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.
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.
I once said I didn’t feel like I belonged in this world because I’m not strong enough for it. Now I realize, though, that I was wrong. If I wasn’t strong enough to be an Army girlfriend I wouldn’t have made it through an entire deployment, relationship in tact. If I wasn’t strong enough I wouldn’t have stayed faithful every second of every day, and we wouldn’t have grown together as a couple as much as we have. It’s actually been a really amazing experience (In hindsight, of course) because we’ve gotten to know each other in a lot of different ways that we wouldn’t have without this kind of strenuous long distance.
If deployments were easy every couple would make it through them, but sadly that’s not the way it is. Plenty of people break up, and significant others leave in the middle of a deployment because it’s just too hard. Not only is the worrying hard, but it’s not easy loving someone 6,000 miles away when all you want to do is hold their hand and know that they’re safe. On the soldier’s side, it isn’t easy being so far away from home and having so many new factors thrown at you in a new environment. I’m not really sure what causes the unfaithfulness on that side, but I will have to talk to Robert and see if he might write about some of the hardships he faced being away from home to get the other perspective of a relationship like that.
I didn’t for one second of this deployment question whether I wanted to be with this Robert. He’s my guy, and I’m hoping we’ll keep growing as close as we have in the time we’ve been dating!
I’m lucky too, because I know without a doubt that Robert felt the exact same way I did. If nothing else I learned an incredibly important lesson about how trust plays out in a relationship. Even though we couldn’t always talk and I didn’t have a clue as to what he was doing half the time, I trust him fully with my heart. I’ve been with people in the past who I haven’t felt like had my best interest at heart, and the anxiety worrying about what they’re doing just fifteen minutes away from where I am is not fun.
When you trust someone completely you are able to turn off the part of your brain that worries about whether or not they’re doing something that would hurt you and focus on the present in your own life instead. Rather than wasting time coming up with the hundreds of imaginary scenarios of what could be happening, your heart is at ease knowing your guy would never do something that he knows would hurt you. This doesn’t mean he’ll never mistakes or never make you feel bad, but it does mean that he cares about your well-being andputs your relationship above his own desires when necessary.
This relationship has taught me that I can be with someone who makes my heart feel at ease and I certainly don’t have to always be the one who compromises to make things work or change the way I feel about something to please my partner. Instead, I can have healthy communication with a man (Young Krista never would have believed a guy would actually know how to communicate effectively with a girl he was dating — Turns out there are so many men who really do know how to talk about something and then follow through with it!), and prioritize my relationship without having it consume my entire world.
Lastly, being strong by yourself is hard. I’ve learned that lesson through having a chronic illness. When I am able to swallow my pride and ask for the help I often need, the pain and sickness I do have to deal with become just a little bit lighter. When you have other people to be strong with you, that’s when life really becomes a beautiful journey — even if you have a lot of hurdles to jump over along the way. I wouldn’t have traded Robert for anything, and feel so blessed to have had someone so great to do this deployment with. This was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but we both communicate with one another so well that I can’t imagine it could have been any easier than it was, considering the circumstances.
Today’s lesson: Be with someone who lifts you up and wants to be there for you when times get tough. There are people who will hold your hand through hardships, rather than retreating and watching from afar while you do all the work. Yes, I think sometimes in life you need to take turns leaning on one another — and sometimes one person in the relationship will need more help, and that’s okay — but I also believe you should be with someone who is equally committed to the relationship as you are. That way when times do get tough, you know they are still in it for the long haul.
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.
What I mean by “men are not dogs” is that men, unlike dogs, do not need to be trained. Yes, they should be raised to be respectful and kind, but when you are looking for a grown man to date you should absolutely not go into it with a mindset that you need to teach him how to treat you.
“I can train him to buy me flowers,” or open doors, or hold my hand, or [insert task you want your dream boyfriend to do]. It isn’t your job to mother a man, and one really surefire reality of life is that you can rarely change another person. Sure you can tell someone what you like and watch their actions closely after a conversation, but you should never go into a relationship expecting someone to change a laundry list of things for you.
I’m going to share a personal anecdote to show how I learned this lesson the hard way.
I used to date someone I really liked, but our relationship just didn’t feel very romantic. I am someone who absolutely loves the little things in life. I adore little gestures that say “I love you” like leaving each other notes, cooking for one another, and yes — I love chivalry.
This first person that I dated wasn’t into showing me he loved me in any of the ways my heart wanted. I remember even telling him at one point that I thought it was nice when he opened the car door for me and I really appreciated when guys did that; this struck a pretty strong nerve for him. #1 told me he didn’t know why in the world I wanted him to do something like that and that it wasn’t worth fighting about. I didn’trealize something like this was fight-worthy, I thought to myself. I wasn’t trying to argue, I just thought it would be nice for him to know that I appreciated the gesture so there might be a repeat. Later I realized “the door” wasn’t really even about the door at all. It was about the pile of things I felt I wasn’t getting out of this relationship. That was the most one-sided relationship I have ever been in, and although I gave up so many of my dreams for this gentleman (huge mistake; I will write about this another day!), bought him presents and little gift baskets to show that I cared, and even abided to his wishes of talking to him less,* I never felt fulfilled in our relationship, even when he did.
This wasn’t because he was doing anything wrong, though. He just didn’t show love in the ways I need to feel loved. Back then I thought I was being kind by giving him “tips” on simple ways to love me in ways I understood better, but now I realize we just weren’t the right fit.
I want someone who will remember our anniversaries and enjoy celebrating them together, someone who gives me his time, and someone who is as kind and caring to me as I am to him.
*In hindsight it is hilarious that I once “showed someone I loved them” by agreeing to cut off most of our communication.
This second person is the complete opposite of #1. He is someone I’ve often wondered how I had the pleasure of meeting, as he is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever met.
On our first date he was chivalrous, but this behavior continued seamlessly into our 30th date. He opened my car door any time we went out, always wanted to be the one to pick me up and take me out, and goes above and beyond to show me that he cares. He has written me letters, cooked complicated five course Italian dinners, and often called me during his lunch breaks just to say “hello.” This is someone I think is so incredibly special that I don’t know how I got lucky enough to meet him and see that many of the sweet little joys in life aren’t just “Krista things” that are unrealistic traits to want in a boyfriend. There are men out there who are a million times better than the ones you see in the movies. They’re real, raw, and far from perfect, but they love you so fiercely there isn’t any room for you to question where you stand in their life.
Today’s lesson: Dogs are smart, loyal, and loving companions. You really can’t expect any human to measure up to this amazing animal, but wait for the person who does make you feel loved in the same way your dog loves you. This is a kind and selfless love with so much joy that your heart feels like it might explode.
One really amazing thing I have figured out about dating someone who is deployed is all of the support that is offered back home. I do realize part of it is just that I am surrounded with incredible friends, but I also think people seem to be able to sympathize with you a little easier with this than other tough situations in life. Maybe it’s all of the military movies — I’m not usually a crier at movies, but 9 times out of 10 I do cry in Army-themed films — or maybe it’s because so many people know and care for someone in the military.
Having someone you love go overseas to a dangerous area is a scary thing. It’s filled with a lot of unknowns and you feel a strange sense of loss, as you are not able to communicate with your soldier as often as you are used to.
I’ve had so many people reach out and I’ve felt very supported, though. My best friend has been extremely encouraging, making the 9 months seem a lot shorter than they are. She surprised me earlier this week with a craft — she had purchased two fishbowls, a bunch of Mancala beads, and USA stickers to create a visual countdown. Every day now I will be moving one bead from the “Days to Go” jar to the “Days Down,” until one jar is completely empty and the other is full, meaning he is home in the states again. I’d be lying if I said the visual didn’t feel slightly daunting, but it does feel good putting one bead into the second container every day!
Not only was this a great idea, but it was moving that she cares for me so much that she would take the time to come up with an idea and go shopping to make it a reality. One thing I love about our relationship is that I feel like she and I can be really cutesy together — we’ve been going on a lot of little fun dates and adventures with each other since we’ve both been single ladies. (As a side note, I apparently love being cutesy with people, as this is the third time I’ve used the word on this blog… Yikes.)
Furthermore, I’ve had friends reach out telling me about their experiences with deployments, as well as putting me in touch with other girls who are currently going through the same thing so I can have a support system of people who understand. I love that when you collect difficult experiences in life you are at least able to help others feel less alone when they are struggling.
I am tearing up just writing about this — I am so incredibly blessed. Thank you, all of you, for being so amazing.
Today I am writing your daily email on my blog. I figured since you’ve become quite the topic of conversation on here, why not make one of our interactions public?
We’ve done just over a week of long distance now, and I keep thinking back to the first two weeks we were apart just over a month from Texas to Virginia. I think I’ll have adjusted again after the first few weeks are over and am looking forward to the many letters, care packages, and Skype dates to come, as they’re all just leading up to your grand arrival back to the states. I can’t wait.
One thing I think is really cool about us is that we are so alike. I thought it was such a crazy coincidence that literally the morning I had snapchatted you a picture of an Army shirt I was thinking about getting that a package came in the mail with an Army t-shirt you had designed for me. You literally read my mind all the time and I absolutely love it.
Quick! What am I thinking right now?
The answer is always about chocolate. I bet you knew that.
I know we’re only at the beginning of all of this (We are 1/36th of the way there, in case you were wondering), but I can already tell long distance is going to be as easy as it possibly could be with you. There are fun little adventures and surprises I always thought would be fun in a LDR, but my ex wasn’t really into the cutesy stuff… Am I allowed to say that I think you might be really good at that kind of thing on here? I know some of your friends read this and probably don’t think of you as being “cute.” I also know, though, that you knew what you were getting into with me, and that you aren’t really afraid of what people think about you.
I love you, am praying for you, and can’t wait to see you soon. Stay safe.
Here is the final part of my incredibly long date! I’ll kind of start where I left off:
As I sat in my car with my dad, I felt at peace. Somehow it didn’t really feel real. It didn’t feel like he was leaving, and I didn’t think about the 9 months that separated us from being together.
My phone buzzed gently in the seat, and my hand grazed over the screen to see who was summoning me. I squealed in excitement when I read the text. It was from my guy, saying that his flight was canceled and inviting me to stay with him one more precious day.
Then I realized my dad had just driven well over an hour to get me. I grinned sheepishly as I read the message aloud. Dad was surprised, but just happens to be the best, so he took the Snickers bar I had been snacking on and told me we were even. I hugged him as I said thank you, and hurried back inside to find my date.
We looked at each other in excitement, as we realized we were lucky enough to tell each other “goodbye” one last time before he departed. We just didn’t have to say it yet.
After gathering some important military documents and reporting back to his team, we headed back to the hotel that would be our home for the night. We ordered pizza and stayed up far too late talking and watching reruns of Seinfeld. It was the perfect evening.
The next morning we overslept. It was fine, though, because we had all day to spend together. This was such a blessing.
We packed our things (Or rather he did, as I did not have anything but the clothes on my back from the day before — I borrowed an Army t-shirt and basketball shorts for the night. I kept the shirt.) and headed off for our next adventure.
The mall was our spot.
That day, though, we decided we wanted to take it easy and just chat as much as we could. One thing I really love about our relationship is that we never run out of things to talk about. I’ve never had quite the same dynamic with another guy, as I genuinely feel like Robert is one of my very best friends. I always thought being chatty was solely a girl thing, because my last relationship was full of me talking and my boyfriend listening. I like this back-and-forth a lot.
We circled around the shops a few times, holding hands while people-watching and dodging oncoming mall traffic. After realizing it was way past lunchtime, we popped into one of our favorite restaurants, (Or mine at least — I am starting to think we go to The Cheesecake Factory so much because Robert knows I really like it. What’s not to love at a place where it’s mandatory to get dessert?!) which just happened to be in the middle of the casino. It was fun watching people sit at slot machines and pull the levers like zombies. My favorite part about the lunch, though, was just that we were still together.
Our day was coming to a close, so we decided to end our adventure by going into the Bass Pro Shop. It was a very strange place, especially for a girl who knows absolutely nothing about fishing. I did like seeing the aquarium of giant fish, though, and insisted on getting a picture with the cute, large, and slightly derpy one.
As we headed back to the airport I felt a wave of sadness come on. My eyes began to fill with tears, so I stared through the car window as I kept them to myself. My name’s Blurryface and I care what you think. I tried to focus on the music playing in the background; I hate that song, but enjoyed listening to Terese, our Uber driver, sing along and bob her head to the music.
Once we arrived, we were able to sit and chat for about an hour before I noticed a change in the scenery. The airport had a new gloomy feel to it. How did it develop this trait overnight? Yesterday was so happy and I felt excited to be in this very spot, but at the exact same time the very next day the place had done a complete 180. Or maybe it was just my perception.
Remember how I wrote a post a little over a month ago about how he was my hardest goodbye? He beat his own record — the same rang true this time around.
The tears came rushing back when we said goodbye because unlike the second time, leaving felt real. The hug and kiss hello had been beautifully warm, but there is something different about hugging someone you know you won’t see for a long time. It was as if my arms hoped they could somehow become strong enough to hold him there and keep him in Virginia. My brain told me to let go, but my heart wouldn’t let me. After a minute of this, though, it was time to part ways.
He turned and gave me his cute half-smile I love so much, and walked down the hall until I couldn’t see him anymore. I sat on the bench by the baggage claim where we had first met, as the tears I had been struggling to hold in rolled down my cheeks. I hadn’t felt sad like this in a long time, and I tried to come to terms with the fact I wouldn’t get to see him for 9 long months — until I realized I didn’t have to. I could take on this beast the same way I have so many other things, and take our relationship day by day. This might just be a cool little story we’ll have, along with our saved letters and emails as badges of strength and love.
After I stopped giggling from excitement, we grabbed a cab to the closest shopping mall, which happened to be a kind of fantastic one called Arundel Mills. This mall was not only equipped with dozens of great restaurants and shops, but it also had a movie theater, Medieval Times, and even a Casino right in the middle of everything.
I honestly don’t remember the last time I laughed so much. We raced in Mario Kart (Typical Robert and Krista fun), played Wheel of Fortune, and I watched as he threw baseballs at scary looking clowns to win a prize. He ended up winning the game, but I wonder if my laughter ruined his focus at all — my abs were sore for two days after that workout!
He won two hilarious bears after I informed him that the claw games were “impossible,” and gave me the card filled with tickets to go back again with my best friend. I don’t know why, but he seems to be the one who is “always right.” This doesn’t seem fair, as I’m the girl — aren’t we supposed to have that privilege? Thankfully he understands his duty and we both pretend that I am.
After working up an appetite, we headed to a Mexican restaurant to eat and visit more. I still couldn’t stop smiling.
Towards the end of the meal I felt a little twinge of sadness, as I realized we only had a few hours left with one another. We decided to move the party to the movie theater so we could snuggle a little and steal a kiss or two. The Jungle Book just happened to match up with our schedule, so we grabbed our 3D glasses and got cozy in the large leather seats.
I felt so happy and at peace all snuggled up to my guy. Sometimes you have those moments in life where you are truly living in the present and don’t have a care in the world — this was one of those times. Nothing else mattered, I was just happy to be with him and grateful for our day together.
The magic was coming to an end, though, and we took a cab back to the airport so we could visit a little longer until it was time for him to board his plane to the Middle East.
Sadly, that time was short-lived when some of his team members (squad? fraternity? I don’t ever seem to ever get the military lingo right…) were stopped before boarding. Somehow this was a problem only Robert could solve, so he gazed at me apologetically as he made phone calls and talked to people at the airport about how they weren’t going to stay in Western Europe — they just needed to change planes there in order to get to their final destination.
Time flew, and before we knew it we had to say goodbye. This was the second time we parted ways before he went overseas, since I wasn’t supposed to see him again after our trip to Richmond. I left feeling strangely happy, and was shocked I didn’t cry this time. It must have been because I felt so blessed to have a few hours together and about 4 dates in one that day.
My dad pulled up to the front of the airport and I hopped into the car, ready to begin the journey home. I felt at peace. Somehow it didn’t really feel real — it didn’t feel like he was leaving, and I didn’t think about the 9 months that separated us from being together.
I stared out the window, absentmindedly counting the gates as we rolled by. My phone buzzed gently in my lap, and my hand grazed over the screen to see who was summoning me. I squealed in excitement when I read the text.
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog or my Instagram, you surely know all about my crush on the Army man I’ve been seeing. I just happen to think he’s the best, and super-awesome, and am probably making you gag reading this.
I went to his departure ceremony just over a month ago, and we had been chatting long distance for about 5 weeks while he was at Fort Hood (Texas) doing last-minute prep work until it was time for him to head overseas. We said our goodbyes over the phone, and promised to email each other until we could figure out when a good time for both of us to Skype is.
My heart sunk a little as we said goodnight, realizing this was likely the last time I’d hear his voice for awhile.
Then fate intervened.
His plane was crazily delayed due to inclement weather, and he texted me at midnight that he was stuck at BWI airport — their flight’s last stop in the US before going overseas.
That’s right down the road from me, I thought.
My wheels started turning immediately, trying to figure out how I could see him — even just for a few minutes to see him and say goodbye in person. After all, we couldn’t be in the same area and not meet up!
There was a lot of back-and-forth, as his itinerary kept changing.
The next morning I found out that I could see him until the early evening. My only problem was that I was stranded at home without a car. I quickly texted my best friend, and since the word “best” is in her title for a reason, she immediately asked her boss to leave and took a long lunch break to make the hour-and-a-half drive to the airport.
We chatted and had a nice little road trip, and by the time we arrived to the airport my hands were sweaty from excitement. I hopped out of the car, excitedly turned and thanked her profusely, as she told me to have a great day.
I walked through the automatic doors, straight to the gate he had given me, but realized it didn’t exist. I quickly found out that we had just miscommunicated a bit, did a 180, and saw him walking toward me. I don’t remember the last time I felt so excited.
We hurried to each other and embraced in one of the best hugs I have ever had. I think hugs can sometimes be a really intimate form of love — welcome home hugs when you’re in a long distance relationship are one of the warmest feelings in the world.
He smiled at me, and I got lost in his hazel eyes as he asked if I would like to get out of the airport and go out to eat.
That is where our adventure began.
This will be a 3 part post. Come back on Sunday if you’d like to hear about the craziest and most exciting date of my life.