Saying goodbye to your spouse as they head off on deployment is never easy, but there are some things that make it easier to bear. The most important thing is being in a good place in your marriage. The second most important thing is surrounding yourself with people that you can just be with.
Dave and I have been in a great place for a few years, so that isn’t something I worry about. The second part was super easy for me in the past since we had spent so much time stationed in Lemoore. The friendships there were just….they had been there for so long, I couldn’t remember a time they weren’t. I very distinctly remember going to my friend Celeste’s house one day, walking in the door, sitting on the couch and we couldn’t have said more than 10 words to each other in the 5 hours I was there. I just needed to be with someone that day and I was so thankful to have the relationship with her that allowed me to just be in her presence with no explanation needed.
But moving to a new city, literally days before Dave left on a DET made that a little more difficult. I will always remember the first time I met the other wives in the squadron: I made a total ass of myself. I didn’t know a single person there and their first impression was me trying to barrel my way through a locked door not realizing it was not, in fact, an entrance. Nice.
I was the only “new” girl at the time and I felt very much like an outsider. This may or may not have been the case because…well…
This scenario pretty much sums up a lot of my life, except I think that about 96 of them are completely in my head.
Feeling outside the circle leads to a myriad of things that if you didn’t start that way, will probably put you there. I would turn down invitations and avoid going places to hang out. And guess what? All that did was make me feel like even more of an outsider.
So a couple months ago my therapist and I were discussing this issue and she asked me what I was doing to be included. What? Me? Dang it! I hate when she makes me take responsibility! So we decided that I was not going to turn down any invitations. I was just going to say YES to every event I was invited to. The first time was really, really tough. My first response was to say “I’m already in my jammies” but I didn’t. I said sure. That day kinda started a new trend in my life. I just say yes, but I do allow myself one opportunity a week to just say no and have a day to recoup.
It has become a little bit of a tradition for some of us wives to hang out in the evenings together. Usually it’s a little like a pick up game—come if you can and if you can’t, we will catch you next time. This past weekend, there were a few parents in attendance of Sunday dinner. A conversation started about how amazing our group was and it got me thinking: just how much of that feeling like an outsider crap was completely in my head all along?
I certainly don’t feel like an outsider anymore: I feel like one of the gang. On Memorial Day, I received a FRANTIC text from my oldest saying that he needed me to bring him deodorant…that’s right…the day before his 19th birthday and he forgot deodorant. Unfortunately, I was pulling into First Landing State Park for a beach day. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know that I have a very difficult time reaching out and asking for help. I did though. I reached out to my friend Jenn (same as last week) and asked her if she could please, please, please deliver some deodorant to McKinley at work. How awesome of a friend is that?
I guess the point I want to make is this: as soon as I stopped acting like an outsider, I stopped being one. And I don’t mean after some time, I felt like one of the gang, I IMMEDIATELY felt like I fit in. Probably because I did. Looking back, I don’t think anyone saw me as an outsider but me. If I had just stuffed down all that insecurity I had, things would have been much easier for me.
So my advice for everyone feeling like an outsider is to put yourself out there! Get involved! Say YES when you are invited to do something! Put yourself out there! Make some amazing friends! Find someone else who feels like an outsider and become insiders together! You won’t regret it!
~Tonyia Doyle is a Navy Spouse, mom to 2 handsome sons, and Military Spouses of Strength’s newest blog series contributor. She began to blog as a way of talking about her own struggles with depression and other mental health issues. Through therapy and medication, she is working towards her own healing and has chosen to share her real life with MSoS readers in hopes of raising mental health awareness.