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I Suck at Hiding My Tears (and Other Things I’ve Learned About Myself as a MilSO)

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In April, I’ll have been a milso/milspouse for five years. I’m going to be completely cliche here, but I have no clue where the time has gone! Five years though. Half a decade. And those five years have given me a crazy ride that I was never anticipating.

When John and I first started dating and we had to say goodbye, I thought that I could put on a "brave face" and say goodbye without crying. Nope. I thought the same thing in the lead-up to deployment. Nope. I thought the same thing at our goodbye, and then afterwards, and then for the goodbye after R&R. Nope, nope, nope. I'm a big, hot, tearful mess when it comes to emotions. And you know what? That's okay. People deal with stress and sadness in different ways-- no one can not deal with those kinds of emotions. My way is crying.   And also eating icing and cookie dough.

And part of that crazy ride has been learning about myself in situations I never thought I’d be in.

I suck at hiding my tears.

When John and I first started dating and we had to say goodbye, I thought that I could put on a “brave face” and say goodbye without crying. Nope. I thought the same thing in the lead-up to deployment. Nope. I thought the same thing at our goodbye, and then afterwards, and then for the goodbye after R&R. Nope, nope, nope. I’m a big, hot, tearful mess when it comes to emotions. And you know what? That’s okay. People deal with stress and sadness in different ways– no one can not deal with those kinds of emotions. My way is crying.   And also eating icing and cookie dough.

I’m a total introvert. And that’s okay.

Before the military life, I didn’t realize how much of an introvert I really am. It’s not that I dislike people– to the contrary! I just actually enjoy being by myself, and it’s something I’ve learned to embrace in the long hours when John’s not home.

I’m an entrepreneur! (What?!)

Three years ago, when I started my blog, I would never in a bajillion years have ever thought to call myself an entrepreneurNo way. I’m not a business woman. I’m not a math whiz. I’m not even that great at meeting and networking with people. I was an English major for cryin’ out loud. I like my books and laptop. I like creating things. But Jo, My Gosh! turning 4 this August and with freelancing opportunities and other exciting things on the horizon for me and the blog, I feel like I can finally (quietly) call myself an entrepreneur. I’m definitely still learning and I’m sure I will be for the rest of my life.

When John and I first started dating and we had to say goodbye, I thought that I could put on a "brave face" and say goodbye without crying. Nope. I thought the same thing in the lead-up to deployment. Nope. I thought the same thing at our goodbye, and then afterwards, and then for the goodbye after R&R. Nope, nope, nope. I'm a big, hot, tearful mess when it comes to emotions. And you know what? That's okay. People deal with stress and sadness in different ways-- no one can not deal with those kinds of emotions. My way is crying.   And also eating icing and cookie dough.

My sense of self-worth is attached to my career.

Before I married John, I was an inner-city school teacher. I loved my job. I loved my independence. I loved getting a paycheck and being able to be completely self-reliant. (Don’t get me wrong, I still love those things.) And then I had to leave teaching to marry the man of my dreams and we made the decision that I would not try to get my certification in Virginia for many financial and technical reasons. I ended up securing a teaching position with an online graduate program. I am thankful for it then and now. But the problem is, adjunct faculty positions don’t pay much. In my first semester, I made just about 10% of what my prior salary had been. Less when you take out taxes So I tried to pick up other jobs for a steadier income. I mystery shopped. I listed my lesson plans and worksheets on Teachers Pay Teachers. I worked at a National Park gift shop. I worked for a Canadian guy as a copy writer (but that’s a different story). I began freelancing for other websites. I consulted for an educational start up. I begged for more classes to teach.

I hustled and hustled. And I realized that my sense of worth is greatly derived from my career. Even though I was working so many jobs, I was happier than I had been at the beginning of our marriage when I was so very underemployed. I didn’t resent John. I didn’t resent the choices I made. My career– patchworked and crazy quilted as it is– is something I’m proud of.

I’m braver than I think I am. (And so are you!)

When John’s deployment came onto the horizon, I had no idea how I’d make it through, much less help him make it through what was sure to be one of the most difficult times in his life and our relationship. But somehow, I did. And when I thought that I couldn’t leave my job and start all over again, somehow I did. There were days I didn’t do any of those things so gracefully. Really, there were a lot of days that kicked me in the face, and a lot of days that I fell on it. But I made it through. And you can, too.

I know because I get emails and messages from military spouses and significant others who felt just like me– they’re not sure if they’re brave enough. They think that there’s something special they need to possess. There’s no special can of Popeye’s spinach, there’s not a secret code everyone else knows that you don’t. And that’s what’s wonderful about this life. The ability to be brave and succeed in military life is already within you. You just don’t know it yet.

But you will.

When John and I first started dating and we had to say goodbye, I thought that I could put on a "brave face" and say goodbye without crying. Nope. I thought the same thing in the lead-up to deployment. Nope. I thought the same thing at our goodbye, and then afterwards, and then for the goodbye after R&R. Nope, nope, nope. I'm a big, hot, tearful mess when it comes to emotions. And you know what? That's okay. People deal with stress and sadness in different ways-- no one can not deal with those kinds of emotions. My way is crying.   And also eating icing and cookie dough.

 


11 Responses

  1. I love this one, Jo! I get a lot of comments on my posts along the lines of “I could never do this,” but your last statements are so true: it doesn’t take a magic blend of personality ingredients to be a military wife, just a commitment to hang on and learn what helps you personally stay afloat and thriving through the storms. Sharing!

  2. I can totally relate to all of this. I do my best to hide my tears especially when it comes to ‘see you laters’. And I do it for him because it’s soooo hard for him to see all of that and not to be able to do anything about it.

    And I’m the same about the self-worth, I have my days where I really sink into myself and ponder about all of this. I’m currently unemployed, but previously worked at jobs that just left me miserable. It was tough, no one wants to be unhappy.

    Thanks for this post!

  3. I’m a total introvert as well. Or an extroverted introvert. I’m also highly attached to some sort of career. I’m still figuring out what my career is. This is a great post :)

    Lauren

  4. Challenging life experiences (new, different, just hard) can really bring us to know ourselves better. That kind of reflection also helps us to “work with ourselves” and our loved ones more compassionately and effectively. This was so helpful to think about; thank you for sharing your experiences! :-)

  5. Even I, as a man, sucked at holding back the tears when I was going on a long deployment or had a remote assignment. You just need to settle in to the way it is and it’s something you should have known ‘could’ happen when you got married to a military person. It doesn’t make it any easier, but we deal with it and hopefully it all passes without incident.

  6. As a fellow teacher milso and in addition crying a lot, this post is something I totally needed, especially as I prepare for another move. I have been very fortunate to find a teaching job in each of our new locales, but this next one is going to be tough. Thank you for this post that validates all the emotions I’m experiencing right now.

  7. Hi Jo! I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading your blog. You are a very talented writer. My husband is a reservist so I don’t have that sense of community when it comes to military stuff. It is so nice to hear how someone else deals with this life in such an honest and real life way. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Funny, today as I dropped my mom off at the airport, I was praying for God to make me brave. It doesn’t matter how many times we say, “See you later,” at the airport, each time is awful. We both cry, and then I return to my car and question every decision I make as a parent, sure my baby is much better off when Grandma is here. I mean, how do I manage to even keep her alive without Grandma. Then, each time, we find our normal again, and we adjust. But everything falls apart at the airport. Every. Single. Time. Lol. And to make my airport experience better today, I ran into one of my husband’s fellow airmen as I left in tears. Thanks for this reminder today.

  9. Every single point you made hits home with me. It’s so nice to hear of people experiencing exactly what I am feeling!

  10. I am new at this. My man is over seas and ut really hurts knowing that he is so far away from me. I cry myself to sleep at night. O cry when he sends me a message. It hurts when I know were he is . It just hurts so bad.

  11. Aw man this made me cry! I try to hide my emotions so much with EVERYTNING a military spouse has to go through. I feel like sometimes being strong is the hardest thing in the world. We haven’t been through deployment yet in three years and I’m scared that when and if that comes I won’t be strong enough. So thank you for making me feel like I can do it and reminding me that I am stronger than I think I am sometimes. Being emotional is not a bad thing! Gotta keep reminding myself that sometimes.

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