Deployment is… a whole mess of emotions that I don’t even have a word for. It was like going through puberty, it was like I was dating a ghost, the beginning, middle and end all had totally different vibes to them.
Every deployment and situation is different. You may go through a deployment and have decent communication the whole way through or there could be periods of time where you haven’t received any kind of communication for weeks or maybe months.
It would be an understatement to say that going with no emails or phone calls is hard. It’s hell. I had no idea if he was okay, I missed his voice, I missed telling him about my day and his advice, I missed hearing about his day and I hated that I couldn’t comfort him or celebrate his successes.
It’s a test of your patience and of your relationship but there are ways to make it through.
I felt really overwhelmed after Taylor left. It is my first time going through a deployment and I had no idea where to start as silly as that sounds. How am I going to survive all these months? What am I supposed to do to pass the time? How do I go back to “normal” life again?
It would be an understatement to tell you that Hawaii was beautiful. And the time that I spent with Taylor and his family was just as beautiful if not more.
I went to Hawaii to visit T and to say my last goodbyes before he goes under the sea for a long period of time, the longest period of time that we will be apart thus far in our relationship.
*For the safety of my sailor and his boat, there are no dates, locations or names posted. The article has been written and posted after his underway was long done and over. OPSEC for the win.
I have been very fortunate in the fact that, for the first two years of this adventure, I have been able to speak to my sailor on the daily minus bootcamp of course. I actually forgot what it was like to not speak to him for more than 24 hours. After he graduated from all of his schooling, he came home for a month of leave, left for his first duty station and shortly after came the first underway. For those of you that don’t know, underways are like mini deployments that only last maybe a month or two at most.
This was like bootcamp all over again. And it sucked. He said his goodbyes over text to me and that was it. So began the first underway.
You’ve just spent this amazing few weeks with your SO filled with lots of love, companionship, laughter, fun-filled plans and parties. Then no sooner do they get back that you find yourself back at the airport waving goodbye with tear-soaked eyes and a snot-filled tissue in your non-waving hand. Then there is the drive home from the airport that you don’t really remember too much because of all the thinking you have done during that time. Then before you know it, you are standing in the front door of your house and you have no clue what to do.
There is no denying that distance is hard and I would be silly if I told you that I have found a way to deal with it completely. I haven’t. But I have found ways to bring comfort during those times when I feel like my heart is literally tearing in my chest, those nights that I toss and turn and can’t fall asleep.
1.Grow yourself a support system
I think of my support system as a circle. The reasoning for that is because none of them come before the other and they are all there for different kinds of support. I have my parents, friends, Taylor, his family, military girlfriend Facebook groups, I have pen pals I write to and of course I have His First Mate and the community that comes with that. My family and friends are there for physical support like hugs and an actual listening ear, etc. Taylor and his family are on there for the obvious reason that he knows better than anyone else what I am going through. I have my military Facebook groups in case I have questions or just need to see that I am not alone in this. And of course, I have His First Mate as my outlet to express myself and help others.
Make a circle for yourself. Maybe yours looks different and that’s okay. Keep that circle someplace safe where you can look at it whenever you need to. Some good places are your wallet, a drawer at work or hung up in your room.
2. Become a Hoarder
Normally, I wouldn’t recommend this but desperate times call for desperate measures. Be a hoarder of everything that is your significant other. I can’t even tell you how many hoodies, t-shirts and blankets that I have of Taylor’s (some he may or may not know that I even have but that can be our secret). These things are pieces of Taylor and some still have his smell which is a huge comfort to me in times where I feel like I’m falling apart. And not to mention, men’s clothes are significantly more comfortable than anything in the women’s department.
Below is a list of things you can ask to borrow from your significant other:
-Bottles of cologne/perfume
-Blankets, pillows, stuffed animals
-Any clothing items
-Mix tapes they have or create for you
-Keychains they have
3. Have Christmas in July
Not having Taylor here for holidays absolutely kills me. With Taylor’s first deployment coming up, I have made a list of every holiday that we will miss together. When he comes home in the next couple of weeks, we plan on celebrating every single one: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, both of our birthdays and a close friend’s birthday and Thanksgiving. It will literally be Christmas in July.
I think what gets me most is looking on Facebook during holidays and seeing all these other happy couples spending time together. Take lots of pictures during these “holidays” that you’ve created together so you can post them to Facebook or look at them whenever the actual holiday rolls around. My other piece of advice is to just stay off of social media as much as possible during holidays.
4. Save letters and text messages
Be a hoarder of their items and be a hoarder of their words. It helps a lot to hear their own voice and words come through a page to comfort you.
When Taylor deploys, I am asking him to write me some “Open When” (read what these are here!) for me to read when I get upset or I miss him, etc. so I have that handy.
5. Make a Deployment Bucket List
Stay busy! One thing that I like about military/long-distance relationships is that I get a lot of time to work on myself and my dreams. So, make a list for you! This keeps you busy and always gives you something to look forward to.
What are things you have a ways wanted to do? You can add in things that you like doing but haven’t done in a while. When you are feeling down or feel like you have nothing to keep you busy, turn to this list.