When I was a young shiny spouse I was gung-ho. I had “that” yard of the month. I had “those” kids sporting red, white and blue rompers. I was the first to volunteer to lead anything, and I was the first to flip a falafel. I was a flag waving, smiling, hold down-a-full-time-job and still volunteer 20-hours a week gal. I’d meet every new person in my neighborhood with a pie. I organized cul-de-sac BBQs and took new baby gifts.
But something happened to me over the course of the past two decades. Something has made me not so shiny. Not so hospitable. Not so compassionate.
That thing that happened to me was a war without end. And if you look in the mirror, it might have happened to you too.
I wasn’t even aware that war had made me such a bitter angry shrew of a human being at first. It wasn’t until nearly everyone I knew was fighting with one another over the stupidest things we once would have laughed at that I stopped to think “what is wrong with us?” More importantly, “what is wrong with me?”
I can honestly say, in truth, for the longest time I would look in the mirror and think to myself: who is that? Who has those sad eyes that have seen too much? Who has that set jaw, more ready for a fight than a smile?
The one thing I have learned in trying to figure this out for myself is how the next couple of decades of my life play out are entirely up to me.
I have to stop, look and choose what sort of person I am going to be. I learned many important lessons through the past decade I don’t want to lose.
What is truly important: sacrifice, strength.
But there is a great deal more I learned I’d like to forget. I want to remember what it’s like to allow myself to be vulnerable. I want to once again see new faces and have the first thing I think is “Oooo, blackberry or apple pie?” Instead of, “FML what do they want?”.
We expect a lot of senior spouses in the military. What no one ever told me was: as a senior spouse I’d need more support than I ever needed as a junior spouse.
And that’s OK. It’s OK to be tired. It’s OK to say "no" to the endless stream of volunteer expectations.
But it’s not OK to allow ourselves to give in to being bitter angry callous shrews. We are better than that. Once upon a time we baked pies, and flipped falafels and we were amazeballs.
Sabrina King is a Army spouse.