Military family lives are in so much flux that many spouses discredit themselves for the value in which they truly hold. We need to harness self-love on a deeper level to stop being our own worst enemies.
The military lifestyle is a constant state of “hurry up and wait.” Wait for orders to drop, deployment to end or the next duty assignment. There are months, and even years, of uncertainty. However, while we are waiting, we should practice self-love. For some, that might be a bubble bath, a long walk or a glass of wine.
I realized this after we moved back to the U.S. after an overseas assignment. After years on the professional sidelines, I was excited to reenter the workforce. I polished my resume, applied for jobs and hoped for the best. I was motivated, committed and ready for a position where I could thrive.
Months rolled by and I still didn’t have a job. I passed on a few opportunities for various reasons, but I felt my self-esteem and cautious optimism chip away each time I didn’t hear back after an application or interview.
After three years out of my career field, I was in no-man’s-land somewhere between entry- and mid-level. I went on some great interviews and became excited about a few possibilities, but nothing stuck. I eventually found a job, and while it’s a great fit, I realized that the mythical job I was chasing wasn’t going to bring me happiness and fulfillment. That starts with me.
Looking back, I’m disappointed with how I spoke about and to myself during my job search. At the time, my self-worth was tied to my career. I joked with my husband that I shouldn’t go to his high school reunion. After all, who would want to show off an unemployed wife? I would never allow any of my friends or family to speak about themselves this way, so why was it easy to tear myself down?
We often reserve our harshest words for ourselves. “Why did you bother getting a degree? You can’t even use it,” I whispered to myself after each rejection. I was trying to measure myself against someone else’s journey or definition of success instead of celebrating my path and what makes me unique.
I took a hard look in the mirror one day and realized that I was sabotaging my happiness, and I was in desperate need of a little self-love. It wasn’t about face masks or treating myself; it was about accepting where I am today.
I can be on top of the world one day, and feel the weight of military life crashing down upon me the next, and that’s okay! That’s the beauty of life. When those negative thoughts start to creep back in, I try to take a second to acknowledge them before continuing. I might need 24 hours, but then it’s time to move on and make the most of the situation.
My journey is so different than that of some of my closest friends and family, and that’s okay. As military spouses, there’s so much out of our control, but we can control how we speak to ourselves. We can also work to treat ourselves to some much needed self-love. The spouses I’ve met are some of the strongest, funniest, most caring, loyal and resilient people I know. We’re all rock stars, but sometimes we need a reminder.
I’ll always have moments of doubt or self-pity, and I know being a military spouse will continue to challenge me in unexpected ways. I don’t know where we’ll be, or what my life will look like in a year or six months from now, but I hope that I can continue to treat myself with the kindness, respect and love I deserve.Read comments