Speak Up

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Hard Post to Write

One of my fears on this blog has been that I come off too whiny and other women who have tougher situations will disrespect me. I always think about doctors' wives, firefighters' wives, police officers' wives, and military wives. I don't want others thinking I made a blog out of something useless or unnecessary. My fear became a reality when I got a comment by a women married to a man in the military. Some of you may have read her comment posted on "Search Party" but I'll include it here for reference.

I, on the other hand, found your blog by hitting "next blog" and stumpled on it...I was fasinated by the content and had no idea there was a need for this forum. I do feel for all of you. I'm sorry that your boyfriends/husbands work long hours and leave you home alone or just feeling alone. I'm sure the 14, 15, 16 hour days are long and when he comes home he's tired and maybe deep down because of this you're not being completely fulfilled in the relationship and that might make you doubt why you're in it. I get it. My husband doesn't have to be a chef for me to get it. I'm happy that you have eachother to listen and simply know that someone else is out there feeling the same lonely pain. It's not unlike the support groups I have for my life. We all marry or date these men who have their lives and passions and no one puts a gun to our head to make us stay...we stay because we love them and it becomes our lives too. We should embrace our lives. Move on with your own lives as much as you can. A good relationship is two lives not staring only at eachother, but standing next to eachother moving in the same direction.

With all due respect to fellow women, some of you sound a bit too wrapped up in the sadness of it and the drama instead of taking the hard times as they come and realizing how good you have it! You all are so lucky! You have these men who you love and who love you and they may work a long day but oh my good they come home and they are safe and happy doing what they love!! You are so lucky and I feel like you don't see it or really appreciate it as much as you should. I know it's hard to look for the good and the bright side, but you have to. You have to. Life gets harder...sometimes for you and sometimes for others. You're growing to grow older and have kids and the focus will shift from longing him to have an 8-10 hour day to real problems and I fear you're not being happy and grateful now, when you should be.

My support group I mentioned is for wives of military men...mostly men who have been hurt or killed in Iraq. My husband has been gone this tour for 2 years...I've seen him 3 times during that time. I go for days and days, a few times weeks with no email or word from him. I go to bed at night not knowing if he's safe...or when me and the kids will see him..or if we will see him. I helped choose this life and I know and pray someday it will change.

I'm in no way trying to "trump" your pain. I know its all how we're built and what we can handle. But try, for me, to keep things in perspective and be happy and grateful for what you do have.

The reality of it all is that there is a need for this blog, otherwise no one would read it. We have all found comfort in the stories shared by others. I've worked very hard to make this a playful blog as well. "Chef mumbles", stories of reality chef TV, silly anecdotes, and links to other food related articles make this blog fun, too. As you can see I'm feeling very defensive because I feel attacked by Rachel. I can't imagine what her life is like married to a man who is on tour in Iraq let alone in the military. But unlike Rachel, I never once made my case seem worse than anyone else's. In reference to her last paragraph, in my experience, when someone says "I'm not trying to..." it means they are very much trying to (in this case trump our pain). I married a chef, she married a military man. No one is better, nothing is harder, no one is greater. We are all given struggles in our lives to overcome. Some we can handle, some we can't. It is what it is. My life is wonderful and if readers don't see how happy I am, then I guess I'm not getting that part across.

Rachel, thank you for reading my blog and commenting. I hope your husband and his fellow troops come home quickly and safely to their families and I'm sorry if you feel like I'm not grateful for my life. It must be difficult reading a blog like this in your situation so it seems like you would be much happier not reading it, though I welcome you here anytime.

Food is Love,


Chelsea Rogers said...

I too, had to take a moment and re-read Rachel's comment yesterday. Of course, I didn't want to take it to heart -- I fully realize there are women out there who (of course!) have it "harder" than me. I cannot imagine living the life they do, married to a soldier and not seeing them for months/years at a time. That's not the kind of life I would want to lead. A very close friend of mine is dealing with that currently, and I admire her greatly. However, the line that struck me was "I know its all how we're built and what we can handle." -- well, Rachel, I suppose you are just much stronger than the rest of us..

Hilary's blog is a fun distraction and great comfort to the women that read it, and especially to Hilary who has led the way and brought us together! I never would have thought this forum existed, because being a chef wife wasn't something that was on my radar. The restaurant industry is a crazy, drama-filled environment -- and the military is also in a category all its own. I don't think there is any comparison, nor should there be. Hopefully, Rachel can enjoy reading these posts and the comments from us -- and also relate to the fits of loneliness we experience, or relationship quirks we work through. I personally adore my life, absolutely adore it, and wouldn't want it any other way.. but yes, there are certainly nights where I'd give anything not to be going to bed alone, but thankful my chef will be beside me come morning.

ctina said...

I find it difficult swallowing criticism of anyone's life. If there's anything I have learned is that no one's life is easy. People need support for a reason. Even folks who appear to have it all have their own unique problems and need help.

It is quite condescending and naive to judge anyone's life as easier than your own. Don't judge until you've walked a mile in their shoes... and then don't judge until you've walked a few years.

Unknown said...

I have a friend whose husband is in the military and she NEVER makes me feel like her feelings are more important than mine. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings. Frankly, Rachel should have gone to a military wives' blog and not this blog. There is a time and a place for everything.

Keep up the good work, Hilary!

Laura, Reno

Tiger Lily said...

Now who's being attacked? That was a bit harsh don't you think? Hilary was thoughtful in her words though your feelings of anger were there, but the other comments were a bit much. I read and re-read Rachels comment and never felt judged or attacked. I NEVER got the idea she was trying to make us feel bad...I got the impression she was reaching out and reminding us of something that, let's face it, it is hard to remember to look on the bright side when we're home alone for hours and hours, or the kids are sick, and you're tired and hubby is stuck in service. We get wrapped up in our owm lives...its human nature. But to say to this poor women that she should stick to her own support groups...? We should stick together, not as chef's wives, but as women.
If you read her comment thinking "she's a bitch and making me feel bad about myself" you will. If you read it with an open mind and trust that it's coming from a place of kindness, it is. We have the power over our feelings..no one makes us feel bad about ourselves unless we let them! We are smart and savvy women, we can take it!
Let's just let her go in peace...be thankful, as she suggested, for our wonderful lives and these men we love!

Turtle said...

Thanks for the perspective Tiger Lily. I agree that this is no time to be turning on each other. I appreciated Rachel's advise and took it for what it is worth to me. As soon as we start deciding which views are right and which are wrong, we don't have a support group anymore. It just becomes a clique.

Anonymous said...

wow! We've definitely got a range of emotions in response to this post! As I read Rachel's words, I started to get defensive as well. Then I remembered what it was like when my mother was in Iraq for three years. Most people do not understand what it's like to have a chef as a husband, but NO ONE can imagine what it is like to have a loved one in the service until your loved one gets on a plane to go to a war zone.

I don't know exactly what Rachel meant and I'm not going to speculate on her motives or meaning. Hilary, I can understand why you felt attacked by Rachel's comments. Even so, I hope that she will continue to read your blog. Why? Because I think she probably gets sympathy when people hear that her husband's deployed and don't immediately respond with "you're soooo lucky!" like they do when we tell people we're married to a chef!

I really do think we can learn from each other, even when we feel attacked.


Turtle said...

... nevermind. Wow, I just read Anonymous' comment. That is enough for me. At first I found this site to be helpful and supportive. Within a matter of a day people are divided and becoming hurtful. This kind of stuff is what makes women so distrustful of each other. Thanks for your efforts Hilary but that is it for me.

ctina said...

I feel compelled to say that I don't find any of these comments hurtful, and I have read them over and over trying to understand what folks are reacting to.

I think this blog is excellent, and the readership is very supportive! And, I think all these comments are valid.

As far as my original comment goes, it was not meant to "turn" on anyone. I think everyone can be defensive about lifestyle choices-- and then at times that turns to judging others. I'd like to maintain that it is impossible to suppose what anyone's life is really like.

Hilary Battes said...

I had no idea this would turn into such a controversial subject. My intention in writing the post was to share a serious fear I have when writing this blog. I hope Rachel and everyone else still reads the blog.

Just as all of these powerful comments were coming in I realized someone wrote a very nasty, attacking post about me on their personal blog. What hurts even more is that, that person reads and comments on here, but doesn't know me personally.

I don't think I'm unlike everyone else when I say that I want to be loved and admired by everyone. I'm just a struggling human being like everyone else. And my biggest struggles have nothing to do with my husband's career. That's just what I like to write about.

Keep reading,keep commenting, you're all wonderful.

Heather said...

Thank you Hilary. Thank you for offering us all this blog as a home to go to and have a safe, supportive place to fall. Everybody needs a place where they can find kindred spirits who understand one another. We all have so many aspects to our lives and are all so different, but here we can find a couple things that we can all relate to. I have enjoyed reading your blog when I can steal a few minutes for myself. Keep writing and I'll keep reading. :)

TL said...

Regarding my nasty post...hopefully you read the comments and found out how I regreted what I wrote and felt bad that I hadn't been more supportive.
I thought about erasing the entire post after the comments, but decided it was how I was feeling in that moment and ugly or not it was my moment. I live with enormous pain from those early days and I took it out on you. For this I am truly sorry. You are an excellent writer and I enjoy your blog. My blog (if you go bad far enough) is clearly filled with pain and anger that I'm slowly working through. It's sometimes not pretty...but I'm human and make many mistakes.
I'm deleting the post now...because it suck that you were hurt by it and again, I am sorry.

Lia said...

Hi Hilary,
I just want to say that I love and appreciate your blog! I just found it ( a recommendation from another chef wife) and it cracks me up. Thank you!

Joanne said...

Spent a few days thinking about this and I've decided that indeed some peoples problems are worse than other peoples. Some could "knit-pick" and fight over whose husband worked longer hours that day, but in the big picture of life of course there is worse and it IS how we're built. So we can throw around the "no one is better or worse" and get defensive and threatened, but the fact is if you're threatened or defensive that is YOU making you feel that way, true or not. Some people can handle stress, life, work, kids, and the hardship of life better, oh my god did I say better?? yes, better. Not "differently" or "what works for them", better. If you let yourself off the hook with the "I'm handling it the best I can", you will never grow or change or handle more and oh my god is there more! That's not to say you're comparing to someone next to you, it's like running, you're racing yourself. If you never push yourself to handle your problems better or realize there is worse out there and yes, be thankful, you'll just stand still your whole life.
Just a thought...

Hilary Battes said...

Joanne, I'm going to continue to disagree with you but I understand your logic. Yes, some people handle things better but that certainly doesn't make them a better person. And anyway this situation seems to deal more with claiming "who has it worse" not who can handle it better. But either way, I'm glad to see so many of you speaking your mind.

Joanne said...

Please re-read and understand that I never said some people are better than others! I simply said that I think that indeed some people can handle struggles and hardships better than others. If you have two women (not necessarily chef's wives), they both have kids, they both have busy husbands, houses, work part time, hectic lives, one of them might thrieve and one might struggle to tread water. It is "how we're built". Going back and re-reading Rachels comment, she never said anything about being better or having it harder. People felt attacted and got defensive when maybe its our own insecurity and competitive nature getting the best of us. I always look deep at myself for the answers of why I feel the way I feel before pointing the finger a someone else.

Anything that gets people to think and listen to others is great! Thanks for the blog!


Anonymous said...

Everyone makes a choice of who will be in their lives. I chose a chef like many others who read Hilary's blog. Only we understand our trials and tribulations of living this life. This is an experience for all of us and in no way should ours be undermined. Everytime we go through a struggle there is someone who is going through a tougher one, it does not mean that our struggles aren't valid. Being married to a soldier must be stressful, sad and difficult and I appreciate their commitment and risks. I can't relate to the fear that the wives and girlfriends go through. This blog is for us who's struggles might not be as stressful and sad, but they are struggles non the less and we like to vent about them as well as share the joys of being with our husbands/boyfriends who are chefs. There are blogs for everyone and this one might not be for you who is going through a much tougher situation.

Hilary Battes said...

Real Chef's Wife, You said it! I couldn't have summed this up better myself.

SB said...

Rachel said "be thankful" (that's it) and tried to give us some background on her life so we would she where she was coming form
Joanne said SHE thinks that there is a difference in people and how they handle things.
Big deal! This has gone way overboard and people are reading too deep, feeling attacted when no attact was made. Saying what we think is great and any subject that can provoke thought and discussion is a good one.
Hilary, did you really think no one other than "chef's wives" would find this blog and maybe have something to say? You argeeing with TRCW's comment about "this blog might not be for you", sucks...isn't everyone welcome? Maybe we could learn from other wives?

Hilary Battes said...

Ah! It seems like we're all(including myself) splitting hairs here. I will say this: Yes, anyone is welcome to read my blog. And I still agree with Real Chef's Wife in that "this one might not be for you who is going through a much tougher situation"-the key phrase being MIGHT not.

I think it's safe to say we have learned from non-chefs' wives and chefs' wives alike, and my hope is that we continue to do so. Go us!

Tiger Lily said...

I would love to know how you stay so sweet and positive!?? Can't seem to pull that off!

Hilary Battes said...

Email me TL if you'd like. desperatechefswives at gmail do come. First of all my name means "cheerful". But that is nothing compared to therapy once a week.

Anonymous said...

I am a chef-wife who has recently been introduced to your blog. I must tell you that I find it incredibly indulgent that you spend so much time discussing and dwelling on the hours, the pressure, the time, the industry, etc., etc. that comes along with your husband's chosen profession. You knew who you were marrying and what came along with him. It seems that you are using that as a platform to gain recognition of your own. If you feel you need a place to vent that is fine, but it seems to me that your creation of this group keeps the stereotype that women are weak and dependent on their man for a sense of self alive. As much as I miss my husband I, equally, enjoy my time alone. I flourish in my career and in my hobbies and activities. My advice to any "chef-wife" who truly relates to the self-proclaimed "whining" in this blog is that you need to get a life of your own and accept the life of the one who you married. All of my best to you and to your blog. I wish for you that you find a stronger sense of independence and contentment in your own life, separate from the one of your husband.

K said...

As a newbie to the site, I have to say that I have really found in it a great source of reassurance. I am hardly dependent on the chef in my life (going to law school, studying for the bar, and now looking for jobs), so I don't come to the site to complain about how dependent I am on my guy. Instead, it's nice to learn from other women that the normal issues of relationships don't always have the same meaning in a relationship with someone who is working long hours in the kitchen. I come to the site when I want to remind myself to be a little more patient with my guy, and I love reading stories and feeling like I could have written some of the same ones. I don't think any of the women that come to this site are necessarily weak or dependent, but are instead proactive enough to seek out other women in similar situations, form friendships, and remind one another that we are all loved.

I know that some people may complain a lot on the site. But I also think it's good to have an outlet where we can get those feelings out so that we can focus on the good stuff when it matters...i.e., when we are spending time with our significant others. For me, the site helps me stay as patient and supportive as I possibly can for my guy rather than adding pressure to his already stressful work life...That way, when I get to have him all to myself, we get to focus on the fun stuff.

Thanks again for creating this site and keep posting your stories!

Anonymous said...

K I totally agree with you!! I am hardly dependent on my husband, like you I am a busy professional not a lawyer but a Civil engineer ad it takes up most my time. It does not mean we can't vent about how much more we wished our chefs were around. Thanks for the post.

Stevie said...

Hello Hillary, I think the "defensiveness" from you is from the Military wife going through worse worry (life/death) then your hubbie's hours/exhaustion-and yours, however, I think she meant it as support in that when you are having what seems to be your worst week or if Chef is having his worst week, it can always be worse and to think of the military spouses-in knowing that your husband will in your bed that early morning and theirs won't for a long, long time if at all...BUT I never, ever take lightly, anyone's pain. If the pain is real to you-it hurts...plain and simple and pain and suffering of any kind should never be judged.


Stevie (female)