Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Difficult, the Infuriating, and the Rewarding...

Those of you who have gone month's without their man know what I mean when I say lonely. Often when my soldier is away I tried to look to others for comfort, and in return they only said, "at least you have someone." I cannot explain in words how frustrating that was to hear. It was infuriating. I was less lonely when I was single.

When I was single, I didn't know what I was missing. I went to bed lonely, but not with the same loneliness of knowing the exact person I longed for. When I was single, I had a hope of meeting someone, and at the same time, I didn't have a close personal attachment to any one person. Being in a relationship with a soldier or anyone in the military is difficult because you know exactly who you want, and you know that the reason you can't be with them is part of the reason you love them so dearly.

What is even more infuriating is someone who tries to sympathize by saying they know what you're going through when they actually don't. "I miss my boyfriend so much when I don't see him for a few days!" they cry. Now I know what a blessing it was to see him multiple times a month. If you have daily telephone interaction with your boyfriend, don't try to say your pain is the same as mine. If you can speak to your boyfriend online everyday, don't try to say your pain is the same as mine. I understand that you miss him slightly, but I know that my situation is entirely different. "I don't know how you do it!" they will sometimes say. This is flattering, but to be honest, I don't know how we Military wives/girlfriends do it either.

The loneliness goes further than that. It goes into knowing that you don't have the ability to tell the person you confide in most all the little things you want to voice during the day. By the time you actually talk to your soldier, you have forgotten everything you wanted to tell them except "I love you." There is no one but your mother and your best friend to hug you when you're sad, and you know that their hugs aren't quite as comforting. He can't be there to give you advice. He can't be there to defend you. Sometimes the thing I miss the most is just sitting with him in silence, enjoying his company and how unforced it is.

Then, you worry. You worry endlessly. What if he gets hurt? What if he dies? What if he stops loving me? What if he changes? What if he develops PTSD? What if I get hurt? What if I change? Will it be the same when he comes back? I don't know about anyone else, but I am always so nervous to see my soldier after an absence. I am always wrong to worry, too. Whenever I see his face again, it is the only thing I can see, and my eyes blur over with the tears of all my suppressed emotions. He lights up my whole world.

Being a military s/o is very rewarding as well. The strain distance can put on a relationship is sometimes just what the relationship needs. It needs a test. It can make a couple appreciate one another more, and it can teach them how to communicate more efficiently. When your talk time is limited, you only say the things that truly matter.
I am so proud of him. He has risen to many challenges. He has taken so much responsibility. He is so strong and so able. He is Army strong. Come on, how many other girls can say that their boyfriends survived a gas chamber?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Operation: Stand By Your Man

I was a part of the Facebook page "Military Wives, Girlfriends and Fiances"...however they shut the page down. I was addicted to that page and was on it almost every day. I joined a few other support pages and after i posted questions seeking advice that would never got answered, I realized i wanted to create a space for women to come to for advice and to be assured their questions would be answered! I knew it would be hard to create a trust worthy page by myself so i asked a friend of mine, Kailene. Why not? She had been involved in this military lifestyle for years. I needed someone with a good amount of experience to make this work. So we teamed up and created Operation: Stand By Your Man & Operation: Stand By Your Man XXX. We created this to store our information, gather helpful tips, and to create a fun space for military s/o's to come to when the last thing they want to think about is the military! 

Update: 4/21/12 

We have reached over a thousand likes on the page and continue to get more each day. I've met so many fabulous women and love hearing their stories! We get over 50 emails a day from women all over the United States, asking for advice. Since the creation of the page Kailene and i have added Ashley, Crystal, Amanda, Kate and Myrna to the admin family. We've done really well and we actually have 3,000 likes now! The page keeps growing and soon we'll have 10,000 fans! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Do ya feel lucky?

Well do ya? I'm sorry, I can't help but hear Clint Eastwood in my head...or for the younger set...ya'll probably heard Jim Carrey. Anyway, that is so not my point!! I was over at Seven Inches of Sense and Joan has the most awesome post today. She perfectly captures the uncertainty and confusion and well, downright risk that is involved in military relationships.

Even the "good" ones are scary. Being a girlfriend sucks! Not all the time, mind you, but when it comes to getting support or even basic information...well you've got a better chance watching CNN than asking the FRG (Family Readiness Group) for help.

I will admit, I lucked out having Operation: Stand By Your Man, and the awesome girls with the FRG for Austin's unit. I made some great friends and a couple of them have actually continued to keep in contact with me even after all the drama. I really love you guys (for the record, thank you!)

Most girlfriends aren't so lucky...and honestly, if Kailene had not been a part of the group, they probably wouldn't have welcomed me with open arms either. See, as a girlfriend, I lacked a crucial piece of paper that apparently is the only way to prove loyalty. It appears that the ring on my finger meant nothing. I asked one of the wives about the seeming hatred that most girlfriends experience...her response:

"Well, most wives see you all as transitory...girlfriends are here one week, gone the next. It's not worth the effort to get to know them...most of the time."

So what about those of us who do choose to stick it out during the rough times? Will we be forever regulated to second class citizenship just because we didn't rush into a marriage? I'm not knocking the people who decide to push their weddings up because of a deployment. I understand completely, at least once you possess a piece of paper, the military is required to share information with you. Otherwise, you are left to the kindness of others and your own resourcefulness...

I do realize that it is incredibly difficult to tell at first whether a girlfriend is going to be in it for the long haul...but at the same time, I think that it would be easier for scared, insecure, worried girlfriends to stick around if they weren't having to prove their loyalty at every turn. (And for the record, I know of many, many wives who were far less loyal than most girlfriends...but casting blame doesn't get us anywhere and the point here is to bridge the gap.) That's why it's such a blessing to so many of us to find online support groups to help us get through the deployment time.