Left Behind

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.

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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.

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Puffy faced and close to tearing up from a very real #deploymentsucks moment. Luckily Robert always did a great job making me laugh on the days that seemed harder than usual!

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…”

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. 😉

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.

“Bean” The Marine

Apparently I have a thing for military guys — noted.

When I first started dating again after my ex and I broke up I realized quickly how many people you don’t click with online. Whether it’s because you have different morals or nothing in common personality-wise, I learned that although talking to a bunch of guys was a lot of fun, it took some work to find people who might have a chance at working out for a second date.

I started off my dating ventures giving a lot of people very different than me a chance. I think you can learn a lot from people who aren’t like you, so I enjoyed meeting people from all different walks of life. After being on a handful of first dates that didn’t materialize into anything I realized I wanted to go out with someone who was more or less on the same page as me.

Then I met “Bean.” Obviously I changed the name and won’t mention where we met, but his name was something that rhymes with “Bean.” You’re smart– you can figure it out. 😉

Bean was smart, witty, loved dogs, and yes — he was hot.

We had a deeper connection than most of my other online conversations, and I was actually really excited about going on a date with him. I daydreamed about going on a date with Bean and felt like regardless of what happened after, it would be nice to have a really good first date with someone. And sparks! It can be difficult to tell whether or not you’ll have chemistry with someone you’re chatting with through a computer screen, but I had a good feeling about this one.

As we were talking about our favorite books — we happened to have a few in common — he asked me for my number. Finally! I thought. It’s about time he asked me out!

Another thing that drew me in to this mysterious marine was that he didn’t just jump right on asking me out. He made me wait a little, which is actually quite intriguing. Kind of like a first kiss, it’s nice letting the anticipation build up a little bit before going in for the kill.*

I sent him my number and waited for the text… And waited. And waited.

What the heck? It had been a few days since our last contact, and it was becoming pretty clear that Bean wasn’t going to be messaging me.

At first I was really disappointed. This guy had been one of the first people who really got me excited about a first date. Then I realized a few things. First, I didn’t really know this guy. The things I knew about him were:

  1. He was cute
  2. He had good taste in books
  3. He was a Marine
  4. He had good grammar

That was about it. Sure I had a little crush and that was okay, but it was more of a Theo James kind of crush — because let’s be real, I think I tricked myself into thinking this guy was “such a great match” because he was someone I thought was super-attractive.

I don’t know what happened to Bean. I’ve seen him on a few different dating apps, but haven’t tried to pursue that any further. We weren’t a match, he never texted me, and you know what? That’s just fine. There are a million other fish in the sea.

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*Guys, don’t take this as a tip to make a girl work too hard for you, though — that’s not a good idea either, as we’ll just move on if we think a guy is uninterested. There is a very precise art to playing “the waiting game,” and I don’t want you to miss a shot with someone you really like because you’re playing games with her. This is more of a “playing it cool” technique.