Dear milspouse friends,
While I have conservative and progressive friends both in and outside the military, I am speaking directly to you. Why? Because you are my community. Whether you live right next door or halfway around the world, we share this wonderfully unpredictable life; and it’s quite likely that the military will one day plop us in the same place at the same time once again. More than anyone else, we understand that distance can be overcome. We know that by experience, by months measured in tears and worry. And, perhaps, because we share this hard-fought knowledge, we can extend it to other types of distance—like distances in personality, interests, and even that dreaded word: politics.
Don’t stop reading.
I am not going to assail you with my personal beliefs. As a little blue dot in a vast sea of red, I am well aware that they sometimes come across as intrusive. After all, my kind are few and far between in our world. What I want you to know is this: I am still me.
I am still the same person I have always been. I am the friend who dropped off an unexpected bottle of wine at your front door after a particularly stressful day. I am the girl who sat at your kitchen table, laughing and conversing with ease. I am the FRG leader who gave every moment of free time to care for your family—who made meals in times of trouble, happily babysat your children, shared in your struggles and triumphs. I am still the person you cried with as your your husband boarded a plane, unsure of when or if you would see him again. I attended your baby showers—planned them even; or perhaps listened over a cup of coffee as you confided in me the pain of infertility. I am the mother who hosted playdates, attended birthday parties, and celebrated milestones with you. I am who I have always been.
I am still me.
For a long time, I was not forthcoming about my political opinions. Can you blame me? When people find out, it’s as if I can see the gears kicking into overdrive.
But she seems so nice.
I don’t understand—wasn’t she in my bible study class?
Doesn’t she love America?
For the record, I try to be nice to everyone I meet. I identify as Catholic, even if that typically lends itself to different political leanings. And, let’s be clear, no party has a monopoly on patriotism.
But none of that should matter because I am still the same person I have been since the day you met me. You, most likely, are still the same person you were the day I met you, as well. But you know what? I know that and have already accepted it.
Here’s the thing: the fact that you are most likely a deep shade of red, will never make a difference for me. I will never unfriend you on social media. I will never avoid you in public. I will never look at you any differently.
It was already baked into the cake for me.
When I met you, I already assumed we would disagree on politics. And yet, I loved you anyway. Our similarities far outweigh our differences, and that’s more than enough to bind us together. Don’t undo that binding—please.
I know it bothers you that I have decided to be vocal about matters of state on social media. I know this because some of you have taken a passive aggressive stance, bemoaning the need of anyone to have their voice heard. I know this because, since I have started writing about politics, I have become an “untouchable.” While my left-leaning pieces are understandably ignored, everything outside of my writing has been ignored as well. Some of you have turned your back on me entirely, deciding that my progressive stance is grossly unacceptable—irredeemable even, and therefore unworthy of your friendship.
But I need to get something off my chest. Friends, your voices are always heard—perhaps more than you know. Because your worldview is consistent with most military spouses, your opinions and concerns are understood. They are acknowledged.
Mine are not.
And while it may be frustrating to have this tiny speck of blue dull your red portrait, please understand that it is not painted out of malice. Indeed, I am simply speaking my truth just as you are speaking yours. And—can I be blunt now?—even though you think you have been quiet for the past eight years, you haven’t.
No matter your opinion on politics in social media, I can assure you, your political leanings have been made painfully clear in public. It may feel like an impossibility. It may seem like an impropriety of unconscionable affect. But, nearly to a tee, it is true. In real life, far away from keyboards and Facebook notifications, your beliefs are made evident.
With offhanded comments you could not recall for any amount of money, with eye rolls and physical shudders as involuntary as the day is long, your views are consistently expressed and validated within a deeply conservative echo chamber.
I say this not with contempt, but with the perspective of an outsider.
And as your resident outsider, I can tell you this: I am not offended. While I regularly find myself smiling politely and ignoring inflammatory comments, I try not to let resentment grow. Because I know it is neither purposeful nor personal. I recognize that you are not using me as a punching bag, but rather assuming that I ascribe to your belief system. And who can blame you? The numbers are on your side.
The truth is, in our world at least, you are in the majority. You can assume everyone else agrees with you and ignore the reality that, at least sometimes, they don’t.
But can I ask something of you?
Can you give me the benefit of the doubt, too? Can you try not to be so offended by my differing opinions and pull away as soon as they are made clear? Can you, sometimes, let down your guard enough to let me in? The real me, I mean. Because I am who I have always been. I love you the way I always have. And I am a military spouse, too.
Give me a measure of patience. If willing, lend me your ear. But, more than anything, offer me your unconditional support and I will do the same. Because we are in this together, always.