Throughout the military community, I’ve met so many wonderful people. I’ve met people who are far more supportive, encouraging, and understanding than anyone I had in my life previously. They share a deep responsibility to care for others, genuinely and sincerely, and it’s often hard to imagine a time when I didn’t know some of these great people.
I’ve always been the type of person that cares immensely about others, so it was nice to finally be surrounded by people who had this delicate balance of strength and sensitivity. People who will let you cry when days are hard but remind you, carefully, when it’s time to put your big girl panties on. In most instances, these are the types of people I meet that represent the military community as a whole.
But every now and then, as some of you have probably found out, there are individuals who seem as though they only wish to bring us down. In my experiences, they haven’t always been those of the military community. Sometimes they’re just mean comments that come from a person who doesn’t know anything about the military or what it’s like to be in a military relationship. Sometimes it’s a family member who just doesn’t understand. And sometimes, it comes from someone who does know what it’s like, but they feel some need to make you feel bad about yourself, your choices, your relationship, or your life as a whole.
“You’re just a girlfriend…”
Yes, I am. I am the girlfriend of a United States Army soldier. This fact has encompassed the most joyful and proud moments of my life so far. It has also been some of my scariest, most frustrating moments. I have laughed and I have cried, both alone and with him. Through our triumphs and failures we have built a foundation of love, whether we are together or apart.
I am a girlfriend, but I am also many other things. I’m a caregiver when needed, a supported, a lover, a hand to hold. I am a team member, a backbone, a provider, and a kiss goodnight. I am a puzzle piece that fills in where he lacks, and vise versa. I am a phone call when we’re thousands of miles apart. I am so many little things, that make up a gigantic love.
And the truth is, all of those things will forever be true. But being just a girlfriend is temporary. Someday, girlfriend will turn into fiance, and fiance will turn into wife. And all of those wonderful things that we already are will only evolve and become greater.
So yes, I am just a girlfriend. But there is no greater thing for me to be right now. There is no greater role; no other way that I would be needed more. I have never felt a need to belittle the role that someone else plays in their relationship, or their life. I have never wanted to make someone feel like they’re less than anything. With all of the other things we have to conquer in the world, as military couples and as individuals, why bother with such petty nonsense?
For those of you who have faced the same judgments, whether it be a situation like this one or something completely different, the hardest but most necessary thing for you to do is to rise above it. If someone chooses to use a label such as “wife”, “graduate”, “mother”, etc. to make you feel bad about your apparent “lack” of something, than they don’t truly value what lies behind that label. They only value the connotations that come with that label, and the respect that they believe it will gain them.
Always remember that it isn’t the label that matters. It’s who you are, who you surround yourself with, and why you do.
Have any of you faced a similar situation? How did you resolve it/were you able to?