Barbies and map of the United States

Military Spouses and Parallel Universes

Life as a military spouse is like living in a parallel universe. We get glimpses of what our lives look like in different countries, with different support systems, and in different jobs. Then, we start new again. Starting over so many times takes grit, and it is challenging. We find the best of what’s offered and then we move on. Whenever we move on, we leave another life behind. Sometimes it’s overwhelming but it’s adventurous.

In each duty station that we live in, we define ourselves in some way. Sometimes we have the best neighbors, sometimes it’s the local culture, a new hobby, or a job. We develop a new life; it stands out as different in some way from our past duty stations. We know how temporary it is, so we work fast and hard at adapting to our new normal quickly. Eventually, we leave that life behind.

I can look back on all our past duty stations; each has a distinct feeling. Each feels different as I remember my time and who I was there. It’s like we exercise different parts of ourselves in new locations. Each circumstance brings out new aspects of life we haven’t had before.

We get a glimpse of what life would look like all over the country and the world. Nothing stands to contrast that as much as the locals we meet. Locals that are true locals to a location. They have lived there their whole life, and they will continue to live there. Similarly, we spend the holidays or vacations with our extended family. We get to see “normal” from a distance.

I see their life in a linear progression. The same city, house, friends, job … the same life. Whereas our progression isn’t linear, it’s like sliced DNA fragments taken from different segments and glued together.

From those fragments of our lives, we learn and grow and become more resilient. We stretch ourselves to find what shape fits best and we adhere. It’s a life track that wouldn’t necessarily happen organically, but it does for us. Adaptability is a skill that we develop, and it is a quiet strength. Adaptability requires being rooted and grounded. Ultimately that is something we do well. Instead of being rooted and grounded in our life in a specific place we are rooted in our family unit and ourselves. We can make a life anywhere. We are creative and adventurous individuals.

Sometimes it feels like living in a parallel universe. The comparison game of our lives with civilians can bring humor and pain. They live in their world of normalcy while we live in our world of constant change. To each, the other’s life is both appealing and alien. Someday, I will figure out what it feels like to live in a home for more than four years but that is for another version of myself.

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