Military Spouse Opt Out (Part One)

I was inspired by Jen McDonald’s podcast, Milspouse Matters and the Opt Out Life podcast to share my story in a blog series called, Military Spouse Opt Out.

In part one I’m going to talk about how I became a military spouse and how I’ve found my way of embracing it.

Not for Me

Let me start by saying I had no interest in becoming a military spouse. Nothing against my fellow milspouses, I just didn’t think I’d be strong enough to handle the lifestyle. I lived 24 years of my life living within a short drive of basically my whole entire family. The farthest I had gone from “home” was an hour away at college. I dreamed of moving to Florida and living near my happy places, Disney World and the beach. But if I’m going to be honest with you, making that leap, back then, would have felt like taking the first step on the moon.

But as the story goes, I found a wonderful guy (we actually had been friends in high school and reconnected on Facebook while we were both drunk, in two different states), and I found myself engaged to a military man. Things were quite a whirlwind. We dated one month (long distance), got engaged and a year later we were married (in Disney World).

Overseas and Out of Place

Nine months passed after our wedding and we found ourselves living in Italy, living 30 minutes from base with one car and a baby due in 8 months. To say I was a tad stressed and out of place would be an understatement. I didn’t really know my place as a spouse. I’m not a “get involved” kind of person. I’m very much an introvert and basically dread social events. Of course I want friends but finding the good ones seemed tough. Plus I felt weird (and still often do) being referred to as a military spouse. I am so proud of my husband but why am I being defined by my husband's career? I wanted to be known for my accomplishments.

I spent 10 years of my education going to a private Lutheran school where I graduated 8th grade with 28 kids in my class. I had known most of those kids my entire life so I never really knew how to make friends and I still suck at it. But I was so lucky (though if you asked me back then I’d laugh at you) that we were at such a small base in Italy. A small setting allowed me to make some really close friends that I have to this day.

The Struggle is Real My current struggle is living the officer-wife life. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh poor you your husband is an officer! *heavy sarcasm*” I get it. I’m not complaining about added “perks” if you will. My struggle comes from the fact that my husband used to be enlisted and later commissioned. Civilians may not get it but I know every milspouse out there does. Most of our friends pre-commissioning were enlisted. That relationship changes once he puts on those bars. Though it doesn’t change for me as a wife, I can still hang out with whomever, it does make “couples nights” a bit tricky because of rules and regs. It seems like we meet a lot of enlisted people who we’d get along with but of course, the rules won’t allow a traditional relationship. I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re an officer's spouse and you can relate to me, let’s be friends! lol Moves and Separations

Since we’ve been married (6 ½ years), we’ve lived in 4 homes (5 if you include my parents when we lived in Chicago for a few months between moves), lived in two countries and have traveled to 11+ countries. Had you told me at 24 that I’d have done that, I’d say you’re crazy. Sure, people talk about doing stuff like that but not many do. In that time I’ve become more adventurous (but I’m still very much a planner) and learned so much about the world and myself.

I’ve learned to embrace the military life. Though frequent TDYs can be a bummer, I’m grateful for the time we do have together. Though I have certainly not loved every place we’ve lived, I’m grateful for the experience of new food and experiences the three of us get to share.

Finding my Place I won’t ever be the overly involved spouse (though I was a key spouse for a bit in Italy) but that doesn't mean I'm not an extremely proud wife. I have found my place in the community, even if it's a small part.

Stay tuned for part two where I’ll talk about how I’m opting out of a traditional career and creating a career that gives me freedom and the life I’d prefer to live.

For more information on the MilSpouse Matters Podcast visit: https://jenmcdonald.net/ #milspouse #militaryspouse #airforcewife #aboutme #struggle #marriage #family #kid #spouse #military

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