When I tell people that my boyfriend is deployed, they are often very kind about it and tell me to thank him for his service, then go on to ask about our relationship a little. Honestly, our communication has been surprisingly good under these strange circumstances and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime to do a long distance, long term deployment with. This doesn’t mean the deployment was ever easy, though.
One thing people often don’t really understand is how much waiting you really have to do, and how much your heart can hurt from missing your person. Worrying about how they are doing never really comes to a complete stop until they’re home — and depending on the circumstances if they are still enlisted and able to be deployed there’s always a little nervous flutter in the back of your heart.
As I’ve mentioned before, this was not part of my plan. I never in a million years thought I would date someone in the military, much less fall in love with someone who was leaving on a deployment. Before I met Robert I vowed my next relationship would be simple and that the furthest I wanted to be from a boyfriend was a short drive away. Maybe I would date someone in the city, but no more long distance for me. God must have laughed when He saw what I had planned in my own mind. He probably smiled, too, when he saw Robert send me that first OK Cupid message, and is certainly too kind to rub it in my face that I was wrong about the direction my life was going in — again.
I’m honestly really surprised I didn’t cry very much the past 10 months, as that was always what I thought long distance was supposed to look like. Now I know what a healthy and unhealthy love looks like, and realize that even when things get really hard with someone you don’t need to feel upset all the time. I definitely had my share of lonely nights and a small amount of tears shed here and there, but I would be concerned if my heart didn’t miss someone I care about very much.
One primary mode of communication is Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and FaceTime when Robert has a good enough connection and a little bit of privacy. This is a screenshot he took one day. I’d definitely consider my “ugly cry” along the lines of Kim Kardashian’s, but even my little sniffles like this could probably hold a candle to Kim’s signature look.
The reason I want to share this photo with you is not to show off how puffy or red my face gets when I’m upset (Though I do think I might outshine Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer in that regard), and I certainly don’t want you to picture this the next time I talk about a tearful goodbye. The reason I think this is important to share is I am almost DONE with this incredibly tough stage of a relationship, but a lot of other people aren’t. I think the women who are left behind often get overlooked, as we are still safe and sound at home. Our hearts don’t feel really safe until the moment our soldier is home, though.
I encourage you to check in on friends who might be going through this. Not only the soldiers, but also the ones they leave behind. It is HARD being the one at home with the same schedule, but having a gaping whole in our normal social life (and I’d be willing to bet I have more support than many other women do). Hugs, coffee dates, cards, and then more hugs are more appreciated than you could ever know. Even if you have never been in this position before, I think most of us can relate to missing a loved one. Deployments just add a sense of danger to the mix, as well as long stretches of silence, and a generous dose of uncertainty.
I am fine, (That picture was from about halfway through the deployment — when it felt like forever since I saw Robert, and still forever until I would see him again and I was just having a rough night overall) but remember this message every time you meet someone who’s significant other is deployed, and give them some extra love. Soldiers give up so many comforts of a nice home, normal meals, and safety to fight for our country. We should all be so proud of them. The mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, girlfriends and boyfriends of soldiers are all sacrificing so much as well. I can think of so many other people who I’m sure also had an incredibly difficult time with Robert’s deployment, and he’s just one person on his team. When you take the entirety of the military and add their friends and family to the mix, there are thousands of people sacrificing for each and every deployed team out there. Remember to be kind to them, and know that just because someone has a wonderful person to love, it isn’t easy when they go on this long and tiring journey.
Today’s lesson: It never, ever hurts to be kind to everyone you meet. Life can be so hard sometimes, but often even a little smile can brighten someone else’s day. I know there were so many moments I missed Robert and couldn’t do anything about it, but the kindness of a stranger made my heart feel a little more at ease. As my favorite Bible verse (1 Peter 4:8) says, “Above all, love each other deeply…”