The same as the military and TV series refer to ‘A Band of Brothers’, military wives are a ‘A Band of Wives’, or should be, There to support each other through the rough and lonely times and celebrate the homecomings, and birthdays….Although at times it often just feels like we are ‘Abandoned Wives’.
An Essay, and thoughts to share if you are willing.
When I first met my husband, I was selfish and demanding. I laughed a lot, I talked a lot. I liked to be centre of attention. I thought I knew what Love was: it was where a man would fall head over heels in love with me and he would move Heaven and Earth to be with me.
♥I thought Strength was about not crying. I thought Love was about being together.♥
Then I fell in Love with a Royal Marine.
It was me, not him that moved Heaven and Earth to be together. I very quickly left my family, friends and University to embark on my longest journey-that of a military wife. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or why I went to University- it wasn’t an active decision-more something I thought I should do. It felt like another place to hide from responsibility in life for a while.
Falling in love with a person in the military very quickly cures you of a fear of your own company as you spend so much time alone. I moved to a new City on the Saturday and my fiancé left on exercise on the Monday. You learn to rely on yourself and not to blame your other half for all the promises they can’t keep. You learn to be strong despite your tears, and you discover that real Love doesn’t weaken just because of distance or time spent apart. My resilience to a military life has been built up over different deployments and drafts, countless sleepless nights and missed phone calls.
During one deployment I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to fly out and meet my fiancé in Dubai a few weeks before he was due home to marry me! An opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I flew hundreds of miles to Abu Dhabi to then take a coach across a strange country to meet my man for 5 days – quite an achievement for a girl who wouldn’t even go shopping alone!
Dubai was a so much more than a holiday –it proved to me that I could be strong and independent-I did have what it takes to be a military wife.
Fast-forward to when, my now husband, deployed to Afghanistan. It was a difficult and bloody tour with many battles fought and won, for both of us. His time in Afghan was the MOST difficult time of my life. He was in constant danger, patrolling nearly every day. Even the phone calls home were often cut short by incoming RPG attacks. I lived and died by the evening news. I still to this day, and his dismay, believe that Angels were watching over him during his deployment in Afghanistan.
I was 10 weeks pregnant when he left for Afghan, and delivered our first baby 10 days after I saw him again, at the end of deployment.
My son was born with a hole in his heart, and was very sick for the first 10 weeks of his life. The memories are raw but he is now a healthy bundle of mischief with a new little sister to torment, tease and treasure.
She was a very relaxed and happy baby-which her dad and I attributed to the fact she was born to Bob Marley “three little birds”. This also became the only song that would get her back to sleep during the early days(not from crying – just wanting to play at midnight!) So it is her Lullaby.
I think that being a mother and being a Military wife and closely linked and require a shared skill set-what you learn from one role can be applied to the other. Patience- a life skill that is learnt and developed. You have to learn to let go- you cannot stop your husband from going somewhere, even though you know he will most certainly be in danger. In the same way as your children grow you know you cannot wrap them in cotton wool- You just have to be there to help them pick up the pieces. And most important of all you learn to be brave- or at least put on a brave face. You don’t tell your husband of how truly hard it is when they are away. You know there is nothing they can do. You tell your children it’s only a little spider and calmly dispose of the giant beast! You promise your children that Daddy will be alright, and home soon and inside you pray that it will be true. You smile through your tears, make the most of every precious moment you get together and learn to live with a broken heart for weeks or months on end.
Spending so much time alone over the years, gave me time to think about what I really wanted from life and I have studied different complementary therapies. I hope eventually to start work as a complementary therapist. To represent the future I have included a silhouette picture of a couple on a beach in Hawaii because when our military career is over, I would like to renew our vows on a beach.
I knew when we got married in that I would have to share him, with war and danger and duty for as long as he served. I promised to wait for him, but I married the man, not the Marine and when he leaves the military we will be making different promises and our relationship will be very different. There’s a poem about being a Navy wife that describes my hope perfectly:
“When his duty is over and your life can begin…
Nothing is sure, and nothing set in stone,
Except that he will leave again and you will be alone.
Holding tightly to your dreams of a future together
When you will at last be able to say the word ‘forever’.”