The Gift of the Unknown: Finding Myself Again

Somewhere along the way, I’ve lost myself.

Military life can do that to you.

Ten years into our marriage, and I’ve done it. Deployment, moving, not moving and geo-baching, training, FRG, dressing for the homecoming, dressing for the funeral of a Navy friend, dressing for the ball. I’ve given up my career because we wanted security and stability for our son and our family life.

The ups. The downs. The thrills. The mundane.

I think I’ve reached seasoned milspouse status.

It’s not what I thought it would be.

I envisioned self-confidence, poise, incredible style, friends who I connected with on a different level. Instead, I’m just more aware of what I don’t know.

Yesterday, a friend and I shared a conversation about our desire and longing to do more. Be more.

I felt sad for us.

For all of us who are eking out an existence on the Army’s terms and conditions. Because when the Army calls, we say yes, too.

Yes to supporting our spouses.

Yes to keeping our family together.

Yes to paying the bills and taking out the garbage and another night of tucking the kids in alone.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Yes.

But behind each yes is a no. And often the easiest no is to our true selves.

I’m proud of what my husband does. And I am big enough to admit that military life has given me much. But it has also stripped me down in this season.

It’s been the year of unknown.

I used to dream big. Really big. Maybe too big.

Now I don’t even have a dream.

Our future could take so many turns in the next six months that I can’t even think or plan ahead.

I’m not one to wallow for long, but this season of waiting is challenging me (and waiting has never been easy).

So I continue on, sifting for a treasure in this waiting.

I have been living more in the present. Taking some time to try to figure out who I really am. To help, I’m working through a book, True You, by Michelle DeRusha.

Trying to find a place where I belong.

The living in the present, slowing down—it’s hard work.

It’s hard work to face what you’ve hidden because you were too busy, too distracted. Too busy saying yes, when it also meant saying no.

Everything feels up in the air right now, including who I am.

It’s hard work to admit that you are not who you thought you would be. It’s hard work to begin to accept yourself.

It’s hard work to admit that I never had control. No one really does.

And as it turns out, this waiting might be a gift in disguise.

This unconventional lifestyle has given me the opportunity to turn inward in a time of unknown.

And just like that, the glint of a treasure appears.

I’m able to work though my insecurities and struggles because the Army has created that time. I’m saying yes.

Yes, to finding me.

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About Jolene McNutt

Jolene McNutt is a writer, editor, and graphic designer. She co-owns a business with her retired teacher dad creating hands-on resources for elementary and middle school teachers. Jolene has been married to her extroverted husband, Phil, for nine years. Phil is serving as part of the Active Duty Guard Reserve (AGR) in the Wisconsin Army National Guard - possibly the best kept secret in the Army! They have a six-year-old son, Finn, and a 90-pound lap dog, Odin. Jolene enjoys traveling, reading, and making allergy friendly recipes for Finn. Despite her introverted nature, Jolene loves hosting friends and family. Find her on Instagram @jolenemichelle1.

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