Guest Blogger: A Marine's Perspective
This first appeared on my blog on Friday, May 21, 2010
Fast and The Furious
As a guest blogger for Star Spangled, I am going to try to adhere to offering advice and direction to those of you who have husbands and boyfriends in the military. I will tell my stories; however, I will leave the details about my life to my new blog: TheUncertifiedScholar.blogspot.com. So, in order to help you all understand what your love may be going through, I'll start with...well...the start.
Every military man is the same in one aspect or another. This, I know, is true because we all are trained for a specific purpose and trained the same exact way as the man to the left and right of us. I cannot speak for the perspective of military women, so I will adhere to only what I know. I know that at one time or another, your Marine, soldier or sailor as hit rock bottom. Hitting rock bottom is not always a bad thing and not always something you will have seen, but the fact is: he's been there. For some men, it was before the military. There's two inherent reasons why a man joins the military other than a sense of duty: Because he has absolutely nothing and needs to gain something, or because of a woman. That's a fact.
For those who hit rock bottom while in boot camp, they are the benefactors of a world of knowledge. They were meant to be broken in the beginning so their Drill Instructors could mold their minds, form a perfect machine, and develop an intelligent weapon with a sense of purpose. Then there are those who hit rock bottom while in the Fleet. These individuals will hit a rough patch in their career, but if they can navigate through the obstacles, they will reap the rewards from their experience.
Now, what does hitting rock-bottom, losing a part of himself and rebuilding his character have to do with some of you? EVERYTHING. A man who hits rock-bottom will, if he learned from his experience, learn to not take anything for granted. From the pleasure of an afternoon spent BBQ'ing with friends or a simple kiss from his lover, he will respect the precious events in his life. Life and everything about it is precious to a man who has learned not to take anything for granted. For a man in Iraq, it may be the pleasure of drinking from an actual gallon jug of milk. For a man in Afghanistan, he may seek glory in the pleasure of a drive with his favorite lady. I believe this is the reason a man like this can find the exact woman he desires to live his life with so quickly. The heart of a man trained to fight is viciously emotional when it comes to his lady, but collective and cool when it's about business. His heart bleeds to be with you as much as your tears flow for him, so be strong for yourself, respect what you have and remember that perseverance and love conquer.
One thing is certain: They all miss you and they cannot wait to touch their lips to yours. No matter the hell they're going through, if a man has a woman in his life that is special to him, he's thinking about her. Regardless of whether you feel your relationship is strong or weak, you are definitely on his mind. My advice for his return: take him to a place where you two can have a couple of days alone. This may be hard to coordinate (kids and all), but have faith that there are resources out there on a base near you. Spend time alone with him and reunite passionately...there will be nervous tensions, sure, but relight that fire and shout with glory and glee the moment your man comes into your sight. I promise you he'll love you all the more. Every dude wants to see someone who is genuinely and excitedly happy that he has come back from hell. He has come back to you, and the least one can do is show him your pleasure in his return.
What's he going through? Counting the days, hating life on the base or on patrol; in a helicopter or C-130; it's not all fun and there's copious amounts of boredom, but his time will come when he gets the call to come home. I hope this touches at least one of you. Take care and God bless.
This was my guest blog piece written for Flip Flops and Combat Boots. It appeared on her blog on May 30, 2010.
One of my favorite bloggers, She Who Waits, posted a few weeks ago that she thought she was becoming "that" wife...you know, the one who follows her husband around from place to place and bases her identity on her marriage and husband. Then, Riding the Rollercoaster blogged recently about how her career path detoured in ways she didn't expect, and she ended up with a husband and kids much sooner than planned. Both of these amazing women got me to thinking about ruts and the road less traveled.
I think that as women, we naturally compare ourselves to others. We compare bra sizes, shoe sizes, boyfriends, the age at which we get married, the age at which we give birth, etc. etc. Sometimes these comparisons are helpful and build camaraderie, but other times they make us feel down on ourselves for not reaching a certain landmark by a particular time. And yeah, there are plenty of women out there who will criticize our choices about focusing on career vs. family or whether we can fit into a size 4 vs. size 14, etc, but really, I think nobody is as hard on us as we are on ourselves.
And this brings me to my particular rut. I sometimes think that I'm becoming "that" late-20s, perpetually single career girl. You know the type...the one who is so driven to "succeed" that she focuses all her energy on academics, getting the right work experience, moving around the world and across the country to launch her career, living in an (admittedly fabulous) apartment with another career girl. We don't have pets, because that would mean we'd have to stay home on the weekends. We go to happy hours after work with other buttoned up, high-heeled career-oriented types and pay $10 for a beer...and talk about work. (It's about as fun as it sounds.) There are perks to this lifestyle, such as, say, spending a summer in Athens and weekends on the Greek isles, meeting a former president and his wife multiple times, and having the freedom to travel across Europe, Egypt, China and the US.
There are downsides as well. In the past five years, I haven't had a boyfriend for longer than eight months. I think that I'm so hopped up on my own independence that I find it hard to let a man "be the man" in a relationship because I don't think I "need" one. I don't want any guy to get too close because I don't want him to take over too much. Exhibit A: my current sort-of relationship with a (wonderful) man who lives on the complete opposite side of the country. Sometimes I think I'm crazy for dating someone who lives so far away, other times I think maybe subconsciously I did it on purpose. And if you've read my blog lately, you know the reason that we're having problems is because he stepped on my feminist toes.
But you want to know my secret? The truth is, deep down I want to get married and have babies and make a home with the man I love. I think part of the reason I like blogging so much with all of you is because I love reading about your lives with your husbands and kids and I live vicariously through you. To you, baby spit up and cooking dinner for your honey may seem mundane, to me it seems so lovely. I guess I'm just not sure how to straddle my world and yours.
I take heart in thinking that we lead the lives we've chosen...the here and now is a culmination opportunities seized and crises averted. I also believe that if there is something we don't like about the direction our lives are going, we CAN change it. I am going to try to change by slowly slowly letting my man in, and not being so scared of serious relationships. I'm also going to try to appreciate what I DO have instead of focusing on what I don't. If I compare myself to other women, I want to do it in such a way that it will lift them up instead of bringing them down, and I hope they'll do the same for me. I will also try to take in the big picture, and remember how lucky we are to have the luxury of having these choices in front of us, thanks to the wonderful men and women of the military, and the unsung heroes back home who support them. Happy Memorial Day, everyone!
~I can complain because rosebushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses~
**Star Spangled Stockings**