In honor of the great Martin Luther King today, I will not remain “silent” any longer “about things that matter.”
I know you have heard the term either loosely mentioned in a conversation or plastered into memes. It’s a word that puts all military spouses into a stereotypical category of “not’s.” The word I am referring to is related to terms such as; unkept, unmotivated, unambitious, uneducated, or unfit. While there are good and bad versions of all people in this world, this stereotype is one I truly disagree with concerning the military spouse population.
For those trying to degrade military spouses and put this horrible seven letter word onto all of us, let me first tell you what a military spouse truly is.
A military spouse is:
Driven and Ambitious
Military spouses are some of the most inventive, driven, and courageous women I know. Many of us have been forced to choose between having children or having a career, which is not a fair choice to make. Some military spouses who have desired to have both career and children have had to reinvent themselves in order to do so. They may have taken a job outside of their field in order to work from home, or ventured into entrepreneurship to open their own businesses. Many decide to further their education so they can find a more portable career that will travel when the service member’s orders dictate a PCS. A large percentage of military spouses, even those with degrees, struggle to find a job in their field. This leaves many unemployed, which is not by choice. Whatever the case, military spouses are far from what the seven letter insulting term insinuates.
People are so quick to judge before they know the whole story about a military spouse. What they don’t know is that we married our husbands for love and nothing else. We surely didn’t know what we were getting into, but we were willing to take that risk all because of that wonderful thing called love. We didn’t know that we may never be able to plan a vacation ahead of time-EVER again. We didn’t know that every time we’re alone either tragedy strikes or something major breaks and we are forced to figure it out without any support. We also didn’t know that when our unborn child’s heart stopped beating in the womb that our spouse would be miles away and not by our side. Those are not things you even contemplate before you marry a service member. Then, wham! Reality hits. Military spouses are the strongest most persevering group of people on the planet. We have no choice but to be that way and develop strengths and skills we never knew we had.
Imagine leaving the life as you knew it behind and living days away from your family and friends. Military spouses agreed to do that when they married their service member. What we didn’t expect is for it to be so hard to make new friends in this new world we are a part of. What we didn’t expect is to be far away from family and friends, tragedy strikes, and our spouse is states or countries away either training or deployed. Then, we have to find new measures of support and build a community of support with friends, organizations, and resources. This doesn’t happen overnight and takes time. Therefore, military spouses are resilient. We know how to rebuild a life, as hard as it may be at times.
Before you plaster that seven letter word, DEPENDA, on to me or any other spouse in this community, maybe you should first try to understand and get to know us. You never know what someone has been through or is going through until you give them a chance.
I, like many other military spouses, am very insulted by that despicable word. What you don’t know is that I have had a job since I was fifteen years old. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with my undergraduate degree, while working full time. Then, I worked my way up in MY own career, and owned MY own house for six years before I met my husband, who just so happens to serve in the military. What you don’t know is that I sold my home, left all my friends behind, and started a new life with my husband, not knowing how stressful my 20 minute commute to work now one hour each day could be. What you don’t know is that I valued having my independence, my own paycheck, and my career so much that I continued to travel that one hour commute for an entire year until my car was about to give out, or I was. What you don’t know is that I miscarried our very first child last year, meanwhile still commuting one hour to work on treacherous roadways, and maintaining a 4.0 in graduate school. You don’t know the smile I have had to forge while I battled depression and my world crumbled for an entire year after losing our baby suddenly without warning. What you don’t know is that three months after losing our son, we lost our 13 year old Beagle. I finally stopped and realized that death had become very real in our lives and I began to contemplate my career choices and the value of money over family. It took me eight months to find another job, which hardly compares to the career I had no choice but to walk away from. It’s part of my new journey though. Some people have no idea what military spouses give up and sacrifice, yet they put that horrible word and stereotype onto all of us.
So, if you want to put me into the category of a “dependa,” you should first take a much deeper look before you insult, bully, or try to humiliate me or any other military spouse who also has a story to tell.
© Wendi and Strength 4 Spouses, 2018.