I lost myself. That's all I can say about the first 18 years of marriage to my sailor. Met my husband at 15, married at 17, kid at 20....sound familiar?
In the process of "growing up" as a Navy wife, I grew into that role. I was never just "Becca!" I was Jesse's wife...then Christopher's mom, followed by Kimber's and Stephanie's mom. Where the hell was I in all this? Oh...I was my husbands cheerleader. I was FRG president, PTO president, Ombudsman, etc. Almost everything I did or was- tied into the Navy somehow. I was wrapped in a bubble of Navy. I lived my life THROUGH my husband instead of beside him.
Now, I want to stress that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being your husband/wife's cheerleader. There's nothing wrong with being involved with the FRG, etc. However, there is something wrong when you can't define YOU. Who are YOU? I encourage you all to find YOU. It took a long time for me to find myself. I'm 38 now, and I just wiped the dust off and got down to the nitty gritty of myself when i was 35.
I remember waking up one morning with a Reba McEntire song, "Is There Life Out There" stuck in my head. That's when it really hit home, like a baseball bat to the head (no pun intended)
When we moved to shore duty I was finally able to get a job. I was elated to be able to start working again. I loved having a title. I loved being the go to person for things at work...the person who would get things done when others couldn't. Of course my charm helped....shhh.
I was important now. I was an industrial coordinator/ parts expediter. I had no idea what the hell I was doing but you better believe your sweet ass I faked it until I could get in there and learn. I liked that feeling of my name on a business card. I liked having a reason to roll out of bed at 0530 and do my hair and makeup for the day. I liked knowing that when I walked into work I was no longer "Jesse's wife, or a mom, or PTO President, etc. I was ME! Now I could go home and talk to my husband about MY work for a change. Who knew something as little as getting a job could give me a boost of confidence like this?
Mind you, working isn't necessarily for everyone. It's hard I'm not gonna lie. Deployments which leave us as single parents make it very difficult to work. That's fine! Find SOMETHING to do for yourself. Take a foreign language class. Learn to knit. Start a home based business.
While your spouse works long days and nights or is gone for months at a time on deployment, use that time to better yourself. Don't hide behind the shadow of your active duty member. Let this lifestyle help foster your sense of independence. Go to college! It's totally doable I promise. Get out of your comfort zone. Hell grab a cookbook and challenge yourself to cook every single recipe in that sucker! Only you know what will empower you....so get off your butt and make it happen.
Think you know who you are? Give yourself one minute and come up with five words that describe YOU, that don't include your spouse or your children. Can you? I couldn't for a long time, but I can now.
Love yourself first. If you don't, who will?