When 45-year-old Ellen Michaels loses her husband to a tragic military
accident, she is left in a world of gray. For 25 years her life has been
dictated by the ubiquitous “They”—the military establishment that has
included her like chattel with John’s worldly goods—his dependents,
furniture, and effects. They—who have stolen her hopes, her dreams
and her innocence, and now in mere months will take away the roof
over her head. Ellen is left with nothing to hold on to but memories and
guilt, and an awful secret that has held her in its grip since she was 19.
John’s untimely death takes away her anchor, and now, without the
military, there is no one to tell her where to go, what to do—no one to
dictate who she is. Dependent deals with issues ever-present in today’s
service families—early marriage, frequent long absences, the culture of
rank, and post-traumatic stress, as well as harassment and abuse of
power by higher-ranking officials. It presents a raw and realistic view of
life for the lives of the invisible support behind the uniform!
Inspiration and Stumbling Blocks for DEPENDENT
By Brenda Corey Dunne
About ten years ago, I was an unemployed, stay-at-home mom and military spouse. I was happy, my kids were bright, my husband had a great job, and we were building a custom home in a lovely community just off of the base.
I’m not sure what it was that made me step back and think about it, maybe it was a speech I did for our local health authority, maybe it was something I heard on the news, or maybe it was just a bad dream, but somehow around that time I realized that I had let everything that made me unique slide. I was no longer a physiotherapist, I no longer wore an Air Force uniform, my kids were growing and soon would be off to their own adventures, and where would that leave me?
At home supporting my husband and his career.
Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly supportive of my husband’s Air Force career. I’m so proud of everything he does and would do anything to help him toward success. The same goes for my kids. But that day ten years ago I realized that the girl who graduated at the top of her high school class—that girl who had dreams and goals and so much potential—had somehow hidden herself behind the other things. Behind the uniform. And happy as I was to be there at the time, I knew that it was a temporary emotion. Sooner or later my kids would move on. What if something happened to my husband?
It terrified me. It’s not something military spouses—or any spouse for that matter—want to think about. And that fear inspired me, for some crazy reason, to write down forty pages of a similar story, with no expectations of what it would become. It was like an exercise, a catharsis for me. Realizing that I needed to work to not only support the ones I love, but I needed to support myself.
The story I wrote was difficult, sad, disturbing. And I put it down many, many times because I simply couldn’t allow myself to go there, especially when I saw other friends and neighbours going through similar experiences after I had written them down. There were times when I’d sit and re-read the manuscript and burst into tears. But I kept picking away at it until 2012, when I forced myself—at the encouragement of a writing and military friend and with the help of NaNoWriMo—to finish writing it.
And now the little story that started out as a way to work through my own, deeply personal fear will be my first traditionally published book. I hope other women read it and it inspires them to take their own steps toward supporting their own dreams.
Dependent releases on July 29th. Find it here:
BRENDA COREY DUNNE, trained as a physiotherapist, worked severalyears as a Physiotherapy Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force before
meeting the love of her life, RCAF Colonel Tom Dunne, and becoming a
military dependent herself. Brenda currently resides on a small hobby
farm in Eastern Ontario, Canada, with her husband and three children.
Connect with Brenda online:Twitter