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

POTS And The Election

No, I did not mean to write POTUS and am not writing about a connection between Barrack Obama and this election. I wanted to share a personal experience of mine (shocker!) in hopes to bring anyone worried about the outcome just a little bit of comfort.

Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we plan. In fact, sometimes we find ourselves in a living nightmare, and wonder how in the world our life could ever get back on track. Three and a half years ago (basically an entire Presidential term!) when I got diagnosed with POTS I felt like the world was crashing down around me, and I had absolutely no control. I was terrified, felt alone, and wished I had taken more time to explore my faith.

The day I felt like I was having a heart attack and thought I was certainly going to die changed my life forever. The really incredible thing about this, though, is that I am alive and well almost four years later. Although my life has had some pretty major ups and downs, I am a stronger, kinder, more empathetic, and an all-around better person because of the struggles I have gone through.

There are very polarized opinions this election. I have never felt a divide as fierce with my brothers and sisters in America as I do today. Tomorrow, though, we will have a new President, for better and for worse. Some might rejoice at the news, others feel devastated, and still others indifferent. One thing I think is crucial for us to do now more than ever, however, is stay united as Americans and as human beings. We all want what is best for this beautiful country, we just have different ideas of getting there. No matter what happens, Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump,  or I’ll even throw in a shoutout to Gary Johnson (Or is he certainly out? I am writing this before I go sit and watch election coverage with my fried rice) will not have the final say in whether or not we stay united as a people. WE DO. WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.

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We have had incredible people and less than stellar ones in and out of this beautiful home for decades and we have survived as one of the greatest nations in the world. No matter what happens tonight we will remain strong and united as long as we, the people, choose to be.

My point in saying all of this is that whoever is getting ready to move in the White House tomorrow is not up to us as individuals. Our beautiful country put someone there, and we just have to accept it. Instead of worrying yourself sick, I encourage you to turn to Jesus with your fears. When I got POTS I was terrified and felt like I didn’t have anyone to turn to because my faith was so shaky. I still have a really long way to go in terms of trusting God with my own life and salvation, but I do realize there is a higher power who is looking out for each and every one of us, whether or not you even believe in Him! This is something that matters so much. We all are only human, and it can be scary to think about, but our time here is limited.

The next four years we will handle whomever is thrown at us. We will get through this as a nation, and I am confident that no matter what we can come out of this even stronger and more united than we were before if we can manage to work on ourselves as individuals to better our country as a whole. After all, the United States is made up of exactly that — 325,000,000 individual human beings.

I lived through one of my biggest fears and ended up growing from it in ways I never could have if my life had gone in a different direction. I really hope Americans will do the same, too.

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.