Two months ago, I packed my entire life up into my Honda Civic and drove across the country to finally close this damn distance between Taylor and I. I insisted to my mom, who came along for the ride so I wouldn’t get mugged or kidnapped, that I wanted to drive the entire way. I savored every mile that got me closer to him.
Freaking out is an understatement. I am officially two months out from picking up my entire life, moving it across the country and I am a complete melting pot of emotion. One minute I’m thrilled to move and looking up decorations on Pinterest and ten minutes later I’m driving to work teary-eyed.
I’ve known for quite a while now that I am an anxious person and to combat that, I have to take things slowly, make lists and get shit done one step at a time. I’ve really taken this move as an opportunity to re-create life, get rid of all the clutter, all the old clothes, jobs, memories and things that no longer serve a purpose to my life.
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?
To Whom It May Concern,
“And everyone I talk to out here says to just end it now because these relationships never work.”
My heart, filled with anger and sadness, sank to the bottom of my gut after reading what my boyfriend had just texted me.
You told him that I wouldn’t be able to handle the 4,000 miles between us. I won’t be able to handle his busy schedule you said. It is a guarantee that I will cheat you said. Because I chose to not move in with him the relationship will surely fail you said.
I realize, that to the military, I am nothing. Not his family. Not his wife. I am just a girlfriend. I do not matter to the United States military.
Of this, I am fully aware.
But shame on you for assuming what kind of woman I am. Shame on you for filling my boyfriend’s head with worry and his heart with sadness.
And while I am filled with hurt, I also have gratitude towards you. Thank you for putting a fire in my heart and a determination in my soul to make this distance work.
Watch me handle deployments with grace and love. Watch me have the patience and understanding to deal with our differing work schedules. I hope you get to witness the care packages he will get along with the constant flow of emails, letters and funny cards. I had the strength to stay back home so I could enhance my career and finish my schooling so that I wouldn’t have to rely on the military for money. So, watch me not cheat on him or use him for his military paycheck because I took the time to establish myself.
And, unfortunately, while what you keep driving into his head has an impact what I have to say to him has a greater one. Little do you know how strong my boy is and how much love he has for me.
You bringing our relationship down gave me the opportunity to relive with him all the beautiful memories that we have had, the ones that have made us laugh until we cried. And with those memories came the pictures: the happiest pictures of us on our anniversary, that one that I made a stupid face by the river, pictures from every single graduation he has had. All to remind him that even when we were thousands of miles apart we were never truly far from each other.
So, I thank you. For you made us stronger and you sparked a passion in me to be the best “girl back home” that I can be.
A dedicated and strong military girlfriend
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.
For two years now, Charleston has become my second home and it wasn’t too traumatic on my wallet most of the time. My airline tickets averaged around $300 and if I couldn’t do that I could drive.
The next stop on our military journey, however, is going to be Hawaii, a trip that will most definitely not be too kind on the old wallet. But I have recently put in place some tips and tricks that will get me, stress-free, to Hawaii and back… I might even be able to afford a nice dinner while I’m there.
The key to making all of this easier on you is to answer four questions:
How much will your trip cost?
The first step is knowing how much your trip will cost for the big stuff such as hotels, rental cars, gas, plane tickets, food, souvenirs, etc. Keep in mind that it is best to over guess prices than under guess. Also, keep in mind that many places, if you are married to the military, you can get discounts! You can make a rough calculation based on these prices…
Food: I know that, personally, I spend about $20 on each meal when I go on vacation. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it is less depending on where I am going and what meal it is. All in all, I give food about $60 per day. Take that and multiple it by how many days you are staying.
Plane tickets: A round-trip ticket to Hawaii is about $850 give or take. Look around on Google or there is a really helpful app called Hopper that will tell you pricing and pick a median price that sounds good to you.
Gas: If driving is your choice of transportation, find out how many miles it will be and find out what your car’s miles per gallon rate is. Divide the miles it will take to get there by the miles per gallon of your car. Then find the average gas prices in your area and multiply it by the numbers you just figured.
EX:) It used to take me 923 miles to drive to Charleston, SC. My little Honda Civic drives about 33 miles per gallon.
923/33= 27.97 gallons of gas to get to Charleston
I usually round up just to be safe so we’ll say about 30 gallons of gas. (I tend to get lost a lot.)
The gas prices around Chicago are about $2.20. So, 2.20×30=66. It will cost me about $66 in gas to get one way to Charleston.
Also, keep in mind that you will be driving around while you are there. Take that into account when finding out how much you will spend in gas.
Rental Cars: This one you should do a bit of research on. This all depends on the company, the type of car, the size of the car and how many days you will be renting it for. This will require a bit of your own research to figure out, however, USA Today wrote a good article to see what the averages are.
Hotels: Again, this will require some research on your part. Based on where you stay and how nice you’d like your hotel or motel to be, these prices can range greatly.
Ex:) Whenever I go to visit my boyfriend, I already have my transportation and sleeping accommodations taken care of so really that just leaves my plane ticket, food and souvenirs and money for the things we want to do.
Plane ticket: I averaged this out to $850.
Food: I will probably spend about a week in Hawaii so my food will come out to about $420.
Souvenirs/things to do: I gave myself a budget of about $75 a day for things I want to buy and things we want to do. This adds up to about $525.
All in all, my trip to Hawaii will cost me $1,795.
When are you planning to go?
Whew! You’ve now have the first and maybe hardest step done! Next comes planning when you’d like to go. Pick a month and calculate how many months that is from today.
Ex:) I would like to go to Hawaii at the beginning of September. That is about 3 months from now.
How much money do you make a month?
Take your paychecks and add them together! If you are a bartender, waitress or anyone who has varying paychecks a month, figure out an average. About how much a day or a week do you normally bring home in tips.
Ex:) One of my paychecks a month is about $800 and the other one is about $900. I also freelance a little so I added in about an extra $50.
Turns out to be about $1,750.
After paying your bills, how much “fun” money do you have to spend?
I have a whiteboard next to my desk that lists out all of my bills that I have to pay, when they come out and have a space for me to check mark them when they have been paid. I know, I know, I’m a really big dork.
But it helps! Write out all your expenses, take what you make monthly and subtract them.
EX:) I make about $1,750 and lets say, for the sake of this post, that my bills come out to be $1,000 a month. That leaves me $750 to spend on whatever my little heart desires.
Put it all together!
Take how much your trip will cost and divide that by how much time you have between now and then. Take that number and look to see if you can feasibly afford to put away that much every month. If not, you may need to think about moving your trip a little farther back.
EX:) My trip is going to cost $1,795 and I have three months to save up.
$1,795/3= $598 per month that I need to save.
We already figured out that I have $750 to spend on what I would like every month. With that being said, if I put away about $600 a month toward my trip I would still have about $150 dollars to spend on going out with friends, new clothes, etc. which is fine for me.
Once you have figured out a good monthly budget for you, now it is time to start saving! Once a month, place that money into a savings account, under your bed, a piggy bank, and save up for that trip you’ve been dying to take.
Life is way too short to not travel. Don’t let your financial status stop you.
I struggle with this question every so often. Do I tell Taylor about something or will it be an unnecessary frustration to him? I know the Navy is no walk in the park and it consumes a majority of him. Being so far away there isn’t much he can do about things back home anyway. I never want to cause him unnecessary distress.
Normally, I don’t really tell Taylor when I get cat called or some random guy hits me up on Facebook. I simply tell them to kindly screw off and they leave. Rarely do these things happen anyway considering my whole Facebook is filled with Taylor and no cat call ever really leads to anything. These things are unnecessary hassles.
However, trust is a key foundation to any relationship so sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes bigger things than a random Facebook message or cat call happen. A couple nights ago I got some really unwanted, unwarranted attention from an acquaintance that I was friends with on Facebook due to my job.