You know how they say it takes a little while to adjust being back in your home country after you’ve been away for a significant amount of time? That is what it’s like when your heart comes home from a deployment.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so so so so so so SO (times infinity!) excited to have Robert finally home, but it’s weird as heck! My heart still doesn’t feel completely settled.
Robert has been back for just over 2 weeks now and I haven’t gone a day without seeing him yet. THIS IS FREAKING CRAZY!!!! I haven’t been able to relax, enjoy a relationship, and feel at peace in knowing that my guy will be here for an indefinite amount of time in who knows how long. It’s been years since I have had a relationship like this, and even then I didn’t feel the same way that I do about Robert.
It honestly hasn’t set in yet that I don’t need to cram a million activities into a week because we have as much time as needed to go out together now. I’m not used to the “pop in,” and it hasn’t really registered that we can do dinner in the middle of the week just like I do with my girl friends. I think it will just take a little bit of time for me to realize that this is, in fact, real life, and after 10 long months of waiting my love life is finally going to be normal again.
Today will be our first time not doing some sort of activity together since Robert has been back because we are both feeling a little under the weather. In the past I’ve always been good at juggling friends, my love life, and other priorities, but I’ve also gotten so used to being in long distance relationships that it feels like I need to hurry and do everything while Robert is still around to spend time with. My heart just has to catch up with my mind a little bit more to realize that this is a fresh start to a really cool relationship.
Sigh, the tears are very few and far between in this relationship, but a deployment is still a deployment, which means there are lonely nights and times your heart misses your person even more than usual.
Do you want to know what one of my biggest downfalls is? It’s the way I sin the most and something I have worked really hard for years to correct — and although I’ve made slow and steady improvements, it’s still very much a journey for me.
I worry about my future.
This is perhaps why one of my favorite Bible verses is Matthew 6:26,
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?“
Worrying steals your precious time, it and ultimately it means you are not trusting God with His plan for you. Deep down I know God loves me and has great things in store for me to help others. I know He isn’t ever going to leave my side — even when people might — yet I still find myself questioning whether everything really will be okay.
Did you know that an Achilles heel is something that can lead to one’s ultimate downfall? I think spending time worrying isn’t just leading towards a downfall, but it’s kind of it. I’m giving precious minutes — hours — days — of my time to create these scenarios that may or may not even happen. My biggest fear in my relationship is doing another deployment. I’m scared of getting perpetually stuck in permanent a long distance thing, and I feel like my life has become a string of long distance relationships. When my ex and I broke up I swore I would never get involved with someone I’d do long distance with, but God had a different plan for me and I really couldn’t be happier that I am in the middle of all of this right now. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone except the person I am with right now, even though he is more than 6,000 miles away from me.
Today’s lesson: My mother used to tell me growing up that most of what we worry about won’t happen, and if it does we couldn’t always have controlled it anyway.
One of my biggest struggles about being a Christian is learning to trust God with everything in my life. Sure it’s easy to trust something that I haven’t ever really had to worry about before, but when it’s things I’m all too familiar with — like being in a long distance relationship and whether or not I’ll have to deal with something like this again — it scares the hell out of me! My New Year’s resolution for 2017 is going to be trying to be more cognizant about handing my concerns to Jesus, rather than trying to control everything myself.
My friends who know Robert know he’s not crazy active on social media; he definitely doesn’t have a blog I can go to and read about all of his thoughts and feelings when I miss him (And in a lot of ways I’m glad there aren’t two of us who pour our hearts out to the world — that might just be a little much in one relationship, ha!).
I was missing him a little more than usual last night and did what any millennial would — I went to his Facebook page to feel like I had some sort of connection with him while he was away at work. We don’t get to talk a ton except during my mornings or afternoons, so nighttime is a particularly difficult time for me.
I smiled at the pictures I’ve come to know so well, and teared up at the one of us the day before we had to say goodbye. Then I saw something really strange on his page. He had written a Facebook status on Thanksgiving expressing gratitude towards his friends, family, and coworkers, but included this little line in the middle of it:
“I can’t believe the holiday season is here… It was over 8 months ago that I left Virginia, but the time has gone by quickly.”
What. The. Heck?!?!
IN WHAT WORLD HAS TIME GONE BY QUICKLY?!
I flash back to February when we said “goodbye” to our weekend visits. I barely even remember what it’s like to see someone outside my family that regularly.
Then I think back to March and saying goodbye in Richmond. Okay, I’ll give him that, the emotions are still raw from watching him leave at 4:30 in the morning. I still can’t go back to that day without feeling really torn up about it. I am certain deep down to my core that the day we said goodbye in Richmond is exactly what leaving for a deployment is supposed to feel like. I remember walking him out to the bus, holding his hand and feeling tears dance right behind my eyes, but holding them in as best as I possibly could until I was able to run back into the lobby and break down. I remember feeling the way Kim Kardashian must when she does her signature “ugly cry” in front of everyone in the hotel lobby. When the man at the front desk asked if I was okay and came over to try to help me feel better, he put his hand on my shoulder and had a look of pity in his eyes I didn’t recognize because I hadn’t ever earned it before. This was the first time I showed that much of myself to a stranger. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realized in that moment that I was now one of the people I had always felt bad for in the past. I was someone who had to watch a loved one leave to serve for my country, and I had someone to worry about for the next ten months.
I think back to Baltimore in April and the two precious days we had together after we thought we wouldn’t see each other again until January or February. I remember that day so well too, but it feels so long ago.
As does the first week of him being gone and the many little moments I’ve collected along the way where I’ve tried my hardest to muster up just enough strength to keep pressing forward, even when I feel like my heart might not be able to handle another day of everything a deployment has to offer. Missing him often feels kind of the same day-to-day, but I can think back to several particularly difficult moments. Pulling my car to the side of the road to cry, attending weddings and events as the only couple-less one of our group, and spending many chilly fall evenings in my PJs by myself wishing I had a snuggle buddy to name just a few.
Time is such a funny thing, and though it’s seemed very different to each of us, we both have experienced the exact same amount of time apart. We’ve also been blessed to spend the same amount with each other; it just somehow never feels like enough to me.
I’m hoping we’ll get lots of time together when he’s back. Time is easily the most valuable thing I own, and I love spending it on the people I care about most in life. I may hate deployments, but I absolutely love my soldier.
I have a journal that I write in every day of the year. It asks me a different question every day and it’s been really fun seeing the different answers I have each year — I’m always surprised to find how much I have grown in 365 days.
Last year I wrote “my Macbook Air” as my most valuable material possession. This year without skipping a beat, I wrote “Robert’s dog tags.”
His dog tags are special to me for so many different reasons. First, they remind me of our time in Richmond at his deployment ceremony. He was packing all of his bags and turned to me with a smile and handed me his tags. I looked at them and thought they were cool, then he asked if I wanted to keep them. I teared up; I hadn’t ever had a boyfriend who was so excited to give me something of his before. I had asked for a sweatshirt or two, but never wanted to be too pushy about stealing a guy’s stuff.
Another reason I love them is because they were the dog tags he got when he joined the military 8 years ago. They’ve been through a lot of training and adventures, and I feel like I have a piece of him while he’s gone. When I first got them I proudly jingled around the house until I picked up a pair of silencers. Robert has given me some beautiful jewelry, but this is by far my favorite piece.
They’re something I keep safe next to my bed and fall asleep with in my hand at night. I know it’s weird holding onto two pieces of cold, clunky metal, but to me they’re a lot more than that. They’re a little piece of someone I love very much. It almost feels like a friendship bracelet, as I have these pieces and he has his own pair with the same information on it.
I read the material I already know by heart when I miss him; seeing his name and numbers makes my heart warm. Wearing the dog tags make me feel strong and like I can handle just one more day. When you’re doing a 9 month deployment that’s all you really can do. Take each day as it comes to you.
We only have a few months left, but they feel like an eternity. I’ve been a pro at long distance relationships for awhile now, but this is different. Going on a deployment isn’t for the faint of heart, but being left at home for one isn’t either. I have so much respect for military families, and keep all of the soldiers and their loved ones in my prayers now.
Thank you to those of you who risk your life or the life of a loved one for this country. You are amazing, and the reason America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. God Bless.
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.
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.
“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.”
Whoo boy have I learned my lesson from planning out so many aspects of my own life. I can literally give you hundreds of examples where I’ve planned something out “perfectly” and my dreams get completely wrecked.
One of my favorite things to write about is dating — big surprise — so we’ll go with one of those first. As soon as my ex and I broke up I was excited at the realization that I would eventually find someone to date who wasn’t thousands of miles away… But only after I had been single for at least a year or two and had my fair share of dating around!
That’s when life decided to concoct a perfect plan to completely ruin my plan.
“Ha!! Joke’s on you, Krista; not only are you going to meet someone great far too soon, but he’s going to move away twice as far as your last boyfriend and we’ll spice things up and make the distance be in your way for 10 months — effectively lasting more than twice as long as you and your SO ever did before.”
Life, you are one cruel mofo and not nearly as funny as you think. I believe you’re the only one laughing at your terrible jokes.
Anyway, the great thing about life not going your way is that you often still have options. I had a choice to make: Either break things off with someone I felt was a great fit for me, keep dating around and see whether or not we’d pick back up again when he got back, or be in an exclusive long distance relationship again. I quickly realized I really wanted to see how things would work out with this gentleman, as I’ve never felt the way about anyone the way I did him. I still don’t know how our story is going to end — or whether or not it will — but this is a risk I completely want to take.
Possibly an even crazier example is getting sick with POTS. I would have never in a million years thought something like that would happen to me, but it did and I’ve been able to handle it and still find reasons to be joyful. Something I think about sometimes, too, is that if I had never gotten sick I don’t know if my ex and I would have ever broken up. That’s a terrifying thought, as we were not suited for one another and would have had a really tough future together. He and I had completely different priorities and life goals; dating someone who is more similar to you in this regard is so much easier. Feeling like I’m with someone who will absolutely drop anything to take care of me — both emotionally and physically with my illness — is absolutely priceless.
Today’s lesson: Life may not always go the way you hope it does. You may never get your dream job, meet the person you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with when you want to, and the people you think are going to be in your future might not stick around. People are made to adapt, though, and through God all things are possible (Philippians 4:13). Hang in there and realize that although things might be down for you one day, a blessing is likely right around the corner.
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.
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.