We can easily lose our independence being married to the military. Our lives, our jobs, our finances and even where we live are suddenly and almost solely dictated by our spouses’ career. Slowly and subconsciously we begin to refer to each other as the wives or husbands of Sgt. So-and-So or Capt. What’s-His-Face. We date major life changes by what duty station we were at when they happened. Even our primary form of identification refers to us as “dependent.”
We can easily fall into a pattern where the people we shop, eat, exercise, live, and hang out with are almost exclusively associated with the military. It begins to seem as though our entire identities, schedules and lives are dictated by the whims of the Pentagon.
I didn't realize this had happened to me until I found myself crying on the floor of my closet on the phone with my mother blubbering, “I could have been somebody!” My wants and needs had been overtaken by those of the Army for so long that I no longer knew what they were.
I did eventually find out who I was within this self-contained world of the military but it took me years. I first tried to stuff myself into it, then I tried to distance myself from it, nothing worked until I realized that I needed to find what made me happy, what made me want to get out of bed in the morning independent of whatever the Army needed or wanted from my family.
Of course, military spouses aren't the only people prone to losing our independence or sense of self but I think we are probably more at risk than almost any other group. It is important that we acknowledge the potential for disaster and find ways to mitigate the problem as early as possible.
I always encourage newbies coming into the military family to immediately find something that is theirs and has absolutely nothing to do with their spouse’s jobs. Learn a new skill or language at every new duty station, pursue a transferable career (real estate is a popular choice), start an online business, or whatever else appeals to their sensibilities; claim something for themselves. Having our own pursuits helps to keep us sane and is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and our families.
Cay Smith writes the blog MyMilitaryMom.com
She is one bad mama-jama Army wife who tells it like it is.
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Let her know you found her through thejourneyofanavywife.com and be sure to keep coming back as MyMilitaryMom.com will be a regular guest blogger!