Breaking through the Blues

Tips for the new Military Spouse.

Have you ever wondered if you are cut out for this military life? Living this military life has its benefits, but it doesn’t come without sacrifice. Not only do our military members sacrifice their time but so do we, the family, at home. I find that because it is a sacrifice for the greater good (which is the best kind of sacrifice), it is something we can sustain for longer periods of time. Without this it would just be pain and suffering, and no one wants to sacrifice for the sake of pain nor can we endure this type of pain for long periods of time.

I may be considered the new military wife on the block, but I do believe that I was made for this life. And should you ever question if you were made for it, perhaps I could help shift your perspective to why and how you ARE meant to be where you are at right now.

I married my handsome solider September 16, 2016. Together, we have 3 boys and he tells me I am the captain of the ship! I’ll take it!

I believe it is our own perspective that dictates our responses. Because of this belief, I am going to talk about how my past experiences have created a path for me within this military life.

People often say to me, “I don’t know how you do it!” How do I do it? Well, I do it for many reasons but the deepest reason is because I was made for it! My husband is frequently gone; most of the time for short bursts here or there, but it is frequent and it isn’t easy. Knowing that alone is what makes doing this a little easier. I do have to remind myself of that, but once I figured that piece out, it made doing it just part of my job and not as painful because I could see the good in it.

I grew up being a highly sensitive and anxious person which means that I have to be creative with my coping skills. As a musician, I naturally leaned towards music to help get me through my teenage years (like most of us did locked away in our rooms). Those teenage years combined with my anxiety equaled a deadly combination for self-harm. In seventh grade, I learned from a friend how to cut myself. At the time it seemed like the only way to deal with the pain. Later in life, I was able to give up this poor coping skill, for a more positive skill set; I focused myself in my music, I wrote songs that expressed my feelings and I listened to music that supported these feelings.

I still experience that strong anxiety as a military wife, especially because I don’t know anything about being a military wife. I don’t know any acronyms, I don’t know any ranks, I honestly don’t know anything about anything with the military other than the fact that I am married to a military man! Well I guess that isn’t entirely true, I know what branch of the military he’s in, but everything else I have to ask. That being said, I use music to comfort me when he is gone. I have a playlist that I listen to when I’m feeling lonely or anxious or need a little bit of a confidence boost to find that feeling of “I can do this.” I have various types of playlists, sort of like my personal anthems. It is easier than thinking and yet it helps me process my emotions and change my mood easier than anything else I have ever tried.

Not knowing anything about the military is the same feeling I had about being a new mom. I struggled with postpartum depression after the birth of both of my boys. I felt alone, clueless, and overwhelmed…sound familiar? It sounds like being a new military wife! (You’re alone frequently, clueless about what is happening, and overwhelmed with not knowing what to expect). See the similarities?! During my PPD, I was treated with counseling, but what I learned I needed most during that time was support. And guess what is helpful during your husband’s absences? Support. LOTS OF SUPPORT. Don’t apologize; simply ask for it. Turn that “sorry to bother you” into a “thank you for helping me.”

Parenting alone might be the toughest challenge I face when my husband is gone. Not to mention that he misses a lot of holidays. It seems as though everything shifts when he is gone. The kids behaviors increase, my patience decreases, chaos increases, stress for everyone increases, things get missed, there is a LOT of enabling occurring (on my part) and I go into survival mode. In my first marriage, I was in survival mode for a very long time. My ex-husband struggled with an addiction towards the end of our marriage and that combined with my PPD was a toxic combo. It was the reason our marriage ended. I myself, wasn’t living. I clocked in and out every day but I didn’t have the time or energy to focus on anything. I certainly wasn’t moving up the self-improvement ladder. This extremely difficult challenge left me parenting alone even when we were married, but once the divorce was final, I was a single parent.

I think that was life giving me a foreshadowing for my future with my new husband. I look back at being a single parent as a situation where “I HAD to do it.” I did it, and I ended up doing more than just survive. I focused on my self-care during this time and I made improvements with almost every aspect of my life. I lost weight, I became a spiritual warrior, I spent more quality time with my kids, and I found myself. This soul-searching is what I do every time that my husband leaves now, even if it is just for the weekend. I hyper focus on my self-care, I have special “mom and son nights” with my kids, and I find myself again.

Through my past experiences I found a combination of things that help me to thrive in our military family as the new military wife. But whether you are new to this or not, it is hard. I use music for my emotional health, practice self-care, and lean on support to get me through it.

My challenge for you is to take a look at the struggles you have endured in your life, and reflect on how it has shaped you for THIS military life.