Salute to Spouses Blog

We're excited to be blogging about the latest topics in military life. We want to keep you informed on topics such as current events, education, career advice, etc. Feel free to post comments or questions to any of our entries.
When Dreams Crash and Burn

By Amy Nielsen


It’s been a year. A solid full year since I went cray cray. When I took off flying after a dream, rising to the sun like a rocket. That sun burned me hard and crispy, and I’m still reeling and learning from it daily.

Last summer I went on a girls weekend trip with my then bestie. I was going out to hang out with her, check out our favorite band, hike, and maybe even relax a bit.

I arrived early in the morning on Friday, planned to spend the weekend and return home on Monday. We had planned to go to two different events culminating with a glorious hike to a beautiful peak.

Everything went wonky that Saturday. I met an individual working a career that was and is still my biggest dream. Working on the road, doing what he loved, connecting with all manner of people, teaching and selling his products. He was a charmer for sure with an infectious smile and a vulnerability that made me melt.

I couldn’t help myself. I was in a state of mind where my grasp on rational thought was tenuous at best. Coupled with the freedom of the support of my best friend, I took flight. I returned home and immediately started planning our takeover of his business.

Do you know the story of Icarus and Dedalus? It’s a Greek myth that goes like this: Dedalus was a famous inventor for King Minos in ancient Greece. Dedalus made the king angry and he and his son Icarus were banished from the island. In order to leave, Dedalus built wings made of feathers attached to a frame with wax.

As he and Icarus took off for their new homeland, Dedalus warned his son that he shouldn’t fly too close to the sea or the feathers would get wet, and if he flew too high the wax would melt in the heat of the sun. Stay in the middle and we’ll make it to the shore of our new homeland, he cautioned.

Icarus, being a young lad, got over enthusiastic in his flying and flew too high. The sun melted the wax and he fell from the sky, dying in the sea. In his grief, Dedalus flew on to Sicily, where he built a temple for Apollo, protector of the young, in dedication to his lost son.

I soared. I was like Icarus. I had new wings, new freedom, the ability to be exactly what I had held deep inside my soul for so very long.

I refused to heed the warnings of my friend. Go easy and let’s see where this might go, she said. Let’s not rush into a project we are not quite ready to support, she cautioned. Maybe we can do a few projects with him this summer and over the winter we can build this into a proper plan, she postulated. We don’t really know this guy, she implored.

But I was off. I had a dream to catch. I was a screaming eagle ready to make my swoop and catch the fish. I felt like I could to loop-di-loos with my new wings. This was what I had wanted to do for my whole life. I felt like the universe was leading me higher to the promised land of the perfect career for me. It was everything I ever wanted.

Except that it wasn’t mine. It was his. And I, we, were nowhere near ready to take it over in that short time frame.

I tried so hard to cram my life into that dream. I convinced my family to support me. I pushed hard to make them fit into this scenario they were not even remotely interested in. I did everything to make it happen and nearly destroyed my family in the process. I did, in fact, destroy my friendship in the end.

I spent money we didn’t have and that we can never repay to my mother. I made trips when I couldn’t find proper child care – leaving that mess up to my beloved husband to figure out. I even got a tattoo without thinking of the ramifications of the design.

After two months of beating my wings as hard as I could I had melted the wax and dropped like a stone to the sea. I drowned in the despair of not reaching the sun, of losing my dream. I wallowed in my anguish and threw it all out onto those closest to me.

So where am I now, a year on from this bout of insanity?

In pain. Emotionally and psychologically. I miss my best friend desperately. I still dissolve into tears when I think about the opportunity that I crushed in my desperation to reach my dream. I shudder at the wake of my reputation in that community.

I know that if it ever comes to pass that the universe gives me another chance - another chance at my dream, another chance at my friendship, another chance to soar - I will hopefully not be so scared as to fear the journey again. I hope that I am able to take flight, with new wings made of grace and abundance rather than prayers and shear willpower.

Until then I will continue to miss my best friend desperately and wish her well in all of her endeavors. I hope the business I went after is thriving. I learn new things every day that help me put myself in a place that might shoot me into orbit again This time under my own power, to a new, bigger, more suited dream; to build a temple to my lost Icarus.

For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

Salute to Spouses Scholarship Recipients