Part 2: ‘You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.’

I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting for that Top Gun, hot and heavy, wicked bod, volleyball game, motorcycle without a helmet, Meg Ryan easy as pie look, not a care in the world movie. Obviously, I was missing the great soundtrack running in the background of our Navy life!

I am one of those people, when I feel overwhelmed or something just knocks me off my feet, who has a movie soundtrack run in my head. The number one song that plays most often is: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones:

  “No, you can’t always get what you want! You can’t always get what you want. You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime you find you get what you need.”

I cannot tell you how often those lyrics pop up and just make those stressful situations turn into laughter…better than the alternative!

When I was younger, I had always set my sites on never getting married, never having children, only having a career, and by the time I was 30, having a seat at the head of the conference table. (I always end up with a smirk on my face when I say that…I was so young and ambitious once!)

Then I met this guy at a toga party…and the rest, they say, is history.

After Kevin and I married, I held my corporate job for another year, year and a half. When we had our first move, I happily left my corporate job with the excitement of what adventure lay around the corner. What was around the corner was the adventure of having no idea what the hell I was doing and feeling like a fake as I tried to present myself with self-confidence and the assurance that I had it all under control.

Much of our military time for me was spent waiting and wondering. Waiting for orders, deployments, returns and wondering where we would live, buy groceries, and how to make it all work out without letting it all get to me. A lot of the time, it was just a balancing act of anxiety and excitement.

You would think that since I was raised in the military, this would be an easy transition. I remember someone asking me once, “This should be easy for you since you grew up in the military.” I thought about it for a moment and I responded, “You would think, wouldn’t you. But being a child and having everything out of your control, someone else directing your life and truly just following, is totally different than being the adult that does all the managing.”  

I did have a few advantages for sure. I didn’t have the same learning curves as it relates to commissaries and exchanges, packing and unpacking boxes, setting up households and finding my way to a base to get IDs, medical records and how to get to the onbase pool! But it didn’t prepare me for how to interact with spouses, commands, and being the responsible adult! Nor did it prepare me for the loneliness, making decisions for the family without him being present, raising the children alone, setting up major moves and going to doctor visits alone.

I just didn’t have a clue as to how this “military spouse” thing was supposed to work. I had no idea how I was suppose to commit to a position in a new company when I didn’t even know how long I would be living in the area. Nor did I have any idea how to figure out how to balance marriage, deployments, work and living with this new identity, role and responsibility of being a military spouse. For many years, I felt it was a “fake it, till ya make it” experience.

Nothing in our military time was what I expected. The military I grew up in is not the military I was married in. Things had changed and it was as if I had never been introduced to the military before. Not in a bad way, just new. The problem was, for me, I didn’t know what I was doing, and where I fit in the experience.

I remember the first time I saw the movie, Top Gun. I was still in college, had my dad’s brand new sports car, and was driving back from the theater listening to the soundtrack on my radio and driving….well….let’s just say I had a need, a need for speed. Luckily no police were patrolling 64 back to Norfolk Naval base during that time. Dad had an important job and, if I had gotten caught, mom would have put me under the house. But I remember that juiced feeling I got when I heard that music and the illusion of youth, recklessness and military prowess was seducing. I don’t think I lost that lovin’ feeling of being part of something bigger and more exciting than reality. It made me want something more than just the 9-5, it made me want to grab that brass ring.

Fast forward 10 years later, I’d definitely lost that lovin’ feelin’ and was feeling more like I had entered the Land of the Lost.

Youth gives us ideas of what we believe we want, not necessarily what we truly want in our hearts. I would not give up the last 26 years of marriage and 23 years of military service, as crazy, confusing and even sometimes mundane as it was. If he had not stayed in 23 years, if he had gotten out after 5, gone corporate and maybe made more money, had more security and maybe I would have been able to seek my own direction sooner, would my life have been better? No. It couldn’t have been better. Maybe financially easier! Probably! But, better, no.

What we do know is that, even with all the difficulties and hardships of military life, we have each other, we support each other and we have a lot of laughter because of some wonderful memories of just, well, surviving the life we chose.

“No, you can’t always get what you want! You can’t always get what you want. You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime you find you get what you need.”


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