I wrote this back in March of '07. We were about 6 months into Jay's 8 month deployment. I figured I would archive it here too in case there are any military significant others reading.
Well, my sailor and I have been together for what will be a year in May. And we will be able to say that during our first year together we spent a grand total of 7 days in the same state and for 8 months of that we weren't even in the same country! But that's the life of a Navy girl. HOORAH! I found myself sharing the things I've learned over this deployment with someone the other day and I figured it would be a good idea to blog it.
It's hard sometimes because it seems like a lot of this information isn't out there. It is via word of mouth but there are relatively few books on military relationships and the ones that are out there are usually bured in the "military history" sections of the bookstores or something equally stupid. So every military significant other has to invent the wheel again.
So here goes....The most important things I've learned over the last year...
1) TIME!!! It does get easier! The memories fade and as hard as that is in itself it also helps a lot. The first few weeks of a separation are the hardest, when you can still feel his hands and his kiss and smell his cologne. Then after that you just end up having a few hard days here and there.
2) STAY BUSY!!! OMG, a weekend job where I do something i enjoy has been my lifesaver! Volunteer your time with an organization you enjoy (or that would help you get some kind of experience) or anything to help you feel like this time is productive for YOU and not just a time to spin your wheels and wait on him.
3) FIND FRIENDS!!! My myspace navy girls are my life line! They are the only people who truly and actually DO UNDERSTAND! There are a million groups! Keep looking until you find one with girls you feel comfortable with and who you have something in common with besides the military. And keep in mind that there are crazy people everywhere so don't get discouraged if the first few you meet you don't click with. There's nothing like being able to text message or IM someone in the middle of the night when you just don't feel like you can do this one more moment and have them say, YES YOU CAN! (You guys are AWESOME!!! Thank you all for everything you've done for me over these past months! NAVY GIRLIES ROCK! See y'all on the pier!)
5) Be positive! We all need our occasional pity party but keeping a positive attitude and surrounding yourself with other girls with positive attitudes will help immensely! You need people who when you're having a hard day will help pick you up instead of seeing it as an excuse to wallow as well!
4) There are a few books out there... Separated by Duty is one although I found it to be a little religious with a hint of anti-feminism (but that could just be my hyper-sensitive women's study minor talking and the older I get the more I realized that the answer to EVERYTHING is balance). ;-) http://www.survivingdeployment.com/ is a great website and really helped me deal with some of the sleeplessness issues I was having.
5) Give yourself permission to do whatever makes you feel better when you're having a bad day (within reason and legality of course! Hehe!) Buy as many Proud Military Girlfriend/Wife/Fiance shirts as you want if that makes you feel better. Sleep in his shirt, or under a blanket of his. Wear his cologne (I do that all the time! hehe!), get a bumper sticker. Anything that helps you feel connected to him.
But most of all understand that if your guy is worth it, you can handle anything and everything that's thrown your way. It's going to be hard and there are going to be moments where you don't think you can put one foot in front of the other, but in the end, when you're standing there watching his ship or his plane or his bus pull in, you'll forget all of it and only remember how much you love him. And you will be more grateful for him, for your relationship, for y'all's love then the vast majority of the people in the entire world will ever experience. That sense of gratefulness is the absolute most amazing thing I've gained from this experience! The only thing I hope for, is that in 20 years I have the same sense of awe... the same feeling of overwhelming gratefulness to have Jeremy in my life that I do right now and that I expect to have the day I stand there on that pier and watch that carrier pull in!
GO NAVY!! HOORAH!!!