The first night we watched a skit about the evolution of military life as a wife and it showed how our expectations were extremely different than the reality of what we go through as a military spouse. We also talked with each other and wrote down how we felt on the first night of the retreat. After our session was over we all chatted in the hot tub and got to know each other better. I met some new, amazing wives that I can now add to my support circle.
On Saturday morning we had breakfast together and started our sessions for the day. The section on the difference between post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury was vital because symptoms overlap in both of these conditions and it can be challenging to know the difference. Marilyn Lash headed up this section and she has extensive knowledge on TBI. Her brother has lived with it since a young age and she has written books on brain injuries. The section on secondary PTSD was an eye-opener for a lot of the wives on the retreat. While secondary PTSD has been discussed in our forums and on our Facebook page, it was shocking to realize how many of the symptoms I had when I saw it on paper.
Sunday morning we could choose to participate in a small worship session or talk in another session with the other ladies heading up the retreat. I choose to participate in the worship session. That is a part of my life that I miss so much since Bryan can’t attend church. The crowds and noise are too much. Afterwards, we wrote a self-care plan. We focused on three areas where we need improvement and are lacking care. After we filled it out we wrote our own address on the outside of the envelope and in a few weeks we will receive the care plan in the mail as a reminder to do the things we need to do for ourselves. I think it is a great way to hold ourselves accountable as well as act as a reminder to take time for ourselves since we are so busy caring for everyone else.
Our last session on Sunday included the task of writing on a large sheet of paper three words that described how we felt at the conclusion of the retreat. We had a celebration to show everyone our three words. It was great to see how many wives felt a renewed sense of hope, friendship and understanding.
A few of us wives decided to stay another night since the weather was fantastic and we were having so much fun hanging out with those that understood. We relaxed by the pool and grabbed a yummy dinner afterwards.
I am so thankful that Operation Homefront’s Wounded WarriorWives, a private donor and Hope for the Homefront sponsors these retreats. I have heard amazing things coming from these retreats and I was glad to see the changes in these women for myself.