3:46 AM. The harshly lit number blinded me from the iPhone sitting on my bedside table.
Another nightmare about the Army. I don’t want to think about it; I don’t want to worry anymore. I hate that someone I love is overseas and isn’t ever really safe.
My eyes water. I’m not sure if it’s from the bright light or my heart hurting. It doesn’t matter; I power through both and pick my phone up and begin to scroll. Anything to take my mind off worrying. There’s no way I can sleep after something shaking me up so much.
The last photo I posted was one of us. Missing my soldier. #deployedlove #ldr #ArmyStrong
My finger slips onto the first hashtag. I didn’t mean to click it, but now that I have I can’t stop scrolling. Tears start rolling down my cheek. There are thousands of couples reuniting with loved ones. Thousands more are just beginning their deployment journey. I’m not sure who my heart goes out to more — the people who just started the deployment or the people who are several months into it. The first couples are lucky because they have seen each other so recently, but they have a lot longer to go until they see one another again. The beginning of a deployment is really awful, sure, but the middle months are almost the worst. Time goes by slowly, and it gets to the point where it feels like forever ago you last held your loved one, but it also seems like it will take a lifetime to see them again. Both are hard. Deployments are a hard beast to fight.
I close the Instagram app before I can think about it any longer.
Puppies, like. Girls’ night out, like. Tiramisu, like.
It suddenly occurs to me that it’s insanely creepy to be “liking” photos at four in the morning. After all, my Facebook friends don’t know that I am at home trying to think of anything but him right now.
There’s a photo of a girl I vaguely know. She is sad because her boyfriend is out of town for the weekend. My face feels warm, and eyes fill once again.
I remember when I was in a previous long distance relationship and felt frustrated when friends would complain about not seeing their SO for a few weeks. That always tugged at my heart a bit, but talk about a new perspective with the military. I want to simultaneously tell the girl how lucky she is to have a boyfriend with a normal job and how short a weekend really is. I immediately feel guilty for minimizing this girl’s post. I don’t know what’s going on in her life; I don’t have any right to be judgmental.
Facebook isn’t helping either. I am clearly projecting my own feelings onto everyone except the puppies.
I close the app and then my eyes. I hope to drift back to sleep, but know it’s not in the cards for me yet. I can’t stop thinking about him. I wonder how long 4 months feels. I have been on the planet for 25 years now and can’t figure out what sixteen weeks feels like. I’ve done sixteen weeks 77 times, but the time frame suddenly feels so foreign. I can’t do 4 more months, I whimper to myself.
One thing I’ve learned to do when I feel helpless is list my options. Even if they suck, you almost always have some sort of choice in life.
Option 1: Break up with him. Nope, that’s definitely not what I want to do. This is hard, but I am more than halfway done and he’s incredibly special. Not even a realistic option.
Option 2: Stick it out. That’s all I can do. I want him home, but I can’t bring him here, that’s not on the table, so I’ll have to keep pushing toward the future I am so excited about.
I don’t feel any better, even though I had hoped that I would by tricking myself into thinking I was more in control of a tough situation than I actually am.
The darkness feels claustrophobic. I blind myself with my phone once again and click the big red YouTube logo. Cheery videos slowly fade into the darkness as the white noise begins to blend with my thoughts.
I finally drift back to sleep… 4:55 AM.