There was no room for tears on the first day, those would come in the weeks to follow.
Today was suck it up day.
Today was focus on breathing under the crushing weight of uncertainty and fear day.
Today was be strong for the kid’s day.
I watched the tail lights until they disappeared around the corner and forced myself to choose gratitude over resentment, even though I didn’t want to.
He was leaving me again—not for good, just “for now”.
This wasn’t new for us.
In fact, we did it every single month, over and over for 2 years. We weren’t victims, we had made these choices together, but it was still really, really hard.
We finally made the choice to move our family to the place my husband was working so we could “do life together”.
We didn’t know it, but we would be exchanging one kind of challenge for another. He still worked 100+ hours a week. Sometimes he would come home to eat, shower and sleep for a few hours. Other times he would stay in a man camp and we would still have to go weeks without seeing him.
That lasted 4 more years.
I could have fallen into a rut of depression.
I could have binge-watched more Netflix than any one person should.
I could have let the dishes pile up next to empty wine bottles and Reese’s wrappers.
I could have cried myself to sleep each night while reassuring a suckling baby and a snuggling toddler that they were safe and loved, shielding them from the loneliness I was drowning in.
I could have let the kids run wild through minefields of toys and crumbs,living off of applesauce pouches and granola bars.
I could have become a helicopter mom, a desperate attempt to combat the lack of control I felt.
I could have distanced myself from my husband because it was easier than aching for him.
I could have felt sorry for myself and let blame and self-deprecation run the show.
I could have.
And the truth is, all of those things were intertwined throughout my years of living the oilfield wife life. A life I don’t wish on anyone, but have grown to cherish nonetheless for how it nurtured a spider silk strength in me—flexible and resilient, nearly invisible until the light hits it.
As I fought to find the meaning in my cyclical survival, I learned how to weave delicate and intricate webs that became my life—an unexpected magnum opus.
There are many, but these are three of the accidental lessons that pulled me through and allowed me to grow from a young mother that life was happening to, to a resilient woman who happened to life:
1. Find Your Tribe
After we moved, it didn’t take long to realize I desperately needed a tribe. People to do life with. People who were in the same boat as me, who knew what it was like to be in my shoes. People who needed me too. I forced myself to be brave. I went to park parties and play dates, I signed up for clubs, I met people from Facebook groups, I hosted craft days.
Eventually, in a place I didn’t even know existed years previous, I had a “framily”, a melting pot of people from around the country that I fell in love with individually and collectively. We did birthdays and holidays together. We did paint nights and lake days and coffee mornings.
We walked with each other through sicknesses, having babies, starting businesses, and long, cold winters.
We made each other laugh, we let each other cry and we kept each other in the boat when one of us wanted to slip over the edge and sink into the deep, dark depths of life.
2. Find Your Passion
I knew that if I didn’t throw myself into productive and creative endeavors, I would quite possibly trip into a puddle of life-wasting, destructive behavior. When I had a project to focus on, it felt like stepping into a bullet-proof bubble that shielded me from all the worries that accompanied our lifestyle.
Loneliness has a beautiful way of showing you yourself since no one else is blocking the way.
On those quiet Friday nights, when it felt like the rest of the world was kissing and cuddling and feeling seen, I would get lost in a painting or get found in a book. I would let ideas take me anywhere they wanted. I lived a thousand different stories, met a hundred different versions of myself, without ever leaving home.
I cultivated my passions and they became not just a safe haven through the storms of life, but a path to guide my feet to my purpose.
3. Find Your Voice
It felt like the only people I talked to were little humans who didn’t hear me. The conversations with the one I loved were pigeonholed into five-minute increments, not looking into each other’s eyes, but peering into our phone screens, hoping to catch a glimpse of our other halves world. Cut too short, not enough shared, not enough time.
It often felt like my voice didn’t matter. So much bubbling inside of me with no place to go, the buildup increasingly painful.
I learned that sometimes feeling silenced in the best way to realize the value and power in having a voice. I learned that the less I said, the more I listened to the whispers of the world around me. I thought about things harder and longer, and when I did speak or write, my words were more concise, potent and powerful.
I learned that having a voice isn’t about saying everything, it’s about saying the things that matter most and trusting that they will find eager ears and open hearts.
If you find yourself living the oilfield wife life,
or so many like it, know that you are part of a spider-silk sisterhood.
Just because it’s hard to see doesn’t mean it isn’t hiding in the shadows. Your circumstances are an invitation to find your tribe, find your passion and find your voice.
If you accept, a new kind of freedom will find you.