A Twitter chat is like a meeting on Twitter; it has a specific discussion topic and a scheduled start time. Using the hashtag #MilCents at the end of each tweet, MFAN will ask questions to a group of financial experts.
I landed in Spain on Nov. 10, 2013, and for the first few days, I felt as if I was on vacation. We got settled in our house on base, did some shopping, planned European adventures, and explored Rota. Then reality began to set in.
Don’t get me wrong: I was ecstatic that Aleksei and I were together and that our long-distance relationship was a thing of the past. As for the other parts … well, there I had concerns:
Several spouses made an effort to welcome me by asking me to join them for lunches, coffees, shopping trips, and other events, and their invitations meant the world to me. I did the best I could to balance working and getting to know my fellow Navy spouses, and I participated as much as my schedule permitted. During these outings I noticed that some of these spouses really seemed to have it together. They appeared to be selfless, superpowered superhumans who thrived in the military world. I watched them from a distance and wondered: How do they make it look so easy? Are they really doing as well as they appear? If they are, what’s their secret?
I thought I was prepared. I thought I would thrive. Instead, I felt lonely, naive, and lost. And I wasn’t the only one. I encountered a few other spouses who seemed to be going through a similar journey adjusting to military life in Spain — or, like me, adjusting to military life, period.
During my first two months overseas, I received calls or emails from many of the MFAN advisors, asking how I was. Each time I gave the “life is great, Spain is beautiful” line, they replied, “OK, now tell me how you really are.” When I got those emails or heard those words, I felt a sense of relief: They knew it wouldn’t be easy, they knew I would struggle, and maybe they struggled (or still struggle) too. I vented, they validated, and I felt better.
I wish that I could say that I’ve adjusted completely and I’m loving every day in Spain, but that’s not how it is. I have good days and bad days. I’ve made changes to my life and my outlook that have helped, but I’ve got a ways to go.
I am learning how to truly rely on Aleksei: While I hate how the term “dependent” is used in military jargon, I do depend on him — as my friend, my confidant, and my support system.
I’ve developed hobbies: I started horseback riding, something that I hadn’t done in 15 years. It gets me out of the house and is something that I can do for me (and only me).
I’ve learned to look on the bright side: We’ve had opportunities to travel, to enjoy Spain, and to meet some great people.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a new military spouse, it’s this: This won’t be my last time being the new kid on the block — but now I’ve acquired some tools to make the next time a little easier.
To be continued next week …milfam milspouse
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