Monday, December 16, 2013

Friendship in the Military

Today, I had a wonderful friend stop by, and we visited for a long time, and it got me thinking about how much I love my military friends, and how, although it's hard to explain the bond that you have with them, I'm going to do my best to explain it.  Because it is just that awesome :)

My husband and I are not your typical 'military' family for a lot of reasons.  But one of them being, he didn't join the military until his late 20's.  We both had full time jobs, we owned a home, we had been married for a few years, we had a church we attended, and a small group too....we were pretty normal, happy people.  We definitely felt settled in our life, which I guess, could be one of the reasons that we chose to change things up...feeling settled always sounded nice to both of us, but I think that once we experienced it, it wasn't really all that settling.  Anyhow, so three years later, here we are.  Always living atleast five or more states away from family, and while I would count my own family as some of the most supportive people I will ever meet, I realized that my friendships with other military wives, was not only important, but vital.

For a number of reasons, while my husband was in training, we had to live apart.  I was in Michigan, and he was many, many states away.  I didn't know anyone who was going through what we were, and although I valued my friends and family that were there for me, they could not understand the hardship I was going through.  How could they?  They'd never been through it.  I became very lonely, very depressed, and feeling utterly miserable.

After almost a year of being apart, my husband and I could finally live together.  Oh, I was SO relieved.  But then, a NEW kind of loneliness crept in.  Sure, we lived together, but he was in and out all the time.  And I was nowhere near my family and friends back home.  It seemed like I had to choose what kind of loneliness I was experiencing...either a lack of my husband, or a lack of my support from everyone else.  I thought 'will I EVER get the hang of this?!'

I found out about a bible study that was filled with women whose husbands were not just in the military, but they were doing the SAME exact training as my husband.  I was so thrilled, I went to the bible study, and as everyone spoke, tears came to my eyes....they were saying the SAME things I had been thinking about, but I didn't know anyone who had felt that way.  I realized, right then and there, that these strong, funny, sweet, beautiful, supportive women were people that I not only wanted in my life, but I needed them!

Friendship is a powerful relationship.  And even moreso in the military.  These are people that just get you.  Because they are going through it too.  They know what it's like to change their entire plans at a moment's notice, they know that awful feeling when you're out with other couples and at the end of the meal you have to say to the waiter 'it's just me on the bill', they get those things.  And although I am not there yet, I have countless friends who are moms, and fully understand the feeling of being a single parent even though they are happily married.  Don't get me wrong, we don't all sit around complaining about how horrible our lives are...that's actually the beauty of this friendship...we just get it.  We celebrate the blessings of being in the military and we know that we have a shoulder to cry on when things become hard.  We can talk about other things, because there aren't those looming questions like 'have you talked to him lately?' or the most common phrase 'I don't understand how you do it!'.  None of that needs to be said, because you have a bond that is different from any other I've ever had.  I have friends that I know I have inconvenienced because of car trouble while my husband is gone, but it's okay, because they may call me the next week and need me to help them in the same way.  Your friends become your family in the military, and it also happens very quickly!  What takes most people several years to forge a strong bond of friendship, will take military wives a matter of months, because you're just so thankful that you have this very large thing in your life in common with them, it kind of makes everything else fall into place.  And things like age, status, whether or not someone has kids...none of that matters when you become friends.  Because a military wife is a military wife.  They get it.

Please don't mistake me, I love my family, I love my friends back home, but I just felt compelled to share this today.  Not everyone understands it, and not everyone has or can experience it.  And that's what makes it so very unique.
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