Loving a man in the fire service can be rough. It’s been one of the most rewarding things, but some seasons of the fire life are just plain miserable.
Today I read an update about a firefighter who was severely injured back on May 31st, 2013 in the Houston (Texas) apartment fire that took the lives of four firefighters. His name is Bill and for months I have read updates about his condition and recovery directly from his wife, Jacki. There aren’t enough words for me to explain the range of emotions that I feel for her or the strength and grace I feel like she possesses. I’m certain should would likely disagree but from the outside looking in, she is doing a damn good job of holding it together. She is a fighter, a woman full of faith and an inspiration.
My thoughts often go to her when I am feeling lost, but I cannot compare my life to hers. It’s easy for life to become depressing in the moments that my husband is working a lot, in a class, studying during all of his down time and home time. When seasons of life feel awfully busy for him and I’m at home, with the kids, where I work from home and keep every aspect of the home place under control… it is easy for the happy to feel so far away. My thoughts often go to her, but I do not allow myself to feel guilty. We do not compare.
When I say I miss my husband because the universe collided and he is on 5 straight 24s, my thoughts go to those who have husbands who work wildland fires. Those who for months at the time are deployed to the big fires. Sometimes my thoughts go to those who opted to be contract firemen, deploying over seas to work alongside our military. Sometimes my thoughts go to those who have husbands that never came home. My thoughts often go to them, but I do not allow my self to feel guilty. We do not compare.
When I feel alone, because no matter how many adults I converse with… it just isn’t enough. It has to be him. Being told that it could be worse or my favorite, at least he isn’t in the military… my thoughts go there. I can cope. I can be thankful for that, but that does not make my own feelings any less valid. I do not allow myself to feel guilty for that, we do not compare!
The way we compare things, one to another, is ridiculous and I really think it should stop. Sure, my husband doesn’t wear a gun to work and chase down bad guys… He isn’t deployed… he is alive…. he is healthy…. he calls me every day, even if we’re interrupted a minute into the call… I KNOW he loves me… I KNOW he misses home too… I know that he isn’t in a war zone… I know that things could be worse,…. none of those things make my feelings any less valid. I do not allow myself to feel guilty. None of us compare.
Once, I was down but was trying to be respectful of everyone who “had it worse than me” and a friend said to me exactly what I needed to hear. If we through my problems in a pile with her problems, I’d gladly snatch mine back up… but that doesn’t mean that my problems are any less valid. Our biggest problems in life, are valid no matter how small they are in comparison to someone else’s. None of us compare, and we should not try.
That is why I do not allow myself to feel guilty for
- missing my husband
- feeling lonely
- skipping invitations
- staying in pajamas all day
- saying I have had a hard week
- being tired
- feeling like the kids are on my last nerve
- needing a break
- letting the house be messy
- crying because I am worn
- telling people no
- avoiding gatherings
- having cereal for supper
- taking a day to lay on the couch and whine
That list could grow a mile long but I don’t feel guilty for it one bit. The truth is, no one should be telling you “At least you don’t have my life.” because I fully believe that the vast majority of people would transition and cope just as good as the next person. We all grow a little tougher skin when faced with bigger problems than we’re use to. We can all reset with just a small amount of time alone. Most of us can rise above and take care of what needs taking care of and still be thankful. It isn’t easy and we may break but we don’t give up.
That is why I don’t allow myself to feel guilty.
Sure, there are the weak among the strong. There are a handful in the masses that just aren’t prepared and require a lot of help from every and any one that can and will help. That is ok too.
Don’t compare your troubles to the next. Don’t let other people compare your troubles to theirs. We all have season of life, they change. Sometimes getting better and sometimes it feels like we’ll be stuck on the bottom for a while. It isn’t permanent. It will change. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty. Help support those who need it and seek support from those who can offer it but never, ever, compare.
Do you feel guilty? Don’t.