My head throbbed. I slowly pulled myself up off of the couch. The room seemed to spin as I shuffled towards the kitchen, holding onto the counter as I went.
My daughter was hungry and needed something to eat for dinner, but before I could open the fridge, another wave of nausea swept over me with a vengeance so strong there was no holding it back. This had been happening every time I stood up.
I was pregnant and struggled with horrible migraines which exasperated my first trimester morning sickness. The simple act of standing up and walking took every bit of strength I had. I wish I could have stayed on the couch, but that wasn’t possible.
I had a toddler to take care of. And no one to take care of me. We lived far from family and my husband was deployed.
You Don’t Have to Be “Super-Spouse”
Military spouses are a proud and independent bunch. We’re often forced to do things all on our own and we rise to the occasion. We want to be “super-spouse” and prove we always have it together. Whatever military life throws at us, we make the best of it. Our service members work hard, sacrifice much, and are strong as steel. We’re the same.
I’ve heard it said though, that we’re also like ducks swimming in a pond. We may look calm and collected on the surface, but underneath we’re paddling like crazy.
Military life can be hard and it’s okay for us to admit that.
5 Ways to Navigate Through the Challenges
If you feel the stress of military life, you aren’t unpatriotic or unsupportive. You are not a bad military spouse because you struggle. We will each find different aspects of military life more challenging and we will each respond differently to those challenges. When you are faced with the difficulties of military life, there are five ways you can successfully navigate through them:
- Give yourself permission to ask for help. You are not less than in any way for if you need help. Don’t let pride get in the way.
- Share your burdens with someone. Build a local support system for yourself- friends, neighbors, co-workers, or church members. It can be therapeutic to talk through struggles, especially if they are also military and can commiserate. Another powerful way to unburden yourself is to simply pray.
- Communicate with your spouse. Don’t try to hide your struggles from them. If they are away from home, they probably won’t be able to do anything to help, but keep them in the loop on major happenings in your family. This will keep you connected and help the reintegration process go smoother.
- Be kind to yourself. Give yourself breaks. Hire a babysitter for a few hours so you can go out with friends or have quiet time to yourself. Don’t expect perfection. Keep trying your best. Take care of yourself by exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep.
- Accept help when it’s offered. Don’t turn it down. Humble yourself and graciously accept help.
I Made It Through and You Will Too!
Going through deployment while pregnant, especially the first trimester, was one of the most challenging times in my life. Prior to this, I had not been the kind of person to ask others for help, but those months changed everything. I had to ask for help.
So on that particular day, I texted a neighbor I was friends with who also happened to have a daughter about the same age as mine. I explained that I was sick, that my kid had already watched way too much tv, and asked if she could come to their house and play for a couple hours until bedtime.
Thankfully this friend was kind enough to come to my rescue. She immediately came over and happily took my daughter and offered to get me anything else I might need. I get teary now remembering the relief I felt knowing I really wasn’t alone after all.
I’m so thankful for the wonderful support system of friends I had during that difficult time, especially fellow military spouses who “got it”. I’m glad I learned how to ask for and accept help. I’m glad I learned to be kind to myself. And I know my husband prayed for me and supported me as best he could from the other side of the world.
Military life can be hard and it’s okay for us to admit that. Never feel bad for having struggles, but don’t give up. If you follow these five steps you will be able to navigate through any challenges military life throws at you!
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