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

1 DAY!!!!!

This was the header in my email to Robert today. I’ve been doing a countdown since the day he left, and we are finally down to one.

I don’t even think I can put into words how excited I am for tomorrow. I am tearing up just thinking about it. This year has been so hard. My heart has felt heavy with worry and from missing my guy. I hadn’t ever experienced some of the feelings I had this past year. My long distance relationship with Robert was unlike anything I’ve ever had with another person. On one hand I trusted him 110%. He could go for any stint of time without messaging me and I knew without a doubt he was being faithful to me and that he still thought of me every single day. I knew the entire deployment that Robert’s heart was still with me, and that he would give anything to be home with me as soon as he could. This was definitely new, as in past relationships I’ve been with people who haven’t been as invested in us as they are in a job or in traveling the world.

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On the other hand, though, I hadn’t ever felt the intense ache of wishing I could do anything and everything to make someone safe and protect them for such an extended period. The only feeling I can kind of relate this to was when I was with another significant other and he was dealing with a lot of stress from work that I wished I could take upon myself instead. With Robert, though, I just prayed as hard as I could that God would take care of him, and I knew that I wanted to take any bad things away from this deployment and take them on for myself. Clearly this is not possible, but I am always in awe of the love you feel for someone when you want to take away their pain or suffering. This is likely only a very small fraction of the way Jesus felt with us.

Anyway, I honestly cannot believe I’m going to be seeing him tomorrow. Not on Skype, not in a picture, and not online. IN PERSON. What?!?! This is so crazy. I really can’t contain my excitement; I’ve wanted to tell everyone I talked to today. I told people when I was in line at the store buying red white and blue balloons to take to the airport, I told the lady at the craft store when I got supplies to make a sign, and I announced it to any stranger who would listen. I even felt like getting pulled over due to a lack of vision in my car from the balloons wouldn’t be so bad — it would just be another opportunity to tell someone about the exciting day I had planned tomorrow (Just kidding, I’m not insane. But seriously, I don’t think many people can empathize with just how excited I am!!!!!)!

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I will close with saying  that I don’t know whether I’m going to laugh, cry, or freeze when I see Robert tomorrow. I don’t think it will feel real. I’ll do my best to tell you what it’s like getting to hold him again, but I’m pretty sure it will be indescribable.

One sleep to go.

Our Story

So if you follow me on any of my social media you might have seen what I’m working on for Robert right now. I’m going to be sharing it a lot because I really, really want to make this happen. It’s the absolute best present I could ever think of giving him, so I am going to be working for the next two weeks to make it happen. Fingers crossed something comes of it, but we shall see!

If you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning you probably know my story and actually followed along as I fell for Robert. If you’re new to SITS or don’t read all of my writing, though, I’d love to share a little bit of our story with you!

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Robert and I met on OKCupid. I was fairly recently single so I was not interested in a relationship in the least. After talking for over a month we finally were able to meet up (My schedule was packed with friends and quite a few other first dates so it always took awhile for a guy to get squeezed into my life). I definitely ended up having a little crush by the time we were done with our first dinner, but my head told me I couldn’t fall too hard. After all, my blog had just really picked up and I needed time to date around.

Plus Robert had just decided to delete all of his dating apps and stop dating altogether until he came back from the deployment he was preparing for. I did not want to give my heart to someone who would make me be in a long distance relationship again. Not like one date would turn into anything, though, so I might as well give him a chance… Or so I thought!

One date turned to two, which turned to twenty and thirty. By our third date Robert was living three and a half hours away where he was training for his mission, but saw something special in our connection, so drove back to my hometown every single weekend to see me and go out on one date. Talk about going the extra mile(s)!

I was guarded with him. I told him that I wasn’t looking for anything serious, but that I thought he was a great person and I would surely keep in touch while he was overseas. After all, I love little acts of kindness and the great impact they can make, so I figured sending a soldier occasional care packages would be kind of fun anyway. The troops do so much for others that I always love giving back when I get the chance.

Anyway, as you can see things didn’t work out the way I thought they would. Spending several months still “single,” I dated around but always gravitated back to Robert. He is one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know and has an amazing sense of humor. I really do think we were meant to meet when we did; the timing really couldn’t have been any closer to perfect. If I had waited just one more week to join OKC he would have been gone, and if I had said “No” to a first date with him just because he was going to be deployed I wouldn’t be in the best relationship of my life to date.

This is the first part of our story. I’ll be sharing more as the week goes on, but…

In the meantime, please give my video a watch, and SHARE with as many people as you possibly can! I’m trying to get some sort of attention to make this “welcome home” gift a reality. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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.

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.

No, You’re Schmoopie!

Sometimes I feel like I’m pulling a “Schmoopie” when I write about my dating life

Sadly I have realized not everyone in my generation has seen Seinfeld, so here’s a clip if you have no clue what I’m talking about:

It definitely takes a lot for me to share such intimate parts of my life on this blog sometimes. I know I’m taking a risk at putting my heart on my sleeve in front of all my friends (including my new blogger friends!), and I know not all of my relationships — romantic or otherwise — that I write about will last. I do, however, always want my blog to be an honest account of my life. I want to be transparent with y’all through the bad times and through the good, which just happens to be the beginning honeymoon phase of a new relationship, the comfortable parts of a longer-term relationship, and the vulnerable parts about putting your heart in the hands of another human being.

I love love in every form, whether it’s in a friendship or a romantic relationship. As I have mentioned before, I think I’m one of the few people who gets giddy with excitement when I see even a distant Facebook friend get engaged or have a sappy status. I love seeing new jobs, dreams come true, and celebrating in the victories of friends — no matter how great or small.

Sometimes it gets a little annoying when people proclaim their love to one another constantly on Facebook — can you not say “I love you” via text? For the most part, though, I hope my friends will keep posting a million wedding pictures and sharing in their excitement with me and everyone else. After all, that is by far the best part about social media, and the more love we put out in the world the less room we have for hate. That is the best lesson we can learn, especially during this crazy time in America where the country — and even Facebook — feels so divided and confused.

So I would like to encourage you to keep sharing photos of your GNOs, engagement photoshoots, and selfies that make you feel fierce. If people don’t like seeing the happy parts of your life, the “unfollow” button is really easy to find. Spread happiness, joy, and beautiful friendships on social media, even if they don’t rack up as many “likes” as you’d want… After all, your social media pages are yours for a reason!

Today’s lesson: I have found that being open and vulnerable has enriched my life in so many ways. Not only do I have so many friends to share excitement with, but I also have an army of support when life gets tough, and have been able to learn from people who have very different lives than my own. So here’s to being authentic and spreading love and positivity in the world.