As a military spouse, I have struggled with acceptance, friendships, and being a wife to a service member. I did not know what it entailed to becoming a military wife in such a large community of people. Where would I fit in? How do I build community? What type of military spouse category would I fall into?
My mindset has always been: That this is who I am. If you don't like me, move on. I learned really quickly that not everyone is the same and my beliefs were getting me into trouble.
I was soon drawn into fear of acceptance. I was only making two or three friends. I was not building a community, but a wall. I was very protective and was trying to guard myself from "fake" friendships. I swore the Army wives would act like your friend to your face but turn around and back stab you.
Then I figured out we build up our walls to protect ourselves. We move so often within three years usually we tend to be afraid to make connection. The military spouse I’d become was in fear of losing friendships or becoming betrayed by one. I invest so much into my friendships to soon that it got me hurt or not fast enough that I kept a wall to protect me.
My time in Germany was one of the few times I let down my guard. I had to because I was far from family and alone. Then my husband deployed for fifteen months to Iraq.
I had no one to turn to but women in my neighborhood. They became not only my best friends, but soon “family.” They became people I trusted completely and our kids grew up together. It was an amazing bond I will cherish forever.
We had drama like most women but we also managed to have each other’s backs if necessary. We bonded by our weekly Friday night dinners together and at night drank wine excessively (not proud).
Although a fun deployment I will cherish with lovely women to lean on I soon realized friendships will not last forever in the Army. It wasn't that we wouldn’t be friends, it was just that we wouldn’t be at the same duty station forever. As the deployment ended friends either stayed friends or drifted apart to reconnect with their husbands. Next thing I knew it was time to leave Germany and say good-bye to friends.
I learned I was not only excited but in fear again of acceptance. How would I start over? I can’t do this again? I hate PCS’ing because I’m not good with building friendships again. I wish I was a kid sometimes they just go out in the yard find a few friends and instantly they become friends. It’s an innocent time no judging. Kids live a care free life and are resilient in transition.
It wasn’t until I moved to Fort Campbell, Kentucky after husband’s third deployment I realized I needed a new group of friends. I knew I wanted to lead my life differently. I wanted to find Jesus and trust him again.
I needed a local church group to connect too and grow with in community. I found a local church and women’s ministry that helped me heal in my acceptance issues and a loss of my mother. I couldn’t let the fear of acceptance contain me any more.
I knew I was home here when I realized the military spouse I wanted to be wasn’t a coward to life. I didn’t want to be a party wife. I wanted to be a noble wife. My plan was to reshape my mind and become a strong follower of Christ. I felt God pulling me to open up to community and grow my confidence. I accepted Christ and got baptized.
In the end I learned who I am as a military spouse by coming to Fort Campbell. I didn’t want to be a women hiding behind a soldier’s heroic actions or a women who drowns her fear in wine. I wanted to be a follower of Christ, a “noble” spouse, and a loyal friend and mother. I struggle daily to be the best military spouse because I’m not perfect. I know my job now is to not let others judgment’s cloud my path. I am to remain strong, patient, faithful, and trusting as a military spouse. I AM TO BE ME!!!
Niki Cole is an Army spouse of ten years currently stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY. She is a proud wife and a mother of three currently going back to school to become an Elementary Educator. She blogs at http://msfaithmagazine.wordpress.com/about/
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