When I started this project, I was angry. I was wondering if it was worth it to me to stick around another 13 years only for my husband’s career. I wanted something for myself. I needed something for myself. In my tenure as a spouse, I was rarely regarded as an individual with an area of expertise, value or status – other than an eligible family member, someone able to receive benefits. Instead my education, capability and experience was questioned, or downplayed, and the constant proving of myself became wearisome.
The benefits, in my mind, didn’t seem to outweigh the pain and suffering that were attached to them. Of course, I loved my husband and keeping my family together was very important to me. The blame didn’t belong on my husband; it was my choice in the beginning to follow along and support his dream and need to actualize. The blame didn’t necessarily belong on myself either. I put in the best effort I had to make it work and to conform to the societal pressures.
One day I thought, it must be the embassy culture. Over the years, I felt my worth and value as a spouse, woman and human declining. My ability to reach full potential seemed too far away, and the need to retake control of my life controlled my life. The tough decision of leaving my family or remaining powerless and worthless seemed like my only options.
I wanted to blame the Department of State, and I wanted restitution for the harm caused not only to my family, but to myself. So, I started this project. I started researching and brooding, formulating my plan of action to make some noise and raise some eyebrows. But what happened afterwards was something I didn’t quite expect. I expected I would be able to hold up my hypothesis. I expected I could get a bashing session or two by using newspapers to run my personal story.
But, what I found in the research instead, not only surprised me but it empowered me. I had several ‘Aha’ moments and the hurt and pain of the past began to melt away. While the research does reveal some of the weaknesses within the Department of State that suppress many necessary components of a fulfilled life to spouses, it also directs spouses in a way for us to take the control we so desperately need back in our own life. Breaking the dependency of the unhealthy parent-child relationship that builds through the diplomatic culture and communities overseas, we can once again enjoy the benefits of an autonomous, prestigious and fulfilled life.
Let’s get started! A majority of the following pages are written in traditional research, thesis style. I tried my best to jazz it up and make it interesting. Hopefully, you will catch on to the humor and anthropological anecdotes I tried to throw in every now and again! But, if you just can’t handle the drab, skip on to the end for The Case Study. This is where you will find some of my personal experiences and a more relaxed writing technique to open the discussion through an interpretation of the findings.
Thank you for being here and best wishes in your own path to fulfillment.