Here's the thing... there are times I identify SO strongly with fellow MilSpouses, I mean, we are all going through the same thing and we are united by our spouse's service and we sacrifice for our country and for people we'll never meet, we struggle with the same issues and we battle deployment gremlins of all sorts together- sometimes side-by-side. But there are also times when I feel more like we are a band of ships passing in the night. Sometimes I feel distant, sometimes I get caught up in envy or snark, sometimes I just don't feel like I'm one of the crowd. Those times, I feel like an outsider. Of course all of the things I listed above still hold true, but each of our experiences are so incredibly, amazingly unique... we are cut from different cloths, we are assigned to different units, different FRG's (or what-have-you), we cope differently, we react differently, we reintegrate differently... we are fingerprints. We are united because we all have them, but we are inherently different. No two MilSpouses are the same. So how united can we really be?
This is both the best thing about MilSpouses and the most difficult thing, for me.
I read other blogs, meet other spouses, hear the tales, and am struck by how astoundingly different our experiences are. And sometimes I get jealous. Sometimes I feel inadequate. Others I am knocked on my heels because the power this military life has over every aspect of our futures. Sometimes I get angry at how flippant and horrible some MilSpouses can be. I can get angry when all they do is blame the military for their woes or don't have to endure deployments. I can get venomously green with jealousy of those who "only" have to deploy to Haiti or get their deployments cut short, find themselves on Rear D or assigned to non-deploying units. I can get sad because life isn't fair already and losing your 20-something husband to a war we may never win makes it infinitely and unfairly harder. And sometimes I feel the weight of guilt because my husband came home, because his deployment (this time) was easy and relatively safe and we got to talk almost nightly. Other times I can't believe that this is the life we are leading (albeit for only a few more months now). And every once in a while, I feel like I can't relate to most any MilSpouses... I feel like a fish out of water who is only here because life has a sick sense of humor and thinks it is funny that I am a stay a home Army wife with no job, no friends (at Fort X), and no life. And then I realize that there are probably a lot of MilSpouses who feel all of these things sometimes too.
Full circle, right?
I'm not sure what my point is. Maybe that being a MilSpouse isn't a static thing, nor does it have any definition beyond being married into the military, which I think is much less dramatic and technical that we'd all like to think. Technically speaking, you get to wave the MilSpouse flag if you are the FRG Leader, the Base Commander's Wife, the newbie PFC's wife, or the skanky slut-bag who is out scheming and spending and cheating during deployments. Frankly, I don't like it (mostly because that means I share something with Swiss' ex-wife, and I'd rather not), but it is true... there is no formal code of conduct, we aren't held to a standard like our spouses are, we don't get Article 15's when we mess up. We just are. A tribe of spouses under the great big flag of the DoD no matter how we act, how we get by, what our spouses do, or how horrible a deployment may be... and we are united wether our spouses come home or not... we are united wether they deploy or not, wether they are heroes or not, wether they are Generals or Privates or retired.
Maybe that's the point. We aren't all supposed to experience the same things, maybe that makes our network and our bond stronger... we can pull from each other's experiences without having to live them ourselves. Maybe the point is that any one of us can read blogs like hers and get the perspective we might need, that we can remember how this experience is bigger than just our own. That we can experience all (mostly) aspects of MilSpouse life without living it. We can know the warning signs and struggles of reintegration even if ours went smoothly. We can try to understand the difficulty of being pregnant or a single mom during a deployment or having a wounded husband, we can learn about struggles with education goals, employment, identity, relocation, solitude, understanding (or lack thereof), family, finances, you name it without experiencing them ourselves. And even better, if we are experiencing these things first-hand, we have a shoulder, an understanding glance, a kind comment, a touchstone, to help us through.
All because we are MilSpouses, together, for better or worse.