Now, before any one jumps down my throat, let me explain! Also, to all of my civilian friends out there, you know I still love you.
That said, it is sometimes very hard for your civilian friends to understand what you are going through. I’ve talked to several of my civilian friends (c-friends) about it and they do understand where I am coming from. It is very hard to understand the challenges of being a military wife until you’ve been in the situation. I know I didn’t understand before he joined and I didn’t have near the respect that I should have for military families. Now that I’m on the inside, my entire perspective has changed.
The Language Barrier
As you become more accustomed to military life, you will find yourself beginning to use all of those Army acronyms that at one point you found to be so annoying. Just the other day, I was having a conversation with a c-friend and found myself having to explain almost every other word. I’m just so accustomed to being around my husband, his soldier friends and their wives…the acronyms are now a natural part of conversation. I also made the mistake once of inviting a new c-friend over when I was having all Army wives over for dinner. She was so overwhelmed by all of the Army talk, I think we literally scared her off.
The Security Barrier
For the most part, you cannot discuss anything about your husband’s deployments or training. This is especially true for special operations units. It’s much easier when you don’t know anything therefore you can’t say anything. But even some information that is given out in FRG meetings is not meant to be shared outside of the unit. Of course, this can sometimes make conversations difficult. It is very important that you do let your c-friends and even your family know about OPSEC. They need to understand why you are not allowed to tell them anything – particularly over the telephone. Many mistakenly believe that because you can turn on CNN and see what is going on with the war in Iraq that you can share information you have. This is not the case and you can get yourself and your soldier in quite a bit of trouble. The old saying “Loose Lips Sink Ships” still holds true today!
Because of that, you tend to naturally gravitate to other Army wives in your husband’s unit or to other military wives in general. They understand why you can’t talk about certain subjects or if their husband is in the same unit, it is the one time you can speak freely without having to worry about slipping up.
The Separation Barrier
While many c-friends are sympathetic to your husband being gone, few are able to say things to make you feel better. My all-time favorite is “I don’t know how you do it. I wouldn’t be able to do it if my husband were gone all the time.” Knowing that my friend doesn’t think they could handle it does nothing to help me handle it better.
It is hard but there’s just no way to adequately describe the feelings you have during a separation. You have days when you want to do nothing but cry, you have days when you feel lost, you have days where you feel anxious because you just heard a news story about KIAs. But you also have days that aren’t so bad. Once you establish a routine, you may find that you can “enjoy” the separation as a time for both of you to grow, learn new things and establish an even deeper commitment to your relationship. You may even find you have days when you don’t think about it until someone asks you how he’s doing. Then you feel guilty when you realize it’s the first time you thought about him today. Your emotions can be somewhat like a roller coaster ride and it’s just easier to be around someone who’s going through the same thing.
Maybe inadequate is not the right word….
On the other hand, having c-friends around can be wonderful especially when you want a break from military life. When you think you’ll scream if you see another piece of his BDUs laying in the floor or if you hear one more acronym, its nice to have someone from the outside world around you. Sometimes it’s so nice to know that there is a life outside of the Army and I think we can close ourselves off too much. Do yourself a favor and keep your friends from both worlds.