What Happened to Miss Independent?
One thing I write very little about on this here blog is not the fact that I’m a spouse – but that I’m a military spouse.
I hint at it on occasion, like how I need to be respectful of Justin’s superiors at holiday parties and how sometimes our house shakes with explosions and it makes it hard to concentrate on anything but… you know… explosions and how it’s generally frowned upon for spouses to get speeding tickets for going 20 miles over the limit.
While driving a government vehicle.
What? I didn’t write about that last one?
I guess maybe I haven’t gone into details about these things because I feel like there are about a billion and a half blogs out there written by military spouses for military spouses, and I should probably leave the advice-giving to the actual good, non-domestiphobic military spouses who’ve managed to not only accept, but embrace this lifestyle — the ones who visit the Commissary (that’s the on-base grocery store for you non-military peeps) on a weekly basis; the ones who head to the Bx or Px (Base Exchange or Post Exchange) for their various sundries first, before making a stop at Target or Wal-Mart; the ones who are actively involved with the FRG (Family Readiness Group) and attend the spouse get-togethers and know their commander’s name and mumble acronyms in their sleep.
Okay, I lied.
That’s not really why I don’t write about it.
I think I don’t write about it because there’s a chance — and this is only like a 98.9% chance — that I resent it.
You see, everywhere I go, I’m labeled a dependent. Even back when I had an actual job and made money and paid taxes. Even when Justin had to leave for 3 months and I had no way to reach him and the house, the cars, the bills, the dogs – everything was my responsibility and mine alone. Even now, when I can still successfully complete menial tasks without assistance and speak in complete sentences and buy my own vino and wipe my own ass.
Still. Just. A dependent.
And I’ll tell you this: That awful word — that dependent word — brings my ailment of Domestiphobia to unprecedented levels.
There are people — military spouses and active duty members specifically — who would, and have, cut me down for saying things like this.
But it doesn’t change how I feel.
Sometimes I get confused and I think it’s Justin I resent. But then I realize that’s not true. Not even a little bit. He was dedicated to the military long before we met. I love him, and it’s a part of him, but that doesn’t mean I have to love every aspect of the military.
I don’t have to love the fact that I have no say in where we live.
I don’t have to love the fact that it would have been increasingly difficult to maintain my career path anyway, had I not succumbed to my quarter life crisis, quit my job, and moved to Costa Rica.
I don’t have to love the fact that at any moment my husband could come home and tell me he has to leave and I won’t see him for days, weeks, or months.
And I have it easy compared to many military spouses.
When I’m honest with myself, it’s clear I haven’t done a stellar job of embracing this aspect of my life. I’ve let the resentment — not for Justin but for his career, for his passion — malignantly grow for way too long, and lately it’s become my crutch — my excuse — for everything I don’t like about myself.
For everything I’m not doing.
And that’s pretty damn ridiculous.
It’s time to stop fighting it and really own what all of this means, which isn’t just the bad stuff — the deployments and the uncertainty and the career upsets, but also the good stuff — the uniqueness and the travel and the opportunities his job affords me if I would just go with it.
So. From now on, I will try to be more cognizant of the happenings on the installation. I will try to shop more frequently (or at least more than never) at the Commissary and Bx. I will try to get to know the other spouses instead of being afraid that they’ll judge me for being weird and outspoken and childless and stubbornly… fiercely… independent.
I will stop trying so damn hard to be a normal citizen because nothing about this lifestyle is normal.
Unless, of course, you’re in it.
UPDATE: Just as I hit “Publish,” a helicopter flew directly over my house. Low. Like, scary low. Like, they-probably-could-tell-whether-or-not-I-was-wearing-a-bra low.
Welcome to my world.