When you put so much time and effort into one aspect of yourself, and then have to put that part away, for any reason, it can leave you feeling lost, alone, unbalanced.
As military spouses, we’re constantly having to redefine who we are based on our circumstances- it’s even more of a challenge when you’re a veteran yourself.
That is what it sounds like in my head. My inside voice is screaming. It is so loud I cannot hear anything else around me. I want to bolt from the room. It takes everything I have to stay seated. It is the first playdate I’ve taken my kids to since moving. I am so lonely at home; I am desperate to make friends.
The other women are really nice. They are kind. They are trying to include me even though I am new. I see them trying really hard and that makes me feel like the most rotten person on earth. I feel so guilty. They are not the problem; I am!
I am the problem!
In truth, I just don’t want to talk about diapers or formula. I haven’t read a good book in so long that I just want to cry. I am not better than any of them. I never thought that for a moment. I actually feel inadequate at this job. They all seem so good and so happy being moms. I, on the other hand, am so ridiculously lonely. I am frantic to return to my life on active duty. I was really good at that. I miss it so much.
Please don’t be angry with me. You see, I was fresh off active duty and in two years went from no kids to two kids. It was a rough transition. My husband was just back from war, but not really. We were in a new city far away from the life I knew and the people who really knew me. I felt like I was living in a stranger’s skin. Inside I was still an Air Force officer; I was smart and people valued my opinion. Outside I was a mom and an Army wife; I was now defined only by my relationship to others. Inside I was screaming; outside I was smiling.
The other day, my husband sent me this blog: Ronin: The Masterless Warrior of Generation Y. The discussion is what it is like to leave the military and be in a civilian job. The words he used in the blog describe EXACTLY how I felt when I left active duty to become a Stay at Home Mom.
The transition is turbulent, to say the least. If I’m conservative with my self-analysis, I’d tell you that it left me struggling to find relevance in the workforce, put a significant strain on my marriage, and left me in the throes of a full-blown identity crisis. If I’m a bit more honest with the same analysis, I’d tell you that it nearly destroyed me. ~Nico
Before reading this article, I thought I was the only one with these thoughts.
To be honest, no one talks about this feeling in polite company. It is nearly sacrilegious to complain about the privilege of staying home. However, as wonderful and rewarding as the job is in the long-term, in the short-term it is tiring and messy and lonely.
It has been nearly six years since I arrived at my first play group. Now they are old hat. In fact, you can find me jumping from play group to Army spouse event to playgroup in quick succession. I assimilated. I found my way and found great joy. There is an amazing sisterhood among mothers and military wives. I am fulfilled.
My husband will likely leave the Army in about six months, and I am now faced with the possibility of reinventing my identity. The difference this time is that I am not the only one who will travel this journey. My children will no longer be military kids. My husband will also have to struggle with this same issue. It is hard to trade your identity. It is hard to leave behind your merry band of brothers. They are the reason you have kept up the fight for so long. They are the ones who have seen your worst and are still there for the next day. They hold you up, and you hold them up. They are your fraternity in the truest sense of the word. The civilian world won’t hold the same brotherhood for him or the same sisterhood for me.
Once again I will be the girl in a crowded room screaming on the inside but smiling on the outside. The difference this time is that I know the feeling will end. I will be able to adjust and find a new community that fits my new life. I hope to be able to guide my children and my husband through the dark with me.