The Hardest (and Best) Decision I’ve Made

Article by Kama Shockey, Marine Corps Spouse

There are so many decisions I’ve made in my role as a military spouse that were easy, no-brainer choices to make. Marrying my Marine was one of them. Having our daughter was another. Following my husband on a PCS from the pristine beaches of Hawaii to the arid desert was a little bit harder. Still, everything made sense and followed in the natural order of a military life.

So, as I found myself 42 (yes, 42) job applications later, still unemployed in our current duty station with a husband I had seen for only four out of 18 months, I began to question my sanity.

I kept busy and stimulated by volunteering as a L.I.N.K.S. mentor and running coach for the spouses of my battalion. But I was far from living the life I had imagined myself leading.

I was writing for fun, a hobby since I was in grade school, but was without anyone to read my work, to make me a better writer. My daughter was, and is, a source of great joy for me, but she could hardly debate politics, discuss literary pieces over a glass of wine, or even critique my short stories. She is 3, and is more interested in the goings-on in Dora’s world than her mother’s.

I don’t mind, but I was aching for a cerebral discussion that was two-sided.


THE SLOW BURN

On The ComputerI noticed a familiar pattern erupting … I would spend an hour (or two, or three) at the computer while Izzy was in school and would emerge from our local library or coffee shop refreshed and invigorated. And it wasn’t just the caffeine.

I began to seek out contests for my short stories and publication for my essays. Two came back accepted. I was elated. I began working on my lifelong dream of writing a full-length novel, and while I loved it, I also quickly realized I needed to master some of the smaller aspects of my craft.

Still, I was hooked. I knew what I wanted to do with my life, a decision that was less a strike of lightening, sudden and illuminating, as it was a slow burning candle, growing brighter with each moment I spent in the darkness.

I’d been so disappointed every time another job application went nowhere. And yet I never would have discovered this calling had I been hired at the on-base liquor store (one of my 42 applications).

After weighing my options, I decided to go back for my graduate degree in creative writing. This is where the hard decision came for me. It meant leaving my Marine as he deployed to move to another state, where he will follow me this time in two years when his contract is up.

It means only seeing each other on weekends and holidays. But he understands that it also means I get a chance to pursue my dreams alongside him chasing his. I know there are simpler options, like online classes and local colleges, but this is the best fit for us. Just because it is difficult doesn’t mean it is the wrong choice, and in fact, oftentimes the decisions stemming from adversity are better for us.

Believe it or not, the final shove that made me apply was an errant Facebook post on a friend’s wall: It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

I couldn’t agree more.

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