Very often I hear people in the military spouse community get frustrated over the word “dependent”. I’ll be honest, even the thought the word makes me want to cringe. I don’t know what it is about it. I think it’s because military spouse’s find themselves forced to be so incredibly independent no matter by choice or by circumstance that someone referring to us as the opposite makes us ball up in defense. I can’t say I disagree with those that do take it to heart and get defensive because I know where they are speaking from – a heart that has found itself in love with someone we know as our spouse, our best friend, a soldier. And that love has in some ways taken away some of our independence as we travel the world”behind” our soldier at the Army’s word where we go and what we do. Our soldiers “other woman” – the Army calls the shots. We pack up and move, we find new jobs and careers, we make whatever is thrown at us work. That does not sound like someone dependent at all.
I believe there are two types of people in this world – choosers and needers. Neither are better than the other – each have their yin and yang. I am a chooser, not a needer. As such, the word dependent strikes fear in my heart. To choose someone is the biggest compliment a chooser can give. For someone (usually men) who thrive on someone needing them, a chooser can be their worst nightmare. I am constantly struggling to explain this to my husband. I remember one time during deployment he said to me, “you are doing so well, you just don’t need me.” His comment couldn’t be/have been further from the truth. I was “doing so well” because I needed for him to not have to worry about us so that he could focus on the mission and come home safely.
Trust me when I tell you that I am and always will be a chooser – it’s a control thing and I like to call the shots. I will always be independent. No one will ever take that away from me, it’s an inherent quality.
As I sit here writing to you we are on deployment number three and we’ve been married for fifteen years. It’s time for me to admit, I need him. I may choose to need him but I need him none the less. I am dependent upon him. I don’t like saying it, it’s just weird, but I realize it is the utmost expression of my love to have given so completely of myself to trust his heart and all that he is to me to “depend”. I don’t depend on anyone other than myself, and I depend on him.
It might be the little things like having my best friend here to download my day to, having someone to take out the trash, help fold the laundry, or even eat dinner with me. It might be having someone to help with our animals or carry in the groceries. It might be having another parent and “backup” in raising our family. Or maybe it’s someone who can finish my sentences, hug me at just the right time, or that knows how to make me laugh. I don’t know what it is. But I know it’s more than healthcare, a paycheck, or any amount of military discounts I could ever “depend” on. It’s my other half and knowing he is there is a choice I am so glad to need.
Hi, my name is Tara and I’m a dependent.