It’s Okay to Be Okay

My husband recently returned from a 6 week training out of state.

It was a wonderful 6 weeks for me…and I find myself feeling a little guilty about that.

I got to watch all of my TV shows instead of waiting until the weekend when Jeremy goes golfing or is otherwise out of the house. I didn’t have to cook dinner…for an entire 6 weeks; I lived off cereal and caprese sandwiches. I spent my weekends living my own schedule, spending time with my friends when I wanted, shopping by myself, hiking, or just reading. I wasn’t accountable to anyone but my dog, and it was glorious.

I remember a time, a few months after Jeremy and I got married, when Jeremy first left for a training. He was gone for 2 months, and it was longest and most miserable 2 months of my life. I was depressed and hopeless. I actually sought out a therapist because I could not handle my life without Jeremy by my side.

Since that first time apart, Jeremy and I have been married for 6 years and experienced 2 deployments and many other trainings.

Not only have I gotten used to being alone, and learned how to thrive, I’ve grown more confident in who I am…apart from being “Jeremy’s wife”.

I love my husband, and I don’t want to live a life without him. But our happiness is no longer dependent on each other. When we were first married, I was dependent on him. And perhaps if he wasn’t in the military, we would have stayed that way. But going through those deployments and trainings forced us to move beyond that stage. Forced me to be more confident and comfortable being alone.

So here I am, 7 years into a military relationship, enjoying 6 weeks of solitude. I feel like society thinks that I “should” be miserable with Jeremy gone..but I’m not. And maybe that is okay. Maybe it’s Okay to Be Okay.

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Young Marriage – Missing Out?

Being a military spouse, I see a lot of young military couples getting engaged and married. Whether they be my husband’s co-workers or girls on a support group, it’s no longer uncommon for me to see an 18 or 19 year old couple announce their engagement, and then shortly after elope.

It’s not shocking for me to see, but my first reaction to an 18 year old, fresh out of high school girl, announcing her engagement isn’t happiness or excitement.

I’m not bitter or cynical, thinking that their marriage will fail because they are young. I got engaged at 19 and eloped 3 months later and I am very happy with my life and my marriage; my husband and I just celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary.

But I can’t help to think back to my first year in college, the year before I met my husband, and how glad I am that I had that time to be single. It was such an amazing experience; to have the typical American college life. I lived in the dorms, did some illegal drugs and went to frat parties. I also went to college football games, stayed up late chatting with my dorm mates and planned spring breaks together. I dated around and I slept around. I experiment with life, pushed the boundaries and got a lot out of my system. I gained self-esteem and self-confidence; I felt secure in myself as an individual…living away from my family and finding out who I was; without my family or a relationship to define me.

I’m not a crazy party person; I’m actually a huge introvert. So when I met my husband a year later, I was already feeling done with many aspects of that life. I had accepted many things about myself and I was starting to figure out who I was and what I wanted from life. I didn’t want to be a party girl, and I was okay with making the change in my life (even if none of my friends did).

I know that not everyone wants the same experiences I had. There are plenty of girls that want to go from high school to marriage to parenthood. Not everyone wants to go to college; that might not be their goal in life. Many people want to remain virgins until they get married; that is one of their core values. Etc.

But even if people don’t want to take the path that I did, a part of me can’t help but feel that they are missing out by immediately getting hitched. Missing out on finding who they really are, outside of a relationship.

So while I try to put on my non-judgmental hat…and in reality, I do understand that every person has different values and goals, I don’t imagine I will be jumping in joy when a young couple announces their engagement anytime soon.

I love “love”. I love marriage. I love my husband.

But I also love me. I love the individuality of people (even in a marriage). The self-absurdness of challenging your life experiences and growing as an individual.

The older I get, the less my life revolves around my spouse and the more it revolves around me. My husband is my partner in life, the person that will be by my side for all of my future experiences. The value I place on him has not diminished. But he is not my entire life.

I suppose the argument can be made that you can still grow as an individual even within a marriage; and I would concede that is true. And maybe I am just being cynical, this post is just a rant of sorts anyway. But I can’t help but feel that the growth you do when you are single is different from any development you have in a marriage. There is something about relying only on yourself and being responsible for just your own needs that facilitates an experience that is unique and transformative.

A PG photo from my freshman year. Me and my dorm mates on the way to a football game

A PG photo from my freshman year. Me and my dorm mates on the way to a football game

As always, feel free to comment and share your opinions, but do so in a respectful manner.

I’m an Introvert – and I’m okay with it

Tonight I am sitting at home and loving every moment of it.

I was invited to a last minute birthday get together for Jeremy’s CO’s wife, but I decided to decline.

I would have enjoyed myself, it was at my favorite line-dancing bar, and I had no other conflicting plans…but I still decided to pass on the invite.

I have come to accept that I am an introvert.

I used to feel like there was something wrong with me; because going out and “having fun” was exhausting to me when it was such a desirable activity for everyone else.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have fun when I am out with people.

But it takes energy for me. I feel drained afterwards and I need time alone to “recharge”.

The opposite is true for extraverts, they gain energy by being around people.

This week I have had a lot of draining; a lot of events to attend. Spouse dinner, kickball practice, movies with friends, kickball tournament.  Going from work, to an event, and then home to bed is exhausting to me. I have no time to recharge from all the socialization.

So tonight, I said “no” when I was invited out. And I don’t feel bad about it at all.

In the last 25 years I have learned my limits. I’ve learned to accept my personality type. I’ve learned to accept myself.

Coincidently, I stumbled across this post on FB today; 25 Things Every Woman Should Have By The Time She Turns 25

It resonated with my new-found acceptance of myself and my introvert-ness

Good-night! I’m off to read a book and enjoy my solitude

Don’t Cry

I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around the internet about the latest Teen Mom 2 episode that aired on Tuesday.

I finally caught up a few days late and just finished watching it (one of the drawbacks of having your husband home is that you no longer have free reign over the TV lol)

Speaking of having my husband home, the main “drama” I’ve been hearing about the latest episode is Leah’s constant nagging of her husband when he goes out of town. She complains every time he leaves.

The one part that stuck with me most was at the end of the episode when he is talking about going on a five week job, she said that she can’t pretend to be happy when he leaves.

As a military wife, I’ve said “good-bye” to my husband many times; for as short of a time as a few weeks, to upwards of 7 months.

Now, I’m not saying that she doesn’t have the right to complain because “other people have it worse”.  My reasoning in pointing out my own experience in because I’ve come to learn how important it is to “pretend” to be happy when your spouse has to leave.

He doesn’t want to leave. Whether he is going out of town for a five week job, or going to Afghanistan for a year long deployment, I believe that no husband wants to leave his wife. And her certainly doesn’t want to leave his children. 

Crying about it, complaining about it, telling him how sad you are and how you don’t want him to go; all that does is make him feel even worse for leaving you. Because now he is dealing not only with his own feelings of separation and sadness, but he is responsible for your pain. He is the cause of your tears and the reason that you are sad.

So my advice to Leah, and to all military spouses, is to try to pretend a bit; for him. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be honest about your feelings and let him know that you will miss him. But crying about it and complaining about it isn’t going to make him stay (at least not in the military); and it’s likely only going to make him feel even worse about having to leave. 

So try to be a strong partner for him; because that’s what he needs most. 

ImageSaying good-bye to my husband when he left for his first deployment to Afghanistan; 11/3/10

TBT: Visiting Jeremy in Florida

When my first semester of Junior year ended, I hopped on the first plane to Florida to visit Jeremy after being apart for three months! It was amazing to be back in his arms!

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The Marine Corps had set him up with a hotel on base and he had driven his car out to Florida from San Diego, which made my stay there very easy. Free room and free car! Since Jeremy was still in school I was left up to my own devices during the day. I explored Pensacola, Florida…for those of you that have been there, you know there isn’t a whole lot to explore lol. I walked around base, went to the beach (it was FREEZING in December!), went shopping, went to the movies and passed time in the hotel room on my laptop.

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I discovered Waffle House (super cheap, but the quality was so/so) and Whataburger (didn’t rock my world).

Jeremy took me to the local restaurant/bar, McGuires. I turned 21 a few days before going out to visit him, so we celebrated by getting me an Irish Wake, their famous drink. It was green and tasted NASTY. My solution was to chug the entire thing (I paid $10 for it, I wasn’t going to waste it), and I got very tipsy and insulted a few of his friends (oops!).

18849_214375731818_7296523_nJeremy got some time off for Christmas and New Years, so we decided to make a road trip up to Wisconsin to see his family. It was my first White Christmas! Beautiful, but SO COLD!

The highlight of our road trip was Nashville, TN. We went to see the Country Music Hall of Fame (we are both big country music fans). We wanted to stop at the Jack Daniels distillery, but they were closed for New Years, when were passing by.

Although not exactly on the way, we decided to stop in New Orleans for New Years (we spent the whole day driving from TN to LA and got to Bourbon Street around 11pm, just in time to get a Hurricane and ring in the new year!). We then drove the rest of the way back to FL because all the hotels were booked up! Oh to be young and wild 😉

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Jeremy and I took a few weekend trips while we were in the South; there are so many states so close together! We did a swamp tour in LA, which was SOOOOOO cold, and we didn’t even see any alligators. But it was fun, I ate some fried alligator…Jeremy had a burger lol.

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After a lovely five week mini vacation in the South, I unfortunately had to head back to California. Thankfully, Jeremy had less than a month of school left, so we were on the home stretch!

I loved the South! I would definitely go back on a trip, there was so much more that I would love to do, and it would be nice to not be there in the winter!

{2013} In Review – {2014} Looking Forward

I rang in the new year of 2013 in Wisconsin with Jeremy’s family. He had returned from his second deployment a few weeks prior, in early December, and we enjoyed quality time together on a road trip to Wisconsin…it took 4 days one way!

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We visited some of our friends on the way, those who had gotten out of the Marine Corps and settled down in their home states. Missouri, Wisconsin and Michigan were our main stops.

On the way back I made Jeremy take a detour to the Grand Canyon, something I had been nagging him about for a few years.

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In January I started my last semester of graduate school, which concluded in my graduation in May of 2013. Jeremy had been away at six week training, but the Marine Corps was nice enough to let him come home for the weekend so he could be there to see me walk across the stage.

ImageAfter graduation I worked a few temp jobs and enjoyed my summer with Jeremy

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San Diego Fair

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Countryfest

In July I was hired on at my current position, my first “big girl” job!

Jeremy used the extra money from my income to buy a dirt bike….

ImageAnd a Jeep…which he got stuck

ImageI picked up a new hobby as well, photography

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Around September Jeremy and I were both anticipating our big move after he started Recruiting School. Then October rolled around and Jeremy got hurt and dropped from school, which completely changed our plans.

We bought a puppy in October (see below photo and saw “AWWWW”), and now we are looking for houses to rent in San Diego to enjoy our last 2 years in California before we pack up for good to head to Wisconsin.

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So here we are, looking forward to 2014….a completely different 2014 then we had expected. I suppose that is the military for you! We were expecting to be moving across the county for Jeremy to start his 2 years of recruiting. Instead we are still in San Diego, and Jeremy has decided to get out of the military after his current enlistment is over (which is 6 months shorter now that his extension was canceled after he had to drop from Recruiting School).

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I anticipate that 2014 will be an uneventful year for us.

No graduations, no deployments (hopefully), no big moves or new babies (again, hopefully!).

I will be working, starting to establish myself in my new career and pay of my student loans and credit card debt. Jeremy will be working his normal job and doing his physical therapy, starting a slow recovery from his injury. Our puppy will grow up, I will decorate our new home, I will make new friends at work, I will enjoy my weekends with my husband.

Simple. Perfectly Simple 2014.

Our New Puppy!

On Tuesday we added a new addition to our family: a 8-week old (mostly) border collie that my husband named MacGyver!

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My husband LOVES dogs. He has been wanting one forever, but putting it off because of our small apartment and his work schedule. But apparently he decided he can’t wait any longer and he started researching breeds and local breeders.

I contributed by saying “oh, that one looks cute!” too all of the photos he showed me lol (have I mentioned I am a cat person?)

He decided on a border collie and managed to find an “affordable” breeder selling puppies a few hours away. On Tuesday he drove up to pick up our little guy, and discovered that he probably isn’t a full border collie. He looks a little Shepard to us. But we don’t plan on breeding, so it’s fine with us if he is a little mixed. Jeremy was more looking for the temperament of border collies.

So far he is freaking adorable!

Jeremy does all the training, feeding and walking. He takes him to work with him and wakes up at night to walk him. MacGyver is very much “his” dog, which is fine with me and exactly what we had talked about when we got him.

I’m not a huge dog person, but who wouldn’t love a puppy!? I like to play with him, and hold him, and Jeremy is determined to teach me how to be the “alpha” so that MacGyver will obey me when Jeremy leaves. Apparently we are taking a obedience class one Mac is old enough. Oh joy lol

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In honor of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I have decided to do a four part series surrounding domestic violence; education and awareness.

I know have mentioned in some of my blogs that I am a social worker. However, I don’t believe I have shared exactly what I do or what population I work with. I am a case manager at a local non-profit working exclusively with domestic violence victims. Additionally, I have a personal connection to the work I do. I briefly shared in my first ever blog post that I am also a survivor of domestic violence.

Both my personal and professional experience have given me a wealth of knowledge regarding domestic violence (DV), and I want to share that knowledge because I think DV largely goes unspoken about in the community. As a result, when presented with DV, people often don’t understand what it really looks like or what to do to help someone who may being going through it.

I have decided to share four different post, which I will be publishing during the next four Tuesdays in the month of October:

First, my own story and experience

Second, what domestic violence is (hint, it’s not just physical abuse!)

Third, why people don’t always leave

Fourth, what you can do when someone you know is experiencing DV

I hope these post will be information and enlightening (I’ll try to keep them from being too lecture-ish!). Although I don’t wish anyone to go through a DV relationships themselves, or to ever encounter a friend or family members in that situation, I think that the knowledge is still important to have.

San Diego Bucket List

I’ve lived in San Diego for almost exactly 6 years. I remember when I first moved down here I was excited to have the beach so close. The beaches in Northern California are nothing like the beaches in the south. Up north they are cold and it’s a long drive to get there.

I’ve since gotten used to living in San Diego and I don’t really do many of the typical touristy things. I’ve been to Sea World (many times), to all the beaches (including the nude beach!), Downtown, Old Town, Torrey Pines and many other San Diego travel destinations.

But now that we have a date for when we are moving (in December), I’ve realized that there is so much to do in San Diego that I still haven’t done and so many things that I should continue to take advantage of! I never go to the beach anymore and I rarely eat at a local restaurant. Now that my time in San Diego is ticking away day by day, I want to make a bucket list to be sure I don’t miss anything.

First on my list was kayaking. I’ve been to the beaches, but I’ve never been kayaking. So when a Groupon popped up in my email, I jumped on it. A few months ago me and my girlfriends took a kayak tour of La Jolla Coves and it was so much fun. We got to go in the caves and get up close to the seals.

Next on my list was SUP (Stand Up Paddle-Boarding). I’ve been surfing, I actually took a class in college (and got school credit! Yup, “surfing” is on my college transcripts lol), but paddle boarding has become more and more popular here over the years. So I got another Groupon and Jeremy and I paddled around Mission Bay last weekend.

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My next plan is to go hiking at all the top-rated trails here in San Diego. In addition to my desire to lead a more healthy lifestyle, it’s not everyday that you get to live by the beach and hike along the cliffs over the ocean. I need to take advantage of it while I can!

When I was looking up trails (specifically ones that include Cliff Jumping, which is also on my bucket list), I stumbled across paragliding at Torrey Pines! That is now on my list too. It’s only $150!

If you can’t tell, I am not afraid of heights and I like to try everything at least once. I’ve been skydiving (for my 18th b-day outside of San Francisco) and I really want to go on a hot air balloon ride. Unfortunately, my husband does not share my enthusiasm and thinks I am crazy and have a death wish (slightly dramatic, I think), so he has been nominated to be my photographer.

This weekend is hiking. Next weekend is paragliding! Let the adventures begin!