Who cares what's behind.
Sometimes life can get so monotonous that I lose control of what makes me happy. Often times I think that being on cruise control is happiness. A huge part of my life has been focused on titles (wife, sister, employee, friend, home maker, pet parent...) and the struggle to maintain a strong self image. It's very easy to lose oneself in a situation like mine. Military wives are tough because they have to be and masochistic because they choose to be. Not everyone is cut out for it, not everyone survives it.
EOD wives are a breed of their own. It's important to me that you understand where I'm coming from when I talk about EOD wives. I've been married to a wonderful man for 7 amazing years who happens to do some serious stuff with really dangerous things. When you're involved with someone who has to be 100 percent focused on the task at hand every time he leaves the security of your embrace, you feel obligated to take on every other responsibility so that he can think clearly and return safely. It literally is life and death. Constantly. No pressure or anything.
What seperates the strong from the weak in the EOD wives community is the ability to maintain one's self image from his graduation day and throughout his career however long he chooses that to be. For me, it's been a really tough facet of my life to remember who I am as an individual and keep her in the forefront. When I feel out of touch with the strong person I know am I, I think of the amazing women I've come to know throughout my husband's EOD career. They all possess very similar qualities and one thing that rings out without a doubt is their undeniable confidence in who they are as an individual.
I've experienced once before the loss of my self image. I was new to a place and without the support system that is critical for any military wife. I turned to alcohol to aid in masking the confusion which only resulted in more confusion and frustration. Because I was still very unaware of my self worth, I began to pick up the pieces hoping to get the validation I thought I needed from my husband and his peers. I did good for awhile. I was the star wife to him and everyone around. I cooked fancy dinners, cleaned like a mad woman, took care of all the mundane everyday stuff so that in the end I could spend time with my husband who was finally home after another extended period of absence. What that led to for a period of almost 2 years was a very confused me. A torn down, exhausted, lost soul. I was "the perfect wife" a title that I've coveted and finally had. But I didn't realize how unhappy I've become.
During Husband's first deployment my entire world flipped in an instant. All of a sudden, I didn't have anyone to look after. I didn't have anyone to pour all of my energy into. It was just me. All alone. I remember sitting in our new home that we just bought (it was my 20th birthday present) totally silent. It was the most empty feeling I've ever experienced. I couldn't remember what kind of music I liked to listen to. When I tried to fill my weekends with fun things to pass the time, I couldn't remember what I used to do for fun. I had no hobbies. Every single person on my contact list were friends of his. I had no friends of my own.
I broke down into a thousand pieces. I thought I had it together, I thought I was right on track. Beating the odds. I was so blinded by the appeal of happiness that I completely lost sight of what that even felt like. I didn't know how to be alone. For days I cried myself to sleep, sometimes not even getting out of bed at all. When Husband would call from way over there, I did what any good EOD wife would do- suck it up and be happy. I gave him nothing to worry about so that he could have a clear head to do his job right.
After about a week of this nonsense I finally made a promise to myself. I promised that I would find happiness within myself for myself. It was hard to put me first. It felt terribly selfish to do exactly what I WANTED TO DO. At first, I didn't know how to do anything for myself. I couldn't decide on what CD to put into my stereo, I worried that Husband would find it childish or vein. I had the hardest time making simple decisions because all I kept thinking to myself was "Would Husband like this? Would he think it was cool?" I felt that if I didn't do everything the way he would do it, I would lose that "perfect wife" image.
I can't pin point the exact moment when I had my epiphany. But it was the most incredible shock wave I've ever experienced. It was the light I've been looking for. The internal 'ok' that I needed to make a positive step forward. I felt so alive, like electrically charged, almost insane. I was finally ready to figure out who I was.
The first CD I pulled out from behind all the Tool, Depeche Mode, Rammstein, Marilyn Manson, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd albums was Britney Spears self titled album. I had that CD playing at an uncomfortably loud volume in my car on the way to work. I sang and danced and laughed at myself for the first time out of pure joy. It was liberating. I was liberated! I got to listen to Britney friggin Spears without the looming fear that Husband might think I was a loser. Honestly, I didn't care if HE thought I was a loser. I was just overfilled with new found happiness in the fact that I made a decision to do something (as simple as picking a CD) for just me.
From then on, I started doing things that were totally outside my comfort zone. Things that I thought I liked or even had a remote interest in I did just because I could. I ended up talking to this woman (I worked at a credit union a long long time ago) and while I was depositing her check, I noticed a significant sum and she saw how large my eyes go. She explained that she just got divorced. For some odd reason, the response I gave her was "Congratulations." I don't know where that came from, and I totally regretted it the minute I said it.
As it turns out, it was something to celebrate. She cocked her head to the side, smiled and thanked me. She is a yoga instructor and the most calm and centered person I've met thus far. After a few chats during her banking, I took up her offer to sit in on one of her classes. I found my sense of peace during yoga with Emily. I was able to open up my mind and my heart to loving and focusing on me. She always said "it's not about the destination, it's about the journey." And I took that to heart. Yoga was my time to learn how to breathe and just be. Although I got to do things for me more frequently, my mind still had trouble relaxing and accepting the changes. During yoga I was shown how to let my mind rest, how to breathe easy. Taking that hour to just BE was the most rewarding thing I've done for myself in a long time.
At the end of Husband's deployment I was a new person. I was stronger, I knew who I was and what was important to me and for that I finally found happiness within myself. He was very receptive to the change and it made our relationship stronger. He felt like there was someone to ping ideas off of and have discussions with which was a huge contrast to the girl I was just 6 months prior.
The point of this ridiculously epic post is that although I've found happiness with who I am without my Husband, it's just as important to maintain that self image especially when he's home. This was very therapeutic for me because it feels like I've fallen victim to "perfect wife" syndrome again and I needed to remember how I overcame it the first time. This time I'm better prepared and I know exactly what I have to do. Wish me luck.