Wednesday, October 5, 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

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.

How U&E Will Change & How You Can Keep It Going

By RWAN'S MaMy via Flickr cc.
Dear U&E Readers,

Why U&E Began
I started Unhinged and Empowered in the summer of 2012 because when I was a new Navy Girlfriend, a new Navy Fiance, and a new Navy Wife, I had almost no support whatsoever, and I almost always felt weak and like I was going crazy. After 10 years of marriage with the Navy, I learned that all those times I fell to the ground and screamed and balled into my hands, I wasn’t weak or crazy. I was enduring moments of extreme mental and emotional stress. The key word there is enduring. I was sticking it out even when I was falling apart—even when I was coming unhinged!

I started this blog because I wanted to reach out to women who were experiencing the same thing and let them know it is okay to come unhinged. I wanted to empower them. I wanted to show them how strong they really are.

A Place to Lift Each Other Up 
Then I learned that although Navy Wives and Navy Girlfriends are lifted up and praised by society, they are torn down and pummeled by other Navy Wives and even more so on the internet by the general public. All over Twitter, Navy Wives are denounced. In the Facebook groups created to provide a community, people start conflicts and feed off the chaos.

So I created the U&E Facebook group, a place where those of us who want to actually lift each other up can do so, and where those of us who need support and guidance can communicate without the fear of judgment or unnecessary cruelty. My heart just swells when I see the interactions in this group today.

Being There for Those Who Had No One
Shortly thereafter, I realized that although my blog, and other blogs like mine, had no intention of excluding girlfriends, we often forgot to write posts that apply specifically to them. This is when I started my Navy Girlfriend series and when I realized how many women are going through much, if not all, of the same difficulties as wives but with even less support.

So ... What's Changing ...
I will no longer write regular posts for U&E or continue the quarterly newsletters. I will continue to answer questions via the comments and my email, and I will also keep the Facebook group going. I also hope to try to write guest posts for other Navy Wife blogs eventually and of course I will let you know about that via the Facebook channels. 

Why It's Changing
If I could, I would continue to grow and contribute to this community for as long as it was needed, but I’m afraid life sometimes requires us to move in a different direction. Due to various reasons, I recently had to return to a "day job," which means I have less time for my passions.

Even though Navy Wives and Military Wives have this reputation for being mean, most of us aren’t and we don’t have to be. I came to this blog with the intention of helping those who needed help, showing them kindness and understanding, letting them know it’s okay to struggle and to cry, and empower them by reminding them that just going through those unhinged moments is what reveals their strength. I’ve seen so many of you doing just that in the Facebook group, and I hope you will continue to do so there and elsewhere online, and not only online, but also in person.

You can be the beginning—you can change the way the world sees us. You can encourage others to be different and inspire that difference by showing each other love and kindness, even when it's not shown in return. We know how other women like us are suffering because we’ve suffered it or we are suffering it. Use that suffering to create love.

Maybe I’ll Be Back
I don’t want to stop U&E, which is why I'm not shutting it down completely, and maybe if things change, I  can return and restore the blog, but until then, even though it's breaking my heart, I have to say farewell.

I hope you'll consider keeping up with my fiction work by signing up for my author quarterly newsletter or by following on Facebook or Twitter.

My Gratitude
I am so happy that I was able to use my struggles to help others but I want you to know that over the last four years, you all provided me with support and encouragement too. You read my posts, shared the blog with others, and even bought my books. I want to thank all of you for becoming a part of this. Thank you for being a part of this community. I am so happy that this blog has been able to help people, but it has also been something that has helped me too, and for that I am so grateful.

With Love and Encouragement,
Stephanie Carroll

U&E Founder

Friday, September 23, 2016

Five Ways to Deal With Dating a Sailor

by keith allison via flickr cc

I've been with my boyfriend for 5 years and the navy is literally turning him into a total new person and taking him away and I am pissed and I don't know how anyone deals with this. - Anonymous

Hi Anonymous,

I understand what you are going through and it's not fun. It's okay to be pissed and to feel frustrated and lost. We all do, especially at first.

Right now you might be trying to figure out how you are going to deal with this in the long-term because it feels impossible to deal right now, but the thing is that trying to figure out the future before you figure out the present won't be helpful, just overwhelming. The good news is, I can tell you from experience that it does get easier with time, so what you are feeling now won't be what you feel then.

As far as dealing right now. There are a variety of things you can do to make things easier and which are discussed in more depth throughout this blog (use the search bar to help find those posts), but a quick list:

1. Create a strong network of people and groups you can go to in order to vent or just talk to or hang out with. This can be friends, family, online groups, Navy groups, etc. Check out our Facebook Group.

2. Get in contact with and get on the email lists of your Sailor's Family Readiness Group and Ombudsmen. These are the people who can keep you stay informed about work schedules and official business. And yes they do speak to girlfriends.

3. Get hobbies, plan projects, plan trips, or go for that future education to fill in the extra time you will have when he goes away. Doing this gives you socialization and helps the time go by faster. What is something you've always wanted to do but haven't had the time for?

4. Keep reading up on this stuff. Do your homework. In addition to this blog SpouzeBuzz and MilitarySpouse and Military One Source are all great resources. You are already ahead of the game just by looking into this stuff.

5. Give yourself permission to be upset, to get frustrated, to cry, to scream, to get angry even. It's okay to have those feelings. It doesn't mean you can't handle this or that you aren't tough enough. Going through this, sticking it out despite those moments, that's what reveals your strength. Enduring those moments is what shows you can do this. Be patient with him and with yourself during this transition.

I'm wishing you and your Sailor all the luck in the world.

With Love,
Stephanie Carroll
Author & U&E Founder
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