The perfect sunny day hits after two rainy weekends and a string of tropical storms. He wakes up happy because it’s day two of golf plans with friends. She wakes up happy because she thinks they’re having a day date full of sunshine and tea.
Disconnected, much? I’d say so.
What a morning! After our initial surprise over each other’s thoughts (and some unpleasant and unkind words), we realized exactly how we found ourselves on different sides of Saturday planning. It was my ears—and while knowing helped us make a plan to avoid such confusion for the future, feeling out of sync with each other was just awful.
We aren’t the type of couple with frequent disagreements or quarrels. The disconnect hurt. Even after the “I’m sorry, and I love you” conversation, the idea that our morning was hijacked stuck with me (here I am, still processing it all at 11:18 at night…) and pestered me. I wanted the morning to be just as great as the rest of the day after we moved on and got into our Saturday. Tea happened. Golf happened. We won Saturday as a team, and by ourselves individually.
And you may be wondering, so what?! Today, Disconnected Saturday, is the perfect example to share with you because I want to tell you “the disconnect” is real. And it hurts.
Let’s face it. 2020 has been a year of disconnect in so many ways for all of us. I feel it, and I’m sure you do, too. There’s too many things COVID seems to have hijacked in 2020 to list them all out.
Want to know how many times I have seen another spouse from my husband’s unit in the past eight months? Once. One time, you guys. And it was at the Exchange, and I yelled through my mask down the aisle, “Hi [insert First Sgt.’s last name] family!” and waved. Interaction? Eh. Connectedness? Nah. But, can we come out of 2020 and say the same as my husband and I can say for our Saturday…can we say—”It happened and we won as a team and by ourselves individually?” Yes, I think the answer is yes.
Coming up on eight years as a military spouse, I can tell you two things that lead me to believe we’ll be all right on the other side of all of this.
Not everyone has a military spouse tribe. (I don’t, honest truth, I promise.)
Feeling an almost constant disconnect may be familiar to some military spouses. Being a military spouse for eight years and not having a tribe is actually pretty easy. Here’s how to do it:
Get married, move three months later to a place where your husband pulls shift work for a round-the-clock, 24-hour unit, and you’re bound to not be on the same schedule as anyone else or have much energy to socialize with them anyway. Next station, he gets DA selected for recruiting duty—and you meet your best military spouse friend, but one friend and a whole tribe of friends are different entirely. Round three, wind up dealing with COVID restrictions while living overseas…and, well, you get the picture.
This doesn’t mean you aren’t a part of the military spouse team, or that you aren’t constantly rooting for said team. (Encouragement and empowerment, anyone?)
This is a tricky one, but very important. Just because you don’t have a large circle of friends who are also military spouses does not take away from your experience as a military spouse. You’re living this lifestyle, and the real truth about military spouse life is that nobody’s experience is exactly the same. Sure, there is a lot we can relate to as a collective group, but what is most important is that you remember you are part of the collective group. Hopefully, this puts you in the mindset of being supportive of each other.
Even though the disconnect hurts and is unpleasant, it’s time to move on and look toward saying, “Yes, we won—as a team and individually.” So, how do we as military spouses win when we’re up against “the disconnect?”
Military Spouses as a Team Can:
Support each other and everyone associated with your sponsor’s unit. Don’t forget about the single soldiers at this trying time. It’s hard enough for families to feel disconnected and somewhat isolated, so imagine how it must feel to be single right now—and possibly very far from home.
Even if the opportunities to volunteer have changed and become less social, there are still plenty of options to help others with your time and talents. Offer to bring groceries or pick-up food for families in quarantine, help out with other needs such as taking care of pets or mowing their lawn (or raking up leaves now that it’s fall) for those stuck inside their homes, and check on the new moms or organize meal trains. There are also plenty of ways to volunteer virtually.
If any group comes out of COVID times a little worse for the wear, but mostly just fine, I’m betting on military spouses. Being able to adapt to new and different normals is our M.O., after all.
Military Spouses as Individuals Can:
Join the spouse Facebook groups, message or call the spouses from your sponsor’s unit, keep in touch with spouses from past duty stations, and by all means, do not isolate yourself from your family and friends who do not have any military affiliations. Everyone needs some kind of social connection, and it really doesn’t matter if your tribe is comprised of military spouses at your current location, military spouses you may have never met (AWN team, cheers to you, my virtual tribe!), or a support network of family and close friends.
Even if COVID has put a pause on your SFRG meetings, company BBQs or potlucks, or even spouse clubs and organizations, keep an eye on your emails, follow any unit social media pages available, and keep tabs on news for your duty station in general. From a broader perspective, sign up for milspouse newsletters (Are you subscribed to AWN’s SITREP, yet?), and check your favorite resource websites whenever you can.
For real. We’re all in this boat together, except for Debbie Downer and Negative Nancy. They weren’t invited.
How do you deal with feelings of disconnect? Do you let them hamper you or do whatever you need to do to conquer them?