and ship out, I was elated. So was my husband. This new job is a lot more interesting to him. Then things got complicated.

My biological mother suffers from Type 2 Bipolar disorder. She left me and my father when I was 13 and moved out to California and since then I haven’t had so much as a polite little postcard or a “How ya doin?”. I came home from school one day and all her stuff was just gone. I’m pretty hard to rattle, what with having dealt the “parental failure” hand already.

As it turns out, she moved to Elk Grove, California – which is right outside of the base that we are assigned to. The rest of her family has kept in touch and helped the best they can. My poor dad was left with a teen girl and worked 18 hour days so I am certainly not exaggerating when I say he needed the help. But the Bipolar disorder had already destroyed any semblance of a relationship that my biological mother and I had ever had – even if she had wanted to apologize and try and move on. In fact, when I came home that sunny spring day and saw she was gone, I would be lying if I didn’t say I was slightly relieved. I took on being a kid to a single parent with the same tenacity I did everything else. I wasn’t afraid to be alone. I wasn’t missing any human interaction since aside from coming out to belittle me or get her medicine, she never said anything to me. In fact, I rocketed to the top of honor roll and made the varsity volleyball team when I started High School, and kept right on moving forward.

When she found out that I was moving an hour away she asked if she could see me. I said no. When she found out I would fly into Sacramento… I absolutely forbade it. But, in keeping with her true colors, I was informed by well wishers that she was going to try to come anyway. Somebody told her that showing up at the airport would be my worst nightmare. They were right. Some things just aren’t able to be swept under the rugn and in my book, what she did is one of them. She may have given birth to me, but my father remarried an amazing woman I am PROUD to call my mother. When I was in labor she was there, when I was sick with the flu in college, I drove 4 hours home so she could take care of me. When I need my mother, I just have to pick up the phone and my stepmother is there, always. How was I supposed to reconcile someone who didn’t want to be a mother with the fact that she left and her role was filled? It was simple, my husband told me, you don’t.

I have spent the past month being afraid to leave this place. Knowing that as soon as I walked off the plane there would be a slew of family I WANT to see and possibly one person I don’t want to – especially after 18 hours of traveling with an 8-month old, a 3-year old and a cat. I told my aunt that they would have to manually unbolt the seat from the airplane to get me out there. But then I realized how very strong I am. How my biological mother doesn’t control me anymore. How she can’t hurt me in any way, physically or mentally. My husband pointed out yesterday that I am an adult which means any control that my biological once has greatly diminished (are you seeing a theme here? He’s my voice of reason!).

Today I realized that in 16 days I will board a plane. I will leave the only home I have ever known and embark on a new adventure and I am not afraid anymore. I will make us a new life, as per military wife protocol. I may be afraid of heights and spiders, but I am not ashamed of how I turned out when it comes to who I am as a woman, a mother and a daughter. I am no longer afraid to confront the woman who left me. I say, bring it on.

Image via Thinkstock

Kate Edmonds is a 24 year old mother of two boys.  She studied Music and History at Wesleyan College. Her husband is a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force and has been on 8 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

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