I'm a Military Blogger


Sunday, November 7, 2010

An "Unconventional Military Spouse"

Keeping in step with my latest blog makeover, I decided to take this post to blog about my experience as an "Unconventional Military Spouse".

For many people viewing this blog over the past 9 months, I've come across as being pretty standard. I bitch about deployment, curse out Tricare, and re-tell stories of my husband. But I've been hiding a big, deep, dark secret for some time. There are some things about me that I personally have not felt comfortable airing out online, purely because I was scared of the backlash I might receive from the military blog community. But the time has come for me to put them out there.

So this is what makes me an Unconventional Military Spouse:

1. I am an atheist. Now, at first glance that seems like a "so what" moment, and for the most part it is. Unfortunately, that is something that does NOT appear to be shared by a lot of other people in this country.

A few weeks ago I had the "privledge" (can we get more air quotes up in this bitch, please?) of watching a brief segment on FOX News featuring a brief walk-through of my husband. The segment was an interview conducted by Geraldo Rivera of one specific USMC Chaplain in Afghanistan. The question that Rivera posed to the Chaplain was "Some people say there are no atheists in foxholes. Do you think that's true?" to which the Chaplain responded "yes, it is. [these Marines] are just thankful to be here, and they thank God..."

That kind of thinking is very common throughout the military. When my husband went to MEPS for the first time and swore into the USMC DEP program, he was handed a MARPAT-print bible. Before anything else, before signing the papers, before receiving a set of utilities, he was given a bible.

When my husband and I go to formal military functions, each function opens with a prayer. Failure to participate "normally" often results in dirty looks and snide remarks. One wife commented to me after one such prayer that my husband "didn't deserve the honor of serving, because he doesn't believe in GOD."

My husband was denied "atheist" on his original set of ID Tags. He was paraded with the rest of his unit to attend a "mandatory" military-sponsored MWR concert by a Christian Rock Band during SOI. The first month of his tour in Afghanistan was marked by one of his own unit Marines requesting a transfer out of their barracks rooms because he didn't feel "comfortable" rooming with an atheist. For many, the prospect of your religion becoming common knowledge at a military function barely registers, but for us, it could mean becoming outcasts.

2. I am a left-leaning Libertarian. I use the term "Libertarian" loosely, since I only really agree with bits and pieces of the Libertarian party's stances. I am in favor of drug and prostitution legalization. I am in favor of gay MARRIAGE and gay adoption. I am a proponent of the separation of church and state. I am pro-choice. I believe in complete and utter free speech. I believe that social welfare policies can be good for a society, as long as they are not abused, but I still believe that a free market is necessary. Oh...just wait and see what happens the second someone hears you say :"socialism" at a FRG function. You can silence an entire room full of gossipy ladies.

3.I do not Pledge Allegiance to the Flag. Now this one is where things tend to get really dirty. I, as of yet, have not actually had the "balls" to NOT pledge allegiance at a military function because I absolutely feel like I might be physically attacked. But the reality is, I do not believe in pledging allegiance. For starters, it is a flag. Regardless of what that flag represents, it is still ultimately a piece of cloth.

Secondly, I do not agree with the words "Under God" because I, and 12% of Americans, do not believe in a God. That phrase is an establishment of religion and is unconstitutional. I will NOT just "skip over it". I say we just restore the pledge of allegiance to it's ORIGINAL wording. "Under God" was added in the 1950's.

Thirdly, I think the pledge of allegiance is so over-used that for a lot of American it has been reduced to nothing but rote recitation. Allegiance, to me, is the commitment of binding yourself to something, binding yourself to the country. My husband made an oath when he enlisted, and he vowed to protect this country from enemies, both foreign and domestic. But I have not made the vow, I have not promised to die for this country, and at this point in my life, as much as I love America, I do not believe that I have the ability to actually die for it. I envy that my husband does, but I'm not going to delude myself into thinking that I have his same level of courage. And that's why I do not feel comfortable making any sort of pledge of allegiance, even one that masquerades as a simple, patriotic poem.

4. I cannot stand Glenn Beck. I really can't. No matter how many times my military wife friends beg me to "just give him another chance" I simply cannot watch any more than 5 minutes of his show without bashing my head into something solid. I tried to watch his Rally to Restore...whatever the fuck it was he was trying to restore...with my husband during R&R. My husband got about 8 minutes into it before throwing his hands in the air and storming outside for a cigarette.

5. I do not support the war in Iraq OR the war in Afghanistan. As much I would like to believe that Afghanistan is justified, that we are defending out Nation from Al Qaeda terrorists and liberating an oppressed people, I just can't. I believe the FEELINGS behind the war are genuine, but it is not an attainable goal. That may sound pessimistic, but that country is over-run by religious extremists and poverty. The amount of time and money it's going to take to "fix" their problems is exponentially large. Over the past 9 years since the war began, I have grown more and more exasperated, confused, and disillusioned by the whole thing. As much as I wish it weren't true, as much as I wish I could stand here and say that my husband is fighting for something magnificent, I can't bring myself to believe it.

6. I hate the phrase "The troops are fighting for your freedom". I hate it because it's not true. Our rights and freedoms are guaranteed to us by the US Constitution, a document which, even if physically destroyed, still rules. True threats to our freedoms come from within the country. They come from politicians, legislation, uninformed voters, presidential orders, and activist judges. No foreign nation holds the power to actually threaten our Constitution because WE are the ones who maintain the power to change it via voting and Congressional ratification and define it via Supreme Court rulings. Defnding National Security IS a legitimate issue. It does not need to be shrouded in a mystical robe of "freedom" in order to be legitimate.

So what are my actual EXPERIENCES with those issues? I, for the most part, have flown completely under the radar on most of those. I avoided bringing up politics, "feigned" patriotism at military functions, and kept up with enough Glenn Beck via the web to not actually have to subject myself to his daily lobotomies. But it took my husand being deployed for me to realize that I was NOT myself. So I changed.

I went from a conservative-looking, average, blonde white chick to being borderline goth, with pink hair, lip piercings, arm bands, and corsets. To suggest that I "turned heads" at the commissary is really an understatment. It wasn't until my outward appearance changed that I found myself becoming more and more upset with the way I was having to hide myself. I didn't realize it until then, but I was subconsciously "acting normal", in real life, on my blog, and even to my own husband. I'm not trying to say that I'm not normal but Hell...I'm NOT normal. I derive pleasue out of piercing my body, I love to change my hair color, I like black things, lacy things, punk things, goth things. I swear like a whole platoon of sailors.

I have basically pulled a Sarah Palin and "gone rogue".

So I stand here today to introduce you to the NEW "Laura"...the left-leaning, libertarian, atheist, war-hating, flag non-pledging, goth bitch. I might be a military wife, but I'm nothing but normal.


Ashley M. said...

I feel like I just wrote this entry. Hell, to add to it. I can build my own computer as well as troubleshoot it. I taught myself to build websites 10 years ago (damn, I can't believe its been 10 years). And my favorite TV show is Xena Warrior Princess. I swear, if I ever meet another military wife that knows what that show is let alone has it as her favorite TV show too, I might believe in soul mates.

You know the term for us though? The others call us "alternative military wives" apparently. Which...I can live with. Seems moderately accurate.

Ashley M. said...

Btw, fly to Virginia and come do my hair damnit. :P

Laura said...

OMG I used to be obsessed with Xena as a kid! I haven't watched it in a while, but I totally used to watch it (with my dad no less..which now that I think about it, wtf was he doing watching Xena Warrior Princess?)

Wait, there's a term for us? "Alternative military wives"? Is this a "say to your face" term or a "behind the back" remark? lol

(and actually, I am trying to talk DH into going on a trip to DC when he comes back in a few months lol....hoping I get him to transfer over to the DC-based CBIRF unit lol. That's technically next to Virginia.

Laura said...

Oh and hair doesn't look so good atm. I STUPIDLY got rid of my pink bangs (WTF Laura) and replaced them with black extensions that, at the moment, look like shit because the bitch hairstylist didn't think I looked good with the boob-length ones, so she hacked them off at the shoulder. fuckin bitch. Shoulder-length hair is quite possible the most unflattering look ever on me.

Ashley M. said...

It's been said to my face a few times. Not as an ugly word or anything. People just like labels and that one was either coined up by one of our own or given to us by those who are considered "normal". But anyone who has tattoos, crazy hair, piercings, isn't a Christian conservative or is a gamer usually gets shoved into that category. If someone ever means it as an insult, I never personally take it that way because I like who I am :) But I've yet to have someone say "Oh, you're one of those alternative wives" in a snarky remark or anything yet, so it's all good.

There's good stylists here, I just can't make up my mind about what I want to do with my hair. Inside it keeps screaming pink! pink! pink! So maybe I'll cave eventually and finally do pink again (haven't done it since living in Chicago). And I hate it, but the only reason I haven't done it yet is because I hate stares and unwanted comments and well...I'm in Virginia lol. So we'll see.

The Mrs. said...

While our beliefs are entirely different, it is not my place to judge you. I'm glad you were able to "find" you and I hope you are happier now that you can be the real you, instead of someone other people want you to be! :)

Mandy said...

I have recently found your blog but I love it. I like that you finally felt comfortable enough to come out and be who you really are, no need to hide. I agree with you on some of your points and disagree with you on others but I think that just makes things interesting. Personally I like reading things and talking to people that feel differently than I do.

Chantal said...

I've run into issues with religion as well. I'm not atheist but agnostic, still... it's not Christian. It makes me sad because a lot of our FRG gatherings have to do with Bible studies, and I just don't do that. At military functions I bow my head and say "Amen" at the end, but it's just out of habit/respect than anything else. I do feel sort of out of place because all my friends are Christian while I'm the agnostic one!

chambanachik said...

There are things I 150% agree with and some that I don't, but you rock for saying what you believe. And btw, I am a military spouse who also is STRONGLY opposed to the wars. I thought I was the only one!

Jessa (bipolararmywife) said...

Fellow atheist military spouse. :) My husband, at the very least, is agnostic. I do not pray either and I don't think it appropriate to have it part of every single military function because everyone does not believe in God. I still believe in the separation of church and state. I consider the military 'state' (government) property therefore I do believe it inappropriate to assume every person associated with the military should pray; and on top of that to a Christian God. A huge assumption on anyone's part to make. While I will say the pledge, I will not say "under God". Again, I'm not under God, or over him or around him or at all interested in him.

Feminist Military Spouse said...

Not atheist, but agnostic. I can't commit to being atheist, but to most milspouses it is the same thing. God forbid I argue we have a holiday party and not a Christmas party, because my hubs is Jewish. It's SO stupid. Also left leaning libertarian. Change my hair color to suit my mood. Drink and swear like a fleet of sailors and protested the damn wars before they began.
Yep, I am a BAD milspouse and I love it. I'm proud of it. And I am glad to know I am not alone. If we are ever near the same end of the Earth we should totally hang.
Oh, and if I pass my oral exams in 3 weeks, I am getting a badass Phoenix tat.

Anchored Away said...

Always thrilled to find another normal person in a milspouse. Thanks for leaving a comment the the blog. Not an atheist but a Pagan, which gets you about the same reaction from the mil-types. I'll say the pledge, but I refuse to say "under God." In fact, I got some sweet looks at the commissary when I lectured my sprog about the evils of the "under God" portion of the pledge.

I know it often feels like it, but you're definitely not alone.

Also, Xena is my copilot.

sreysaw said...

Thank you! I too agree with what you've written here. What especially resonates with me is that I'm very uncomfortable with the concept of Chaplains and the fact that we pray at the start of every function. How is this separation of church and state?

The fact that Atheist was not allowed to be on your husband's dog tags is cause for much outcry. Where is religious freedom for the areligious?!


I enjoy Your posts. While our views are different I respect That. Good for you being You. Also, Your pic of yourself is pretty.

liberal army wife said...

Agnostic, resent having to stand for prayers or the "bow your head" bit before a military function. I'll stand, but the head.. no. I'll do the pledge - but will NOT say under God. Alternative milspouse... YUP! Come over to LeftFace - we lean that way! Beck? or any of the other Faux jackasses? NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.


Anonymous said...

I've just found your blog.

I think I love you in a gothic, platonic, 4000 miles across the Atlantic type way...

You absolutly rock and are amazing for airing your views.

Alison x

Mandy said...

Over at simply sunshine and daisys ( she is featuring bloggers that have less than 100 followers. Part of that is filling out an interview, one of the questions is to post a link to your (my) favorite blog post written by someone else. Well this post is my favorite post written by a fellow blogger. I wanted to make sure you didnt mind if it was mentioned and then linked on her page? My email is on my blog.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that there is another military spouse out there that doesn't believe in god. I feel so alone here and am an outcast because I don't go to the neighborhood bible study.

Audra Alexander said...

Ran a google search for "atheist military spouses" (because I've been feeling up to my eyeballs in fake, hypocritical bullshit lately - on my own part and that of others) and found this post.

Right now, all I can say is THANK YOU. Thanks for having the guts to post this so I could find it and feel a little less ostracized. Thanks for being the kind of person who actually THINKS about her beliefs, rather than guzzles the kool-aid. Thanks for stating what you believe simply and honestly without bashing others.

You ARE in the minority, but not for being an "alternative mil-spouse" - you're a minority for having the courage of your convictions to stand up for them. Thanks again!!

Ashley said...

I also ran a search for "atheist military wives" and came across this post. Even though it's a few years old and I'm only commenting now, I wanted to say thank you for making me feel like I'm not alone! Everything you've written is exactly how I feel and it's tough to be in the minority and have to watch what you say for fear of starting some sort of revolt against you because you think differently. Again, thank you!