Commentary: ‘I hate this place’ all-too-familiar phrase

“I hate this place” is a phrase I’ve uttered a time or two at every base I’ve been to. It’s funny how a person can complain about a stage in life and then look back to realize it was the best thing for them.

Military life isn’t easy. Having to uproot your family, and give up the things you’re used to takes a toll. It becomes normal to complain about everything that doesn’t go right. It’s easy to get used to being disappointed.

Growing up in Arkansas, I remember hating it because of struggles with racism and ignorance.

When I became a military wife stationed in Little Rock, I thought it would change my attitude toward Arkansas. Even then, I would shout, “I hate this place” at the top of my lungs because of whatever difficult situation I was dealing with at the time.

Arriving at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan was a culture shock. I was not expecting the shock of another country. The first six months were a mixture of emotions, mostly frustration. I was frustrated that life had become difficult, and frustrated there were people that lived differently than Americans. How closed minded had I become from never being exposed to different cultures. I remember thinking “the food is great, but I hate this place!”

After four years, I learned to get over myself, accept what was there and make the best of it. I was told it was a great assignment, so I had to come out of my shell and see how great it could really be. Some of the most difficult times in my life were when we were in Okinawa, but now I look back to see the journey, growth and amazing memories.

I didn’t want orders to England. I didn’t even know where it was, and I didn’t want to go there. So I was definitely not ready to take on the English culture. Again, my phrase to my husband, friends, and family was, “I hate this place!” I had such a great time in Japan, so I thought surely, it will get better. And eventually it did.

“Cathy, I got orders,” my husband said.

“Where?!” I responded. “Alaska? Hawaii? Honey, what’s next?!”

“Cannon,” he said.

Tears streamed down my face.

I flew back to the U.S. pregnant and alone with two kids. The entire situation was enough to make me say, “I’m done with the military.”

My family arrived in Clovis in September 2009. Just like every other spouse that came in through the “trail of tears,” I was sad. I tried to stay positive. I tried to understand that just like Japan and England, I could eventually learn to love it.

Once again, I told my husband, “I hate this place!” I gave myself a timeline. I said if I don’t love this place in one year, it’s not a good sign, and I’ll want to go home. But where was home? It took only six months for me to fall in love with Japan and England, so a year was plenty of time for Clovis.

As I look back, I’ve learned that it’s not the place itself. It’s where I’m at. Where I’m at with my family. Where I’m at in my life. Where I’m at with my relationships. When you are a genuinely happy person, a place doesn’t determine who you are or your attitude toward life. I’ve surrounded myself with negative people at every point in my life, and those people are a damper on a potentially good place.

I was told again and again, “Clovis isn’t that bad.” Well, I’ve been convinced. It isn’t that bad after all.

To those friends who told me, “hang in there” or “give it a chance,” thank you for your patience in listening to my negative attitude. I’m accepting Clovis for what it is. I definitely won’t say, “I hate this place!”