Just When I Thought I Knew it All, a Funny Thing Happened

I was going to leave a comment on airforcewife's post, but somehow my comment grew into a post of its own. A few months ago, several of the SpouseBUZZ authors read a book by a milspouse author. The book was a deeply-personal account of one wife's journey through her first deployment. Without giving it away, there was an incident in the book that some of the authors found offensive.

In short, we were split. Two of us had a visceral reaction to this, and two of us did not. Over the course of several days, we had some rather heated internal discussions about this book. So, those of you who think we march in lockstep all the time - not so!

One of the lines of discussion centered around R&R.

I told the ladies (and Toad) that I had a friend whose husband was deployed, and she told me she was contemplating whether or not she wanted him to come home for R&R. I adore my friend, she was the first Army friend I made, and we remain close to this day. I know she loves her husband very much. Still, I was stunned because when my husband took his mid-tour leave, I couldn't wait for him to come home. I never realized that there were families who thought about skipping R&R.

So, just when I thought I knew how everyone reacted, or should react, to something as seemingly cookie-cutter as an R&R break, I did not. I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that I was one of those people (figuratively, not literally) that airforcewife eluded to in her post. The ones who were aghast that someone would purposefully choose to skip an R&R. When my friend explained her reasoning, it made perfect sense, but I had lived in my own cocoon and was oblivious to the struggles some have with respect to R&R.

It was that conversation with my friend, and other factors explained below, that desensitized me from that part of the book which some found offensive. I won't say I could relate to the action in question, but I knew that some spouses could. I knew that somewhere out there was another spouse who would read that book and identify with it on some level, and that was fine with me, particularly since I felt that the author had come out a better person in the end and, according to her, her marriage became stronger. And just so you don't get the wrong idea, Sara did not have an affair.

While this lifestyle may seem like a rubber stamp to the outside world, those of us on the inside know better. We share a lifestyle, but we all react and respond to the joys and challenges of this lifestyle in very different ways. As someone just told me, "one person's weird is another person's normal." Nothing has validated that statement for me more than my involvement in the cyber-world. When we opened SpouseBUZZ, I believed we would be nodding our heads in agreement all the time, laughing at the same time and crying over the same things. And that was perfectly fine with me. But quickly, it became apparent that wasn't going to be the case, and it's turned out to be wonderful. Because, for one reason, it has made me think. Really think - on so many occasions.

I use this example all the time, so some of you have heard it at the LIVE events. One month after SpouseBUZZ debuted,I wrote a post about how I deal with departure day. I immediately do all my husband's laundry and put it up because emotionally, I just want to get on with life without him. Another spouse couldn't believe I did this. She wears his clothes so she feels like he's wrapped around her. She seemed shocked at my admission and I felt stung by her calling me out like that. But in the end, we both did what we had to do to get us through a bad day. Some spouses who read that post will relate to me, and some will relate to Heather. That's not a bad thing.

Truthfully, it's pretty easy to judge someone from an established perch when someone else is just building their perch, or re-building it. I know because I've been the one doing the judging before. SpouseBUZZ, more than anything else, showed me that each of us are in different places at different times. "Suck it up" may sound like an appropriate response many times (and sometimes it really, truly is...). But sometimes it's not, especially if the person you're directing your ire towards hasn't had the benefit -- yes, benefit -- of falling on her face a few times and accruing some valuable life experience. Some of us have had time to grow and hit our stride, and others have just been planted.

Now we're not going to encourage anyone to wallow in self-pity for the rest of their lives around here, we do tend to collectively favor the glass-half-full approach, but we also recognize that the military system (official and otherwise) is not easy to navigate, and it's not always smooth. But the bumps in the system are where I tend to learn the most about the military, fellow spouses and myself.

For some odd reason, in terms of the military spouse experience, the cyber-world has been more valuable for me than the physical world. I think it's because we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people in person much more than we do in the virtual world. At least I do. But in this case, we can't really hand-select our cyber-acquaintances. Anyone can butt in on a conversation at any time. And at SpouseBUZZ, everyone is welcome. I choose my friends in the real world, but tend to haphazardly find friends in the cyber-world. This reverse situation has been a blessing to me because I've been exposed to so many opinions and situations that I most certainly wouldn't have been exposed to if not for SpouseBUZZ.

This isn't a blog about politics, religion, war or law where positions are often rigid, there may be an obvious right and wrong and there's no room for dissent. No, this, to me, is more like a journey with thousands of spouses whose circumstances are all unique, and it's the most fascinating journey I've been on during my entire association with the military. The whole of my Army wife life has been a journey, but I now see that I didn't exactly veer off the yellow brick road. Not until I found the virtual world, that is.   

In life there are actions and reactions which are clearly appropriate and inappropriate. And right and wrong. But around these parts, many of the issues that we deal with often boil down to simply doing what's right for our own family, just like the R&R question. And that right might be all wrong for someone else. Again, to quote my wise friend, "One person's weird is another person's normal."

Back to the internal disagreement among some of the SpouseBUZZ authors... Ultimately, nothing changed. I think it's safe to say that nobody was swayed to the other side, even with the dozens of emails that went flying back and forth. We just agreed to disagree. Which happens here all the time. Conversations occur and different viewpoints are expressed. Sometimes we're swayed and sometimes we aren't. Sometimes we can see the other perspective, and sometimes we just can't. But regardless, we all come back to take part in the next conversation, whatever it might be. So thank you. Thank you for all the "weird" and "normal" you provide here every day. That's what makes this place so interesting.

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