Wow... fifteen years flies by!
Today is May 10th, 2017. I graduated from the University of South Carolina on May 10th, 2002. On that auspicious day, I collected master's degrees in social work and public health. I had big plans for my future. I pictured myself working in an office somewhere, earning a salary, climbing the ladder of workplace success, and eventually settling somewhere and buying a home in the United States. But there was a lot I didn't know that day that I have learned since then.
I knew I was marrying a soldier and we would be moving a lot. I also knew that one day, he'd retire. I didn't know we'd be in one area for about five years and then spend the next seven years moving to three different states and Germany twice.
I didn't know that all the moving would make actually using those degrees rather difficult. Oh, I'm sure I might have had an inkling, but in 2002, all I knew was that we were going to northern Virginia.
I didn't know that my husband's daughters would turn into PAS zombies. I was blissfully unaware of parental alienation syndrome or people who use their children as weapons. I didn't know my husband's "son" would one day obviously become his ex stepson. In 2002, neither of us thought of him in that way, nor did it ever occur to me that one day I'd refer to his daughters as "exes". But I want to reiterate that Bill doesn't share my feelings toward his kids. He still has unconditional love for them. I really respect and admire him for that. At the same time, though I sometimes feel guilty about my feelings, I also realize that his daughters are truly strangers to me.
I didn't know that the first few years of my marriage were going to be very tough. I also didn't know that Bill and I would survive and thrive. We were just talking about how hard the early years were. It took about five years before things got somewhat easier financially. It took about nine years before the pain of PAS began to dissipate a bit.
I didn't know that I'd eventually come to be okay with not having children or even owning my own home.
I didn't know that I'd become pretty good at saving and managing money. Of course, I still have some bad habits. I fritter away money on things like games and entertainment. But we have more money in the bank now than either of us have ever had. Ten years ago, I put it in my mind to pay off debt and create savings. As potential unemployment looms in the future, I feel better knowing we owe less and have more money banked.
I didn't know that I'd eventually come to really dislike the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2002, I had respect for Mormonism. I didn't know a whole lot about it then, and hadn't seen how it can be used to break up families. I still respect people's rights to believe as they wish, but I have little respect for churches that pressure everyone within a family to believe the same way or else. And, in fairness to the LDS church, I want to reiterate that I know Mormons aren't the only ones who do this stuff. They just happen to be the ones who affected us personally.
I didn't know that I'd make money writing stuff on the Internet. I don't make as much now as I used to, but I can't really say that I'm not a professional. I have made enough that I've needed to pay taxes, anyway. I find that my writing helps me to use my education and experiences, even if I don't make enough money to support myself. I know that the blogs are useful and interesting to some people. That makes me want to keep writing.
I didn't know that I'd be a big help to my husband in many things. While I haven't been able to help him pay the bills, I have tried to be a good wife and help manage what we have. I think I've been successful. We still get along beautifully because we are insanely compatible. Seriously. It's hard to believe how lucky we were to find each other.
I didn't know that I would write a blog. I didn't know that my blog would introduce me to interesting people. I have readers all over the place. For some reason, I seem to be especially popular with the Irish. I didn't know I'd eventually have a lot of readers in the military community and some of them would take offense to my referring to myself as "overeducated". And I didn't know that others would totally "get it" and become friends.
I didn't know that I'd come to love living in Germany and that I'd get to live here twice. I didn't know that I'd pick up some German, mainly through Duolingo and paying attention. No, I can't really speak the language, but I definitely can read and understand more.
I didn't know that one day, I'd have a second chance to meet Germans and make friends. It was a lot harder to do that the first time we lived here.
I didn't know that I would one day get to the point at which I could accelerate paying off my student loans... and that I could do it on Bill's salary. I am very lucky that he's willing to help me. I also know that I am ridiculously privileged in many ways.
I didn't know that fifteen years would fly by and I'd be middle-aged so soon. I didn't know that I'd miss out on some things that people take for granted. But I also didn't know that the experiences I've had are not the typical experiences I was expecting to have.
I didn't know that my former best friend would one day end up on my shit list. I also didn't know that some people I didn't think were friends would become good friends.
I didn't know that I'd finally get out of Virginia for longer than three years.
I didn't know that I'd be able to express myself musically on the Internet and some people would even enjoy my efforts.
I didn't know that Facebook would one day rule my life... not that I'm particularly proud of that.
I didn't know I'd eventually go from being somewhat politically conservative to being rather liberal.
And... I didn't know that my affection for the South would eventually turn cold. I used to be very proud of my heritage. I am somewhat less so, now. Maybe now, I embrace my European roots more than my southern roots.
Here's to fifteen years of being a boring ass housewife with too much formal education. Thanks to everyone who reads this crap and helps me make a mark on the world somehow. May we all enjoy another fifteen years of whatever's coming.