I think every military spouse at some point is asked by someone not military related “what is the hardest part”. It makes you want to laugh, and not in the ironic way, but in that “I swear to god I can’t even describe it” way.
Somehow I think I summed it up for my questioner.
It starts when you met your future spouse. I met mine in a Starbucks. We sat at a little table in a busy location in Palm Harbor, Florida. I knew he was Coast Guard and having grown up in Florida I had a vague idea what that meant.
Six months later I was in love and he tried to “explain” what it would mean being with him. By then it was too late. Was I to give up a wonderful man because of a commitment he made before he met me? Even if you are high school sweethearts, and you support the choice to join. you don’t really know.
Choosing to be with my hubs meant giving up thousands of other life choices.
I gave up the choice on where to live or to stay at a job I loved. I gave up the choice to see my mom for lunch when the mood strikes or grab coffee with the old friend from college. I gave up the choice to know where all the roads in town go, because I’ll never live anywhere long enough to learn them. I gave up the choice on when to celebrate holidays and birthdays or how many pets to own. I gave up the total independence of having control of my career and earnings. I gave up the choice to have solid ground under me.
At first, I was so excited to move from Florida to Alaska. The Adventure! The Experience! While I love Kodiak, I miss the local restaurants I spent my life celebrating at. I’ve lost the casual acquaintances of living somewhere for 10 years. I miss the ability to understand what the weather is doing.
I’ve lost so many freedoms by choosing to be with my husband.
To me, that is the hardest part of being a military spouse.
Maybe because this was my first PCS, but when I walk into a room with these seasoned spouses I can tell a difference. They move with a confidence of having driven pregnant across the country solo while towing a trailer with a two-year-old. They glow with the ability to change a tire, diaper, and power of attorney at the same time. When they walk up you can almost hear the General Mattis quote “I don’t lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word.” Somehow I feel 4 or 5 PCS’s will do that to you.
There is no doubt they can tell that I am new. It probably had something to do with my eyes wide in fear and confusion. Maybe they can hear my silent musings of divorcing my husband to move back home and meeting up when him when he “gets out” or at very least extending on this island in Alaska just so I don’t have to move again.
Without hesitation, these strong, sure women took this shy introvert under their wing. Quickly I was made to realize they didn’t revel in their confidence because they were born with it, but that it was earned and fought for. Underneath they all still dealt with stress, uncertainty, and self-doubt but they leaned on a support network they built, something I was now part of.
It is these women who are the best part of being a military spouse! (Other than being with my husband, you know when he’s not gone!)