I went through a period, not too long ago, where I felt like I didn’t matter. The deployments, temporary duty (TDYs), and unit deployment program (UDPs) had taken a toll on me emotionally.
I felt that I was nothing more than a mother and a service member's spouse. I somehow envisioned that a perfect military spouse was trapped in a 1950’s time warp. I thought that since my husband would have to be out the door at o-dark thirty, so I would wake an hour earlier to make his breakfast. I would present his plate to him at the table, where he would hurriedly eat and gallop out of the house to a full day of work. I would wake the kids, feed them and get them off to school. While all alone, I would bake, cook and clean the home….
Who am I kidding? This NEVER happened. I absolutely love being a mom and a wife, but it didn’t leave me feeling fulfilled. Yes, I said it! I was performing the notably most important job a person could have: a parent and a spouse. And yet I didn’t think that was fulfilling enough.
What was eating me was the lack of my own identity. I was “just a mother” or “just Ssgt’s spouse.” I lacked a titled that was dependent solely on me. Everything and anything I was, was wrapped up in being someone else’s something. And so after years of battling with this lack of self-worth, through a course of events that are irrelevant, I learned that I am enough.
I DO have a title, I am Elizabeth Snell, and that is just enough. I deserve things that fulfill me; volunteering, college, a career. I am allowed “me time” without harboring any guilt. I also learned that I wasn’t performing my best on the job, as a mother and spouse by being stuck in some time warp that left me feeling defeated- while this may work for some, it just isn’t right for me. So I am learning to value myself in ALL of my roles, because they all make me who I am.So whether you are the stay-at-home who is fulfilled, or are looking for just a little bit more, find a way to make sure to take care of you too. Because YOU MATTER.
We all matter. During Suicide Awareness month, this is especially important to remind each other. If you are interested in assisting with National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month, Military Spouses of Strength encourages you to get involved and do one or more of the following:
• Tweet using the hashtag #YouMatter
• Take a picture of yourself with a sign that says #You Matter
• Take a video with your phone and/or Ipad saying #You Matter and why--and watch our video here.
• Write an Op-Ed for SpouseBuzz or Military Spouses of Strength.
• Wear Purple - when people ask why you are wearing purple all week/month tell them you support #YouMatter
Find out more about military families and suicide prevention here.
Liz Snell is a dedicated Marine Corps spouse of 12 years and has over 10 years experience working and volunteering with organizations that address the needs in the military community. In 2013, she founded Military Spouses of Strength, to provide information, support and give strength to other military spouses who maybe struggling with depression or mental illness.