The One Where We Become Civilians Again

When Mr. Superman was in high school, he always knew he wanted to join the Air Force and worked his butt off to get a full ride ROTC scholarship. College was paid for and after receiving his Bachelor’s, he would commission as an Officer. What he wasn’t banking on was blowing out both of his knees wrestling and playing football, which then resulted in four knee surgeries, and the loss of his scholarship. Fast forward to the end of his senior year and him being the only person who no longer had a plan. All his buddies were going to get a semester or two of college under their belts in a tiny town called Thatcher before going to serve Mormon missions. At the last minute, Mr. Superman decided he’d join them.

At this same time, I was engaged to be married to a guy I dated through high school and about three weeks before the wedding, I broke it off. I asked my parents to help me get out of The Valley so I could get back on my feet and gain distance from everything. After having found an apartment in Colorado, my dad let me know he wasn’t comfortable with me moving that far away and he’d find a different solution. The solution ended up with me moving to the tiny town of Safford, 5 minutes from Thatcher, to take some college classes until I thought I could return to The Valley. Within one month of both of us moving because of failed plans and hard times, we had met, fell in love and were dating exclusively. 

We knew Mr. Superman would still join the military and it was just a matter of timing and everything going our way. We were married in October of 2007 and Mr. Superman reported for Basic Training on June 30, 2009. We arrived at our very first duty station, Moody AFB in Valdosta, GA, in November 2009. 

For the record, I would have NEVER, EVER seen myself marrying someone that led to a life of a military spouse nor would I have been able to imagine me falling in love with this lifestyle. Yes, its difficult and requires sacrifices, independence, strength, and trust but the upsides far out number the downsides. Despite Mr. Superman finally becoming a member of the USAF, his real dreams of earning his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and being a commissioned officer who’s earned his wings were still hanging in the air.

Where we were stationed, combined with his job and degree choice, completing school while serving is not just unfeasible, its impossible. The last two years have been spent devising plans to get Mr. Superman on his way to becoming a pilot. He applied to two different programs that would get him there and we crossed our fingers and prayed like crazy. 

The first program was what we REALLY wanted and was by far the best option. The AECP (Airman Enlisted Commissioning Program) would allow Mr. Superman to stay enlisted as Active Duty but his full time job would be to attend college and at the end he would go to OTS (Officer Training School). The duration of his schooling, his pay, BAH and other benefits would jump up from an E-4 and Senior Airman to that of a Staff Sergeant. It was an extremely competitive and highly coveted program but we were beyond confident.  The second program called the ASCP (Airman Scholarship Commissioning Program) was the much less desired option for us but would still enable Mr. Superman to finish his degree and commission. With this one he would be fully discharged from the military and while attending school would be a cadet in an ROTC Detachment and upon completion of college would commission directly without attending OTS. 

After a lot of stress, hard-work, and even more paperwork, both applications were submitted and it was a tense waiting game for a few months. Our confidence soared because Mr. Superman had gotten an incredible letter of recommendation from his commander and his AFOQT (Air Force Officer Qualifying Test) scores were 20 points higher than the last couple of years high score averages by other applicants. Well we all know how our luck tends to go and we got the devastating news that funding was cut and our first choice, the AECP program was discontinued. We were left with the ROTC program which Mr. Superman was awarded.

The last few months have been full of excitement but they have also been chock full of stress, uncertainty, and change. Now let me make something very clear. I am EXTREMELY grateful for this opportunity and that Mr. Superman will be able to finish school and achieve his dream of flying but its also one of the hardest and most bittersweet things I have had to contemplate and try to reconcile myself to. If you had asked me five years ago if I could see myself as an AF wife, I would have said no and if you asked me if I would feel like my heart was breaking at the prospect of returning to the civilian world I would have laughed. 

Tomorrow, Mr. Superman will final out-process and when we drive off base, we will once again be civilians without jobs. My heart is in my throat, I shake with anxiety, and my eyes are full of tears. Yes, we will be back in a few years but for the last three, I have had a direction. I have had an identity I absolutely loved. I have been a USAF wife. I have become a part of the military spouse blogging community and the people I've met have changed my life forever. I really am falling apart at the seams over here in Georgia and to say I'm dragging my feet would be an understatement. Looking back at it all has served as reminders of the reasons we thrive in this lifestyle.

While awaiting Mr. Superman's BMT dates to arrive, we suffered the loss of our second angel baby through an ectopic pregnancy. 

While Mr. Superman was at Basic in Texas, I was living in Arizona and had to have surgery. It was the first time we had ever been separated as a married couple and by far the hardest 9 weeks of our lives up to that point. Seeing him graduate was my first taste of military pride. 

While Mr. Superman was at Tech School in Texas, I was brutally raped twice and nearly suffocated but we became stronger. Mr. Superman deployed on very short notice to Kandahar, Afghanistan in September of 2010 and I spent a few months in Arizona. 

On our third wedding anniversary and just one month after he deployed, I testified against my attacker in an Article 32 Hearing and also began to miscarry our third angel baby. Sharing the devastating news with my husband who was 8,000 miles away was excruciatingly difficult. Seeing Mr. Superman climb off that white bus and being able to wrap my arms around him made the world disappear. 
For every single thing we have gone through, this military lifestyle has always returned something sweet and positive to balance out the bad. Trying to imagine my life and our life together without any of that is inconceivable but I am trying. Thinking of everything that has happened in the three years Mr. Superman has served and how long these years have felt is a bit terrifying to contemplate how long the next three years are going to feel. I am incredibly proud of my husband and everything he has accomplished. He's been recognized by countless commanders and every single one has told him he needs to do whatever he has to to commission, that he's made to be an officer. He will be and he deserves to be but getting there is going to be a challenge and from my end, its going to be tough doing it without the identity I have come to appreciate and love. I don't quite know how I'll do it and I don't know what this little blog of mine will morph into. The moments that make up our lives are rewarding, challenging, exciting, heart-breaking, mysterious, and full of the happy unknown. I may not know what I'm going to do or how I'm going to do it but I do know that these moments and the moments to come are the ones where we become civilians again.


*~BrittDill~* said...

Ever since I started reading blogs, your's has always been one of my favorites. I got a little teary eyed reading this post, you can really tell your love for this lifestyle! You are definitely a strong woman and I cannot wait to continue to read and follow you through your next journey! Best of luck to you and your husband!!!

Katie Savvy Steele said...

You guys have gone through so much, but we love you even more because of it. Even though you will be in te civilian world, I am excited to have you guys in Utah with us and Cody will be able to finish his degree and everything will work out for the best. :)

Jen said...

You are an incredible person!!!! It takes a very special person to live this military lifestyle and you do it so well!!! :) I wish you both the best of luck!!

LC said...

Youre still an usaf wife! Once a milspouse always a milspouse! So.excited for your new journey! I cant wait to follow along via the blog world!

Jenifer said...

I have LOVED reading your blog. It seemed as though the military wife title was made for you.
Thanks for sharing your ups and downs, trials and heartbreaks with all of us.
Good luck with the next stage in your life.

Chantal said...

This is a lovely post! I know it's scary starting a new chapter in your life, but I know you'll be fine!

Marinewife1111 {Marcella} said...

You'll always be one of us!!
Good luck with everything over the next 3 years and beyond!!

Alia said...

it is sooo scary! My hubby gets out in october and I am terrified of what's to come, But God is so good! I'm sure things will be great!

A Girl said...

I can understand your feeling! I would feel the same way and think about it every time The Boy says he is thinking about moving on from the USMC.

But you will always have a place with us. Just think how exciting this next chapter will be! And, you may be back, as you mentioned.

Either way, we will all always be here for you. :)

Petunia said...

This is completely random, as I just stumbled upon your blog and am not a mil spouse, etc. But my Grandparents lived in Safford and I spent about 10 summers in that tiny little town when I was younger. I've never heard anyone mention Safford and Thatcher, so I had to comment! Good luck with everything you're going through!

Team Mama said...

And being in Utah- many of the cadets are married- you can be a positive influence and a great support person for the wives. It is selfish of me but I am so glad you are coming here to school- and we know- Cody is just too smart to stay enlisted. As his first grade teacher told me on the first day of school- "he just has a totally different thought process than all the other first graders! I am going to have quite the time keeping him challenged."
And...this is the point in life where you realize that the journey itself is the reward!
Love you much- see you soon!!!

JG said...

Big hugs, lovely. What a journey you've gone through. No matter what comes next, we're all here for you!

chambanachik said...

You've made it through so much- I know you'll make it through this. We all love you and know you'll do great. Hugs!!