Don’t Pity Me…Ever

Don’t you do it, don’t even think about it. If there is one thing I hear quite a bit and cannot stand is pity. Even if it is not outright, “I’m sorry, how do you do it?” I hear it in the tone of their voice or the “We’ll be thinking of you.” When people find out that I’m an Army wife and my husband is currently on his seventh deployment, they usually look at me with shock and pity. When I talk about my life I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. It is my life, I chose it and I have embraced it.

My husband and I got married before 9/11 and before anyone ever thought we’d be in a war that was never ending. He was in the Army and part of a group that was gone quite a bit. He took me aside and told me, “I’m going to be gone, a lot of the time, can you live with that?” I said yes, knowing we would be apart. when 9/11 happened we knew things would change. They did, he continued with the units that make a difference, the ones that are gone so much. He loves his job, he’s good at it and after eleven years, it is his career.

I have learned so much from my life, I would never trade it for all the pity in the world. I have learned to become independent. I have learned to manage a home, be a mother to two wonderful boys, and work from home. It does get monotonous, without another adult around at night, I usually end up reading or watching too many episodes of Law & Order on Netflix. Life is a little less stressful, sometimes. I don’t always have to cook a full meal, because the kids are usually happy with green beans and macaroni and cheese. We find our own schedule and we go with it.

When he’s home, we have all the same issues normal couples have. He has to work late, he has to go away for a week on business. I get tired of picking up his dirty clothes or how long he plays his video games. Here’s a big one, our sex life isn’t wonderful. Lots of people think, wow, he is gone so much, you probably try to get as much in when he’s there. Sometimes, yeah, but when I have a headache, I have a headache. I nag him to take out the trash and he always wants to know when I’m going to do laundry.

Please don’t pity me or any other military family. We are exactly like you, we just deal with our husbands or wives being a work a little longer than you. I admit he looks great in his uniform and my heart swells with pride when he tells me about his latest award. Honestly, it does suck when he isn’t around to see the boys in their belt test in karate or watch them ride their bike for the first time. My bed feels empty, many nights, but I usually end up with a couple kids, a dog and a cat to keep me warm. I have wonderful friends who try to include me and do everything from invite me over for breakfast or pick my kids up at school. I’m starting to find and keep babysitters on tap so I can have a few hours without kids. I’m working on planning a vacation when he gets back, but with no specific dates, it is hard, but oh so fun imagining how great it will be when he is back.  Life is good, even when he is gone.

Instead of pity, here are a few things you can do:

  • Say a prayer or send a positive thought out for all our deployed military members
  • If you know a military wife or husband who has a spouse deployed, offer to make a meal or even babysit for them (if you are that brave!)
  • Send letters or cards to deployed military, to remind them home is waiting
  • Lend a hand, we Army wives are super independent, we don’t always ask for help. Try to be aware and just step in and let them know what you are going to do for them and when you’ll be there.

So, you can love on me, invite me into your home, help me plan my vacation, buy me some batteries for my….electric toothbrush, watch my kids, but don’t pity me, because I sure don’t pity myself!

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8 thoughts on “Don’t Pity Me…Ever

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Don’t Pity Me…Ever « Mothering Off the Cuff -- Topsy.com

  2. Amen sister! I too am married to a Soldier who is “gone a lot.” I , too was married before 9/11, back when communication during deployment meant a scribbled note on the back of a cardboard MRE packet (if you were lucky) sent through the free mail.
    I think wives in our situations (husbands who are in units that are gone often) have a certain tenacity that other Army wives don’t have. Boo hoo, your husband is going to be gone for 3 months. Really? Suck it up! You knew what you married into.
    And the ones who don’t/can’t end up divorced (and are the reason we get the “oh you poor thing, how do you manage it?”).

    • I thought I was one of a few that remembered the hand written correspondence with our soldier. I had to giggle when I read your comment.

  3. I just want to say thank you for this article. I hear this pity tone all the time. I have been an Army spouse for over 23 yrs. I think we have now lived almost every situation a military family can go through. My soldiers orders brought us to this area with a promise of it being a 3 yr assignment. We didn’t believe it the first yr and rented. Then the second year we bought a house to finally make a home only to receive orders moving my husband to another base. Well, some say why didn’t you move with him? Well, this all happened at the same time people stopped buying houses which meant we were not going to be able to unload our new purchase. So, with much debate and weighing of our choices (finances won out) and we decided he would go and the family would stay in the new home. We have now been doing this for over 2 yrs and it is working. Barely sometimes, but working nonetheless. I have had many people tell me that we would be better off if we had moved with him and relocated the family yet again. Unfortunately, those same people do not have a clue that our soldiers do not make the kind of money to be able to survive moving every year like we had been doing for the last dozen or so. And to move us to an area that used to get COLA and now does not, makes it nearly impossible for the families to keep up with this kind of strain. Now, I am not looking for pity. I just want you to know you are not alone in your strife to get understanding. God bless!

    Your military sister,
    Jen

  4. As I read more and more blogs and articles written by military spouses, I often find the don’t-pity-me theme. But my question is this: Why is it so horrible to be pitied? The definition of “pity” from dictionary.com is, “sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy.” Feeling pity for someone is rooted in sympathy and *kindly* sorrow; it is often rooted in love. Maybe more importantly, pity moves someone to action. When a friend has sympathy or pity for me while my husband is away, she will most likely offer to help. And we all need help. To deny that we need help is a form of stubborn pride that will eventually lead to burnout, stress, and frustration. Having my husband gone is hard. If someone feels sorry for me, has pity for me, or has compassion for me–whatever phrase you want to use–I will not become defensive. Instead, I will assume that they care about me and they understand that my situation is difficult. Because it is.

    • Very true. I agree, we need help. I’ve found, and this is my personal experience, that people pity, but rarely act on those feelings. I have a couple of good friends who help without asking and I feel comfortable asking. Other people though treat me like the poor, destitute Army wife whose husband is always gone. They don’t offer help, just sympathy. I guess I should have been a little more clear, don’t pity me and treat me like a wandering lost person. If you want to help, just do it! As military wives we need to be able to seek out help when we need it and avoid the burnout, stress and frustration.

      You are right, it is difficult, but it’s my life and I’ve learned not to let it become me. I’m much more than an Army wife without her husband.

    • Pity feels condescending.

      Empathy, on the other hand, is welcome–if you’ve been in a similar situation, and are in a position to help others, that is great.

      If the military spouse next door understands what it is like to have a husband gone so she comes over with some snacks and drags her husband with her and says, “I saw you trying to move that dresser alone while 7 months’ pregnant…since Bob is here, he can do it.”…that’s wonderful.

      If someone who has no clue what it is like calls and wants you to spill your guts and cry to confirm for her how very tough it is so she can feel good about “being there for you”… that I don’t need.

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