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.
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’ve heard it at least three times since I came back from Hawaii…how silly or naive I am for being a military significant other. I started a new job at a bar to make a little extra cash and wore my new Navy hoodie I got in Hawaii. A man, who I had met one other time, asked me with enthusiasm who I knew in the Navy while I was counting some money. I piped up, excited and said, “My boyfriend!” and his expression instantly changed. The brightness vanished. He just replied with, “Oh” and went on talking to someone else sitting next to him.
I stood there honestly confused, money held idly in my hands. What just happened? I kept wondering if maybe his reaction would have been different if I said my cousin or sibling was in the Navy instead. I couldn’t figure out why my boyfriend being in the military was so different.
*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.
For two years I have had more people than I can count ask me, “How do you do it?”
And I have never had an answer. I didn’t really know how, I just did.
But after two years of getting asked this question and then asking myself, “Yeah… how the hell do I do this?” on my car rides back home I have finally come up with the answer.
So, here it goes. The three things that you need to have in order to be a military girlfriend:
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.
Military relationships are not Dear John. It’s not romantic. It’s not wonderful. When you ask a little girl where she sees herself one day, most likely, the answer will not be sleeping in a bed by herself while her husband is fighting a war and her kids are asking where daddy is.
Most people already understand that so it’s no surprise that I often get asked the question, “Why would you ever put yourself through that?”
I asked myself that same question when I first met Taylor. We met at a small gathering of friends and he kept talking about leaving for bootcamp in a few weeks and how excited he was. Being a military girlfriend was never in my plans and I never even thought about what it would be like. Actually, believe it or not, it was a deal breaker for me.
But our second date was when I saw Taylor. And I don’t mean literally. I had my contacts in that first time and could see just fine. I saw what kind of person he was. After that second date I felt like I had just met my best friend. It was the best and easiest date that I had ever been on. I drove home and battled with my previous thoughts and what I considered to be a deal breaker.
I didn’t choose the military. I wasn’t on the hunt for a single, military man. I really don’t like the long distance and the worry. I don’t want him to be deployed. I don’t want to move far away from my family and be alone a good majority of the time. I hate that one day I will have to explain to my kids why their dad can’t be at their sports tournament. I didn’t ask for any of that.
But I did choose him. And that’s where people start to lose understanding. I chose to be with someone who works hard and who treats me better than anyone. If I was going to live 1,000 miles from anyone, I wanted it to be him. And no one I have ever met was worth me leaving my little hometown until I met Taylor. And if my kids had any father, any man to look up to, I’d want it to be a man who works hard, loves his family and loves his country too. A man that is courageous in both heart and spirit.
I don’t want any sympathy. I didn’t want a military relationship so I could be the victim. I didn’t want this so I could go out and see other men but still have the security of a relationship.
When you love a person, and I mean truly love a person, you take the good with the bad. Being a military girlfriend wasn’t ideal for me but all the other good things far outweighed any anxieties I had.
I chose to love another with everything that I have…even if he chooses to wear a uniform.