Have you ever found yourself in an internal battle? One that resembles a courtroom scene? Sometimes you are questioning yourself, other times defending yourself, but ultimately judging yourself?
My make believe friend, Alicia Florrick, was never the defendant, attorney, and judge all at the same time! Maybe even she would have cracked under such conditions!
In today’s case of Amy versus Amy, I imagine myself to be Alicia-like – strong, smart, beautiful, and stoic. I am determined to be calm, measured in my responses, kind, and truthful.
Defense Attorney: Amy, the plaintiff is accusing you of being ungrateful and whiny. Is this true?
Amy: Yes, (hanging her head in shame) sometimes it is. (Damn! Fail! Alicia would never respond to such a question! She would hold her head high and smile while asking for “ungrateful and whiny” to be defined.)
Defense Attorney: Amy, are you thankful for your husband? For your home? For your health? For your family? Friends? Country? For the Air Force? Job security? Benefits? Ability to travel?
Amy: Yes, I am! (Oops, turn down the excitement, be calm like Alicia.)
Plaintiff’s Attorney: Yet, you have complained about gelbe sacks, VAT forms, and paying for restrooms?
Amy: Oh, hell yes I have! (Alicia would never get sassy or curse on the stand. I’m an impostor. I must do better!)
Plaintiff’s Attorney: Isn’t it true that you have also complained about poor internet service, and missing family? Not finding a purpose or work you enjoy? Haven’t you whined about too much schnitzel and no free water with meals and ….
Defense Attorney: Objection, Your Honor! Badgering the witness!
Judge: Overruled. You may answer the question.
Amy: Yes, it’s true. I have complained about all those things. (Now that was more Alicia like! I was angry but so cool.)
Plaintiff’s Attorney: Isn’t it true that you currently live in a beautiful house and that you have had the opportunity to travel around Europe?
Amy: Yes, it’s true. (I say this stoically, with no emotion, because I am channeling my inner Alicia now.)
Plaintiff’s Attorney: I rest my case! She is living the dream and yet she is an ungrateful complainer! (“Alicia” looks at the attorney defiantly then turns away.)
Defense Attorney: Amy, isn’t it also true that many celebrities have beautiful houses and the ability to travel around the world? And isn’t it true that many of their lives have indicated that houses and travel don’t equal happiness? Think of those who have struggled with drug and alcohol addictions, experienced depression or committed suicide!
Plaintiff’s Attorney: Objection! Relevance, your Honor!
Judge: Overruled! Point well taken! We will resume this case tomorrow! Everyone is dismissed!
As Amy reflects on the day’s trial she realizes that she and Alicia have a lot in common, both are glamorous and desire to be true to themselves, kind, compassionate, and supportive of their spouses while somehow engaging in meaningful, enjoyable work that makes a difference. Who doesn’t want that?
Most military spouses I’ve met are no different than Alicia or me in that way. We stick by our spouses and support their careers and take care of the home and family. Leave a job? No problem! Leave family? Sure why not? Leave friends? It’s an opportunity to make new ones! Find schools for the kids? Of course! Our spouses head into predetermined jobs and have instant purpose and connections. That’s great! But what about us? Most of us are pretty resilient, we have learned how to plug into a community, to embrace adventure, and to make friends quickly. But, an overseas assignment presented challenges I never imagined.
Back to the courtroom.
Amy: Judge, could I meet with you privately?
The judge acquiesces.
Amy: I confess I can be grumpy and ungrateful but some days I am thankful and content. I am exhausted by this internal conflict, the questioning, the demands I make of myself, the frustration and shame I feel for not being a good wife. Sometimes my chest feels so heavy I can hardly breathe. I want to cry. I want to get on the next airplane and head out of here.
Judge: (with a look of compassion) You’ve got this. Try to remember, each day is a gift and you will never get this day back so live it to the full!
I order you to:
Take life one day at a time.
Go for a walk and enjoy the sunshine, birds, and breeze.
Reach out to others.
Make a list of all you are thankful for.
Allow yourself to grieve.
Don’t beat yourself up.
If you need to, gorge yourself on chocolate and throw back a glass of wine, turn on Netflix and binge watch “The Good Wife,” I’ve heard it’s an excellent show. (I think I like this judge!)