Hey Stephanie- things are pretty weird right now, right? It is 2008 & you are seriously crazy in love. You never thought you’d be married at 19, right? Yeah, me neither. I bet you never thought you’d embark in a life surrounded by the military either. That all your choices would soon revolve around this life. But they will.I know you grew up being the center of attention. You were maybe overly confident & never had an issue making friends. You also made a ton of mistakes that somehow always turned out okay. But we both know you getting married to someone in the military wasn’t part of any plan. Ever. In fact- you turned down multiple decent guys because you thought dating someone in the military would be too much. But then you met Ryan & for some reason all logic went out the window.
Here’s what you don’t know yet, though. Things aren’t all about you anymore. & despite him absolutely adoring you, the military always come first. He’s going to miss every single Halloween for the next 5 years. & your 21st birthday when you have to buy yourself your first beer. No, he can’t make an exception. & no, there’s no way around it. He’s going to miss out on a lot of big moments in your life. Not because he wants to or because he doesn’t love you. Because he doesn’t just miss stuff when he’s deployed- it is all year.
& yes- he will deploy. Soon. & it is going to SUCK. You’re going to have to learn to be more independent, more forgiving, & less worried constantly. Because you haven’t been diagnosed yet- but you have severe anxiety. & the deployment will really bring that to the surface. You aren’t going to reach out to fellow spouses because you don’t know how. Don’t worry- when you grow up you’ll be extra welcoming to those like you. Because you’ve been there. & when that first deployment is finally over…things will get back to normal eventually.
The military will take a lot but it will give him so much. Ryan is going to go really far. & he’s going to become at least 10% less snarky at work which really helps his career. He’s not going to be able to tell you much about his job for a longtime…but he is REALLY good at it & people will start to notice. & the duty station he will get assigned to next? It will suck but you’ll also get through it. Because you guys are a really good team & learn to not take as much for granted. You’ll have to force yourself to appreciate the little things more. But seriously- don’t let the movers pack anything important because they WILL break it. Every single time.
Later on, you’ll feel more comfortable making friends with other military spouses. I know right now you really miss your friends & family…but I have a secret. Most of those friends won’t be there in 10 years. Your family & marriage will be & that is an incredible blessing. So cherish it. Get more involved with other spouses & actually connect with some that have similar morals. You don’t have to go out & drink with them if you don’t want to. & you don’t have to steer clear of those with kids because you don’t have any. You also can meet some online states away that will become friends forever. You & Ryan are also going to take in single airmen every holiday & feed them so they aren’t alone either. Because you will remember feeling homesick right now. Find your tribe but don’t stress yourself out.
& even though every date night has to have a “maybe” lingering in the air- your marriage will flourish. Because you guys aren’t going to fizzle out like people keep telling you. Don’t listen to the people that keep putting down your decisions- because they’re wrong. You & Ryan? You are going to create an unbelievable life together. & if you just keep trying to get where you want to be & working hard- you’ll be incredibly proud of each other.
I know you’re bored at home right now & going through school not knowing what the heck you’ll do with it. That’s okay. Education is fun & you should enjoy it while you can. Because you’re going to fall into a career of your own soon. & you’re going to create a job for yourself that lets you be creative & outspoken. & have absolutely nothing to do with his rank or his employment. Because you’re going to find yourself. & 10 years from now? You’re kind of a badass.
I hope you take the time to enjoy the little things. Sip on some chardonnay & raise your glass to toast to others. Quit smoking early. & dye your hair fun colors sooner because we both know you really want to.
Stephanie Louise Telford
A big, sincere Thank You to Wente Vinyards for sponsoring today’s conversation. I urge you to check out their love of the journey & Chardonnay selection for Chardonnay Day here. As always, all thoughts are 100% my own.