Updated: Aug 15, 2019
I originally wrote this post on facebook, but it got such a great response, I wanted to post it on my blog so that it would be easier to find and share in the future.
I have chosen to not change or edit anything for the blog posting. So here it is, as originally posted on Facebook, September 16th, 2018.
A friend showed some interest in my life recently. A curiosity of how military life worked... She didn’t exactly ask for the novel I wrote to her BUT what it made me realize is that not many people show interest or ask me questions about that part of my life. And, I guess, I wish more did.
...and believe me, I get it. I had NO clue and no interest in that sort of thing prior to becoming a military spouse. But I also didn’t know anyone personally that was one.
I hope the tone of this post, doesn’t come off cranky or complainy. I don’t mean it that way. But since most of my friends have never been anywhere near a military experience or Guam for that matter...Just wanna serve up some truth and bring you into my reality (most of the time)... for a moment...
Most people assume, I’m living the vacation life on a lovely island.. an exotic speck of land on a map, in place they’ve barley heard of. Tra la la. Maybe you think I am sipping cocktails, doing hair and playing theater games while the hubby works on a majestic, mysterious Navy boat-type thing saving America... :::insert dark giggle snort:::
So much NO, you guys. Being a military spouse is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is not for the weak. It has tested everything inside me. You give up so much. Your freedom, your independence, your sanity, at times. Much of the time. And I don’t like to speak for others, but I am sure Scott may be reading this and nodding right now, along with many of my other military friends.
A taste of our reality....
Scott can go to sea in a month, next week, tomorrow. With little or no notice. And the process will be stressful, tearful and make me want to do things to his submarine that I could get put in jail for.
Because of events like this....Life plans have been derailed, birthdays and holidays ruined and Scott probably won’t see his family in-person for another, almost, 2 years. Weddings have been missed. Sailors have missed the birth of their own babies. Military couples (people I personally know) had to cancel their own weddings...because...the commitment to the Navy comes first.
...And they don’t always get called away from you for noble and heroic things. Military personel can get called away for what seems like unnecessary crap too. So many “Are you kidding me right now?!?!” moments. It doesn’t always make sense.
Vacations? Um, yeah. I totally thought moving to Guam was going to open the door to travel. Not only is Guam one of the most isolated, expensive locations to fly anywhere from but Scott is lucky if and when he gets leave. Every sailor gets a certain amount of leave “vacation” days a year...but you don’t just get to take it when you want it. There will always be hoops to jump through. The boat comes first. AND, your leave can always be cancelled. Yup.
...When your sailor DOES go out to sea it might be days, weeks, a month before you get to talk to them again. Remember, he’s on a top secret submarine, under the ocean. Your whole life is a huge question mark and a shrug. That stress alone is enough to make you go a little nutty.
You never know anything for certain. Boat schedules can change at the drop of a hat. So that means, so can your life.
So, anyone who has given me crap for being overly virgo, a planner, ocd...I say this lovingly and half jokingly...up yours!
Also, you are not allowed to publicly post or email about the movements of the boat. So when you all have asked about “when does Scott come home....or leave again....” I literally cannot type that answer to you. It’s not allowed. So again, I wind up feeling stuck and cut-off from the world. My world. My friends and family. If I am lucky enough to find a time that works for your schedule, in your time zone, then maybe we can have a phone call or a FaceTime. THEN I can talk to you about these things. But not on social media or messenger or email or what’s app...
It’s kind of crazy to go from the ever flexible life of an actor to the infelxible and, at the same time, unpredicatble life of the Navy. That statement alone is mind boggling. Now, try living the reality of it. Inflexible and unpredictable. Yeesh.
Scott’s experience on the boat (yes, we still call it a boat even though it’s a submarine) is completely different from my experience as a spouse. But both experiences are far from easy. It’s a challenge to stay grounded. Find your zen and happy place and not lose your shit. Which I admit...I lose more frequently these days than ever before. Our life is the job and the stress is pretty much a daily thing.
So, all this being said, it’s not too say we don’t have fun...obviously we do. But sometimes, even the fun can be tainted with this sort of...”I need to have this fun to cope!” vibe.
I have been through some difficult stuff in life. But this military is a horse of a different color. And not the glittery fun colors I am used to.
You hear your non-military friends complain about ...well, anything, and while you don’t want to compare hardships...you kind of want to smack everyone and say “you have no idea”.
Don’t even get me started on Guam and the challenges of living on this beautiful but isolated rock... But I will just say... to all of my vegan pushing, Whole Foods loving, Starbucks sipping, Farm-to-Table loving, LuluLemon wearing, grow your own veggies in your yarding, Target obsessing, theater-going, open-mic, piano bar nighting, coffee shop dwelling, wine tasting, glamping friends.... this is not the island for you.
Clarity: My life does not suck, contrary to the challenges in it. I don’t regret signing up for this adventure I am on. I am just here to say, I’d put money down that it’s completely different than you’ve imagined it to be. I myself, didn’t know what to expect and assigned no expectations to it. But I sure didn’t see this journey coming at all. And believe me, this post barely scratches the surface of all the challenges. Scott and I are doing great in a very difficult and challenging environment. And we are trying to take every advantage we can while being on Guam in this lovely location. The water is my favorite part. Bluer than you’ve ever seen in your life. You want the rest of the good news? Well, that’s what I DO and CAN post. Usually on my instagram and sometimes here. @JenBrooksMeeds
Disclaimer: This is also very specific to OUR experience in the military. I’m not speaking for anyone else, although I know we are not alone in these challenges and feelings.
Updates: I am now in California, excited to do a musical theater extravaganza (Drowsy Chaperone) to feed my starved artist soul. Scott is holding down the fort in Guam (for now anyway). And while it sucks to be apart, I need this time to do things I’ve missed and be with people I’ve missed. For which, he is beyond supportive. No, he won’t be able to see the show, for all the reasons I have listed in this post. Hopefully we can get some rehearsal clips to send to him. <3 He missed "Singin' in the Rain" too for the same reasons. We have 1 year and 9 months left in this military contract, after which we will strive, to the best of our ability, to never miss a show, a wedding, a birth or any other important moments. And while we are not fully enjoying our military experience thus far, Scott is doing a brave a noble thing and sacrificing a lot both for himself and this country. Like I said, military life is complicated. Nothing is simple and that includes my feelings towards it and the experience we are having.
I just wanted to share all of that. Please, never hesitate to ask us about what’s going on. Just know that we can’t always share it on social media and that’s not always by choice. I am always willing to schedule a FT or a phone call... If the rest of y’all would stop being sooooo busy. lol.