An Eagle Love Story on Valentine’s Day

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Valentines Day can be a tricky holiday. While some folks are dancing on clouds and swooning in the streets, others are bent over in sorrow crippled by the pains of loneliness. I’m so grateful that for me, this year as the new bride of arguably one of the best humans on the planet, I’m the cloud dancing type…but it wasn’t always that way. In the spirit of vulnerability, here’s a peek into my journey…in hopes that it can encourage you to keep fighting.

Six years ago I was the bride of a different wonderful man. Life was good, he was home from a year deployment to Iraq, things were moving along in our lives. Tragically, we lost him only a short month later. He was battling some extremely tough mental health issues and didn’t get the care he needed. We could spend 14 pages of text on this part of the story, but what I would like to highlight is that my life with him came to a screeching halt in one awful night… but my life with, well me, it had to keep going.

I did all sorts of things to try and put myself back together…I ran (I HATE running), I rode my horse, I went to support groups, I made myself spend time with friends, I went to therapy daily, and I told my story…to anyone who would listen. I wanted to do everything I could to keep someone else from suffering what we had.

This storytelling eventually led me to move to DC and take a job with TAPS.

As someone who had hardly lived outside the state of Texas, this was a big leap and I had exactly zero friends in the DC metro area. A very smart man that I had met running the Army Ten Miler, Joe Quinn, told me that I should join Team RWB when I got to DC and that I would for sure find friends there…I shrugged that off, because a group of happy people sounded nauseating. At that moment in time, I was aching from loneliness… I worked, rode my horse and then went home to snuggle my dogs and watch the Golden Girls…happy human interaction was at an all time low. I wasn’t in some desperate, dangerous place, but I missed my friends in Texas, I missed my family…I missed big open fields…I was deeply passionate about my work, but lacked any sort of balance. After a very frank talk with myself, I reluctantly, decided to join Team RWB. More reluctantly I went to events…and surprising to me, I made friends. Friends that I didn’t know were possible, people who saw me for whom I was, rather than what had happened to me. I began to open up to my amazing coworkers and people that had been around me all the time; I started to find myself again…and to really live a full life.

Those deep friendships forged through shared experiences and positive interactions are still going strong and are the lifeblood of my existence. My Valentines Day love cup runneth over because I decided to be vulnerable, put myself out there and trust that people could and would love me for me. I find it really amazing that, even though there is so much nasty in the world, there is an abundance of love just swirling around waiting for us to grab it. It may not look like romantic love, but some of my most life-giving relationships are with my friends, and if I’m honest, a huge chunk of them I met through RWB. I would be remiss, if I did not mention that I also met my best friend, and husband Brennan Mullaney, through RWB and that, for us, everything about this organization is rooted in love. We both learned how to love ourselves through caring for and engaging with others…and then were able to fully love one another.

So, if you’re reading this, and you’re feeling alone, know that I see you. Your Teammates see you and love is there. You’re probably going to have to face that terrifying vulnerability and show up…but I guarantee that when you do, there is no limit to the amount of love that you can find. After the rain, comes the rainbow. Happy Valentines Day!