Today, I’m talking with Ellen Michaels from the book Dependent.
1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?
A year ago four men came to my door. Four men in uniform—men that no military spouse ever wants to see. And they were there to tell me what no military spouse wants to hear. And I was 45 years old…a widow with no career, no home, and no roots. And I had a secret. An awful, dark secret. A secret I had no idea how to escape. But I had to try.
2. What made you want your story to be told?
Military spouses are selfless unsung heroes who are often held back by their circumstances—early marriage, young children, deployments, frequent moves… I’m sure I’m not alone in my story of loss and secrets. I hope my story can be a wake-up call to other spouses who are fighting to keep their sense of self in the shadow of the ubiquitous military machine.
3. What lead you to make the changes you did in your life?
When I got that knock on the door I thought my life had ended—and in a way it had. John was gone and I had to face my demons by myself. I had to search deep inside myself for the answers. It was the worst day of my life, that day. But I’m stronger now because of it.
- In your life, what has empowered you?
Time…experience…the love of my husband, my children, and of my high-school friend. I gained strength and confidence slowly—year by year, day by day—until one day I’d just had enough of the oppression I was fighting against. I was dependent on no one, and no one else was dependent on me. It was a freeing and empowering moment for me.
5. What are strengths and weaknesses?
I am very resilient—I can put up with power outages and pukefests and deployments and all kinds of awful things and still stay sane. Well, sort of sane. And I’m selfless. My kids and my husband always come first. But that can backfire on me sometimes. I let people take advantage of me. And until recently I was really awful at sticking up for myself.
- Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.
A self-rescue princess remembers that her goals are important. She can support the love of her life in his career without letting her own career plans slide away. She is proud of her own accomplishments, and a positive role model for her children. When the going gets tough, she digs deep and doesn’t lose sight of who she is.
7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?
Marriage is a partnership between two people. Your dreams matter. You matter. Never let yourself become so dependent that you forget who you are.
- Favorite quote or Bible verse.
“Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”
–Dory, Finding Nemo
9. If your story had a theme song, what would it be?
“Grey Street” by Dave Matthews.
10. Will you be continuing your journey in written form?
No, I’ve found my independence. I hope other service spouses gain strength from my story.
11. Is there anyone in your life (friend, family member) who will be sharing their life?
No, I don’t think anyone else I introduced you to will be sharing anytime soon. Perhaps one of my friends you haven’t met yet will. She and her husband have just moved to England on a military posting. They are having all sorts of adventures. Who knows? You might get to meet them.