Wednesday, August 3, 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.



Why Would My Boyfriend Break Up With Me Before or During a Deployment?


Breakup by Adam Kusmierz via Flickr cc.
This past week there has been a surprising amount of our readers posting that they have just experienced a breakup. Some are experiencing this right before a deployment and others in the middle of one or right after an extension, and they all are asking the same thing - why? So I asked my husband, a former US Navy Chief, what’s the deal with deployment breakups. Then I have some resources to help you comfort yourself, deal with the split, and move on.

But first I just want to say that whatever you are feeling right now, you need to give yourself a huge internal hug because you are awesome! You sacrificed for this relationship and you were willing to go the distance for him, so it really does suck that it’s ending like this. You have every right to feel the full range of emotions from sad to pissed. Regardless, be assured that you didn’t do anything wrong or do anything to deserve this. You were the one who was tough, you were willing to to stick it out. In fact you’re a bad ass! Okay, I just had to get that out there. 

Why is it common for Sailors to end a relationship right before a deployment?
  • Overwhelmed: Keeping a relationship alive during a deployment is extremely difficult. There’s the struggle to communicate and maintain intimacy, not to mention the mutual fear of infidelity. A lot of Sailors are terrified of getting the "Dear John Letter" while at sea and for some it might just seem easier and safer to end it now.   
  • Self-Sacrificing: Sometimes these guys are afraid to put you through all of this and are worried about doing it and then things not working out. Many think they are rescuing you by letting you go.
  • Stress: These guys are going through a tremendous amount of stress leading up to the deployment. It can make minor relationship struggles amplified and difficult to deal with, so it might feel like the relationship isn’t working out. Then they start to question if they should keep the relationship going if it's heading toward an end anyway.
  • Freedom: It’s true that some people just don’t want to be tied down during a deployment, but it’s not as common as you might think. It’s not like they are going on a booze cruise. They are going to be working insane hours like twelve to sixteen hours a day, seven days a week for six to ten months.
  • It Just Wasn’t Working Out: It’s also possible that the feelings they had were fizzling for some other reason, and there’s no sense in keeping a relationship your heart isn’t in during a deployment. 


Why do Sailors end a relationship after months into a deployment?
  • Mistakes Happen: Sailors are not doomed to cheat, but it does happen, and a lot of times it’s easier to just end the relationship rather than deal with the fallout.
  • Feelings Dissipate with Distance: With the distance of deployment, it’s not uncommon for feelings to dissipate.
  • It's Too Much: If a Sailor is struggling to deal with the life of deployment, he might just end the relationship because it's too much stress and struggle for him to handle.
  • Extensions: Extensions often lead to a breakup because it's either too much for the Sailor to handle or he fears for your well being and wants to let you off the hook.
  • The Boat Mindset: Sometimes the boat mindset makes a Sailor feel like a relationship is unnecessary or isn’t what he or she wants. While on the boat, everything is about work, and the only people you have in your world are the people you work with. Their focus might be so shifted that they struggle to give any priority to the relationship.  


What is going on in his head?
  • Really Stressed: The tempo at work is through the roof. Preparing for a deployment is like preparing for a major event – like a elegant formal ball or something. Everything for months has been leading to it and everyone is in a mad dash to be ready for it, but the key difference is this ball is all day every day for over six-thousand people, and it’s going to last for six months or more. So yeah, they’re freaking out! Everyone who works for them and who they work for is also gearing up and freaking out, so you have this entire group of people putting pressure on each other and a huge amount of that ends up of the newest Sailors especially. For those who have never done this before it’s even more stressful. They have no idea what to expect. Also this is their entire lives we are talking about.
  • Shifted Focus: Because of everything that is going on at work, their focus shifts. Stuff outside of work starts to lose importance as they get closer to the date. Everything that's not critical for the mission gets cut out. My husband explained this is why Sailors preparing to leave might stop doing things like taking out the trash, etc.
  • Deployment Psychology: Subconsciously they are preparing to leave and distance themselves from everything that will be left behind. Subconsciously, they distance themselves from the ones they love too – unfortunately this can go too far and end a relationship. 

How to Comfort Yourself
You are going through a really crappy thing. You are hurting and the way I see it, you deserve some comfort right now. You deserve to treat yourself to things like turning the AC up so you can cuddle up in a blanket with your puppy or kitty or a stuffed animal! You deserve to eat brownies and peanut butter cups while watching comedies. You deserve a beach day and a night out with the girls. You deserve a spa treatment and full body, hour long massage. Take a long bath, get a pedicure, do something fun and self-indulgent. Here are some more ideas:







How to Deal with a Breakup








How to Move On after the Breakup









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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!





Tuesday, July 19, 2016

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 


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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