I have a book, a guide to being the perfect Air Force wife. I stare at the cover, not quite sure how I got to this place. Certainly never imagined it. We love to joke and ask each other, “What if someone came to you 10 years ago and told you that you would be an Air Force wife (or have a wife, or point out my wife and say, that’s your future wife!)” We laugh and imagine we would think that person totally ridiculous. I would have said, hmmm, wonder what HE’s like? No silly, your wife is in the Air Force. Ummmm….
So, so many shocking surprises I carry in this title, Military Spouse. First, I never imagined I could ever be married to someone in the military. Not that I’m opposed, although I would probably fall into some kind of pacifist hippie category, and have the utmost respect for those who serve. My ex-hubs certainly wasn’t military material and never was really in close connection with anyone who was. So, to find myself a military spouse means I am remarried, which will always be a bit counterintuitive to me anyway. Now, I find myself with a wife. In the military. Which means I’m a military wife.
To tell you the truth, I feel like a bit of an imposter at the moment. I’m so new to this role, I’m trying to absorb as much information and understanding as I can about it, even though so much of it goes over my head. I’ve known military wives and they just seem to know their role. I am a bit lost. Especially since up until recently my wife served as traditional status guardsman, so it wasn’t like a lifestyle, it was more a part-time gig; an extra part of her that I loved yet didn’t define her or us. Now, she is full time, and so is a bit more encompassing, especially for me. But it’s still a bit different, as she is Air Guard, and not “regular Air Force” so I am still learning the nuances between them and frankly a little intimidated that I might not know enough of the difference.
I have access to many things on base, even though base is for “regular” Air Force. It took me several weeks to get up the nerve to go on base without her, even though I have an ID. Each time the guard scans my card and it takes a bit of time I start panicking and imagining my phone call to her from a military jail that I tried to gain access to somewhere I don’t belong. But, so far, I have not been arrested at the base grocery store which is a huge relief. Sometimes I imagine getting tapped on the shoulder by another wife and getting asked to leave.
This would all be the same had I been with a guy serving in the military. I would still be a bit panicked and unsure of who to connect with, what my role is, and so on. But, I am one of the few women that is also married to a woman. I can’t imagine there are many of us but imagine my surprise when I did indeed find a group that is all about gay military spouses! I have found my people! Which, I never knew were my people! This is exciting and surprising all at once. Once you realize you belong in a certain, specialized category, it’s exciting to find others who also identify in your unique position. However, it’s not a group I ever thought about existing let alone longing to belong to. And I think that’s where I am in the moment. Caught between the divide of “normal”, the way I’ve existed up until now, to clinging to a group that knows exactly what I’m experiencing at the moment. I guess even now there is a big part of me that is content in who I am, the personality and character that define me, aside from my sexuality or who I am married to. I can connect with any neighbor, classmate mother, interesting family at the park and work my magic and gain their friendship. I don’t necessarily feel lost in connecting to people in that respect. However, moving to a new city certain brings into question what kind of friends you will draw. And now I see that more clearly. Before, I had enough old friends that supported me no matter what it didn’t matter. But now I see a potential, not necessarily a “problem”, but an obstacle. I have never noticed any blatant shunning or unacceptance. But, I do notice a withdrawal of people that I am just meeting and I have to wonder if it began when I dropped the “W” word. Who knows. I don’t think that really bothers me but does make me want to seek out more support from people that are going through EXACTLY what I am going through. Anyway, that train of thought is a blog for another day.
Back to the military wife thing, I am feeling 100% accepted here! It’s really quite amazing! My wife’s squadron is so welcoming I am really enjoying feel a part of everything. I am also embarking on a new adventure of being a Key Spouse!
The best part so far was going to my first military ball a few weeks ago as my wife’s date. I was so nervous! More nervous than I should have been, but hey, I do that to myself a lot. My wife was chosen to be the aide to the General so was off for some of the night and I was on my own. Thankfully found some familiar faces to attach myself to. I had such a great time! And, one of the best parts was introducing myself to the Governor of our fair, yet extremely conservative, state as her wife. She also introduced me to the wing commander and TAG as her wife. Everyone I’ve met has been so welcoming, it’s amazing how far we’ve come.
I’ll keep you posted as I become more indoctrinated into the military spouse role. A shift to be sure, but I love being the support spouse behind my amazing wife and her career.