I cussed my husband out for the first time. It was 1 am, and he was slamming cabinets and drawers in frustration from having had to spend so much time priming the walls, which is the exact reason he didn’t want me to paint them back in 2016.
The attitude wasn’t helping. This was the night before we were meant to move out of our military housing and move on to the rest of our non-military lives.
On Tuesday, two women came to pack our things, which were moved out by two functionally fit men on Wednesday. They left us with all the things we set aside to get us through a week without a home, and sooo many liquids we had not anticipated having to tote.
My four boxes of Mary Kay products happened to be liquid. I checked the U-haul website when I got to my hair appointment the morning the movers were coming. $241 for the hitch. I didn’t even look at the trailer.
My husband didn’t speak to me when I came home from the salon. I asked why he was mad. He was mad because he had been home with our son who would have undoubtedly been underfoot of the movers without dad’s ever present arm to snatch him back at every turn.
But he acknowledged he couldn’t really be mad at me for getting my hair done at that time, especially since he didn’t tell me not to when I made the appointment.
One thing I have learned about adulthood is that there a lot of things that aren’t anyone’s fault. We often misdirect our frustration or disappointment instead of choosing to move on and let it dissipate into the universe.
So when I cussed my husband out I had been imploring him to move on from his frustration about having to spend so much time painting and not doing the other things required to clear the inspection. I had been trying to move on myself but could not.
I had painted the dining room dark, ocean blue because I had never painted before. I didn’t think about the priming process, and incidentally had no concept of what an adequately primed wall looked like. My helpful friend, Erin, came by and helped me paint the week prior.
I scoffed at how dramatic people were about getting the walls painted back. I was surprised at just how quickly we had gotten it done.
Turns out it wasn’t close to done, but since I didn’t know, I wasted a weekend and ended up having to apply a couple more coats Tuesday, along with everything else we had to do.
At the moment I stood in front of my husband on my tiptoes trying to get to his level—he’s 6’1”— big mad— we had reached a critical level of stress.
You remember in college, or high school, when you had a big paper due on Friday that you had known about since the beginning of the semester? Do you remember how you waited until Wednesday after school to start it, and Friday at 1 am you had that moment of feeling like there is no way it’s going to come together?
But it did.
That’s where I was, well I was fighting that feeling by focusing on the fact I had to get it together. We had to move out and had to get on the road before my son’s first nap time. It just had to be done.
Every door slam and grunt reinforced the idea it would never come together, which simply was not an option.
I tried telling him he wasn’t being a leader or team player by being negative right now. He felt like he was entitled to his angry emotions he warned me about two years prior. When I couldn’t get through to him, I said “well, F you,” and walked off.
There is no way I would have cussed my husband out for anything four years ago, one year ago. Cursing at each other has never been acceptable to me. And I don’t typically talk like that.
I was sad at how easy it came in that moment. I have said mean things before, honestly, on very limited occasions, but never as easily as I had just said that. And for something so small.
But that moment was huge.
For about six weeks, I had been preemptively grieving the loss of our military status. I was anticipating grieving the loss of an identity and the difficulty of moving. I imagined I would be incredibly emotional at this time.
The weekend prior I had experienced so much anxiety I didn’t want to leave my house. Only days prior had we secured a place to live in St. Louis. I had been worried about making ends meet and never again seeing my friends at Fort Bragg.
A stress response was inevitable.
Even though I sat at home worried about the move, I failed to use that energy to prepare for the move. I needed to be setting aside all the things to take in my car.
I quickly realized the collapsible tote I had set aside with my journal, notebooks, and current reading had been packed. Despite announcing it a few times, I never moved the box into the no-pack zone. Knowing I would spend so much time sitting around or being a passenger over the weekend, I was disappointed.
Fortunately, my husband did manage to set aside the non-working laptop I spilled water on in October and my iPhone 4s and iPhone 6s in case I needed them…
That was fine though because as long as I had my MacBook— yes, I have to call it a “MacBook” instead of a “laptop”— I could focus of the writing I am never caught up on.
So you can imagine my heartbreak when I found that I did not have the charger in my possession. I actually considered crying.
Now that I sell Mary Kay and earn money one facial at a time, one product at a time, I hate spending money on things I don’t need. Yes, I could buy another charger, but I knew it wouldn’t be cheap.
And it wasn’t. It was $75 for a charging block half as fast as the one that came with my computer and a cord. Purchased in two separate trips to Best Buy, no thanks to the associate for not telling me the block didn’t come with a cord. But as a long time Apple user, I should have known.
We finally went to bed that night at 2 am. We lie on a air mattress that I don’t remember being so uncomfortable when we slept on it our first night in the same house four years prior.
Maybe because we didn’t have sheets or pillows because my husband didn’t think of that, and I wasn’t there to make up for it. Maybe because I’m not the same person.
He apologized for outwardly expressing his emotions. I apologized as well for being terrible.
Was it four years of Army that got me to this place where I can disrespect my spouse without blinking, or was it just four years of marriage?
I have been trying to wrap my mind around what it will means to no longer be a military couple.
What is it like not to have to hold so tightly you make the most of your time together but simultaneously so loosely so that you aren’t wrecked when he leaves for six months?
What is it like for your spouse to have real choices within their careers?
What is it like to never miss him?
What is it like to really be able to ask for what you want because your husband is married to you and not the military, and you aren’t the other woman?
I don’t know how not being in the military will affect my marriage. My vows were written as an acceptance of being a military spouse. I thought I was in for twenty years of this mess.
My personal vows were promises made based on the military like not cheating or wasting money during deployments or getting fat. So what are my promises outside of the military? How much did I compromise the first time?
So I couldn’t sleep that night because my body couldn’t relax after working all day. I got up and primed what I could of the living room again before running out of primer. I cleaned the freezer and refrigerator and threw away a bunch of food. Took the rest to my neighbor with four vehicles in the driveway but only two ways to get to work.
My mind was made up that only getting two hours of sleep didn’t mean I couldn’t drive for 9 hours the following day.
I went to sleep at 6 am. I slept until my son caused me to get up at 8. Got back to work cleaning the oven and cutting drops of paint out of the carpet.
At 9:30, Erin came to say “goodbye.” I had avoided shedding tears until then. Erin was the best friend I had as an Army wife. Not my closest friend, but she elevated the term ‘friend’ by being so much to all us women around her. I am a better parent because of her.
In response to my crying, my 12-month old son gave me a kiss on the lips then head butted me a couple times as if to tell me to move on.
I hit the road at 10:30 and saw a Facebook post from maybe my closest friend, Kalicia, and then I was crying and driving.
Before I left I hugged my husband and thanked him for giving me this experience. And I thanked him for his service, which was nothing like we expected.
He added to my character by taking me out of a familiar environment and forcing me to grow. Even with the bad, I am better because of being a military spouse.
Anyway, I made it to the hotel in Louisville, Kentucky by 9:30 pm, and my husband was shortly behind me.
Our house cleared the inspection without us having to pay extra despite the stained, but old carpet, and the shoddy priming job.
And that was it. That was the end of our experience in the military. I didn’t have the emotional breakdown I expected last week or the elation I dreamt about years before. I just was and moved on in my life.
Life can be hard, but as long as we keep going we find ourselves having made it through.