The messages of support are nice, but actions speak louder than words
COLD COFFEE: Life as a military wife makes you a lot of things, but one quality I would like to think it builds is resilience.
Civilian friends often ask: "How do you do it?" when Mr Greer is away. I never have a response that suffices, other than to say you get used to your circumstances, you make the best of what you've got, and you lean on those around you when you need to.
But that last point is a complicated one.
Military partners, in my experience, often become victims of their own circumstance.
They become so self-reliant, so independent, so resilient, that despite frequent musings about being there for anyone who needs help, reaching out and mutual support, we are terrible at asking for it.
This isn't limited to military partners, of course. It is a situation I see among others – especially online – and especially with solo parents, or those dealing with serious health issues, too.
"Call me if you need anything", someone will write on Facebook in response to someone going through a hard time.
"Always here for you", another will say.
I'm guilty of it to. Offering help but not actually doing anything about it.
Don't get me wrong, the sentiment is there and it's great, but let's be honest, we are all busy people with our own things going on in our lives.
Sometimes our cups are so empty and we have nothing to pour from, so not everyone is in a place to follow through on their kind thoughts.
But when I look at the toughest moments in my life, or even just those low times, and those who offered support, I know that as a whole, there were a lot of good vibes that were being sent my way. They were appreciated, but what I remember most were the acts of doing.
And the doing part did not have to be much. I'm not talking about elaborate declarations of support, things that cost a lot of money, or put others out dramatically.
The act of doing is the complete antithesis to "it's the thought that counts".
The thought does count, but it's the doing that endures.
It's the friends who know you so well, and know you'll decline any support, so specifically don't ask permission for their actions and just do things anyway.
I will never forget a friend turning up to support me in the car park of a medical centre where I was going to have an appointment related to my fertility treatment while my husband was away.
Remembering her kindness meant when she recently had a moment, and needed support but would never have asked for it, I turned up to where she was – no questions asked and no permission sought – because it's much harder to attempt to tell someone you're OK when you're looking at them in the face rather than down a phone line.
I often feel the same when people copy/paste the "call me anytime, my door is always open" status on Facebook in response to the growing mental health issues so many are facing.
While I understand the sentiment is from a very loving place, I can't help but wonder if anyone who needs a friendly ear or hug actually does read that and reach out.
Wouldn't it be better for all involved if we just reached out first and not ask permission to show that you care?
Just this week, I returned home from Monday morning daycare drop off to a pile of home-baked treats and a note detailing what the treats were. No name.
My ingrained journalistic instinct instantly began analysing the situation – who did this? Do I recognise the handwriting? Do they live nearby or were they driving past on their way to work? Is it poison?
But after all those questions subsided, I felt a warm glow around me – despite waking up that morning determined to start eating better (Isn't that everyone on a Monday morning?), the gesture really blew me away.
Someone thought of my kids and me. Someone went out of their way to put these things together and drop them off to my house. Someone didn't just say they were there for me, or thinking of me, or offering to help in any way – they just did something.
I know it is cliche to say, but actions do, in so many ways, speak louder than words.
These little thoughtful moments have reminded me to step away from the keyboard every now and then and actually back up my words with actions.
These moments matter and I am so grateful for the reminder. And the baked treats.