It’s Okay to Be Angry at the Military

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I have a confession to make. At the beginning of this month, I lost it. I mean, lost it. Ungracefully. With a lot of ugly crying. A lot of stewing.

Sometimes getting angry means you can move on.

Let me set the stage: my youngest sister, Becky, was graduating from Penn State at the beginning of May. Penn State is our family school– on both of our sides. Basically our entire families have attended Penn State, and if they haven’t, they’re rabid Penn Staters. My parents met each other there; John and I met there. We met our best and closest friends there, too. Honestly, the campus is a second home to both of us– it’s a special place. Becky is the last sibling from either of our sides graduating from Penn State. My sisters and I are always there for each other, no matter what– so graduation was an important non-negotiable. My entire family was assembling to see Becky walk across the stage and to celebrate her accomplishment.  I was going no matter what.

That same weekend, John had to work 12-hour night shifts. Ugh.  He couldn’t take leave. Double ugh.

When we realized that John couldn’t go, the last three years, full of little moments of being flexible because the military needed me to be hit me all at once. Deployment. Late nights. Early mornings. This weird loss of self I’ve been thinking about and dealing with for the last year. My massive loss of earning power. Missing my friends from my old job. The frustration of wanting to be planted and grow roots… and just not being able to. I just wanted John to be able to go to Becky’s commencement and enjoy the weekend with me. I didn’t want to go alone. I just wanted him to be there with the rest of us.

So, really, Navy? I can’t even just have this small thing? This has to be tough, too? It just wasn’t fair.

I know– it sounds bratty. It probably sounds like a negligible problem– certainly not something to get upset about. But it was a big deal to me. Still, I’m a little embarrassed that it really upset me that much. I could claim temporary insanity. Unfortunately, I can’t really blame anything on my mini-breakdown. I had just, temporarily, at that moment, hit my limit. I reached my breaking point and I found it, unceremoniously. Messily.

Sometimes getting angry means you can move on.

Even as I was really upset about John’s schedule and it’s inflexibility, I was internally debating myself. I told myself to suck it up. I felt really, really guilty– I knew there were a million things that could be worse. I knew there were thousands of military significant others who wish that their other was even on the same coast– or the same continent. I knew because I was one of those people last year. In my head, I could hear the people who have said to me, “You knew what you were getting into when you married him,” or, “You signed up for this.” I knew that it was even a massive blessing that I would be able to go to Becky’s graduation– I know of some military spouses who haven’t seen their mom for four or five years. Just being within driving distance should have been good enough for me.  I know that I am insanely blessed for so many reasons.

Still, sometimes you just don’t want to suck it up. Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes– especially those times where you legitimately have no control over anything– you just want to find a tub of icing, grab a spoon, watch crappy reality TV and cry. (Oh wait, that’s just me? Then I’ll just keep this icing to myself…) And sometimes, you just can’t think about all of the other reasons why you shouldn’t be upset.

Being a military spouse doesn’t preclude you from feeling those things or wanting things to be different. Being upset doesn’t make you weaker; it makes you human. Sometimes, you just need to be angry at the Navy (or the Marines, or the Air Force, or…), at that big, immovable force that controls so much of your life so that you can get over it and move on.

[Tweet “Being a #milspouse doesn’t preclude you from feeling anger or wanting things to be different. “]

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9 Responses

  1. So, I love love love this post. I know its a few months old, but let me tell ya’ sista’- I’m right there with you.

    I have these moments every once in a while when my whole heart and mind just rebel. It sounds something like this in my mind, “hey! YOU chose to be in the Army, I didn’t chose this life! How DARE the Army demand this (insert latest sucky thing) of US? I put up with sucky things A, B, C, and D, but I will NOT do thing E!” Pretty good hissy fit right?!

    So far I’ve found two things to help with my periodic fussiness.
    1. Remember how much I love my husband, and how much the Army has contributed to the man he is today. After all, I’m so thankful to be married to such a self-less, responsible, team player. The Army probably has something to do with those wonderful traits.
    2. This one is from my Grandma, and it is SUPER hokey, but I honestly have found that it helps. She says that we cause our selves a lot of grief by fighting (on the inside) against things that we cannot stop from happening. She told me that my life would be much happier if I would do the following exercise… which felt really stupid the first time I did it, but it really DID help. When something bad happens- look at it, or think of it and welcome it. When the doctor told me I had to wear one of those clunky black boots while my foot healed after an injury- I looked at that boot and said, “welcome boot”. And you know what? I didn’t feel nearly so sorry for myself after that. A month ago when I got the call. THE call. “Can you come home from work? I need to discuss an upcoming work obligation and I can’t do it over the phone.” I drove all the way home saying, “welcome welcome welcome.” And when I got there, and when he needed to cry in my arms, I was ready.

    Welcome deployment, Welcome.

  2. Thank you so much, Angela. This is truly a touching and beautiful idea. What a fantastic outlook and a great way to phrase it as well. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom. I greatly appreciate it. :)

  3. I LOVE this post! I’ve definitely hit that point before and it’s nice to know that other mil spouses have been through it, too. I like how you said that it’s okay for us to be angry at the military as long as we can get over it and move on. I also like that comment up there by Angela! That’s a great perspective. Thanks for sharing your heart!

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Brittney. :-) I agree– Angela’s comment is perfect!

  4. I am angry I have no control, I am angry my husband gets mad at me for being mad at the army!!! We are a little more than half way through a two year unaccompanied tour and my tipping point was him not being able to even call me when I begged him to, before I had to make the decision to put down my beloved show horse of 27 years. I hate the army!!!

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