Dear Milspouse, I get it. I’ve been there.
You get married, get thrown into this chaotic unpredictable lifestyle, move every couple of years (every 4 if you’re lucky), throw a couple of kids into the mix, and poof — there goes your dreams — your dreams for your career, personal development, and even your bucket list, all gone. It happens to the best of us. In fact, this is one of the most common complaints military spouses admit to experiencing. This isn’t to say that you resent the things that lead to this abandonment of self, but life happens. Beautiful glorious life happens, and you’re so caught up in it all that you forget the goals you once prioritized for yourself.
A Case of Missing Identity
Eventually, you’re not even sure who you are or what you like anymore, let alone what you want to personally accomplish. You’ve spent every hour of every day catering to your husband’s schedule, supporting his career – it’s the mil spouse way. You shuffle the kids to school and back and make sure everything is in place on the homefront (the bills won’t pay themselves), all while juggling the teething baby and your obligatory duty as the unit FRA.
Here’s the thing — it’s not that you care any less now than you did before you became a military spouse and life got crazy. It’s that one priority replaced another, one at a time, until everything that used to be important to you, got replaced by something that was someone else’s top priority. For a while, it works. For a while, you’re blissfully unaware that you’ve sidelined yourself. But eventually, when life slows down, you get a few moments to yourself, or something triggers a memory of what used to get you excited, it will hit you.
“I don’t even know who I am anymore.” – Milspouse
So what do you do when you come to this point in your life, when you realize that you’ve been so busy being a military spouse and taking care of everyone else that you’ve forgotten to take care of yourself? You take one step at a time. You make progress every day. You pickup a hobby that you once loved and you start making time to enjoy it. You decide what you want to do with your life and you sign up for a class or two. It’s never too late to make a shift. It’s never too late to rediscover yourself and become whatever you want to be.
Practice Gratitude For the Season of Life You’re In Right Now.
Life’s little detours aren’t a life sentence of monotony — they aren’t failures. They’re time spent nurturing a family. They’re time spent supporting someone you love. They’re time spent surviving deployments and demanding training schedules in true and unwavering milspouse fashion. They’re normal and perfectly acceptable and we all go through them. That’s life. Be thankful for those moments of your life, for while they may be some of the most trying times, they’re often some of the most memorable. What’s important is that you come to the point of realization where you learn that you owe it to yourself to explore who you are, what you like, and who you want to become outside of your role as a military spouse.
This Is About You, Finding You.
You’ll notice I’m not placing an emphasis on getting a college degree, getting a full-time job, or much of anything specific — that’s intentional. What you choose to do and how you choose to do it should be unique to you and should be something that makes you feel an abundant sense of fulfillment, joy, and happiness. If that’s earning your degree, great! If that’s going to work, fantastic! If it just means journaling and setting aside an hour for self-care everyday so that you can be a better mother and wife, that’s perfect!
Just find you.