“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” -Peter Pan
It is a well known phrase for us military wives, we never say, “goodbye,” it’s always, “see you later.” I cannot count the number of times that I have said this to dear friends over the last 20 years. And I must warn you, it doesn’t ever get easier, but it does become more bearable. I will tell you about this sisterhood and how it works!
I don’t have a sister, I have two sister-in-laws. And as much as I love them, they are not the same as the sisterhood of submarine spouses. I have come to count on and lean into this band of ladies from all over the world, and it’s such a beautiful community! No matter what you believe in spiritually, God, the universe — fate truly made us for each other. People are not meant to be on an island by themselves. We can certainly try to do it all alone, and then we will inevitably fail(speaking from experience).
We are truly blessed to have a tribe built in at almost every duty station. Let’s look at the highs, lows, and how to cope with it all!
I have countless highs, but here’s my top 5:
Someone to share life with during deployments.
Their family becomes your family, especially during the holidays) Maybe you can celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas together, or other seasonal activities that make you miss your spouse, such as visiting a pumpkin patch or going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day.
A friend who understands your woes that civilians don’t.
It’s a blessing to be friends with someone who is in this life with you. Someone who won’t ask questions like “What do you mean you can’t talk to your husband?” or statements like “Wow I don’t know how you do it.”
A person to share the burden, open up to, and help hold you up when you are down.
They’re in this life with you, and they just get it. And they understand what you might need, like a hug, phone call, chocolate or maybe even some wine!
Someone to help you when your sailor isn’t around.
We all need help sometimes, and it’s good to know we’re not alone. Maybe you need help around the house, climbing a ladder to a vaulted ceiling to hang sunshades. Maybe you need to take a last minute trip to the Emergency Room.
A friend that truly stays in touch beyond the boat you are both attached to.
Yes, this takes effort, but it is well worth it. Technology is a blessing and you can stay in touch well beyond time together at a duty station. And you never know when your paths might cross again!
The lows stink, but it has to be said! Here are my top five:
Being “stuck” with a wife that doesn’t mesh well with the others.
You can only do the best you can to make it work. Try not to contribute to any “drama” and stay out of any conflicts.
Your kids don’t get along.
It happens. Just make a plan, set boundaries and have an open conversation about it.
When your sailors can’t hang out with each other.
Fraternization can be an issue, be smart and respect your sailor’s rank whatever it may be.
Your best Navy buddy is moving.
It’s okay to cry, be mad and sad, but give her a hug and let her do her laundry at your house while the movers are packing out! Stay in touch, she can still be a great support system for you even if she’s not at the same duty station.
The final moments of a goodbye.
There is real grief and heartache, but well worth all of it!
This lifestyle can be so hard. Thank goodness for the support of each other! Don’t be afraid to make those friendships, reach out for help when you need it, they will be there for you. Don’t let the fear of someone leaving or you moving deter you from finding your tribe.
Go ahead, join the FRG, help out with a meal train, join in on a Zoom chat of spouses you don’t know. I always tell my children as they start a new school that I can’t be selfish and keep them all to myself, there is someone out there that they will be a blessing to, that needs them in their lives.
So connect with the people around you, their life may be missing you!