Ever have one of those moments where understanding hits you over the head like a bag of bricks? If you were a cartoon, they would draw a light bulb turning on over your head. But you're not, so instead you look up slowly from what you're reading, stare into space a little, and feel, all of a sudden, like you just "get it."
That was me reading newly released "Sacred Spaces," by Corie Weathers. You might recognize her name -- she was the 2015 Military Spouse of the Year who last year became the first military spouse to ever hitch a ride on an oversees junket with the Secretary of Defense. Officially she was there as a correspondent for Military Spouse Magazine. But really she was getting a view into how deployed life looks for our troops and spouses overseas.
You'd think a book talking about one spouse's experiences as a tag-along on a press plane to the Middle East wouldn't be interesting or really teach you anything. It actually has the potential to be really, really boring.
Not this book.
Like a ninja master of emotions and the truth behind what really happens in the stress-ball known as military marriage, Weathers was somehow able to take a nice little trip overseas and make it reveal relationship truths that had not dawned on me, even though I spend tons and tons of time thinking and writing about this stuff. While weaving her trip experience in with stories about her own Army experience and marriage to an Army chaplain, she helped me see a few truly life changing things about my life as an Army spouse.
"Life changing" is pretty high praise, but stick with me here. In the book Weathers explores this concept of "sacred spaces," (from which the book gets its title). A "sacred space," she writes, is an experience had by a person that someone else cannot really understand because they were not there and they did not live it. It's an experience that deserves respect and air -- you know it happened, you know you cannot be a part of it, you know it was life changing, and that's OK. Rather than ignore its presence, addressing the experience as a "sacred space" lets you live with it and allow it to have its place rather than be the elephant in the room.
Now extrapolate that to military life. Our service members' lives are full of sacred spaces. My own husband, for example, experienced a very difficult deployment with many, many casualties. The things that happened on that deployment that changed and shaped and continue to live with him are "sacred spaces."
Stateside, I also experience "sacred spaces" with that deployment. My husband can never understand the emotional trauma of sitting in memorial service after memorial service, just a few rows behind the latest group of widows. He cannot know how my chest tightens just thinking about hearing "Taps" played. That is one of my "sacred spaces."
With that concept in hand, Weathers weaves her story of her own military life stateside and her trip overseas into a book packed with tools for how to navigate the presence of sacred spaces in our lives and marriages. You want these tools.
Just as invaluable, her stories helped me feel like I am not flying solo in my military life struggles. I admit to being a crier, but the tears I shed while reading it are just embarrassing, especially since the bulk of them happened during the middle of a cross-country flight. They were tears of release, as my emotions sighed under the weight of my own military experiences and the knowledge that I am in good company.
Just knowing you're not alone is sometimes life changing, too.
I don't do many book reviews. But "Sacred Spaces" is well worth the read -- and I can honestly say it is the most helpful tool I've encountered for my military marriage in a long, long time.