Are You Losing Yourself? Military Spouses Need To Remember Who They Are

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Adrianna Domingos-Lupher, military spouse and Editor NextGen MilSpouse
By fulfilling my dreams, hopefully I’m empowering my girls to fulfill their own. Photo by Kalyn Brown Photography.

Mom, wife, military spouse, professional, daughter, sister, friend….all of these things are me, but I can’t tell you how many times I forget who I am.  I am torn in so many different directions that I have problems putting the pieces of my identity all together. I’m constantly switching roles without truly digging in and getting in touch with who I am.  It’s not that I don’t know who I am, it’s just all the different pieces of my life seem to be in constant conflict with one another…competing for my resources, time, energy, attention…that the big picture “ME” gets lost.

I know I’m not alone.  I know that a lot women feel this way.  Maybe you feel this way.  Especially military spouses.  We forget who we are.  We forget our dreams and goals for ourselves.  And it’s not intentional.  That’s the problem.

So much of our lives are driven by our military lifestyle that we learn to be okay with putting things on hold temporarily. Just think of all the times you’ve thought:

“I might as well stay home, we’re only going to be here a year.” 

“Once, baby is school-aged, I’ll go back to work/school/working out.”  

“This is the best job I can get for this area.”

Goodness knows I get it.  It’s such an easy pattern to start.  It’s such a convenient story to tell yourself.

Are you Losing Yourself in Your Comfort Zone?

What’s that not-so-old-adage again?  “Been there. Done that. Got that t-shirt,” right? 

That’s kind of like the whole “temporary lifestyle” attitude.  We get comfortable with the hustle and flow of our ever changing military lifestyle that it kind of becomes our badge of honor. Like an old reliable t-shirt.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to retire that old, comfy tee.  It feels so good to slip on.  It’s slightly worn.  So soft to the touch.

Image by IndyUpcycle on Flickrtouch.

Maybe you’ll pair it with a pair of baggy pj pants- the ones that you save for a rainy day.  Before you know it, you’re grabbing the ice cream and wrapping yourself in a warm blanket as you sit down to watch the latest made-for-tv-movie marathon.  You begin to forget your purpose.

Or ignore it.

Or a little of both.

You forget that vision you had for yourself.  You forget the drive, passion, and excitement you felt when you thought about the future.  You resign yourself to sitting and waiting for the right time, the right assignment, the starts to align and the Hallelujah orchestra to play on blast.

I’ve got news for you.  The right time/place/star-alignment…it ain’t gonna happen.  Not ever.  Especially if you sit and wait for that moment to arrive.  Sometimes you have to make that magic happen for yourself.  But first you have to remember who you are.

You matter. Your dreams are real. Your goals are achievable. You have the strength and power to be you. You are a NextGen MilSpouse.

When It Comes to Remembering Who You Are, Don’t Confuse Complicated With Impossible

Military spouses don’t just wake up one  morning and dismiss everything we’d worked so hard for.  Yeah, life gets complicated.  That’s life.  But don’t make the mistake of confusing “complicated” with “impossible”.

Complicated doesn’t mean impossible. Image from Aristocrats hat on Flickr.

We get married and have kids (or have kids and get married).  We marry into the proud tradition of being a military spouse, and we’re damn proud, but that’s just one dimension of who we are.

So what if you’re only going to be somewhere a year?  SO WHAT.  A year is a long time, no matter what our military lifestyle might suggest.  In a year you can change your life.  Heck, some of you transform yourself over the course of a short deployment or TDY.

You’re telling me you can’t make time to remember who you are and what’s important to you?

If there is anything I know about today’s military spouse, is that you can hold down the home front, change a tire, install a faucet, sell a car, pack a home, buy a house, start a business, and wake up and do it all over again.  Solo.

 

Tell Us: How do you make time to focus on you? Share your story, tips, or questions below!

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12 COMMENTS

  1. This is a real struggle for me: in a 2 year span: I had a baby, stopped working, moved OCONUS to CONUS, had a 2nd baby, had my youngest diagnosed with medical conditions, my oldest diagnosed with developmental delays, and then my husband deployed. A year after that (with him gone 9 of those 12 months), we moved CONUS to OCNUS, had 4 surgeries, and my youngest was diagnosed with developmental delays. I completely lost *ME* in those 3 years.

    Since January 2011, I have been waging war to keep my identity back. It began with baby steps: reading for pleasure and trying to get more girls’ nights out. Then my youngest started preschool and now I am also exercising. I volunteer when I can (difficult with up to 10 weekly therapy appointments between two kids) and sorround myself with people that challenge and motivate me. I am finally settling in to the new me. I just keep pushing forward an inch at a time. 🙂

    • I can’t think of a better way to discuss the push and pull than a “war”. I cannot imagine the challenges of meeting the needs of your munchkins…your plate is full for sure and if there is anything I can say, it would be to be kind to yourself. I’m so proud of you for pushing through and making yourself a priority when you can. And yes…an inch at a time is still progress…and no small feat given what you’re contending with…with grace and strength.

  2. I think we appreciate the military lifestyle a lot more as an adult, whether we serve ourselves or marry a servicemember. What military kid HATED moving every two to three years?!? I loved it after the first time we were in Fort Bragg. Hell, I got to go to Italy as a teenager and I think I would havae hated life if we went when I was younger.

    Because we knew that our dad’s (or mom’s) service meant something, as a chlid we didnt know better. As an adult, we love it now and look back on it with WONDERFUL memories. And Adri, I do believe it was me that said you and Kristen would both come back with permanent souveniers of your first duty stations. And I was right!!! :-)!!!

  3. I absolutely love this post. I was thrust into the military life with little warning or preparation. It began with an “I do” and suddenly my life was a whirlwind of adventure. I got the crash course and that pretty much derailed my whole plan for my future. I only just arrived in CA about 6 months ago from OCONUS. I spent the past 3 years dealing with SAD because Germany is a lot gloomier than anyone ever tells you. Ha! But I look at it as a wonderful experience afforded to me because of my husband’s service.

    However, I’ve been really struggling to deal with my own dreams and aspirations for several years. My son is now school age, but has learning issues. So, here in CA, we’ve chosen to homeschool, which is a wonderful thing for him, but it takes time away from my goals. Now I’m struggling to balance the two. I’m a writer and have been really trying to get new clients since coming back to CONUS. I thought it would be easy to slide back into it. But it hasn’t been.

    In the meantime, until I build my clients/gigs back up again, I’m finally penning the novel I’ve been talking about writing for the past year. It’s actually really good exercise for me and I’ve finally gotten back to writing morning pages again. I’m also going back through my Artist’s Way exercises and just focusing on sharpening my saw . I know that once I land a writing gig, I’ll be ready for it.

    The part of the article that talks about “it’s only a year” rings so very true for me. Especially at our new base, finding work has been nearly impossible. But I never really wanted to work a 9 to 5 gig anyway. You know as well as I do that that was just some excuse to let me off the hook.

    But really all I ever wanted to do was find a way to balance my life – wife, mom, milspouse, volunteer, professional writer. That last part is still pretty important for me. So, thank you for setting us all off on the right foot for the New Year!

    2013, here we come!

    • Jodie, I hear what your saying and I get it. I truly do hate the word “balance.” If you ever do find the magic key that balances life, share it with us! All joking aside though, I’m so excited to hear that you are recommitting yourself to your passion. Let’s rock out 2013!

  4. […] cease to nurture our own passion and goals, investing this energy only in the goals of others, we risk becoming lost. No matter the passion, (within reason) we must not lose ourselves in the frenzy of the military […]

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