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  • Writer's pictureLeila Gillette

Maintaining Independence as a “Dependent”

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

This topic is near and dear to my heart. And a big reason I started this blog. I wanted to highlight struggles military spouses face, but also show that we are more then those struggles and encourage others to find a sense of self amongst this life. It‘s so hard. I won’t lie.

The past 10 years I have had very little say in where we live. I’ve had to only find jobs that allow for flexibility to be around for my kids and a husband that can leave at any moment. I set aside certain goals/passions so I could “hold down the fort” and be our kids rock. All while having limited support. These things make it incredibly hard to still feel like you are your own person and not just a support piece for your active duty spouse.

Personally, finding my independence and feeling like my own person outside of a mom and mil spouse has taken a lot of time. I still struggle with it some days but there are a lot of things through the years that have helped. There’s obvious things that helped me like having a job/career or going to school. But I understand these options may not be plausible for some spouses. Some military families move A LOT. Like every 2-3 years. That can make school & a job really hard to succeed in. I don’t think a spouse having a job of her own makes her ”independent”. Sure it’s helped me feel that but so have a lot of other things.

One thing I’ve noted recently that’s helped is setting aside time/money to travel on a solo or friends trip without my spouse once a year-ish. Our spouses often get to travel a lot in the military. While these trips are obviously mandatory/work related, it doesn’t mean they still don’t get to getaway & see the world.

In the past few years I’ve made a big effort to travel more and go on trips without my spouse. This gives me an opportunity to get away and have my own experiences & adventures.

Outside of my day job as a nurse, starting this blog and the Instagram page have been another outlet that makes me feel like my own person. I’m able to be silly and creative and talk about things that matter to me. Yes of course the majority of what I talk about is military related but it’s through the lenses of a spouses experience.

Finding some kind of outlet that allows you to be YOU is so important.

Another fun thing that’s helped me that may seem totally trivial?? Clothes, hair & makeup! I have always loved all things ”girly” and I used to sometimes feel shallow because of this or like it was not important because hey being a mom and spouse is number one right?? I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to love these things. Putting on a nice outfit or doing my hair helps me feel like a badass woman and gets me out of the mom/spouse bubble. And that’s a WONDERFUL feeling.

I’m not going to tell you to do X,Y or Z to maintain or find your independence as a mil spouse. I don’t think one thing will work for all spouses and I think it’s a journey we have to work through within ourselves. So I wanted to share part of my journey. And I wanted to encourage others to not lose yourself as a mom or spouse. To hold onto things that you love and make you feel like you, no matter how silly or trivial they seem. Go after your passions as much as you can and know it doesn’t make you selfish. It’s amazing to be the best mom and military spouse you can be, but it’s just as amazing to just be YOU.

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