If there’s one thing that military life is, it’s abnormal. In a nutshell, nothing we do, nothing we become accustomed to – none of it – is normal in relation to a “normal” civilian lifestyle. Perhaps it’s because Ryan’s current contract is set to end sometime next year, or perhaps it’s the reality of ongoing reintegration in our home, but we’ve both been deep in thought lately about how strange it is when the abnormal becomes normal.
Never in a million years did I ever think I was going to marry into a military way of life. A little-known fact is that I actually entertained the idea of going into the military, myself, only to be turned down for Marine Corps OCS. This side of it though? Honestly, it never crossed my mind, and I never dreamed of being an Army wife. Ever.
And yet, here we are. Ryan’s been in for 11 years now. We’ve been together for over seven years and married for almost six so, if you think about that, we’ve been together for more than half of his military career. In that time, we’ve weathered (and grown) a lot. Together, we’ve faced WOCs, BOLC, his transition from enlisted to the warrant side of the military, two deployments, three homes, three children, too many TDYs to count…
Honestly? The abnormal has become our norm.
As weird as it is to think about, that uncertainty has become almost a bit of a comfort zone (perhaps more for me than for Ryan, to be fair). We’ve become accustomed to counting the days. We know how to purge our belongings every few years, and we know how to pick up and move on. We’re acutely aware of how important it is to build connections everywhere we go if only to avoid the inevitable isolation that would otherwise follow.
I think that any service member can attest to the fact that, at some point in their career, they come to a crossroads. For us, that time is now. With a contract end looming over our heads, there are decisions to be made, and it’s been hard for Ryan lately, watching his children grow up via various apps and weathering marriage from afar. There are parts of military life that we love. We’ve grown stronger than many couples our age because we’ve had to. Our children have learned the art of resilience from a young age. We’ve learned to measure the days in actual moments of togetherness and the quality of connections.
Inevitably for us and many other service members’ families, the abnormal becomes normal. I can’t tell you if this is the so-called “healthiest” way of life, but within this “normal,” there is purpose, pride, strength, and endless growth, so long as you continue to weather the storm time and again. These are the things you can’t put a price tag on.