Working Together

I have a Coronavirus post I wrote yesterday, but first I wanted to share a much shorter sentiment today. I am so thankful that so many people are cooperating and trying their best to stay inside and avoid, not only getting the virus, but spreading it to others.

Every flu season since getting sick with POTS I get the flu shot and wash my hands like crazy to avoid unnecessary complications that could come with the flu. It’s always so freaking annoying when you get together with someone who informs you that they’ve been fighting off a fever or cold all week, and you wonder why the heck they didn’t just stay home and not infect everyone else. This Coronavirus is a small taste of what immunocompromised people* deal with every year in trying to stay healthy.

One of the biggest problems in China and Italy is that people who carried the virus kept going out and contaminating the rest of the community. One person who is carrying the virus can do a heck of a lot of damage if you think about how many people each of the people (s)he affected go contaminate too. If we would all just stay at home for two weeks — the incubation period of the virus — wouldn’t it maybe just stop here?

I honestly am not an expert and not pretending to be. I’ve kept up with some updates from my POTS doctor, as well as followed the local news on Coronavirus cases in our area.

I’m used to seeing people be very nonchalant about getting sick because they’ve never been chronically ill before, but this is a new phenomena. People all across the country are quarantining themselves, only going out to get groceries and the apparently hot commodity that is toilet paper. People who are completely healthy young adults are staying in, not just to avoid the virus themselves, but also to avoid spreading it if they are actually carrying it and show no symptoms. This includes celebrities, politicians, athletes, and people who are in the public eye. My Instagram and Facebook feeds are flooded with posts about being locked up at home and canceled plans until we get through this. People are asking for TV shows to binge, games to play with significant others, and treating this like it’s a big snowstorm in which you can’t leave your house for a few weeks. This is absolutely amazing. I really hope we continue to try to fight this pandemic and end it in America. Stay in, get lots of rest, and snuggle up to a pet, loved one, or fluffy blanket to ride this out with the rest of the country. Here’s to hoping and praying for all of the at-risk people, the amazing doctors and nurses who make a million and one sacrifices for each and every one of us, and everyone else, too. ‚̧

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*The verdict is still out on whether or not Dysautonomia makes me immunocompromised, however POTS patients struggle when they do get sick because our bodies already have a very difficult time finding homeostasis. On a daily basis I try to find the right balance of salt and electrolytes with water so that I’m not constantly dehydrated and battling debilitating headaches that last for days. Ask my husband — when my head hurts I think he has to say something three times to get it to fully process.

I like to write things like this because I also have a bunch of friends now who do have serious chronic illnesses that wouldn’t just cause complications if they got sick — it could be a lot worse. People need to know how their actions affect others, and I don’t think staying in for a few weeks will kill anyone. It could, however, be problematic to those who are at risk.

How To Be There During A Deployment

Dear Soldier,

Take care of your partner back home.

Send them notes and letters; not just emails. We are so fortunate to live in a connected world, but there’s something extra special about a handwritten note that will not only make your SO’s day, but it will keep them going throughout the deployment. Those beautifully written cards will be referenced when they’re scared, missing you, and feel alone. Think about the reasons you love your partner in crime, and carve it into a piece of paper for them to treasure forever.

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Remember that this experience doesn’t just differ from couple to couple, but it also is very different for your partner than it is for you. There are different ways it’s harder on each of you. Be gentle and patient; they are likely trying their best to hold it together every single day you’re away.

Skype, Snapchat, and send pictures often. These, like the letters, are things your significant other will be waiting for. They’re the moments you can use to connect to one another and feel close. Nothing compares to having you home, but a picture is the closest thing to being there with one another since they get to see a little moment of your day.

I hope you’re getting lots and lots of care packages from home. You deserve them, especially since you are likely not in the nicest of living situations. Try to send a few packages back home to your loved ones, too. They certainly understand that you are overseas for a mission, but it also feels so great to feel cared about and knowing that your loved one is taking time away from their busy schedule to think about you.

Deployments are one of the most difficult things this life has to offer, but if you’re with the right person the heartache you feel during them is completely worth the joy of an entire lifetime. Stay safe, connect at any chance you get, and thank you for the sacrifices you are making. I know they’re not easy in so many different ways, and I am so proud to know so many people fighting for justice and equality.

Love,
An Army Girlfriend

Military Love

Since I started dating someone in the Army I’ve been hyper-aware of military in the media and as a source of entertainment.

One thing I’ve found particularly interesting is the way deployment love is portrayed in music. I absolutely love writers and musicians because I think they can connect so deeply with my heart and soul. I love to write, but sometimes the way others put pen to paper explains even better the way I see the world — especially when that someone is Taylor Swift. ūüėČ

Something music videos have made me notice, though, is how they happily skip through the way a deployment really feels. Sometimes the songs have a message in them about how difficult this kind of love is, but the overall vibe of the video is still,

  1. Military boyfriend gets orders to go overseas
  2. Girl (and sometimes guy) cries
  3. They write letters back and forth
  4. Then have a really heartwarming hello

This is beautiful, but I used to watch these videos and mainly just think about how sweet they were. I wanted a guy like that who would write me sweet love notes and stay with me, even when times were hard. I still want all of that, but this isn’t the way I want to have it. I want someone who is home with me and someone who will be in my everyday life. I don’t want to worry so much about a loved one’s safety, and those sweet “romantic moments” are great, but they really are moments instead of constants. The reality of a deployment is that you are doing 9 months of extremely difficult long distance. You don’t always know how your significant other is doing throughout the day and sometimes go days without speaking (Thank goodness for the Internet! I can’t even imagine what it must have been like even ten years ago). You pray your hardest that God will protect your loved one, but you also can’t help but be nervous anytime a strange number calls your phone or something terrible happens in the news.

People get divorced or decide they don’t want to stick around during a deployment. Infidelity happens a lot more often than you’d think on both ends, and sometimes either one or both parties think it is just easier to end the relationship than it is to go through something like this together.

Deployments are hard. I am so lucky I am doing one with my boyfriend while I am young and still live at home with family. Most of my friends are unmarried, so I have people to hang out with and offer comfort and support, and I don’t have a family that I have to raise on my own. I can’t even imagine what the next stage of a deployment would look like. My heart goes out to those who have to endure even harder circumstances than I do.

The first 30 seconds of this video made me so nauseous. I literally just stopped watching.

So although I do think these videos are beautiful (And guarantee a few tears), I don’t think they even scrape the surface of what a deployment looks like — in all fairness, how could you in three and a half minutes?

I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, after all, if I wasn’t going through it right now I may have never met Robert and I love that we’ve been strong enough to go through this together towards the beginning of our relationship. I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst enemy*, though. Deployments aren’t beautifully romantic every day; they are worrisome, lonely, and an enormous sacrifice.

God Bless America.

 


*You know who you are, worst enemy!!! Just kidding. I can’t think of anyone I know personally who I consider an “enemy,” but you get the idea.

Survivor

I love Destiny’s Child’s song¬† Survivor. It played as my anthem when I was going through a really difficult breakup, and I have even listened to it when I needed extra motivation to work towards getting better from my illness. The overall message of the song is that people can survive and work hard on their own, whether or not the person they think they need in life is around anymore.

There have been several times the past couple years where I’ve felt incredibly alone. Whether it was because of a friend I thought was going to be there no matter what not being around when I needed her or a breakup with someone I thought I had a long future with, I have been able to manage everything life has thrown at me thus far. It by no means has always been easy, but I have lived through every hard twist and turn that has been thrown my way.

I love writing about my experiences because I feel like I am an incredibly average person. I’m not someone who was born with a natural strong fire and determination burning in my soul, and faith is in no way an easy thing for me. I question the bad things that happen to good people in life; and I forget to thank God for my blessings, but still reach out when I need His help and support.

My blog feels like a very up and down journey of emotions, but that’s because those are the times that are worth writing about (And sometimes I write six things in a day but space out the posts so I don’t overwhelm my page with a zillion different feelings). Strong emotions are what connect to people, and they are what inspire artists to draw and paint and write and sing.

This week I’ve felt particularly like I’ve needed my boyfriend back in the states so that I can have someone to lean on. There have been moments throughout the deployment where I’ve really felt numb because I don’t always have someone to talk to or turn to here when the going gets tough. But you know what is so cool about this? I have learned that I can get through trying times, even without having someone right here by my side. I have learned that I am strong and I can get through the ups and downs of life without having a boyfriend or close friend here in my neck of the woods at all times to talk to at all times. God made the human heart a really strong and resilient thing, and sometimes life is amazing and lets our heart become enveloped in warmth and happiness, but other times feel darker and hopeless. It is so important to never let the darkness win. I am a very firm believer in praising Jesus through the good and the bad, even when it’s one of the hardest things we can do. I often don’t take my own advice — it’s freaking¬†hard — but I am working on it and finding that my heart is changing very slowly. The more I am able to put my life in God’s hands the more content I feel and find myself being able to live my life to glorify Him.

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Today’s lesson: Life rarely goes the way we want it to, but that doesn’t mean the end of our world is near. Learning to work hard and dance in the rain doesn’t make us delusional; it makes us stronger. Human beings are so resilient. You are so strong and can handle what life is throwing at you right now. Let us stay united as human beings — no matter what our differences are, and spread love in the world. That, my friends, is how we can make a difference as an individual. Always be kind.

Dear Soldier,

You tell me not to worry about you and that you’re safe where you are — that’s cute.

If I didn’t worry about your safety I would worry about our relationship. You are in a country I would not be allowed to travel to even if I wanted to. I follow world news like I never have in the past. I pray every single day for you, and life has never felt quite as fragile as it does right now.

The days without you go by slowly, but the months feel even slower. How are you not home yet? Most of the time I am awake you are sleeping or at work. You don’t always have Internet, so I try to distract myself when I haven’t heard from you and do all I can to stay strong for you. In my old relationship if I had gone a day without hearing from my significant other but he was active on social media I would be angry. With you, though, it’s the biggest relief. It means you’re safe. I feel secure in our relationship, even from thousands of miles away or a few days of silence because I know you still care for me, as I do for you.

Even before we met I cried happy tears when I saw videos of soldiers’ homecomings. I still do, but now I just can’t wait until that is finally us. I wonder what it must feel like to have your soldier finally home; I don’t know if I can even handle that much excitement. The past 7 months that’s just been a dream of mine. Have you ever won the jackpot in the lottery? Your homecoming will be even more exciting than that. Most people never get to have a day filled with such pure joy and relief. I would choose having you home over any amount of wealth the world could offer.

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One of the hardest days of my life was saying goodbye.

I’ve learned that you can’t take time with someone for granted, and I know I’ll be able to appreciate you even more when you’re home again. Right now our love is hard and hurts my heart, but one day the word “deployment” won’t bring the same kind of anxiety and sadness. Instead, it will be something I can say we conquered — together.

I love you. Be careful with my heart and stay safe.

9 Months Without Sleep

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.

Instagram.

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.

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This was my favorite post on Instagram, and they had a video that made me SO happy. Check out @sadiebreann on Instagram to watch their beautiful reunion!

I close the Instagram app before I can think about it any longer.

Facebook. 

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.

Symptoms Of A Deployment

Anyone who has been close to someone who is deployed understands the great sacrifice the entire family and loved ones are making along with their soldier. I can confidently say that I am not going to take time for granted the way I have with people in the past. I think everyone knows someone who is either deployed or close to a soldier, so I wanted to write something about the way it feels to have a significant other serving overseas.

Here are the symptoms that come along with a deployment:

Anxiousness:¬†Getting a phone call from a random number doesn’t mean the same thing it did before your soldier went overseas. You hope it’s him calling from one of the phones in the barracks, but there’s always a fear in the back of your mind that it’s a stranger calling with bad news.

Irregular Heartbeat: Anytime you hear of something terrible that happened to soldiers in the area of the world where yours is your heart stops and sinks. When you find out it wasn’t him you feel an immediate sense of relief, followed by an intense sorrow for the loved ones who do have to deal with a sickening loss. You hurt for them. Then you pray for them. This thing that had a small impact on you has changed the lives of so many other people forever; losing a loved one too soon is a terrible tragedy that seems to be one thing that the heart can’t fully heal from.

Nausea: When you think about the conditions your soldier is working in, it makes you feel sick. The hatred toward Americans where he is serving is unreal, and you feel anxious knowing there’s a target on the one person you’d do anything to protects back. I don’t know that I would take a bullet for many people, but I would for him.

Sleeplessness: More nights than not you lie awake thinking about the person who is holding your heart halfway around the world. You worry and pray that God will keep them safe. Nighttime is the hardest part of a deployment. It seems so much longer than the bright daytime where you have dozens of distractions. The darkness is deeper than you remembered it being last year, and you feel alone in your big, cold queen size bed.

A New Sense of Patriotism: Your guy is fighting for our freedom. I have not proclaimed my love for this beautiful country nearly as much as I have this past year. The sacrifices thousands of people are making for me and my fellow US citizens are incredible. Soldiers endure terrifying, uncomfortable, and difficult conditions every single day for 9+ months to make sure we can keep the freedoms we have here in the United States.

Don’t you dare say that you hate this country if you live here; you have no right when there are people who are actually dying for it and for the freedoms we take for granted every single day. If you don’t love America there is no reason you need to stay here.

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Photo credit to my new Instagram friend clarkayyyy!

If you told me I could have one wish granted today it would be that I would have my soldier home and in my arms again. I wouldn’t trade that for all the riches in the world. Having that sense security in my relationship again is going to mean the world to me, and I absolutely can’t wait.

God. Bless. America.