Once upon a time, someone started a ridiculous rumor that military spouses should be the strongest people on the planet, because asking for help and verbalizing life struggles are signs of weakness.
What a silly fairy tale, right? Unfortunately, so many of us (myself included) have believed this “story” to be true for much too long.
Today, I want to encourage each and every one of you: If you are struggling with ANYTHING, please know that you are NOT alone.
In the grand scheme of things, I am very blessed. I have a supportive and loving husband, two children, and a professional life that is fulfilling. But… that doesn’t mean things are EASY. Life is not all sunshine, lollipops, and magical unicorns that poop rainbows.
Sometimes life is just the poop part.
We all have challenging moments. And sometimes those challenging moments turn into days. And the days can turn into a season.
At that point, we have to do a courageous thing and verbalize our struggles. Asking for help or telling someone our frustrations can be one of the most encouraging, burden-lifting, mental-health saving things we can do.
So what keeps us from talking to our doctor, counselor, pastor, chaplain, etc. about our personal struggles? I think there are several “lies” in our hearts that need to be dethroned.
- “Well, I don’t have it as bad as _______, so I SHOULD be able to handle this.” This is the age-old problem of comparison. We look at other people’s problems or challenges and because they seem “worse” than ours, we convince ourselves that if they can do it, we can do it. But that is comparing apples to oranges! We don’t know the whole story. Our personalities, background, life experiences, and other stuff we don’t see has a powerful impact on how we cope with things. There is not one scale to measure the hard stuff of life. Things like infertility, newborn stage, raising toddlers, deployments, professional life, learning how to live with a no-plan-plan, loss and grief, substance abuse, adultery, marriage, anxiety, depression,… Every single issue is different. So you do you and TAKE CARE OF YOU.
- “I am a military spouse. I SHOULD be stronger than this.” Ugh. This one totally grinds my gears, mainly because I convinced myself it was true. Things like “embracing the suck” and “keep calm and soldier on” all have their place, but you know, sometimes we just need to take a time out and realize that we don’t have to be everything to everyone all the time.
- “It’s not their problem. I SHOULD deal with this on my own.” Look, friend. Here’s the thing. There are resources out there for you, me, and our neighbor down the street. If we were meant to be alone in our struggle, there would be no need for Military Family Life Counselors, Family Life Centers, Chaplains, churches, pastors, MilitaryOneSource, private counselors, medication, therapy, etc. But all of these are booming. People are literally getting paid to help others (and often insurance will cover the entirety of their services). So really, asking for help or speaking out in hard seasons is an economical business decision. It’s a better deal than Black Friday at Target or Amazon Prime Day. Let’s capitalize on it!
Friends, this isn’t a post about seeking sympathy–it is a post about SOLIDARITY.
When I shared some of my recent struggles with anxiety with my primary care doctor, he was so encouraging and affirming. And, much to my surprise, he did not respond with “Take a knee, drink some water–you will get through this” or “Suck it up, Buttercup.”
Do you know what he ACTUALLY said? “Well, let me just say that you ARE NOT ALONE in this. I see so many military spouses for this exact same thing and we will take care of you.”
Did you hear that?!?! We are not alone! We aren’t crazy! WE ALL STRUGGLE! *throws confetti and breathes sigh of relief*
My doc started me on a low-level dose of medication to help with my anxiety and I have entered into counseling for zero dollar bills (thanks, Tricare!). I’ve only been working on all this for a very short amount of time, but I already feel like a new woman.
Honestly, I can’t believe I waited that long to say something and reach out for some additional help and support. I struggled by myself, fighting in my head, for way. too. long. And now, I’m on the path to freedom, hopefully which includes encouraging others who are in the same boat (or at least in a nearby lake).
Readers, be brave, be courageous–verbalize your needs. Share your heart. And please, be encouraged that if you are struggling today, you are NOT alone. #SolidaritySister