One of the best things we at Her War get to see and help facilitate is connections.
Between people who share similar stories, between people who share similar lives, between people who never would have had a chance to interact without us stretching out a helping nudge.
This is one of Val’s connection.
Through the magic of Her War Her Voice, I met this woman that I had admired for so long. She seemed like a celebrity.
She’s an army wife, a veteran, an amazing writer, and a leader.
She seemed like someone who was so other-than than me, that I couldn’t conceive that she would ever have any interest in being my friend.
But she did. She chose to be my friend. And I almost missed it at first.
I met her at the retreat–To go was surreal enough–but to meet the women I did…
I am still the girl with the low self-esteem and the firm conviction that the popular kids won’t like me. But instead these women–military spouses from all branches, and from the whole spectrum of experience–embraced me as a sister.
After the retreat, those of us who lived near one another would gather once in a while. And at the end of our gatherings she would say it, “I am so glad to see you. I really enjoy talking to you.”
I heard it, but I didn’t hear it at first. And then I heard it, and didn’t know what to make of it.
When I began to work with Her War I had reason to talk to her on the phone more regularly. And I can remember her saying those words at the end of phone calls. “I really enjoy talking to you.” She said it more than once. And it’s a good thing because, I never would have believed it otherwise.
At some point the words got my attention. I think it was because she said them so consistently. But they were genuine. It wasn’t just a tag on at the end of the conversation. They were words she wanted me to hear.
They changed my life.
There is something about understanding that a person that you admire and respect so deeply believes in you. And believes that you are worthy of seeking out a friendship with. There is something about that that can help you to stand up a little straighter and to believe in who you are a little bit more.
That’s what she gave me by saying those words.
“I really enjoy talking with you.” Though this friend of mine can be eloquent, those words aren’t especially so. They are simple. Straightforward. But they were delivered in earnest.
I might have missed the chance at her friendship if she hadn’t kept saying them. I might have believed that she was just being nice to me because she felt like she had to. Of all the words in the world that would impact a person, I really wouldn’t have expected it to be those. But it was those words that cut through the assumptions I had about what someone like her would want to have to do with someone like me.
They were the words that made me trust her friendship. And they were words that helped me understand that she saw me as worthy enough to receive it.
Words are powerful. Even the simplest ones we utter can make or break a person.
As military spouses we use a lot of words with one another. Some of them are haphazard. Some of them are meant to hit a target. We have a hard time trusting. We have a hard time reaching out in friendship so often, because we don’t want to be left again. Or brushed off again.
Hearing those words from a spouse so different from me… someone that I admired so much… They built a bridge of friendship for me to walk over. And they helped me to believe in myself in a way that I hadn’t before.
As I consider the ways I use my words going forward I hope to remember that sometimes it’s the simplest words that can make the biggest difference.
And I hope I can be a builder of bridges to other spouses who might need encouragement… and a friend.