This Guest Post is brought to you by Rachel Mellencamp. (Twitter: @rachelmcamp and IG: @rachelmellencamp) She been married for 3 years to her Firefighter. She says she is still figuring it out. (Aren’t we all 😉 ) She also has a passion for firefighters and their loved ones. We hope to hear more from Rachel. —To submit your own Guest Post, Click Here.
Avoiding comparison as a Fire Wife is like trying to deny that tomorrow is coming. It will creep on you whether you expect it to or not. With our crazy schedules and long nights, it’s tempting to long for a “normal” life with a “normal” marriage.
You have been invited to a game night with your married friends — but your firefighter works. Again.
A cousin is getting married! Time to send in your RSVP… for just one.
The dog (or cat or kid or neighbor) got severely sick in the middle of the night & needs rushed to the nearest clinic. It’s a task trying to carry a sick one while cleaning up their mess, getting them in the car, and frantically searching on your phone to find the nearest med-check all by yourself.
I know others try to help and empathize. I know they mean the best. But let’s be honest, words hurt deep.
“I know what it’s like being alone. My husband goes on work trips sometimes.”
“Your schedule doesn’t sound THAT bad.”
“Why don’t you just go visit him at work?”
Words meant to help just bring us down.
Seeing “normal” couples and families can sting sometimes. If you’re anything like me, you’ve slipped into the rabbit hole of comparison more than just once. It’s easy to indulge in this trap of bitterness and justify feeling bad for yourself.
Our 26th president, Mr. Teddy Roosevelt, definitely knew what he was talking about when he said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Our lives should bring us JOY. In the good times, in the tough times, in the in between times. And I get it, I’ve been there, it’s HARD.
In those moments when it feels like all your joy has been taken, find what works best for you.
Think of your joy as a bucket full of water. The more joy you have in life, the more full your bucket becomes. But with each stumble or mishap, the water spills out of your bucket. Here are a few concrete things I’ve found that add joy to my bucket:
- Be active. When I’m sad, I get sedentary. Before I know it, I’ve watched a whole season of Parks & Rec, and I still don’t have the energy to get off the couch. Cleaning while listening to sermons or podcasts gives me motivation I need when I’m alone.
- Do things you wouldn’t normally do. Some people love strict schedules. That is one thing that makes me feel constricted! If you have a whole day alone, do something new! Take your dog to a new park, bake a new pumpkin loaf recipe, pick up trash around your neighborhood, read a new book!
- Be strategic. When you can, make plans for when your firefighter is on shift. I feel like many of my relationships have gotten stronger because I actively use the time I have alone to meet up with friends. And shoot for at least once a month where both you and your firefighter can meet up with your couple friends. You need to be strategic on how you fill your time alone, and your time with your firefighter.
- Tell someone. I get it, you don’t want to be a burden. You’ve already exhausted everyone in your life about your issues. If you still need to get things off your chest, find professional help. Earlier this year, I sat down with my firefighter, tears pouring from my eyes. I had decided I needed professional help and I was terrified to tell him. But he supported me through it all. And now, when I feel like my bucket is starting to get empty, I simply tell him and we make plans for some genuine, quality time together. Never let your bucket go empty. You will avoid many heartbreaks and breakdowns by acknowledging when your bucket starts spilling, and having the courage to tell someone and do something about it.
- Find YOUR normal. Not anyone else’s normal. Simply, uniquely, beautifully YOUR normal. The one routine thing I will do that makes the long days a little shorter is that my firefighter and I talk on the phone every shift. Yes, tones drop sometimes while we’re talking so we’re cut short. Yes, sometimes it’s right before he’s called to dinner. Yes, sometimes he’s the only one still awake in the firehouse. But two minutes talking on the phone (or Facetiming) will do wonders for your joy bucket.
- Support, support, support. Comparison can turn into bitterness, and bitterness makes everything miserable. Your firefighter has been trained to do this job. He has an innate calling to do this. It can get hard to support him, especially if you don’t like your job and see how much he loves his. Tell him often that you are proud and that he’s doing a great job. I know he sees the same in you, why can’t you do the same for him?
- Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you. This is actually a lyric from the Taylor Swift song “New Year’s Day.” Am I showing my age too much? Hehe. Anyway, this lyric wraps me up like a warm blanket. If you don’t like your current situation, it doesn’t mean it was always hard in the past or will always be difficult in the future. How did you fall in love? What was your favorite trip together? Do you remember the last time you got caught in the rain together? Hold on to those sweet memories. More memories are just around the corner that you can add to it.
- Get involved with 247commitment and FirefitherWife.com. These people get it. They get YOU! I highly recommend this organization. They spoke right to our needs and challenged us to discuss things in ways that we never had before. Definitely filled in some holes that needed to be patched.
Comparison is unavoidable. But with the right tools, you can recognize when it’s creeping in and put it back where it belongs. You, your firefighter, and your situation are uniquely and beautifully yours. Fill your joy bucket up so much that it overflows.
Everyone can use some more joy in their life. Don’t let anyone or anything steal that from you.
What comparisons do you need to stop?
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