Today's guest blogger is Navy Wife Sespi.
No Milie ever deserves to hear the words "Just another military wife."
I spent most of my last year of graduate school preparing an application to be a Naval Officer. I found out in April that I had been selected and waved off my then boyfriend (now husband) Chris's concerns that it would be difficult for us to maintain a dual military Officer-Enlisted relationship. We eventually just decided we would somehow make it work, and he proposed to me in August. We got married two days later. It was about that time—the time that I was officially a military spouse and was hearing from people besides Chris how difficult our lives might be—that I began to take some of his concerns seriously.
We spent a lot of time talking about his career options and the reality of what our lives would be like. His job basically limits him to two bases in the United States, and one of them (the one that we're at) is an Army base. Our chances of co-location were slim to none for at least the first three years, and probably longer than that. Chris deploys for relatively short time frames, but very frequently. It was likely that our deployments would have overlapped and we could theoretically have gone a year without seeing each other in person. So I thought long and hard and then I made one of the toughest decisions of my life… I said goodbye to my dream of being a Naval Officer and dropped from the program.
As I worked my way up my chain of command explaining my decision to drop, one of them said something to me that I will never forget: "Oh. So you're going to go home and be just another military wife?"
Just another military wife? I have never regretted my decision to drop--though it would be lying to say I've always been happy with it--but in the weeks after I was discharged and sent home, those words continued to ring in my ears. I didn't have a job anymore, my degrees were going to waste, I had no friends or family nearby, and all of a sudden I really was just another military wife. I felt like I'd lost my identity. I started to resent Chris a little - even though he'd never asked me to drop and was doing his best to be supportive of whatever I wanted to do.
Then I started filling my days by browsing the internet and discovered a whole online community of military spouses. Not one of them identified herself as "just another military wife," and all of them were amazing people. I soon had a wide network of bloggers and Twitter contacts, each of whom offered support and advice and were there just to listen and understand. These people aren't simply military spouses… they're my friends.
Chris and I went through our first deployment together this May and the people I turned to were my online milspouse friends. They were the ones who understood when my college friends and family didn't. And I began to understand exactly what being a military wife entails. It's not easy being the one who gets left at home. That takes strength. And it takes strength to push all the worries aside, maintain your normal life (or as normal a life as possible), and hold down the fort by yourself while your husband is gone time and time again.
Over the past year or so, I've reclaimed my identity, and while it is more than being just a Navy wife, being a Navy wife is an important part of who I am now. I realize now that I play just as important role as my husband does, even though he's the one who wears the uniform. So while I have not always been able to say this, I can now say that I am proud to be a military spouse and thankful to be among the ranks of some of the strongest and most inspirational women I know.