Over the last two days I have been in and out of training to become an ACS (Army Community Services) instructor. A friend of mine (one of the coordinators) thought I would be a good person to "teach" Army families.
While looking through the section of the AFTB (Army Family Team Building) lessons I have to mock-teach tomorrow, I began questioning if this is something I can do. I have never been one that can be reigned in to a script, to follow directions step-by-step, to "stick-to-the-program". It's one of my weak spots.
The topic I was given - on the surface - seems like a perfect one for me. It is all about helping new spouses best understand what expectations are realistic and unrealistic when entering into the military life. I could talk one-on-one with a new spouse about the subject from the first boom of the cannon at reveille to the final boom signaling retreat.
But none of it would be in the script.
One thing here and another there, but most of what I would want to say wouldn't be what the Army put in print.
People enter into this life with all kinds of different expectations. I entered into this life full of the negative thoughts, the stereotypes engrained in my brain, the "when will this be over?", and "why do I have to give up what I want?" I didn't support the military.
No really, I didn't.
I didn't understand the life, the choice, but, man, I thought I did. I thought I knew it all.
Some spouses enter into the journey with rose-colored-glasses, taking Army Wives the show to be the "reality" of the life. Falling in love with the uniform and then falling flat on their faces when they realize the uniform eventually boards a plane, enters a war zone, can't be home for dinner, for birthdays, for anniversaries, for bad days, to change a flat tire, to hold your hand while you undergo childbirth.
It doesn't matter if you started the journey from one of the extremes or anywhere in between. Where you begin does not determine where you end.
Every opinion I held about the military and the life it leads has changed. Every single one.
My mindset, my outlook, my hope, my joy, my everything came from one moment.
The moment I recognized and accepted the reality of this life.
It isn't enough to recognize that your spouse has given a vow to a nation that directly conflicts with the vow he made to you. It isn't enough to realize that a country's priorities will belong above your own. It isn't enough to recognize that your husband is a soldier.
It isn't enough.
It isn't enough to understand that he won't be able to work nine to five. It isn't enough to recognize that his job is twenty-four hours a day, three-hundred-sixty-five days a year. It isn't enough to understand that he is at all times a soldier first.
It isn't enough.
You have to accept that when duty calls, you come second. It's harsh. It's hurtful. It is hard to say but it is true. When duty calls he will go.
You must accept that you married a person who serves. You must accept that you married a soldier. Who will leave you. Who will ask more of you than what is asked of most. Who will not be there for your hardest of days, for your loneliest of nights. Who will ask you to keep a family thriving while he leaves you behind. Who will expect you to honor the vows, to keep your promise, while he keeps the vow he first made to the nation.
You must accept that you married a man who cannot always hold your hand. Who cannot always give you the answers you want to hear or the place to live you want to live.
You married a man who can never turn off his job. Who can never stop the call from coming down. Who at times will have to tell you, "I can't be there."
The moment you accept that he can say these things, that he can leave you, that he can put someone "else" first, and at the exact same time he is still loving you, and honoring you, and protecting you is the moment that you understand, that you are truly open to the remarkable journey.
Our society continuously tells us to put ourselves first, to do what makes things easiest for us, for me, me, me. You belong to the one percent that chooses to put everyone else above themselves. Who values everyone else's freedoms and liberties above their own. To sacrifice the luxury of time together, and comfort, and ease so that others may keep it.
You have been called to serve the nation beside your soldier. To love him, to honor him, to support his mission. You serve by accepting the life, by finding the joy, and by thriving along the journey.
Understand the reality you are facing - a terrifying, harsh, difficult calling - and accept that you have been called.
There is so much joy in knowing that you are fully capable of beating any odds stacked against you. You are fully capable of thriving through, of loving through.
Acceptance is key and you are ready.
The blog was nominated as a "Best U.S. Military Spouse Blog" for the 2012 MilBlog Conference. If you are a supporter of TLAS I would appreciate your vote! You can find the nomination on the first page.. A few other nominating comments have been left but they are being deleted as there aren't supposed to be multiple comments left for the same blog.
You can vote by giving a "thumbs up" next to the nomination left by Erin. Please share the link to the voting if you would like! Thank you all for all the support you have given me and the blog! This has been such an awe-filling experience. : )