The Silent Support Army, A Series About My Life As A War Veterans Wife – December 2017
After a gentle prod from a few readers to ‘get back in the saddle’ and write, I have been pondering what my next instalment was going to be for the Silent Support Army…Actually…you know what? That’s a lie. I have known for a little while now that I wanted to make a confession. I have wanted to talk about my parallel life it’s just I haven’t had the guts to do it. Not because I’m not comfortable in sharing that level of vulnerability but because I’m too afraid to accept the reality to myself. My philosophy is to always put on a brave face and play things down even when you have a cyclone of emotions swirling around inside you. I never want to be a wife that bitches and moans about her husband being away all of the time or how hard it is to do everything yourself nor do I ever want to emotionally harm him for his career choice which takes him away from me, after all, I made a choice too, (be it subconsciously or not) to fall in love with a soldier. That pesky heart wants what it wants and when I met my love; well, my ol’ heart was “off the market”!
So here goes, time to own it…
“Hi, I’m Kim and I live two lives”.
Right now I am hearing synchronised voices welcoming me to the club of Defence wifedom as though we a small covert club that has a membership criteria as long as your arm some of which includes ‘frequent emotional cutting’ and recognising a secret handshake when it is offered.
My confession is met a response that only a member can spot at a 100 yards. A knowing look and a gentle nod, a look of pursed lips and down cast eyes, one that is searching and reflecting on the dual lives they themselves live. Even though I have just become a member, I know this already as I have been responding to fellow my confessionees the same way, call me an accelerated learner or not, but I since my love and I have been living the life of a ‘Member with Dependents Unaccompanied’ (MWDU) couple for the past year and a half, I’ve been using this face every time I meet a Defence wife, husband or partner. This face is as involuntary to me as breathing; I can’t help it, let me tell you why.
I find myself trying to balance the two lives which are held apart 24/7 except for the 36 hour window of intersection provided by my daughter ‘T’ and I. We are the common threads that tether them together. It’s not my intent to keep these lives apart it’s just how it is. Most weeks, from Sunday to Friday evening, my love and I live apart. My week is busy, filled with a wonderful career, study, travel, meetings, corporate events; dinners with my girl gang and sitting on the couch watching trash television with T. Friday night to Sunday afternoon are spent with my love. Time with him is so precious that mundane chores like mowing the lawn and housework slip by the wayside which sees an addition layer of anxiety added to the mix and for a neat freak such as myself, well, this just makes me twitch a little and I can feel myself eyeballing a cobweb out of the corner of my eye whilst my love is sitting at the bench telling me about his week… (Membership Requirement No 1: Be a bad wife by becoming distracted by menial shit… …nailed it). If he isn’t on the road travelling the three hours to get home on a Friday night, I’m in the car driving to see him. I usually drive to Sydney the weekends he has ‘duty’ which means that my Friday night is taken by the Navy and I only get one night with him that week (insert eye roll here…see how jaded and cynical I have become?).
I feel STRESSED out!
It’s not without its challenges trying to juggle these two seemingly impossible lives. Balancing the demands of life, a marriage and maintaining friendships, is taxing, and at times ensuring everyone involved feels loved and heard, leaves me feeling drained. More often than not, I feel like I am stuck in the middle trying to make sure I am allocating enough time to everyone to ensure no one feels left out when the reality is, I feel STRESSED out!
I feel like I am doing it all, trying to be all things to all people and all while not trying to hurt feelings or disappoint anyone. Whether it is meeting up for a coffee on the weekend or going out for cocktails on Friday night. I can’t go! Well, it’s not that I can’t, no one says I can’t, the reality is, I just don’t want to. Friday nights at a bar with friends or sitting in a coffee shop for a few hours on a Saturday morning, eats into the priceless time I have with my love and when I politely decline the invitation, I feel like the biggest mole ever! I appreciate the invitation, I really do and I don’t want my friends to forget me or to not ask me out but, my time with him so short I’m not willing to sacrifice a single second away from him for the short amount of time that I get.
All of my friends love him more than me! I know this as they have straight out told me that I won’t be cold in my grave before they are lining up to become the next Mrs Mills (heads up, I’m watchin’ you girls!!!). Needless to say, my love is always invited to come along on week end catch ups and although he can spot a pair of Christian Louboutin’s faster than most women I know (ain’t no sneaking red soles into our house hey T?), I’m pretty sure he doesn’t really want to talk about fashion and girlie stuff. It’s not his fault but I feel like I am always back briefing him to make sure he understands the storyline that is unfolding before him and that is just plain frustrating for him and for the person telling the story. So many good punch lines are wasted when you have to explain the story, don’t you think?
The funny thing is, he feels the same way. He is the left shoe to my right. Together, we are two old slippers in a box the problem is, one of the slippers always seems to be missing. You see, from time to time when he comes home he feels like his is imposing even though he knows that’s not the case. They see that we are coping so well with the time apart (cough, cough) and getting on with things that when they come home, they feel like they are the third wheel and just don’t fit in anymore. As wives, I’d like to think we’re well aware of this and can head it off at the pass but occasionally you can start to see that the feelings of intrusion start to manifest and they retreat back into themselves or start asking permission to do something just in case we had made other plans without their prior consultation. It’s a ‘lil bit of a pickle really, isn’t it?
Some marriages don’t survive life inside the Defence force and I can see why. We are lucky we have a built a relationship where we are happy and comfortable to share our thoughts and feelings on the status of our relationship, that way if ‘shit’s about to hit the fan it can be contained well be for it gets …well…messy (ewww gross, sorry for that picture!).
I’ve realised the key is to talk early and often and to not let external influence encroach on the kingdom of your relationship. The reason you were drawn to each other is still there buried, under the layers of everyday life and the uncertainty of not knowing where the posting is, who your new friends will be or even if you will have the warmth of your loves arms around you every night.