Monday, October 24, 2011

Life as a Military Kid

My dad was in the Air Force.  We moved a lot.  Until college, I had never lived in one city for four consecutive years.  People asked me as a kid if I liked moving around a lot.  That's like asking me if I liked being a girl.  I didn't know any different.  I liked it because it was all I knew.

I realize, in looking back, that I developed some coping mechanisms to handle all the moving.  Some healthy, some not so much.  Pretending to be aloof, nonchalant, acting like I didn't care about anything...this was one of my strategies.

I spent my 9th grade year of high school in Illinois.  I spent 10th-12th grade in Maryland.  That's not a big deal.  Two high schools.  My brother went to four.  I consider myself lucky.  The first day at my new high school in Maryland, I had my defenses up.  I went in ready to blend in and not stick out.  This was particularly challenging because I was in the minority in my school.

In one particular class, the guy next to me struck up a conversation with me.

Attempting-to-be-nice-guy:  "You're new here, aren't you?"

Aloof-me: "Yeah."

ATBNG: "Did you just move to the area?"

AM: "Yeah. My dad is in the Air Force." <looking disinterested>

ATBNG: "Oh really, my uncle is in the...."

<me interrupting> "I didn't ask."

As you can imagine, the conversation pretty much ended there.  Wow.  Nicely done me.  Way to stay disconnected, disengaged, DISTANT.  So distant I didn't even care if I was down right rude.

What a strategy.  I've spent a lot of time trying to undo my self-taught "disengage" coping mechanism.  I don't have it all figured out.  How to be present, engaged, emotionally available.  But I've come a long way since that chilly conversation in high school.

Now I have roots in a city I've lived in for more than 7 years.  I have long-term friendships that have weathered me moving away for a few years and then moving back.  I have an elderly cat that has been mine since he was a kitten.  (You don't understand...we never had old pets.  We didn't really move with our pets.  We would find them new homes or take them to my grandparents farm.)  And I have a new kind of relationship in my life that is unlike any I've experienced before.  Being a mom to baby James.  Lucky for him he doesn't have climb over my heart-walls like almost everybody else has had to do.

He was born an insider.

I'm linking up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary for #justwrite.


Galit Breen said...

This is so open and introspective- and really relatable. I'm gal that you opened up here and that picture is adorable!

CJ said...

I also have a very thick wall up, for different reasons. The only people who didn't/don't have to fight to get in is my kids. They were born insiders too. I LOVE that phrase!

Cheryl said...

I can relate even though we only moved a couple of times. It's hard tearing down those walls but so very important to finally do it.

Sober Julie said...

I had never moved until college and it was a huge shocker for me. Thank you for sharing your heart! Stopped by from Just Write.

Kate said...

Love this post! I'm new to your blog (via Production Not Reproduction). We moved constantly too - 12 schools in 12 years and that aloof, disinterested thing became my m.o. too. In fact, people still think I don't hear what they say, or don't quite "get it" because I'm so reserved.