A long, long time ago, the world existed without computers, the internet and Facebook. And, the thousands of military spouses that came before us had to rely on physical proximity, good timing and successful schedule coordination to maintain friendships.
Thank heaven it’s 2016, because without my online military spouse friends, I’d be all alone.
This is for the women who live in my computer, who are never more than a tag away and who have taught me so much about what it means to be a military spouse.
They were there for me when I was a newbie
After I said, “I do,” to a handsome airman at a quick courthouse ceremony, and was handed a strange, beige ID card, I was lost. The acronyms, the scheduled music and the novelty of living on base all threw me for a loop. Despite the fact that MySpace was still the main social media network back in 2006 and not exactly a mecca for online specialized group gatherings, I managed to connect with a few girls who talked me through what living the military lifestyle was like. That was 10 years ago, and I am still friends with those girls today. Even though we have never met, they helped me when I needed it in the very beginning, and have never faltered in their support.
They kept me company during deployments and remote assignments
Coming home from a long day of work and school to an empty house the day after your husband leaves for deployment is rough. The loneliness is creeping in, but you’re not ready to face the world just yet. With the push of a button, I was able to immerse myself into female conversation, commiserate about the evil necessities of deployments, all without leaving my home. It gave me friendships without the need for pants, and that’s just the most winning combination, ever.
They challenged my perception of military life
I loved my husband, but I was not anticipating loving this new lifestyle. My personality, beliefs and personal convictions didn’t jive with the military stereotype I had stuck in my mind. After becoming a part of a few military spouse debate groups, however, I realized that, just like the American public, the military and spouse community were rich with diversity and experiences. If I didn’t fit in, it’s because I didn’t try, not because there wasn’t a place for me.
They inspired me
While working towards my goals, and dealing with the curve balls thrown by the military, on more than one occasion, I wanted to give up. Moving caused credits not to transfer, and any connections I made on base for career-purposes were worthless when we moved out of state. It seemed like an uphill battle I wouldn’t be able to win… until I plugged into online groups with hundreds of career-minded military spouses, all climbing the same hill. Together, they collaborated on projects, advised on sticky situations, cheered for the success stories, and commiserated over the failures. They posted job opportunities, and handed out recommendations. Simply stepping back and reading post after post of spouses offering a virtual hand up to each other was inspirational.
They keep me positive
It’s easy to feel like the military is pulling your family every direction but up, sometimes, and it can feel a bit like drowning. However, I’ve watched my other military spouse friends go through these cycles on social media, and I know it always ends, eventually. One day you want to pitch a fit about the unfairness in the military, and the next you love everything about the lifestyle, and can’t imagine your service member ever retiring.
For ten years, I have participated in online spouse communities, and engaged in thousands of conversations with military spouses. As the technology has matured, we have found new ways to connect, support and encourage each other. While there’s no replacement for physical, face-to-face friendships, having the ability to maintain relationships in a lifestyle that can take us all around the globe is invaluable to the success and happiness of so many.
My online military spouse friends have helped me thrive in a situation I was hesitant I could even survive, and I’m so grateful.