"Until this year, I was so focused on the idea of being a service spouse that I lost my truth. I gave everything I had mentally, spiritually, and physically to this conspicuous definition in my head of what made the perfect service spouse." -Anne Villano
Ever feel like you are so consumed with just getting through a period of time that you’ll do anything you can to survive? Of course you do! That is an example of the basic flight or fight response ingrained in our minds. While this response is somewhat involuntary, I would say that it is exactly what service spouses deal with on a daily basis.
For my entire life, I have been the person with a plan. I was determined to have a successful career, then find a husband, maybe have kids starting at thirty, and be a working mom. I went to college, earned my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree, and was scouted by a few companies afterwards. Everything was going according to plan. Ever the in-person relationship girl, imagine my surprise when, after much urging from my best friend to try online dating, I happened upon the man for whom I would give up everything. Sound familiar?
I am a wife, mother, mixed media artist, and proud Air Force spouse. I know what some in the military community may be thinking. “Girl, why does the Air Force come last in your definition of yourself?” To be honest, that is a recent development. Until this year, I was so focused on the idea of being a service spouse that I lost my truth. During this last deployment, I gave everything I had mentally, spiritually, and physically to this conspicuous definition in my head of what made the perfect service spouse.
I was very close to a complete mental breakdown. I had to decide whether to stay struggling for control with anxiety and severe depression in silence for another 30 years, or have the courage to own being completely vulnerable in every aspect of my life. Being a self-proclaimed woman warrior, I chose to fight my negative thoughts, to work on letting go of control, and to pursue being completely vulnerable.
Exhausted by feeling weighed down by my past, present, and even the unknowable future, I began creating every single day, even if it was just a quick sketch on a napkin. Then, I found a therapist and psychologist that could provide the specific intensive care that I desperately needed. After going through the harrowing process, I realized that I have created over 30 paintings. All of these are in different stages of life and represent very personal moments in time that created the person I am today. Reflection on all of these moments in my little kitchen studio reminded me that being an artist, seeking help, and being vulnerable all take courage. Mastering vulnerability takes unflinching courage.
To learn how you too can courageously master vulnerability, get your copy of Volume V here. A written excerpt and a behind-the-scenes look at Anne Villiano's artwork for, "Becoming Courageously Vulnerable," in Volume V of Legacy Magazine.