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Saturday, July 16, 2011

How Do We Go On?

Before I really get into why I titled this specific blog "How Do We Go On?", I wanted to take a minute to say that I have finally had a chance to sit down and watch the show "Army Wives" (available on Netflix instant queue) and I must say that in all the movies and television shows I have seen, this one does a DAMN good job at really giving viewers an inside look into the lives of military spouses.  While I was not an Army wife, I was a Coast Guard wife and to be honest a military spouse is a military spouse no matter the branch of service.  Not only was I a Coastie wife, I had an upper hand to many of my fellow wives because I was also prior service.  One of the greatest things about this show is that it shows the real struggles that military families deal with.  Deployments, needing your spouse, having friends that have become family to lean on when times get hard.

That may not have been exactly what I wanted to say but I was intrigued to write after one of the episodes.  One of the main characters seeks answers about what it would mean to get a divorce from her active duty husband.  She finds out that if they divorce he will lose his government housing so both of them will have to move off the base, her children will have to change schools because they won't be able to attend school on the base, she finds out that while he remains active duty her children will still get to keep all of the medical and dental and vision benefits but she will not, she will have to surrender her ID, and she will be allowed a percentage of his housing allowance which by the look on her face was a very small percent and she had no idea how she would be able to afford rent or put food on the table for her and her children.  She looked scared and confused out of her mind.

My ex and I do not have children so that is a plus, right?  I had a lot of questions when I was trying to figure out if I was going to try and stick out my marriage or if leaving was the right decision.  I knew that I would have to give up my ID and that I would lose my medical and dental coverage.  I have never heard of a spouse getting a portion of the housing allowance, no matter how big or small the percentage.  I remember laying on the couch in the living room wondering how I was going to support myself.  The only job I managed to find was making minimum wage and even if I had stayed and not quit, there is no way that I would have been able to support myself.  I have a job at a gym that pays me about $150 a month.  How could I afford rent, utilities, car insurance, a cell phone payment, health and dental insurance, let alone have enough money for food and put gas in my car?  If you have noticed, nowhere in there was I thinking about my ex.  That is when I knew what I had to do.

It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.  I still cared about him.  I was with the guy for over five years.  It is not like those feelings just go out the window.  I talked to my friends about what I was thinking and feeling.  By friends I mean my military spouse friends.  They all listened to my comments and concerns and offered their shoulders for me to cry on when I needed them.  What I was not expecting was to lose most of them with my divorce.  While they made promises to be there for me, most of them have gone back on those promises.  Before the decision was made for us to separate, I spent three weeks at my mom's house.  In the time I was gone, rumors started flying with no backing to them but they were still said and believed.  When I got back into town I did not know where I was going to go.  I stopped by a friend's house and she informed me that all of our so-called friends were saying that I was leaving my ex because he could not give me children.  Those words never left my mouth.

Anyway, how do we go on?  How do we go on as former military spouses?  Hell, how do we go on as prior service and former spouse?  It is definitely not easy.  When trying to find a job, I was actually told that I could not be a cashier (that is correct...not even a cashier) at Rite Aid.  I was told that I lacked the experience because I did not have any customer service experience.  I wanted to tell the guy that he was just the manager of a Rite Aid...a drug store...but instead I told him that in my last year in the Coast Guard I did a lot of ordering supplies and that I had to constantly field questions about why we were out of things like batteries and paper towels and how angry they would get and I had to remain calm.  If that is not a form of customer service I do not know what is!  He asked me how I resolved that problem and I informed him that we discovered someone had been stealing boxes of rags and came in one morning with not a single rag and we had to use government funds to go to Sam's Club and get a bunch of paper towels.  Not the best solution but one all the same.

We can go on.  It is never easy to essentially restart your life.  It is hard.  It is long.  It tries our patience.  It pushes us to our limits.  We think that we cannot handle all of the stress.  It feels like we are taking on the whole world by ourselves.  The best way to start moving on is to know that we are not alone.  We have family to lean on.  We need to remember that family does not always mean blood relatives.  Family constitutes those who love us and care about us.  They are the ones that reach out to us when they know we are in pain.  We have to pick ourselves up and face all of our challenges head on.  No matter how we feel, the one thing we need to remember is that no one expects us to do this by ourselves and all we have to do is ask for help.  It may feel like the world is crashing down around us and that we have to fix it but we have to ask for help.  It is okay to let people in.  That is how we go on.

I do not know if any of this really made sense.  It almost feels like I just did a lot of rambling and never quite got to my point but I know that talking about my experiences to friends, family, or my blog has helped me just a little bit.  For me it helps with my healing process and while I still feel really lost and do not know which end is up sometimes, I know that I am strong and that I can handle it.

Until next time...