Monday, July 25, 2011

Not Me Enough For You....

(guess I couldn't stay away. Still not certain that this serves any purpose, but here we go one more time...)

I've regularly harped on how frustrating it is to be the fiance of a Reserve soldier. How you face unique challenges, lack support in many areas where Active military receive it, and yet often feel shunned by Active families for whatever crazy reasons. Out in the random blog-o-sphere I heard someone describe it wonderfully. "When my soldier is activated, we're still not "Active Duty" enough for the Active Duty families."

It was like reading my own thoughts! But, extend them.  See, I'm not married, so I'm loyal enough for wives. I don't run the household yet, so I'm not worried about bills, etc. enough for wives. Of course, despite two year-long tours in three years, his deployment wasn't deployed enough for many. I'm not spouse enough for spouses, and we're not active enough for active duty. And yet, I also live in the civilian world, where I'm definitely not civilian enough for civilians. And yet in those discussions, with the non-wife, non-Active Duty thing, I'm not really military enough for civilians either.

And THAT pointed me to my real issue. I don't fit in a box. I don't want to fit in a box! I don't define myself by my spouseness. Or his soldierness. Or my civilianness. Or any of those little things that people do. I know a lot of people want to define themselves that way. "Proud Army Wife" or "Proud Wife of COL so-and-so" or "I'm a doctor" or whatever. It's like we say our name, and THEN we define ourselves. I realized, I'm not happy defining myself as "Proud Army Fiance" or as "Programs Coordinator" or even as "Queen of Everything". Those are parts of me. Yes, I'm incredibly proud of my soldier, and that is a big part of life, and even a part of me, but it doesn't MAKE me. It doesn't define me.

Maybe some people will get angry, because maybe they like to define themselves that way. Or maybe they'll tell me that I don't define myself this way because he's a Reservist, so he's a "part-time soldier" as I've heard. Or maybe they'll say I don't define myself this way because I'm not married yet, so somehow I don't understand the pain, or the household management, or the whatever. But I think I do it because definitions are ugly. They draw these little lines around and between us. They put chains around us and around others. Because if I am "Proud Army Fiance", and that's how I define myself, then how do you ever talk to me about all the other things I do? How do you relate to me on any other level? And if I am "Programs Coordinator", how do you understand that other layer, that constant change and shift in my personal life, depending on whether he's deployed, reintegrating, or has been home for two years?

These boxes make some people comfortable. Content. Safe.  But they make some of us afraid. Under attack even. And when you think about it, it's not that I'm not Active Duty enough. I'm just not Active Duty enough for you. And it's not that I'm not civilian enough. It's that I'm not civilian enough for you.

We've got to rip these boxes open. Maybe just one side at a time. You can have your three walls, sure. But leave one open! Take down just one side of that Active Duty wall, so a Reservist can waltz in. And look for the commonalities. The stresses you both face, that you both understand. The stresses that you don't understand. But empathize with them. Don't fight with them. The only thing our boxes have taught us is to fight over whose box is heavier, whose is more constricting, whose walls are harder. Status. Rank. Branch. Deployment status.    ...who cares?

Get out of your box! Don't define yourself. The less you define yourself on these mundane, arbitrary things, the less someone else can use them to define you. The less someone else can use them to intentionally or not, hurt you.  So no, I won't define myself as 'Proud Army Fiance', or 'Programs Coordinator', or 'Reserve', or whatever. I'll define myself as me. And if me isn't me enough for you, well, I don't care. It's me enough for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment