It was one of those divine moments of shining clarity. For some people they come like the morning sun rising over the horizon and bathing the world in glorious revelation.
However, in my stubbornness they usually come more in the form of a good, solid kick in the teeth that finally knocks some sense into me.
My pilot was on the umpteeth day of a really long trip. Now that I think on it, it sometimes seems like he’s always on the umpteenth day of a really long trip. Welcome to the pilot wife life.
So on this particular umpteenth day I decided for no apparent reason to make myself something besides the normal fare of leftover day-old mac and cheese and half of a chicken nugget my kid didn’t finish. Usually, it’s followed by an oreo chaser after they go to bed. You know, the whole frigging bag. Hey, don’t judge!
You know what I’m talking about.
I whipped myself up a perfectly marinated ribeye steak with a side of parmesan crusted squash and a glass of red wine. A meal fit for a… Well, a queen.
I shoved a week’s worth of mail, two lightsabers, several books, and a…what is that thing, anyway?…off the table so I could have a clear spot to eat, plopped my tush (still covered in last night’s pajamas at 6 pm) into my cheeto-encrusted ‘throne,’ and prepared to dine in style.
And that’s when a little [uninvited] voice of reason broke through my royal reverie. “Mommy? Why are you eating that? Shouldn’t you save the good food for when daddy is home?”
Boom. Like I said, a nice, solid kick in the teeth. Thanks kid.
The ‘good’ food. In that painful moment I realized that I had been living my life not as a queen, but as a second rate citizen. And it was affecting my marriage and my children in a big way.
I had been blaming him for my unhappiness, but in reality the responsible party was staring back at me in the shiny surface of my steak knife.
I resented my husband for ‘always eating out’ and ‘having all the fun’ out there on the road while I was stuck at home groveling in monotonous mac-and-cheese misery. But the truth was that I was making the choice to eat cold, half-gnawed chicken nuggets.
Not him. Not my pilot. Not my husband. Me, myself, and I.
Yet I was more than happy to project the blame on him. Why? Because frankly it’s always easier to divy out responsibility for my shortcomings on anyone and everyone but sweet, perfect, awesome me!
It’s not that we like being unhappy, but we like being unhappy! It’s more comfortable to coast through our current stratosphere of sadness than to take the plane by the yoke and seek out bluer skies.
But here’s the problem. We are inadvertently cruising with our noses pointed at the ground and if we don’t pull up soon we are going to make untimely and likely fatal contact with the hard earth below.
Our marriages will explode without survivors.
We need to embrace the hard truth. We must take responsibility for our own joy. This is true in any marriage, but especially for marriages with a traveling spouse where we will spend an unfathomable amount of time alone.
You see, in order to love a pilot you must learn to F.L.Y.–
First Love Yourself!
Blame leads to resentment, resentment leads to anger, and anger leads to broken homes. However when we F.L.Y.–when we own our happiness and we first love ourselves well–we replace blame with choice, we trade resentment for joy, and we swap broken aviation homes for beautiful, strong aviation marriages.
Though I cannot choose all of my circumstances, I can choose how I react to them. I was choosing comfortable misery, but I didn’t even realize it until my child spoke those words.
My pilot wasn’t forcing me to eat what I was eating! He wasn’t forcing me to lock myself in the house like a miserly hermit. But for some reason I blamed him.
Not only was it affecting my marriage, not only was I acting like a wretched old grump, but I was devalueing myself in the eyes of my children! I had inadvertently taught them by my actions that I was not as worthy as their father.
That was on me. Like I said, a good solid kick in the face.
That’s the exact moment when I decided to learn to F.L.Y. because I am worth it! And so are you.
From that moment on I made a pact to love myself well. I can’t always make a gourmet meal, but at least several times a month during his trips I broil myself a nice juicy steak. Because I’m worth it!
When I want to eat out, I eat out. I take my kids to the movies and have ice cream dates with my girlfriends. I take a shower, spray on some perfume, fix my hair, and put on makeup. Not because he’s home, but because I’m worth it!
When I started loving me well, something quite extraordinary happened–I started loving him well by default. I still missed him, but I no longer resented him. Once I understood that joy was mine to shun or choose I pursued it with unbridled passion.
Then the joy that filled my heart overflowed into our marriage, my children, my relationships, and now into you. The ripple effect has been quite simply breathtaking.
I am still a pilot wife. I still spend an unfathomable amount of time alone. I still miss him like crazy. But I am cruising at a new altitude of my appointing and have never felt so content, so full of joy, so alive!
I want that for you! So ladies, I am absolutely challenging you.
Love yourselves well. Pursue your passions, treat yourself to your favorite foods, go to the movies, put on something other than your flannel PJs, have lunch with girlfriends, and laugh out loud!
You. Are. Worth. It.
And when you finally learn to F.L.Y., your marriage will soar to new breathtaking altitudes!
I love you, aviation sisters. Now give yourselves permission to F.L.Y!
~A Fellow Pilot Wife