Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Bigger Picture.

Did you ever have plans for yourself when you were a little girl/boy? Things that you swore you'd do at a certain age, and things you swore you'd NEVER do? For me, as long as I can remember, I always told myself I'd never date someone in the military. I couldn't imagine having a loved one be sent off to war or wonder what they are going through each day. I told myself I'd never get myself involved with that. Ever. 

How did I let this happen?! How did I let a sweet, intelligent and perfect man sweep me off my feet and then leave me for the Army? How did I let myself become so "fallen" that I even said I'd wait for him? That I'd be with him? That I'd suffer through this with him?

Anyway, I've been taking it in stride and laugh at the fact that when you ask for lemons, life hands you watermelons. When you ask for snow you get rain, when you want chocolate you get vanilla, and so on. But I find you have to trust in a higher power and know that things will work out for the best. Going without much communication with him has nearly turned me into a crazy person various amounts of times, but I have not lost my cool yet.

If you are a girlfriend of someone joining the military, below is a "how-to" or a survival guide" to follow for the beginning.

1.~Establish the feelings between each other before he leaves. Know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you both want the same thing out of each other.

2.~Establish what you both will expect from each other, i.e. frequency of letters, phone calls, visits, etc.

3.~Visits can get expensive. Work out the details of that before they start.

4.~Have someone you can confide in who understands what you're going through. A friend, family member, etc.

5.~Join an online group. There are a lot of online support groups out there, especially dedicated to girlfriends of military service men. They are really supportive.

6.~GOOGLE. Seriously, I have found out a lot just by researching online.

7.~Remain calm, say prayers, and love, as much as you can.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What Have I Got Myself Into?

Unless you hung around an army barracks’ front gate with your knickers conveniently already draped around your ankles at 1:20 am on a Saturday morning in order to bag your man, you probably did not go looking for a military partner. In my case, coming from an impressive military lineage, I thought I knew what to expect. How terribly misguided of me. 

Dating my other half was a shock to my system, not eased much by the sugar coated glossy half-truths he sweetly fed me at the beginning of our relationship. 

The problem, if you consider it such, is that I will never walk away from him, because he is my best friend and my soul mate. But, by god, sometimes I want to. I curse the military more than I ever cursed any girl who tried to steal an old boyfriend, more than during any childhood argument with my older sister after she had borrowed and broken a prized possession. The Ministry of Defense (known in my house as “the f*cking army”) is my other half’s other woman. In fact she is worse than that. She is his controller, his dictator. She owns him. He spends more time with her than with me, and if we are about to make plans she will come along and royally fuck them all up for us. Dealing with this is difficult for both parties, as the desire to rant and scream at him for something beyond his control is sometimes impossible to resist. “Please don't blame me, I want to be with you as much as you with me.” “I’m not angry at you, it’s not your fault, I’m angry at the army.”

So what pearls of wisdom can I offer to anyone who has found themselves in this situation after falling in love with one of these men in green? 

The army will somewhat ruin your life. Control your life. The army will ensure you have no partner at Thanksgiving, possibly Christmas and no partner on Valentine's Day. Your birthday will not be spent with your other half, you will learn to rely utterly on your friends and family. Forget anniversaries, genuinely, forget they exist. You cannot be the kind of person to take offense when no card or flowers arrive on your special day, because if you are, you are in the wrong relationship. You are basically a single woman and will be for the rest of your life, strengthened in the knowledge that in spirit he is with you the entire time in everything that you do. I've heard him say “I wish i was there with you. I'm sorry.” more times than I've seen him walk through the door. Expect to have to trust your partner implicitly. You will not know where he is ninety percent of the time, or who he is with. He feels the same about you, an open honest relationship is the only way long distance (for this is essentially what this relationship is, even if he lives an hour away) will work. 

Want to make romantic plans for a weekend away? Forget it. Well, don't forget it, but be prepared for these plans to have to be cancelled last minute, as she in her infinite wisdom has decided he is needed for some task. Often these tasks appear meaningless and useless. Invest in travel insurance. Try not to snap at him when he cannot go somewhere or do something. Patience must be your strongest virtue, kindness and the ability to bite your tongue the closest second. PTSD. Be aware of the symptoms. Be aware that he may not ever be able, or wish, to recognise that he has it. Know that there are some things he may never wish to share, and that at the same time he might serve his years blessed in that he does not experience anything awful at all. You do not know and will never know more about the Army than he does. Do not listen to the idle gossip of other military wives and girlfriends. 

                                                                 LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE.

Have your own career, your own dreams. If you invest too much in his life and his work and dreams, your own happiness will suffer. Treat him as an equal, not a superior, but understand that his job involves a certain amount of flexibility. Keep your friends close and your family even closer. You will need them.

Without wishing to sound too negative, I would not wish this life on anyone. The reason I have this path ahead of me is because the love of my life chose this career for himself before we met, which by chance, was in a crowded mass of people. He is my best friend and I support him fully, as he does me. However, if he did not support me, if he was not my best friend, if I wasn’t completely and utterly in love with him, I would be running for the hills. This is going to be hard but I have decided to stand by him and deal with it. This is, therefore, the mentality I have adopted and it is one I cannot let falter, for both of our sakes.