Well, today is the big day. Today I will set out on my attempt to walk 13.1 miles in the Rock n Roll marathon in Washington, DC. As I walk I will hear the song I related to so well replay itself over and over in my mind. If you would like, you can click on the play button and take a listen as you finish this blog.
That song, I Walk Alone, by Marty Robbins, country western star of yesteryear, it was well off of my radar prior to my wife's deployment. I don't remember exactly how I came across it but once I did I knew it was my deployment song.
It's great to think we have people walking with us through times that can be tough, but the truth is we do walk alone for the most part. I don't want to discount the endless amount of love and support I received from friends and family while my wife was deployed, but I had to walk alone through the lonely nights. The nights filled with tossing, turning and torment as I waited for her safe return.
If you have followed my blog for a bit you have heard that song a few times, because it really was MY song. Today it will be my song again.
I am part of the Her War, Her Voice and Not Alone:Life After War team for this marathon. In total our team is comprised of over 40 participants. Some will be on the sidelines cheering us on, most will be running this marathon, and to the best of my knowledge only one will be walking it.
For the last 4 months our team has been preparing for this marathon, both through our fundraiser to help veterans, service members and their families with mental health options and through the physical preparation of participating in a marathon. I had all intentions on making my training the thing that would transform me into a healthier me. I made plans over and over again to let this be what motivates me to create a new me. But the truth is, that didn't happen. In fact, the opposite happened.
Since I agreed to participate in this marathon I have gained nearly 30 pounds. It kills me inside to try to put on what were already a large pair of jeans and feel how much tighter they are now. I am currently closing in on my all time high with my weight at 300 pounds. I smoke a pack of cigarettes every day. I am not a runner. I am not a marathoner. I am not a person who walks for exercise. I am not even a casual walker. But I have to do this.
Each and every day it is estimated that between 16-18 veterans a day are dying. Not because of some disease. Not because of hostile fire. But because they can no longer stand the mental turmoil they find themselves in. They are taking their own lives.
There aren't any statistics about how many family members of veterans and service members are taking their own lives, but we know it is too many.
It is said that currently there are twice as many family members of our service members who are being treated medically and chemically for anxiety, depression and other stress related ailments than ever before. And I am one of them.
I have been on the brink of "giving up". I have come close to that point that I can't even get myself to write down in this blog. And that is part of the reason in all of my Kung Fu Panda likeness I will set out today to do something that could hurt me. Heck, as out of shape as I am, it could kill me if I am not careful.
The real reason I am doing this marathon today actually has little to do with me. It has to do with those who may not have the strength and resources I have been given. While I have walked alone in my darkest hours, there was always someone right there within arms reach. I would say 8 out of 10 times that someone was Melissa from Her War, Her Voice. She told me it was OK to feel the way I did. She and her business partner Christina have used their website and blogs as a tool to not only reach me, but thousands of other military spouses and family members. I can only imagine what this next chapter will look like that we are together writing through this fundraiser.
Today I will take each step for those who may not be able to. Today I will walk alongside anyone who has been "at that point" where enough was enough and were ready to end it all. Today I will walk for all those who have come before me and all those who will follow after me. Today I will rise above....
If you are interested in making a donation to our fundraiser, click here.
If you wish to follow my progress today as I attempt these 13.1 miles, you can do so by checking out the facebook page of Army Wives Do It With*HOOAH*. Once the race begins at 8am, Jamie will be updating my progress as it is emailed to her.
I hope you will rise with me. I also hope you will consider sharing this blog this morning, Saturday,March 17, 2012.