In the first two parts of this series, I talked about why we should be thankful to be living in the U.S. and how I came to be a U.S. citizen and my feelings about this process. There are more reasons for why I am proud to be an American; and the one I want to talk about in this post in my next point: I made the real sacrifice; I was married to a U.S. soldier.
For the better part of my teenage life, the U.S. had always inspired me. At 16, I took part in a summer exchange program to California and fell in love with this state. I returned for 2 more summers. After that, I found a way to be involved in an American community back home in Germany. I realized that I lived close to an Airbase and there was a big, thriving American community around it.Through some of my German friends actually, I found an American church, which I fell in love with. Going to an American church was such a better experience than going to a German church. It was a lot more in line with my character. So I got fully involved, made friends there and spent much of my time there. Needless to say that I found my boyfriend there, who then became my husband.
I came to the U.S. because I got married to a U.S. soldier. We lived in Germany for the first year and a half of our marriage. At first it was just exciting to date a man in uniform, but I got shaken out of that real fast when he was supposed to get deployed to Iraq a week after we had gotten married. And remember this was in 2003 when Iraq was the hot iron and you really didn’t want to be there. I drove him to base to say good-bye to him for half a year, inconsolably crying. I had to wait 2 hours until I could start driving back home again. I slept at my mom’s that night because there was no way I could go back to my new house and be there alone. And right when I was able to settle down and my mom could actually leave me by myself, the doorbell rang and my husband stood in front of the door… because his deployment had gotten cancelled. If you know ANYthing about the military: That NEVER happens.
So while we got to enjoy being newlyweds, the deployment came back half a year later. And then it kept coming back several times. When it wasn’t a deployment, it was a TDY (which is a temporary duty assignment somewhere else) for several weeks at a time. Those periods of him being gone never ended for our entire marriage. When we moved stateside, it didn’t get any better. As a matter of fact, TDYs became more frequent (even if there was only 1 deployment) and it felt like my husband was gone more than he was here. So yes, it comes at a prize to be an American, especially when you are a military family, because (fortunately or unfortunately) we just have to be involved in every single conflict in the entire world.
Moving to the U.S. was harder than expected. We had both made the decision that we wanted to move to California (after all, I had vacationed in California, why it must be just the same to live here! … ), but when it was actually about to happen, I fell into depression because I couldn’t make peace with the fact that I was supposed to leave all my friends, my family, my home, everything behind and move to the other side of the world. It really strained our marriage and it almost broke it. My friends told me that I needed to at least try, I could always come back if I couldn’t handle it. I decided they were right. The determined person that I am, I made it work, of course. Once here, I just consciously and subconsciously decided that I needed to be positive and adjust and figure out my new life here. So I did. Or I thought that’s what I was doing.
What I didn’t expect was that making a move like this really messes with you physically… and instead of my body letting me finish college, it decided that it would rather get pregnant instead. I really wasn’t ready to be pregnant or have a child, I was 22 years old. But my body obviously thought otherwise. Well, so now I was in a foreign country with neither my husband’s nor my family around me, with a husband constantly gone, me still in school and trying to work to make some extra money, and a baby. Talk about a situation to complain about!
But you know what else? We had military benefits, a supporting community around us, a single family home in an excellent neighborhood God had sent to us as a miracle (I am convinced! Looking back at rent prices, this house truly was a miracle) and I CHOSE to work; I really didn’t have to. Since I seem to go out of my mind though when I do nothing, and I really hadn’t figured out the U.S. system yet to find opportunities to be active outside of school or work, I chose to work and go to school. Now tell me how hard it is to be in school, work, AND have a toddler. Whatever I was thinking, I really can’t tell you. So Christopher went to daycare at almost 2 years old. I dabbled into all kinds of different job opportunities and career choices (including acting, real estate and photography). Moving to a different country and having to completely re-establish myself, with a baby in tow now, was simply too much for me. I had found tons of reasons to complain… about all the good things I had in my life. (What a spoiled brat I was.)
You know what happens when you loose yourself and fall into depression because you can no longer appreciate all the good things you have in your life? Find out all about it in Part 4… because this is getting too long and I bet most of you have stopped reading a few paragraphs ago.