Guest Author: E.J. Smith, M.S., NCC, LPC-Intern and military spouse
Ever feel like you’re the world’s worst at something? These days, I feel like I might actually be the world’s worst military spouse. It was a thought that came crashing in as I attempted to read The True Cost of Being a Military Spouse. The identity the author described was so far removed from my day-in and day-out that I barely recognized it. And I can’t quite decide if that’s a good thing or not.
In fact, the first time I tried to read it, I don’t think I made it past the first three sentences. Not because the writing was poor (I actually found Ms. Hopkins writing quite pleasantly crafted) but because she described a world completely foreign to my experience. I mean, I cannot even begin to imagine a circumstance where I would even try to sew name tapes onto a set of uniforms, unless by ‘sewing’ you mean bringing those bad boys to the uniform shop on base and then losing the pickup slip literally 5 seconds later (True story).
And while I have had the distinct pleasure to be described as many adjectives over the course of my 30+ years, graceful is not typically at the top of the list. Sure it might be in there somewhere. But if it’s anywhere, it’s absolutely relegated to the bottom third— you know, among the platitudes doled out by people who don’t know your middle name. As for military spouse — it’s something I typically have to remind myself quite deliberately these days. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it mostly came as an afterthought, “Oh yeah… that too.”
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I suppose it’s not entirely my fault that I feel so divorced from my military spouse identity lately. For the last several years, my spouse’s assignment has been a pretty nontraditional one. We are “stationed” at a large university. And my husband’s “mission” is to take on the identity of a college student and complete a degree program as efficiently and with as much merit as he can achieve so he can earn a commission.
I can’t even remember the last time I had to pull out my military ID for something, and believe it or not, I’m actually back to remembering my own social security number better than my husband’s. If that wasn’t significant enough, my career is actually taking off for the first time in almost a decade. And my husband accompanies me to social events, rather than the other way around. With only 24 hrs in the day, all domestic pursuits have taken a backseat. If I can get supper on the table one night a week— I’m doing pretty well.
Truth be told, it’s a pretty sweet gig. But as time goes on, I feel more and more detached from anything military. Sometimes I like to pretend that we’re going to stay here forever. My friends are happy to pretend that as well. None of them are military, so its easy for them. They think there’s a possibility it could happen. I, however, know I’m living on borrowed time in a fantasy. The clock is already ticking down.