Happy New Year! 2011 is in the rear-view mirror.
Some of us may be rejoicing to see it go. Maybe for you, 2011 was a “banner year.” 2011 was a learning and growing year for me. It was full of changes, full of surprises and a bit revealing as well. Please allow me to reflect on my year with you as I hope it will serve to spur us on to make 2012 a “banner year.”
This year I faced a mother growing older — and the challenges that brings. She spent several weeks in the hospital. She lives on the East Coast, and I am on the West Coast. What a challenging time it was! My husband deployed. As Navy spouses, we know that means he’s been gone most of the nine to 12 months in the work-up cycle, and now he’s “really gone.” I went back to work full-time at a job that I love — supporting military families — but that was quite a change in my schedule.
And then I got sick.
I have been authoring this military spouse column for eight years. Over the years, I allowed myself to believe that because I write and speak on the topic of military spousedom, I, of course, have it together. I was sure I had a support system in place. When the power outage hit Southern California, I laughed — I have my emergency plan and kit. I have a game plan for most eventualities. Isn’t fantasy wonderful?
My fellow spouses: The past six months were so revealing to me. I didn’t have it all together at all! I fell off my pedestal. While painful, it was a good thing. I learned so much during this time, and I hope that the lessons I learned, these experiences, will make me a better columnist, a better communicator and hopefully allow me to pass along to you my lessons learned so that together we will navigate life with confidence and each other.
I believed in the myth of the “Strong Navy Wife” or the “Strong Military Wife.” Do you know what I mean? Able to laugh in the face of deployment, traverse the country in a single bound, unpack the house from yet another move in under 24 hours and have a gourmet meal ready without breaking a nail, breaking a sweat and with my makeup perfect at all times.
Yeah, let’s let that myth die. Please join me in a moment of silence for the “Strong Military Wife.”
I hear time and again OK, and I’ve even said it we need to be independent, confident, resilient spouses. Um NO! Our Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Soldiers NEVER go out alone. Whether it is on duty, patrol or liberty, they have a battle buddy. Why in the heck do we think spouses should be independent? We need each other! I need you!
And that is where we begin our journey for 2012: realizing we need strong, healthy relationships and how to build them. Please join me in the next edition for a look at finding and building those relationships.
Until then: Happy New Year!
— Connect with Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.