Teenage love, young military love, the kind that transcends reason, logic, and yet sometimes thrives. So goes my story. The military was nothing more than a drop dead gorgeous uniform in my mind during those years. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t really want to. I had no idea it would shape me into the the woman I am today.
The Awakening: Since I had known my husband he had been in the military. The National Guard (M-day during those times). I knew that meant Drill on what seemed to be the most inconvenient weekends but what I didn’t account for were the leaps, TDYs, trainings and million other “solider things,” he would have to do.
Like the unbelievably well-timed overseas training mission he had to leave on one week after we were married. I was so naive prior to this moment. I thought the whole National Guard gig was supposed to be part time? One weekend a month? “Sorry ma’am you’ve been mistaken,” I heard Uncle Sam sarcastically say, in my own mind of course.
The next three years were very enlightening as I really started to become acquainted to military life. During those times I didn’t care to embrace the Army Wife label. During the third year of our marriage my husband changed his MOS and that, my friends, is when the party started.
Year One: Small Town Girl In A Big Ole World
I grew up in a town with a population of a whopping 800 residents. I had to actually drive 20 miles to attend high school as my village was not equipped with such a convenience. There were more cows than people and not even a place to grab a burger. My heart had always longed for adventure and, while I did travel to other areas of the world, my soul found comfort in the wide open spaces. When my husband changed his MOS I was introduced to acronyms like PCS & DITY Move and the big state of California. We made the transition to Active Duty Life and I suddenly realized I couldn’t squeak under the radar anymore.
Year Two: People Need People
I was alone all day with my two-year-old daughter. I wondered where that adventurous part of my heart roamed to as I sat depressed, and utterly alone in a house I didn’t quite feel was mine. A month went by and I heard a knock on my door from a neighbor inquiring if my daughter was the same age as her daughter. I still think of this friend as a god-send. A true angel that rescued me from a painful period of time I would have otherwise spent alone inside four less than welcoming walls. After I started making friends I realized the importance of camaraderie — especially amongst military spouses.
Year Three: Army Wife Army Life
We PCS’d again back to our home state (but not same area) where my husband would now remain a member of the National Guard but this time on full-time schedule. It was at this time, after learning that military life COULD be embraced, that I decided to semi-submerge myself in the lifestyle. I did research, and I asked questions. I started to educate myself on topics I otherwise would have buried under several feet of, “I don’t care.” I actively sought out other individuals that shared the same roles and military status. I made friends that I consider family and this was all very well timed because…
Year Four: War
When the call came for my husband to be deployed to a combat zone, I was rocking my two-week-old baby. I was scared, anxious and overwhelmed. I had been dealing with a case of postpartum depression and this news didn’t ease my heartache. I dealt with the feelings of disconnect between us in the brief time my husband had to prepare to leave. I felt more alone than I ever have in my entire life. I didn’t understand it. He left and I felt broken. One week after his departure my middle child (of course) decided to amputate his index finger. And then… like herd of guardian angels, my friends — my military family — came to my rescue with more love than I could ever adequately describe. My neighbors, friends and in large my military family carried me through a very difficult and rewarding year.
Year Five: Thriving
This year my husband returned home from his deployment. We are working on the whole, “reintegration process.” We’ve dealt with the normal struggles accompanied with reunions but most of all we’ve learned to appreciate each other. In the last five years, if I could sum up the lessons learned pertaining to this lifestyle, I would shout this: “WE NEED EACH OTHER!”
Five years ago I began to learn the importance of friendship, camaraderie and, most of all, of our duty to watch over one another. I owe so much to my friends that reached out to me when I was drowning in sea of loneliness. I am forever indebted to my adopted family (and blood for that matter) that through acts of charity and love carried me when my legs were weary.