Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"Thank you so much, for these words of encouragement! . . ."

"This was the most helpful blog I've read so far. . ."

". . . Thank you for taking the time to explain all of the craziness to all of us!" 

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". . . your post really provided me with hope for the future . . . Thank you so much!"

 Welcome to Unhinged & Empowered!

photo credit: familymwr via photopin cc

My name is Stephanie Carroll and I am the founder of Unhinged & Empowered.

While I was a Navy Wife, on many occasions I wondered, am I going crazy? Am I coming unhinged?

Checking the oven twenty times just to be sure it is off - screaming at the top of your lungs when your only car breaks down - checking your email sixteen times in two minutes - locked out of the house with no one to call - being ALONE.

Sometimes when you are trying to make it work with a service member, you just feel like you are going insane, like you are weak and pathetic, but what I learned after ten years of surviving as a Navy Wife, is that, really it's all perfectly normal. More importantly, I realized that breaking down doesn't make us weak - the fact that we are sticking it out despite the break downs, the fact that we wipe away our tears and keep on going - is why we are some of the strongest women in the world.

But, when I first became a Navy Girlfriend and then a Navy Wife, I didn't have anyone to reassure me of my sanity, and boy does thinking you're going crazy make a girl come unhinged!

o I created this website in 2012 to share what I and others have learned, so that you may have the reassurance that you're not going crazy but are actually one of the strongest women in the world!


"God Bless you for this! I'm a Navy girlfriend and every day I wonder what I got myself into. This helps a lot. Thanks! I'll definitely be coming back!"

What We Stand For
Through this community we share the moments that make us feel unhinged and accept them as normal and even as signs of strength, thus empowering ourselves and others. This community is about focusing on the positive and supporting one another regardless of our situations, whether we are wives, girlfriends, spouses, partners, male, female, from this country or that country. We join here in acceptance and understanding. 


"I just wanted to say thank you . . . I am struggling a lot because I only know two other wives/girlfriends and they're both in different branches. I feel incredibly alone, and after Googling Navy girlfriends and reading this post I realized that I'm not. So sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, thank you."


How We Have Grown!
I started this site on my own, but certain experiences made me decide to make it something more, to take it to the next level. 

There is a strong anti-wife stigma and stereotype in the military. This has lead to an underlying pressure for military members and their wives to believe that other Navy Wives are bad people and treat them as such. In addition to seeing this stigma develop in person, I also watched as the power of the internet spread it like a brush fire. I've seen it on negative blogs, forums, and of course on social media. So many Navy Wives treat one another with judgement, cruelty, and rejection instead of recognizing that we are in this together and could support one another through understanding, encouragement, and camaraderie.

 Patrick Haney via photopin cc
This lead me to create the U&E Facebook Forum, a place where the readers of this site can come together in a place where they can give and expect understanding, encouragement, and acceptance - not just wives but girlfriends too.

That was my next realization. Navy Girlfriends were treated with even more rejection and cruelty than wives. They had no voice and no place to seek advice. That is when I started writing my Navy Girlfriend Guide series and encouraged Navy Girlfriends in addition to Navy Wives to write for the site as contributors.

Prior to this, I had also realized that I don't know everything, so I sought out others' to get involved and share their perspectives and advice. I became we and eventually we became international, welcoming writers from the US, UK, and Canada. Our experiences as Navy Wives and Girlfriends transcends borders, and we joined together forming a camaraderie across the globe.

"This is incredibly helpful info I didn't know how to ask for, but is great! 47days into a deployment as a Navy Girlfriend is making me feel like a basket-case sometimes because there's so much that I don't know. This will help with my curiosity and need for knowledge. Questions that I don't want to bother my man with right now. Thank you, thank you!"

Get Involved!
We want to be more than just a website or a blog. We want to form a community of strength and empowerment. So please, get involved, share using the site's comment feature, or visit the Facebook Forum. We also have a Facebook Page, which is used more as a notification of new posts rather than discussion - show your support and learn about new posts by liking us!  

If you are interested in writing for us, hop on over to the guest poster guidelines page and find out how you can share your experiences too.

Remember, we are some of the strongest women in the world, but together we are even stronger. We can accept that's it's okay to come unhinged because together we are empowered.

". . . Thank you for this. You have really helped me see things differently." 

When New Posts Come Out

I post in-depth posts that require a lot of research and writing time, so new posts come out from me at the beginning of the month. My contributing writers come and go as their schedules permit but when they are writing for the blog, their posts come out throughout the month. When I don't have other writers, posts only come out at the beginning of each month.

 "Thanks Stephanie. Always words of wisdom."

Learn More About Stephanie!

Become a VIP and learn all about my experiences as a novelist, how I became an author, what I'm working on next, and get free historical goodies including a newspaper article on Victorian hair styles and pictures of the bizarre Victorian furniture featured in my novel A White Room!

Or check out my website www.stephaniecarroll.net.

OPSEC
This site adheres to the rules and regulations of Operational Security or OPSEC, and comments are monitored to do the same. In everything we write, we are always keeping the safety of our Sailors in mind and thank you for doing the same.



5 Tips to on How to Make Friends in a New Place

Public Domain via Pixabay
So we got a question on the forum about how to make friends in a new place, and I thought this was a great idea for a post but as I started to write, it felt really familiar. After a little search using the U&E search bar, I realized I've done several posts like this one, but not exactly.

So here are the articles I, or guest bloggers, have done on similar topics, but I also have five tips to ad to this list.

Find Something to Do

Get Out of the House

Ovecome Your Fears

Get Involved in Something

It's Okay if It Isn't Easy


My Additional Tips

1. Work/Volunteer
I think the primary way people make friends is by meeting people through work, but not everyone works or can even find a job, so then what? Volunteer! Volunteering is an amazing way to not only meet knew people but to find fulfillment and purpose in life. It can also be a way to gain work experience and or get involved with the military community. 
In your local community you will find homeless shelters, domestic abuse support, churches (who also know of volunteer opportunities), and feeding programs. You can also get ideas from: 

In the military you will find the:

2. Join a Club/Team
A great way to get to know people is to form a cohesive group that has to work together to accomplish something. 

Common clubs include book clubs, cooking clubs, knitting clubs, etc.
Find clubs using: 

Common adult sports can be discovered on your city/county's recreation department website. Check out: 

3. Take a Class/Workshop
Similar to volunteering or joining a club, by taking a class or workshop you are gathering with a bunch of people who you know are interested in at least one thing that you are. Now the next step is to find one of them that you can connect with.
A lot of the above sites will help you find classes and workshops, but also try local Community Education programs, sometimes associated with colleges. Also art galleries, museums, and libraries often hold classes. Again, your local recreation department should also have some classes listed, but for more assistance visit: 

Take Lessons (music, art, variety)


4. Join a Church
Don't just go to church, join a Bible study group, attend their events, volunteer for a ministry, get involved. Church folk get a bad rap now adays, but they are some of the most honest, nicest, and welcoming people. Join a Bible study group, take a class, join a church club, or volunteer for a church ministry.

5.  Be the One Who Reaches Out
If you really want to make friends, you can't wait around for someone to reach out to you. I myself get frustrated sometimes because it feels like I'm the only one calling people to hang out or I'm always the one that hits them up on Facebook, and that makes me want to throw my hands up and say "No they've got to call me." The problem with this thinking is that they might be feeling the same way, which means they probably aren't going to call and they'll be sad because you didn't call them. 

Shaking Hands by Chris-Havard Berge via Flickr cc.

Reaching out is also something you need to force yourself to do when you go to volunteer, join a club, attend a workshop or a church because being surrounded by people doesn't mean they are all courageous enough to say, "Hi, my name is blank." Oftentimes, if no one is introducing themselves, it's because they are just as nervous or shy about it as you are, so help them out and face your fear.

It's important to talk when you go to these group activities because even if you meet all kinds of people, they might not develop into a bunch of friendships because a friend is someone you can hang out with outside of those activities, so you need to talk to people to discover who you connect with. Then you need to ask those individuals to do something outside of the group, like join you and your husband/boyfriend for dinner, go to a movie, have a play date with your kids, or do a game night. 

I'm not going to lie, I'm not always good at this, so here are some additional advice articles on the art of reaching out:



Need More?
Buzzfeeds 17 Smart Ways to Meet New People When You Move 


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About Stephanie Carroll
U&E Founder & Author

Buy Her Book A White Room!

Photo by Randy Enriquez
I dated and married my husband in 2004 when I was 19. I felt like an outsider for the first half of our marriage. He didn't understand what I needed to know about the Navy, and I didn't know what to ask.

After ten years of learning in the Navy, I founded Unhinged & Empowered. I wanted to spread the knowledge that I needed when I was new, to reveal what took years for me to learn.   
Cover Design by Jenny Q
  
In addition to being a Navy Wife, I am also a novelist. I write historical women's fiction.

My first novel A White Room debuted in 2013 and is about a woman forced to sacrifice her own ambitions of becoming a nurse to marry a man who can save her destitute family. He moves her to a strange, small town where she slowly succumbs to madness until she stumbles on an opportunity to nurse to the poor despite the fact that her husband prosecutes unlicensed practitioners.

Learn more at www.stephaniecarroll.net and connect with me @CarrollBooks on Twitter, Facebook, or on Pinterest!

Join My Journey.
Subscribe Today! 
Only Four Emails a Year!





Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ten Ways to Deal with Fear While Home Alone During Deployment

Day 020 by Holly Lady via Flickr cc.
A good friend of mine recently reminded me of how frightening it is to be alone during a deployment. She lives in the mountains and now that her boyfriend is away, she's terrified living there alone and is actually moving in with a friend to escape that fear.

The first time my husband deployed, I was so terrified being along that I had nightmares about intruders and attacks.

We've grown up living with families, and then for many of us the next step is moving in with a roommate or a boyfriend. Then suddenly ... 
you are alone.

Don't feel bad for being afraid. It's perfectly normal and reasonable to be afraid when you've been with others for so long. Nevertheless, it's no fun! As a wife who has overcome her fears of being alone, I'm going to share my best tips for defeating this fear, so you can live your life even during deployments.

1. Get a Roommate or a Pet
This isn't always an option, but it's probably the easiest in many ways. Facing your fear is a little bit tougher, emotionally. You won't have to deal with that if you can move in with a friend, or back in with your family, or actually rent out a room. You can do this before the deployment, so you get used to your roommate or you can do it while he is on deployment.

That might seem scary, so go through friends to find someone or get someone over while you do interviews and only interview people you feel seem less threatening, like women.

Pets can also be useful because they make it feel less like you are alone. Also a big dog can help you feel safer in general.

2. Check It Out
You come home to an empty house and are freaked out about someone hiding inside, or you hear a weird noise and are scared that something is upstairs. Check it out. It's scary at first, but the best way to overcome these fears is to go see for yourself. If you just hide that fear will keep poking at you. Eventually, you will come to recognize that no one is there, and that noise is the cat or an old pipe.

Now checking things out when you are scared may conjure up horror movie tropes, but the next step will help with that.

3. Call Someone
I used to have buddies who knew my situation and who I could call when I got freaked out. If I heard a noise or felt scared when I came home, I kept them on the phone while I walked around and checked things out. It was really helpful not only because I had a lifeline but also because they could help talk and distract me from my fear as I went through opening closets and turning on lights.

4. Establish Helping Buddies
Contact several people and establish them as your emergency freak-out call buddies. You should have several in case you can't get a hold of someone. Have people you can contact when you are scared but also people who are nearby who can come running to help with either an emergency or if you just need general help like a broken air conditioning. 

It's good to set these buddies up beforehand because when you get scared, you often feel like no one will understand, or you don't want to burden people, but if you have already told them the situation and told them to expect these calls, you and they will be ready for the follow-through.

You might be surprised to discover many are happy to do it. A lot of people hear your situation and wish they could help but what can they do? This is something they can do. It's also an immediate confidence-booster to know you think of them as a person who can keep you safe in some way.

5. Keep the Lights On and Get Some Noise Going
When my husband leaves, I keep the lights and television on at all times. I keep the drapes closed, and a couple lights on so it looks like people are up in the house. Plus, I can see stuff if I hear a noise.

However, for the most part, I won't even hear those scary noises because my TV is going! It also helps me feel like I'm not alone, plus distraction. If you are not a television fan, music, the radio, Youtube, or Podcasts are good too.

6. Make Plans, Be Prepared
You know when you watch a horror movie and you say, she should have grabbed a gun or she should have run out of the house! Well think of those things and come up with plans for yourself. I used to sleep with a knife by my bed, and I always took a phone with me, even into the bathroom.

Think up emergency escape plans in case there is a fire or an intruder. Prepare for these plans. If you have a fear of an intruder breaking in while you are in the shower and then being unable to run out because you are naked (yes that was a fear I had), keep some spare clothes in there. Keep a spare phone in there. Whatever makes you feel more comfortable.

7. Don't Worry If You Feel Crazy
Keeping "run for your life" clothes in the bathroom and doing bunch of other weird stuff might make you feel like a loon, but so what? It's not like you would do this normally. It's just temporary. And seriously, if you have to endure a deployment, you get some extra slack for acting weird! 

Also keep in mind, this is stuff you won't always feel like you have to do. My husband can leave now, and I don't carry around a knife or have pants in my bathroom anymore. I'm not as afraid after all these years.

8. Take Security Measures
If you can afford it, install a security system. They are getting cheaper and really efficient with new technology like doorbell cameras and glass broken sensors.

If you can't afford the high-tech stuff, there are still things you can do to keep your home more safe and feel safer too:


9. Get Techie with Safety Apps
Things certainly have changed since my days as a freaked out Navy Wife. There are all kinds of apps out there that are designed for people who are trying to stay safe while alone. Poke around and see if any are right for you.


10. Arm Yourself
If you really want to get serious, get a gun carrying permit and learn to shoot. Buy pepper spray or a taser, they are really cheap. Or look up local self defense classes. They area really common. You just have to Google. Or Youtube it! Although I highly recommend you go to a class because you won't know if you are doing it right without a legit trainer.

Bonus!
Overcome Your Fears For Good!
This is the hardest one of them all but with more exposure to your fears the less afraid you will be. Having my husband go away isn't frightening any longer. I can even find reasons and ways to enjoy the solitude and quiet. So even if you are afraid now, do not worry. With time you will overcome those fears.

Face Your Fear of Being Home Alone

Face Fears In General
9 Ways to Face Your Fears in General

Get the Support You Need.
Sign up for the U&E Quarterly Newsletter! 
Only Four Emails a Year.




About Stephanie Carroll
U&E Founder & Author

Buy Her Book A White Room!

Photo by Randy Enriquez
I dated and married my husband in 2004 when I was 19. I felt like an outsider for the first half of our marriage. He didn't understand what I needed to know about the Navy, and I didn't know what to ask.

After ten years of learning in the Navy, I founded Unhinged & Empowered. I wanted to spread the knowledge that I needed when I was new, to reveal what took years for me to learn.   
Cover Design by Jenny Q
  
In addition to being a Navy Wife, I am also a novelist. I write historical women's fiction.

My first novel A White Room debuted in 2013 and is about a woman forced to sacrifice her own ambitions of becoming a nurse to marry a man who can save her destitute family. He moves her to a strange, small town where she slowly succumbs to madness until she stumbles on an opportunity to nurse to the poor despite the fact that her husband prosecutes unlicensed practitioners.

Learn more at www.stephaniecarroll.net and connect with me @CarrollBooks on Twitter, Facebook, or on Pinterest!

Join My Journey.
Subscribe Today! 
Only Four Emails a Year!





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