The day that I decided my time in the Army was done, my husband — at the time, he was the fiance no one knew about — told me that things were going to be hard. I honestly thought he was joking. I mean what could be so hard about being a veteran and a wife to an active duty sailor.
I wish, boy oh boy do I wish, I knew then what I know now.
Would it have completely changed whether or not I married the love of my life? No, probably not, but it would have made a lot of the headaches I experience daily, a lot easier. Hell, it would have made these last nine years a cake walk.
NOT ALL HOSPITALS & MTF’S ARE EQUAL
I’m so thankful to have health insurance, and sure TRICARE has its headaches, but it could be worse.
I wish I had known that not all military hospitals and MTF’s are not, by any means, equal. That almost everything requires a referral, and getting said referral is a fight for dear life. Especially if you have a provider that refuses to listen to your concerns. And yes, those are quite abundant in military facilities.
I wish I had known that in order to get a medication filled I would have to wait with cranky kids in tow for hours on end to get them filled or refilled at no charge.
I wish I had known that making an appointment, meant waiting weeks on end, or getting one rapidly meant no medical continuity, since it was with a different provider.
I wish I had known that a lot of outside pharmacies do not take TRICARE, and that calling in advance to save yourself a lot of financial hardship is always best.
LONELINESS IS VERY REAL
I wish I knew then, what I know now about loneliness, and how it’s a very real aspect of my life.
I always hear, “Just go out and make friends!”
And to be completely honest, I wish it was as easy as it sounded. I don’t have a spouse at home all the time, so me going out for dinner usually involves me toting the kids with me. Going to bars or clubs, are well, virtually non-existent. Going to the movies is also incredibly difficult to accomplish, even on the days my husband may be home.
A lot of the “friends” I have tried to make, just don’t understand that I am parenting alone quite extensively and that free time is just a leaf in the wind. One moment it’s there, the next, it’s gone.
I wish I knew that loneliness would be my best friend for months and years, as my husband ramped up for deployments or just went underway for training.
I wish I knew that birthdays would be missed, anniversary’s gone, holidays celebrated without dad there.
I wish I knew just how separated I would be from my military friends and family, and how that distance would make it nealry impossible to maintain any type of relationship.
KEEPING A CAREER IS HARD
I wish I knew that keeping a career I loved would be incredibly difficult.
I wish I knew that just by being a mil-spouse that finding a job would be even more difficult. During an interview I was told, “I would be a waste because the moment my husband got orders, they would have to find a replacement.” It took everything I had not to walk out in tears.
I wish I knew that it would be incredibly difficult to find a job that paid decent wages, and worked with the probability that I would have to take off to take the kids to appointments.
I wish that I knew that living in a right-to-work state, made that already difficult job search, even more difficult by just stacking the cards against me.
SELF-ESTEEM IS A FLEETING THOUGHT
I wish I knew that my self-esteem would take a beating that it wasn’t ready for.
I wish I knew that because I have to handle the day to day, usually entirely by myself, that I would sacrifice taking care of myself. That getting a hair cut would take months of planning, or as I do, I handle it myself and just bandana my massive mistakes away.
I wish I knew that in order to do anything for myself, to help bring back that once sexy hot mama, required toting along screaming kids, just to walk out of the door empty handed.
I wish I knew how hard my body would be beaten, how makeup-less my face would become, how matted and tangled my hair would grow, and just how difficult it would be to do basic hygiene without screaming kids and mini meltdowns.
I wish I knew how much it would be beaten into the cold hard pavement, so much so, that I feel beyond unattractive. I constantly feel like my husband doesn’t find me beautiful anymore, even though he tells me I am all the time.
I wish I knew how much losing self-esteem would affect my marriage. How I hate to be touched because I feel so unattractive. How sex is difficult because of my current size. Even though that wonderful man tells me how much he loves me and how beautiful I am to him, it hasn’t repaired my battered and damaged self-esteem.
YOU HAVE TO SACRIFICE YOUR KIDNEY TO ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING
With eight to nine month deployments and constant underways, you have to have a power of attorney for everything.
I wish I knew that even with having a power of attorney, that most bill holders still will not talk to me to handle the financial affairs.
I wish I knew that when shit hits the fan, a power of attorney is just a paperweight.
I wish I knew that during deployments and underways, that getting anything accomplished without being on hold for over an hour would require selling your soul, left kidney and possibly an ovary.
I wish I knew that when something urgent needs my husband’s attention, that I can’t get a hold of him when it’s a serious matter.
EXHAUSTION DOESN’T COVER IT
I wish I knew just how exhausting being a mil-spouse would be.
I wish I knew I would be waking up to change dirty diapers in the middle of the night, late night feedings, and anxiety driven insomnia would rule my life.
I wish I knew that trying to maintain a house, keep the kids from burning it down or hurting themselves, cooking all the meals — well because we need to eat, cleaning the house again, scrubbing marker off the walls, repairing whatever needed to be repaired at the time, and try to be somewhat presentable when my husband would come home would drain every single ounce of energy out of me.
I wish I knew I would be the assistant, teacher, mechanic, general handyman, electrician, laundromat, the accountant, the personal shopper, and doctor all at the same time.
I WISH I KNEW…
Just how hard being a military spouse was going to be.
Just how exhausted my husband would be coming home, well when he does come home.
How much control the military has over your life, and how that control can eat away at your marriage and your family.
That I wouldn’t see my husband but two out of nine years, and that wasn’t consecutive.
How much we would both change, and how we would have to constantly get to know each other again.
How much I would have to re-learn who I am.
How nothing makes sense, and how everything is last minute.
How coming home well into the late night would be a regular occurrence.
How my mental health would take a severe beating.
How I would debate divorce because it was just too mentally and emotionally draining.
Even through all of that, I’m still here, even if just a glint of the individual I used to be. I’ve learned I’m quite the binge machine when anxiety driven insomnia peeks its ugly little head. I’ve rediscovered that I love to write and read, and that both of my children are walking mirrors of myself.
I’ve learned that even through all the hardships, I’ve always come out ahead, even when I thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t make it.
I’ve learned to make the best of deployments by writing a letter everyday and mailing them weekly. Making him feel beyond loved when mail call happens and he gets 45 letters all at once, with more on the way.
Sure I’m still incredibly lonely, my marriage still suffers at times, but when I look back on everything that’s happened; we’ve both learned to appreciate each other more than we did before.
That and this blog wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for those bad times. If it wasn’t for my loneliness. If it wasn’t for my meltdowns to cope with my kids meltdowns. If it wasn’t for this title, I probably wouldn’t be half the person I am today…
Issues and all.