We’ve all seen them before, haven’t we? The hurtful military spouse stereotypes that seem to follow us everywhere, no matter what we do to prove that we aren’t what they say we are. This was somehow so much more personal. Not only was it implying that I had married my husband for the benefits (a laughable notion considering we were married well before the military was any sort of major option in our lives), but I was now the poster girl for the “dependa-potamus” stereotype.
It’s been a firestorm since then. This meme has been shared hundreds of times (if not more,) and despite our efforts to have it removed from various Facebook pages and personal accounts, we realize that it will never truly be gone. It’s out there and we can’t do anything about it. All we can do is acknowledge that it exists, and hold our heads high and try to move on. This cyber bulling experience has already taught me so much.
First of all, people are cruel. This above all other reasons is why it’s important to keep your private life private. Two years ago I was so caught up in that proud feeling that came with seeing my husband in uniform that I forgot how mean people can be. I didn’t know each and every person that would come to view those photos, and I certainly didn’t know that someone would take a once beautiful and touching picture and turn it into something malicious.
Second, I am not and never will be the person that those people implied that I am. I made the mistake of reading some of the comments underneath the meme, and let me tell you, they were terrible. In the end, I know my truth. People can say what they want about me, but none of it will ever be true. A million people can say that I’m fat, that I married my husband for the benefits, and that I m nothing more than a “dependa-potamus” but it doesn’t change who I really am.
So today, fellow military spouses, (and I don’t mean to make this sound like a state of the union address) I encourage you to hold your heads high. There may come a time where you are directly targeted in the way that I was (I sincerely hope that you aren’t,) but just remember you are strong, you are beautiful, and the world will go on. People can call us so many horrible names and try to put us in the same stereotypical box, but it will never encompass the people that we really are.
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