It’s no secret that the transition to military spouse was a hard one for me. I’ve been really open about it… and when I talk about it, I always hear a resounding “me too!” from other spouses. The truth is, no matter how much you want life to stay the same, after you marry someone in the military, it just doesn’t.
That may happen in little ways– like going to a family reunion without your other half because it’s drill weekend– or in big ways–like losing your career or relocating to the other side of the globe.
For some spouses, the changes are welcome. For others, they’re surprising. And for still others, they’re scary.
But it seems like at one point or another, most of us look at our lives as military spouses and say, “Woah, how did I get here?” (And if that’s not your experience, this post isn’t for you. And that’s okay. Not everything is for everyone all the time.)
I got to that point quickly–just a month and a half after I got married. You see, I used to be a teacher. I loved what I did. I loved my students. I loved my colleagues. I loved the act of teaching. And so, when we got married halfway through July, it didn’t feel like my life changed. Any other summer, I would have not been teaching then either. So everything was cool.
All of a sudden, my colleagues were back at work. My friends who were teachers in other districts were back at work. And I was sitting on my couch in an empty apartment with a husband working 15 hour days.
I was not in a good place, friends.
And I totally own that. I had a really hard time with the transition because, as an adult, I had never not worked. I had never not had a paycheck. I had never contemplated what would happen to my self worth when I didn’t have either of those things.
I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like a weak imitation of myself. Even though John was so supportive and kind. Even though I had cheerleaders in the form of friends and family in my corner. Even though I knew that I had the power to make my future. I felt lost. And alone. And kind of ghost-like.
And maybe you feel that way too. (I’m guessing you have if you’re still reading this.) So here’s what I did… and maybe it will help you as well.
Be kind to yourself
We are our worst critics. Truly. I’m not joking. Most people I know didn’t even know I was having a hard time because they saw me as being a lot stronger than I felt. Chances are, a heck of a lot of people think that you are kicking serious butt. So be kind to yourself. You are doing awesome things–even if that awesome thing is getting out of bed in the morning and facing an uncertain day.
Right now, you might not be able to have your dream career. But don’t lose yourself because of it. Find ways to stay connected to the things you love–even if it’s hard. That might look like subscribing to a journal in your field. Maybe it’s pursuing a degree online. Or maybe it’s finding a group of people who are interested in the same things as you. Just because you’re a military spouse does not mean you have to lose who you used to be. Fight for yourself.
Do something for yourself
I know, I know. Better said than done. But truly, try to do something that you love–even if it’s watching a horrible show like Sister Wives or Dance Moms (not that that’s my guilty pleasure or anything…)
Don’t force yourself to do military stuff
…unless you want to. Your partner is in the military, but you aren’t. So if it makes you uncomfortable or if you simply don’t have enough time for it–whatever “it” looks like on your base– chill out. It’s okay. I know plenty of spouses who found their place and their purpose in the civilian community rather than the military one.
Throw out the stereotypes
Military spouses are so different. We have different opinions, different political beliefs, different educational levels, different places of origin… I could go on. There is no one “normal” military spouse. So guess what? You don’t have to conform to what you think is a military spouse. Are you a bra-burning feminist? Good. We need you. Maybe you’re an introvert who doesn’t really like all of the mixers and mandatory fun events. That’s okay too. Or maybe you have a Lisa-Frank-inspired face tat. If you’re cool with your face tat, then so am I. You be you, be happy with who you are, and find people who accept you for who you are. I found those people in the military community. I know you can too.
If you don’t have a job currently–or if you make so little that you’re uncomfortable with your paycheck–it can be really easy to feel like you don’t deserve to spend money. I know I felt exactly like that. The thing is, that is not a healthy outlook or way to think about money. I’m not saying that you should blow the bank if your family can’t afford it; but I’m also saying that you should never have to ask for permission to spend 50 cents on a pack of gum. Keep the lines of communication open with your spouse and have a clear idea of where your family is financially. And then, find ways to treat yourself or your family–and of course those treats don’t have to be expensive or even cost anything at all. That might be a trip to the library where you get some quiet time and the kids get some “new” books. Maybe it’s buying a gallon of ice cream and eating it for dinner on a hot summer day. Maybe it’s a frappuccino that you gloriously get to slurp down all by yourself while listening to what you want to on the radio and not worrying about anything for those minutes.
And talking about treating yourself…
Lindsay from The MilSO Box wants to treat a Jo, My Gosh! reader for Military Spouse Appreciation Day. If you win the giveaway, you’ll get the June subscription box in your mailbox.
(And this is not a sponsored post. Lindsay just wanted to give away a box to one of you awesome people, you! And MilSO Box is really cool. You can check out all of the boxes so far on my Instagram… because I’m kind of obsessed.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway