Daily–usually multiple times a day–I get emails asking for advice or help. They’re mostly from new military spouses and girlfriends (no guys have emailed me yet, sorry!) who are freaking out.
It might be that they haven’t heard from their loved one in the field. Or that they don’t know how to face the upcoming deployment. Or that they’re looking down the barrel of a military marriage, and all of a sudden, they’re really, really scared.
And they’re FREAKING out.
I can feel the tension in the letter, in their words, in all of the ellipses and exclamation points being used.
Military life has a way of making everything seem super emotional, super fast, and super–well–freak-out-able. (Trust me, I’ve been there too.) If that’s you–or that’s been you– this is for you.
First of all, take a deep breath.
No, really. I’ll wait. Take a deep breath. And then take another one.
The world is a place that can often be scary. Military life can often accelerate those fears and obstacles that make life hard… which in turn, makes everything harder. So it’s okay if you feel like your back is up against the wall or like you can’t catch your breath. In fact, that’s a pretty normal reaction to some of the crazy things that can happen.
After all, it’s never like there’s one life event that you get to handle at a time. Moving? Nope– you’re moving across the country… or across the world. And you’re thinking about an upcoming deployment. Maybe your kiddo is undergoing medical tests for a condition. Maybe you’re dealing with all three… at once.
See? It seems pretty normal to freak out–even just a little bit–about all of that.
Here’s the first thing I want you to do:
Be kind to yourself.
Be okay with not being perfect. Be okay with things going wrong. (It’s easier said than done, I know.) Be okay with sometimes needing to take a moment for yourself, or a cry, or a doughnut. (Or two doughnuts. Whatever.) Let yourself cry or get angry and think about why you’re feeling that way.
If your partner’s on the other side of the world, you’re pregnant with baby number 3, and your parents are across the country, chances are, you’re not going to be functioning at the same level of efficiency (or clear-headedness) as you would be if you partner was home, your parents were nearby, and you weren’t creating an entire new human. Understand that some things may fall through the cracks. The kids might eat cereal for dinner… or sandwiches for breakfast. Maybe your house won’t look like Pinterest. But you know what?
That’s okay. They will be okay. You will be okay.
Act with purpose
Things might be scary right now. You might feel like you’re paralyzed because you don’t know what to do next. Make a list of everything, and start chipping away. Start with the smallest decisions– like cleaning out a closet before a PCS. Move to the bigger decisions. Make decisions based on the best information you know and have right now–not the monsters under the bed. Try not to let yourself get caught up in the what-ifs that have a tendency to roll around your head.
Ask for help
If you find yourself struggling, ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone. Ask for help from a friend, your mom, that neighbor who smiles at you when you walk the dog. If you need to, ask for professional help from a therapist. Keep asking for help until you get some. Someone will help.
Take a deep breath. And it’s not a magic pill. But be kind to yourself and take a deep breath.
You’ve got this.
- When Military Life Breaks Your Heart
- For the Military Spouse Who Is Overwhelmed Today
- 9 Ways an Anxious Military Spouse Can Calm Down