It’s no secret that I have not posted in over three years. The typical “life gets in the way” could be to blame but honestly it was more important that I took that time to get my family and I situated. During those three years we PCS’d (permanent change of station) from Belgium back to the United States which brings about its own set of difficulties. A pandemic swept the world, my husband was sent off to a deployment during the pandemic and Murphy’s Law hit my household in full effect. These past three years have been filled with trials and tribulations but it’s during these times that I have been able to learn and grow.
Here are the 5 things I have learned:
Military Life is TOUGH!
My least favorite thing to hear from non-military significant others is “you married into it”. Just because I fell in love and married a military man does not make the missed Christmas’, birthdays, anniversaries or any other important events any easier. It’s never going to get easier, and we are always on the edge of our seats waiting for the next deployment, TDY, PCS or numerous other things to drop. As they say, you never get used to it you just get through it.
Every military spouse handles these ups and downs of this life differently. It took these last three years for me to really dig deep in myself and figure out how I need to handle this life. I love my husband and support his career without question; however, it still is hard on the kids and me. You have to learn what helps you adjust and feel comfortable where you are at that moment. The more time spent in the military doesn’t make it any easier…. being a Veteran doesn’t make it easier either. The biggest thing to understand is that this life is tough, but you are tougher!
Taking Care of Your Mental Health is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!
It’s no secret that I struggle with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Stressful situations cause my anxiety to spike and the past three years have been nothing but stress. Thankfully I have been in treatment for my mental health for many years and have learned to recognize my triggers. Every time we PCS I know that I have to take some time to adjust without outside focus. The important part of this is that I recognize those triggers. Sometimes they sneak up on me because it’s not something I face every day.
A good example is the pandemic. Obviously, we don’t always face a world-wide pandemic but when it hit last year I was severely triggered. I started having panic attacks any time I went out and had to wear a mask. I was struggling teaching my kids and that in turn made me feel like I was a failure (major trigger). The list really goes on and on and the amount of people that faced these issues is very long. It was during that time that I realized just how important it was for me to continue taking care of my mental health. How each person does that is different and you have to find what works for you. For me, that means my therapy appointments and a major focus on self-care. Which is why this year my word of the year is SELF-CARE.
Kids are resilient!
More importantly, military kids are resilient. The past year with COVID has caused a lot of uncertainty, especially with children. My two kids love school and are not fans of mom trying to teach them. Luckily our state opened schools back up at the beginning of the 20-21 school year. However, just a few months later their dad got tasked with a short notice deployment. It seemed like something new was being thrown their way every month and I got worried. I struggle with my mental health and I was worried how everything would affect my kids and their mental health.
Growing up is tough but growing up as a military kid comes with even more harsh realities so I made it my priority to focus on my kids (and my marriage) the past three years. Hence the reason I’ve been absent from posting. Looking back, I am so glad that I have. No matter what my kids have been through these past three years, I have been by their side and helping them work through their emotions and making sure they know that they are validated in what they are feeling. They have taught me in the process that they are much more resilient than I have given them credit for. As adults we can take a lot of cues from our kids on how to adapt and overcome. Trust in your intuition as a parent and know that they love you no matter what.
Boundaries are essential!
When I talk about boundaries, I am referring to personal boundaries. According to Psychology Today, “boundaries can be defined as the limits we set with other people, which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behavior towards us.” It has taken me a long time to be comfortable with setting boundaries and sticking to them but putting that work in has been extremely beneficial these past few years.
Setting boundaries is not about other people. It’s about knowing your worth and valuing yourself and your time. As we grow and learn our boundaries grow as well. As the saying goes, know your worth and add tax. That’s what boundaries are about. It’s okay to say no, it’s okay to put your family and yourself first. I had a hard time understanding that throughout my younger years but now, especially these last few years, I have not only understood it’s necessary, but I have been incredibly grateful I had those boundaries in place. In the coming weeks I will be doing a more in depth post regarding boundaries and why you should have them!
You are stronger than you think!
I recently read a quote somewhere. It said, “God chose the strongest, the bravest, and the most courageous and he made them military spouses.” There is absolute truth to that for sure. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of friends and family members who are police officers, firefighters and others who serve the public, and their spouses are just as amazing. My point is that when you think you just can’t take anymore…. you really can! You are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for.
There have been so many points in the last three years that I have thought I had reached my limit and couldn’t take any more, but God said otherwise. You know what happened? I got through it even with more stuff added on. A move to the US from overseas, a world-wide pandemic, virtual learning, short notice deployment, missed important events and Christmas… I got through each one of those and now I am ramping up for a move back overseas. Going through all of this taught me the most important lesson of them all… We tend to underestimate ourselves a lot, but WE ARE STRONGER THAN WE THINK!
My point in posting this is to express that no matter what season of life that you are in right now, there is always lessons to be learned. We need to all keep this in mind and continue to grow and learn from every experience. It’s great to be back with you all and I look forward to sharing a lot more with you in the future.