Do you ever feel like a spectator, seemingly always observing, but never truly participating in anything? That's sort of where I am at this point in my life. I don't say that to garner sympathy, only to perhaps see if anyone else is experiencing a similar feeling, and if so, how you're handling it.
The military lifestyle has called our family to move frequently, which has naturally meant that we've found ourselves in unfamiliar surroundings and situations over the years. We've been the "new family" in the _____________ (Fill in the blank with whatever word happens to be appropriate... squadron, church, school) many, many times. That doesn't normally bother me, as I'm not particularly shy, but I think the tables are turning for me and I'm finding that I'm not as comfortable in these settings as I once was, and I'm growing weary of being that new person everywhere I go.
You're probably familiar with the phrase "Bloom where you're planted." That's been my mantra for years. I know that we're only going to be residing in a place for a short time, and I have a choice of either sitting at home all alone or embracing my new surroundings, which, for me, means exploring the area, meeting new people and getting involved. I end up investing in a group of friends and it's always hard to leave and move on to the next place. I think that's the way it should be.
Leaving Spain to move back to the States was difficult. I had an awesome group of close friends and we did everything together. I think overseas assignments can tend to be very intimidating and isolating, therefore they lend themselves well to these types of tight-knit relationships. While I knew I was blessed to be there and to have these wonderful women in my life, I truly had no idea just how blessed. Don't you hate figuring these things out after the fact? I'd have treasured those people and that time in my life even more if I'd only known then what I know now.
I really thought that moving back to the States would be a fairly easy transition though. I mean, we'd lived in this area of Illinois before, so it was familiar territory. We had a church lined up, a beautiful home we'd purchased and good schools for the boys (That's debatable at times, but that's another post). So why do I feel this way? And what does "this way" mean? I can't verbalize it other than to say that it's unfamiliar to me and not at all what I'd expected.
Our military base is very "rank heavy," meaning there are lots of high-ranking officers stationed here. I have been in several situations over the last 6 months that have left me feeling very unwelcomed and discontented, situations where people are obviously name dropping, I suppose to impress others with the fact that they know "So & So." I've endured conversations where all people can talk about is their husbands' jobs and who's making general. I think it's great that people are being promoted, and they have my respect, especially considering how difficult it can be to make such a high rank, not to mention the time and attention their jobs require. I just know that these folks put on their pants the same way I do every day.
Quite frankly, I'm not interested in superficial relationships at this point in my life because they have no substance. I don't want to get to know someone just because her spouse is a general. Don't people see the insincerity of those who so are so obviously playing the game? I just want to be friends with someone because I enjoy her company and have a common interest. I don't really care what her spouse does. Does rank have to be a prerequisite for friendship?
I'm extremely proud of my husband for his military accomplishments because I know he's worked very hard in his career. I admire his stamina and dedication to being the best he can be, but not just in terms of his military career. I'm even more proud of the person he is, and how blessed the boys and I are that he's my husband and their father. My husband's rank has no real bearing on my feelings for him. Am I proud that he's earned his rank? Yes, of course I am. Does it make him more important/special in my eyes? No, it does not. And more to the point, does/should his rank elevate me as a person? Absolutely not! I could go the rest of my life without hearing "What does your husband do?" and be just fine.
I've always considered myself to be outgoing and hospitable. I'm all about inclusion and have tried to go out of my way over the years to reach out to newcomers, knowing how it feels to be in their shoes, and also knowing how great it is to be on the receiving end of a warm welcome. There's no better feeling!
I don't feel warmth here, not yet anyway. I'm still searching, and trying not to let my own judgmental feelings get in the way. Not everyone is careless and calculating. I know there are other women here who want the same things I do. I'm attempting to surround myself with positive, genuine people. One of the loneliest feelings for me is not having a sense of belonging. I no longer belong to the group of people I just left, and I don't yet belong to a group of people in my new surroundings. In the meantime, I wonder... Where DO I belong? God willing, I will eventually figure that out, hopefully sooner than later.