It happened to me again yesterday: there I was, reading Facebook statuses, and doing everything in my power not to comment to a friend “sorry your husband is leaving – but MINE will be gone when our baby is born. Beat THAT!”
When it comes to life as a military spouse, it’s all too easy to focus on the negative – I’ll spare you a list of possibilities. But it’s when things are legitimately hard and emotionally charged that the real temptation to compare life-challenges starts. Whose deployment sucked more? Whose military hospital experience was worse? Whose reintegration was the hardest? Whose spouse will be gone for the most training days between now and deployment? Whose commander is most unreasonable? Whose commissary trip was the most painful? And the list goes on … and on … and on.
The comparisons have gotten easier with the growth of social media, too. Now you don’t just get to compare your minute-by-minute milspouse misery with the people you see during the day, you can do it with people from duty stations past. And their friends. And their friend’s friends.
The complaints that you or they may have once kept to yourself, all the sudden find an easy, seemingly harmless outlet on the internet. After all, who is going to get hurt if you end every status update with “and my husband is still gone?” … the unspoken subtext of which is “don’t you dare forget I’m miserable.”
There’s nothing wrong with telling your friends and family that deployment is hard or that life does, every now and then, really suck. But constant complaining and misery comparisons do no one any good.
Newsflash: most miserable military spouse does not win – she loses.
The problem with allowing ourselves to make constant comparisons is that it gives us and others an excuse to focus on the bad instead of highlighting the good — for the sake of not only our own sanity but for the sanity of our friends and family. Based on negative status messages alone, those who know nothing of the military life except what they read from our updates could easily be lead to think that it’s 24/7 misery, when we not it’s really not. And those who share the lifestyle can get stuck in that lovely spiral of negativity — a really unhealthy option.
One of my resolutions for this year is to focus on the positive instead of the negative in both online and “real” life. I often felt over the last year that I was all but drowning under my schedule, being a mom, moving twice, family drama and lots of other things. It may sound corny, but this year I want to thrive, not just survive. And part of the way for me to do that is to focus on the positive, avoid the constant complainers and choose to compare only the good.
Next time you see me compare miseries on Facebook, feel free to call me out on it. Can I do the same for you?