A snapshot of "I". ~ The Grace Between

A snapshot of “I”.

For privacy reasons, my friend has chosen to remain anonymous. But please read her snapshot of “I”. Sometimes, we meet people right in the heart of their messy and heartisbreaking momentsAnd we don’t and sometimes won’t know how the story ends … I do know I am humbled to share it. (I needed tissues for this…)

All About “I”

“Most days, I feel like I’m an imposter, an interloper – at the very
least, an inconvenience.  I’m a female active-duty Army officer.  That
fact alone makes me part of about 14 percent of the force, which is
itself only 0.15 percent of the population of the United States.
Then, there’s the fact that I’m part of a dual-military couple.  There
are only about 20,000 dual-military couples in the Army.  And, I’m one
of the lucky 21 percent of those couples who is not assigned to a
joint domicile with my husband.  So if my math is correct, there are
only approximately 2,099 other women like me, including both officers
and enlisted, in the entire country.

But that math exercise isn’t the point, not really, anyway: I’m used
to being the odd one out.  Used to being the “first female x” or the
“only female y” – it gets old, yes, but I’m not in entirely unfamiliar
territory.  I’ve had to fight for my place with the boys.  I’ve always
been able to work smarter, harder, longer, and come out on top.

No, the reason I feel less than worthless most days can be summed up
in one more word starting with the letter “I”: infertile. That’s the
diagnosis, right there in black and white, at the top of page after
page of medical records and test results.  It’s right there next to
“multiple spontaneous abortions.”  And it’s my diagnosis, not my
husband’s.  This problem is all mine.  No one knows how to fix it.  No
one actually seems to care too much, to be honest.  No one seems to
want to make sure that I get the medical care to treat it.  No one
wants to allow me to take the time from my job that I need for my
health.

And the mere fact that I want something so badly, have done everything
I’m “supposed” to do (just like I have for years and years, first at
home, then at schools, then at my job) and it’s not working?  Well,
that’s plenty discouraging.  It doesn’t make it any easier that I end
up seeing soldier after soldier accused of raping or impregnating
someone, or who can’t afford to take financial responsibility for
their actions, or wives who seem to believe that the Army should
revolve around them and their ever-expanding broods.  Or that I’m
“broken” or “weird” or undeserving of friendships because I don’t have
kids.

There are children literally everywhere on post: the screaming brats
at the PX, the adorable angels singing in the church choir, the
chauffeured princes and princesses of the jogging stroller, complete
with smug tanned and toned SAHM’s.  And then there’s me.  I’m supposed
to care more about the mission than about myself and my family.  I’m
not supposed to mind that when I’ve had a hard day (again), that I
have an empty house to go home to, and no one to cook me supper, or
rub my back, or ask how I’m doing.  I’m not supposed to mind that my
coworkers have wives at home to cook and clean and be there for the
repair guy.  I’m supposed to be ok with the fact that I have no
friends left at this installation, and that I’m not invited to events
because they’re kid-focused.  I’m supposed to be grateful that I
only(!) have to drive three hours each way to see my husband, if the
mission allows.  And so I feel selfish for wanting happiness; selfish
for wanting something that seems to come so easily for everyone else;
selfish for craving a small morsel of joy.

Intellectually, I know there are others struggling.  But I am yet to
find anyone else with my peculiar circumstances.  My heart has a hard
time believing that others could or would understand me.  And so I
sit, alone.  Wishing for friends.  Wishing for my husband.  Wishing
for family.  Wishing that one of these pregnancies when we were still
living together had worked out.  Wishing that I had a good answer for
my friend’s sweet little girl who wants to know why I don’t have kids.
 Wishing for something more.

I’ve had three miscarriages this past year, and people don’t know.  I
can’t talk about it because I might seem weak, because it might affect
my job, because it might affect others’ perception of me as 50 % of
the 5 % of the 0.15 %.

The truth is, though, that I’m tired.  This is harder than when I said
goodbye to my husband less than an hour after we were married (thanks
to his surprise deployment).  This is harder than when we were both
deployed to the same country but to different commands.  This is
harder than after I came home from Iraq fully aware of the current
dangers my husband was still facing in theater but without the ability
to contact him.  The relentless cycle of hope, loss, and grief is
taking its toll.  Sometimes being all I can be seems like being a
curled-up ball of mush on the couch at home, and then slapping on a
happy face at work, again and again.  I keep thinking of Hannah… but
am so scared that I would need to be more like Rebecca, and survive
this for another twenty years.  What if my husband wants to trade me
in for a newer, less-broken model that’s more in keeping with the
standard officer’s wife? What if I never get to be a mother?  What if
I don’t deserve to be a mother?   What if I’m not strong enough to be
strong?  I know that “I” may not be enough… and I’m trying to get
through this with faith and prayer.  But that may not be enough
either.  I wish I knew …”

~M.