Saturday, February 18, 2012

The opposite of love is not hate...It's indifference. ~ Elie Wiesel

That's how I've been feeling lately.. Indifferent. Indifferent about everything. About who I am, what I want and who I want to be. Indifferent about my friendships, my love and my life. The people I long to hold onto the most are the people I seem to be losing the quickest, and it is all my fault. Maybe not right out and obvious but it is all me. I pull away. I pull away from everyone. If I'm not close to anyone, I can't hurt them anymore.

Eventually, I just became numb. A ghost of who I used to be. I plastered a fake smile on my face and pretended everything was okay. And it was, until I realized that by keeping everyone else in the blue, I am torturing myself. To the world, I am the happiest person around. My friends know me as the outgoing smart ass who will say or do anything because she can. I'm the girl who laughs hysterically at everything and never stops smiling. I'm the girl who will stick her neck out for the friends who don't deserve it because I am terrified of losing them. I'm also the girl who has a notebook filled with every bad thought about myself I have ever had. I'm hiding who I am under who I used to be. 

The only thing worth it anymore is Austin. He's a major upgrade from who I usually date. He worships the ground I walk on, adores me and makes me feel like I am special. He calls me beautiful and for a second, I almost believe him. But then I start to wonder, is any of this true? You know the saying 'you can't love anyone until you learn to love yourself''? That's how I feel about him. He loves me, I know he does. He'd do anything for me but I am so numb that I can barely feel anything. I want to love him. I want to let him in and give myself to him but I just can't. I feel like I'm cheating him but there is nothing I can do about it. I know he deserves better than a girl who only wishes she could feel something. He makes me want to feel everything you're supposed to feel when you're in a relationship. When I'm with him, the numbness fades. Not completely, barely even enough to register but enough that I want to hold on and never let go. I feel like i upset him a lot, and that he isn't as happy as he says he is with me. 

It's hard but I'm working through it. I'll plaster another smile on my face and pray that one day I won't have to pretend anymore. Pray that one day I will actually be able to feel again. Love again. Be, again. I miss who I was. But I'm terrified of who I will become. I want to be the girl I convince people I am. I really do.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Some civilians might feel awkward around people whose sweethearts are deployed – not sure what to say or what gestures to make. I’ve been very fortunate, because even though most of my friends and family aren’t directly connected with the military, they’ve still managed to be wonderful support over the past year. I can’t speak for the others left on the home front, but I have figured out a few things that work for me.


Say you don’t know how I can handle this. We all play the hands we’re dealt, and this is no different. I know you mean well, but pity doesn’t help.

Tease me for carrying my mobile phone everywhere I go and checking facebook obsessively, just in case he gets a chance to call, text or write something.

I see other's complain about being apart from your significant other for what I would consider a short time, say, a week. Do you have an idea of when he’s coming back? Is he getting shot at like some soldiers? No? Then I can’t muster much sympathy.

Unless you’re ready to enlist, don’t tell me how great you think this war is and list the countries you think “we” should invade next.

Ask why I haven't moved to where he’s stationed, or suggest he transfer to where I live. The Army doesn’t work that way.


Ask about him. It won’t upset me, or suddenly remind me of what he’s doing. He’s on my mind 24 hours a day anyway. Besides, I like talking about him.

Invite me to do things, even if everyone else is coupled up; most days I’d rather be a third (or fifth) wheel than not go out at all.

Understand if I need to flake out once in a while.

Drop him a line or send him a care package, if you feel comfortable doing so. He loves to see anything from home, and to know that someone – even (or especially) someone he doesn’t know – is thinking about him.

Share your experiences, if you’ve got them. In addition to my sister
 (as well as my Service sisters), the other pillar of strength during this distance has been a dear family friend who sent her sweetheart off to World War II. Not only is she incredibly encouraging, but she’s able to offer great perspective. He was gone for five years; they had only letters for communication. Let’s not even talk about how much battlefield medicine has progressed since then. Considering this does wonders to drag me out of my self-pity. (Best of all, he came home safely and they’ve been able to grow old together, and that gives me all kinds of hope.)

Finally, the one suggestion that I think holds for all of us: If you don’t know what we need, ask.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Can't say enough

This week i wrote an open letter to our American service men and women, my little way of saying thank you.

To all of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces:


I'm sure there are times when you don't hear those words enough; but from the core of my being: Thank you.

Thank you for doing what I cannot. I would make a lousy soldier and I know that; so I leave that job for those of you who are stronger and braver than I. There are not words to adequately describe the appreciation and admiration I hold for each of you. I know very well the sacrifices you make day in and day out; at least as much as I can understand having never been to war myself.

My opinion of this war or that conflict is immaterial. What matters is that each one of you know that you have my respect and support by any means I have. I can only hope that through reading this, and the letters of my fabulous Service Sisters, you will be able to see that the media and assorted critics are a very small percentage of Americans. Most Americans I know, myself included, are proud to call this country home.

I for one am grateful for the security and peace I enjoy because of men and women like you who take the burden of freedom onto themselves. The older I get, the more aware I become that not only is freedom not free, it's a very expensive privilege and I, along with millions of other Americans, are blessed to know no other way of life. Thank you for your willingness to make personal sacrifices to keep this country great. Thank you for taking on the responsibility of guarding the freedoms we enjoy and frequently take for granted.

"Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die." ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

What I can do is say thank you, in words and actions. I cannot empathize over the horrors of war; but I can listen and I can sympathize, and sometimes that is enough. I can say that I am proud to be an American because of your bravery and humility. You are true warriors with courage and pride I can only hope to someday achieve.

While the words are pitiful in light of the reality you face; they are sincere words. Don't lose heart; though the critics are loud...they are few. Stay safe where ever you are, or what ever your mission may be. Take care of each other and come home safely. You are loved, thought of fondly and missed greatly.

With love and prayers for safety, 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Silent Ranks in movies?

Last night's movie of choice was We Were Soldiers, a movie that always makes me cry but it excellently filmed and acted. I still cry at three separate scenes every time I watch; but that's ok by me. I think it's healthy to still be affected by tragedy, I don't ever want to become hardened and cynical. This movie has a wonderful portrayal of what most of the silent ranks looks like. These were strong, loving women who supported their soldiers and each other...through the good times and the bad.

It was my experience that the Silent Ranks really do stick together...we came from very different backgrounds, beliefs and politics; but when it came to our men, there was nothing that split us apart. I have women in my life that I have never even met...that i consider family...some are closer than sisters yet still...we've never met face to face. That's what a deployment/distance does, it brings people together who normally wouldn't have given more than the time of day to one another.

I am not advocating deployments as a means to friendship...but what i am saying is that there is a lot more to the women who comprise the boots on the ground than what is normally shown. This movie does a much better job of showing that than most I've seen.

For the record, there were no fights during this movie...only sporadic pieces of trivia and history. Which, in my mind, is a much better outcome.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dear Mr. Military S/O...

  1. When you start out this deployment process, there is an important decision to be made. Do you want to be in a long distance relationship in the first place? If you are going to commit to a relationship, then do it; if you don't want to that is your choice, but don't fake it...there are plenty of girls who will just be a pen pal if all you want is mail. Be upfront with your girlfriend/wife about what you really want.
  2. Along those lines, know that trust is important. Obviously, trust is important in all relationships, but even more so in relationships that last through deployments. You have to be able to trust each other completely, otherwise you will be consumed with doubt and that is a recipe for trouble. If you want her to trust you; you've gotta trust her too. Don't get bogged down by officers or friends who tell you that all girls cheat while their soldiers are gone. Yes, some do. But the vast majority don't...wouldn't even dream of it. Have faith in the girl you love; she is going to do the same for you.
  3. Realize that you have a "war face", recognize what what your war face looks like and how it manifests itself. Please try to understand the effect it has on those around you. We know that you have to put on your war face, and that it will make you distant. That's how it has to be, and we all accept that; but it's not an easy concept to grasp until you've lived it. Please be aware of that fact and don't judge your girlfriend/wife too harshly. It's frightening to watch the man you love completely change in the beat of a heart...and it takes some getting used to. But don't take that to mean that we can't handle you or your deployment...we can. We haven't been brainwashed or misled and we willingly choose to endure the deployment from within the silent ranks because we love you. We choose to be with you the same way you have chosen to be with us.
  4. I have said it hundreds of times, and ya'll will probably hear it at least that many times more: Communication is of paramount importance. That said, communicate whenever you can. Letters, emails, phone calls, photos...utilize whatever means are at your disposal. You don't have to be a prolific letter writer to make this work, but put some effort into it. For the record, emails (while nice and appreciated) do not make up for hearing your voice if you have access to phones.

Deployment is tough on everyone; no mistaking that. But, it's definitely made easier by following the steps listed above. You'll have a few disagreements, but you'll learn a lot along the way. Deployments are never simple, but they aren't impossible either...and they can make your bond unshakable.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

ET Phone Home.

When Austin was gone, there was one thing that made our relationship easier. That was the constant, and I mean quite literally glued to my ear, constant presence of my cell phone. Cell phones can cost a fortune, and there were months that my bill was so incredibly high. But me having it meant that no matter where I was or whatever I was doing, if Austin had the opportunity to call, he could call me and we could talk, even if it was only for a couple minutes.

Whenever he could, Austin would call me early in the morning so he could be my alarm clock. He said that if he couldn’t be with me to wake me up, then at least he could be the first person I heard in the morning. It wasn’t a perfect system, but we definitely made the best of it.

Austin always said that for him, talking to me kept him sane and focused and that he needed me and our conversations to get through the days.

It's been my experience that most deployed soldiers call home, or at least their girlfriends, as often as they get the chance. This leads to a whole other set of issues however: the parents. If you, as the girlfriend have a good relationship with the parents, this part is much easier, or so I’m told.

I worked really hard to remind myself whenever I felt whiny about phone time that my grandmothers went through this too...only they didn't have the luxury of any phones. They had to wait weeks and months to hear...not mere days. Kinda put my situation back into perspective.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Just When I Thought it Was Safe

This week’s topic is interesting for me to contemplate because, of all the wonderful ladies I write with, I am probably the most pro-military. Not only do I support my soldier, but for the most part, I also support the job he did and the mission he was a part of. Yes, there were many times that I would get frustrated with the Army: for the lack of concrete plans, the excruciatingly long hours, all the normal things that aggravate the most patient of military s/o's. However, holding my tongue in regards to the military and my soldier reacting out of character didn’t occur until after he was home. It was easy for me to be supportive of Austin and his actions while he was gone; not only was I immensely proud of him, but I also knew that he needed me to put on a brave face and be strong for him. 

I have nothing but love and respect for the other women i have met…you're  my strength and support. It's only with them that I have the freedom that any woman in a civilian relationship takes for granted.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

When in doubt, Reach out!

During the deployment, it’s pretty much a given that doubt will creep up on either of you at any point in time. You may question whether or not you have the strength to make it through. You may question whether or not your relationship is strong enough to survive. You may question whether or not it’s worth it or if he’s the right one.

Have faith and surround yourself with things that focus on the positives of yourself, your SO, the relationship, and the deployment. Look at pictures of the two of you, even though it might make you miss him. Save and read his letters and your IM conversations (the good ones), even though they may make you sad. Focus on the positives because anything else will just reinforce that dreaded doubt. Look at the things that will remind you of why you’re with him and in the relationship to begin with. You wouldn’t have put yourself in this position if there weren’t a good reason to.

Most importantly, if you’re having severe doubts, talk to him. Communication is so important, and there’s a good chance that he is feeling or, at one time or another, has felt the same way. If you can’t physically talk to him, send him an e-mail or write a letter. It still gets it off your chest and puts it out there, and even doing so can make you feel better. There’s nothing wrong with needing a little reassurance. The worst thing you can do is sit on the doubt and let it run…it can create irrational thoughts and feelings, create situations that don’t exist, and it can easily set the tone for fights and just plain disaster.

Also try to remind yourself of where he is and what he’s doing. The communication is hardly ever in his control, and he’s there to do his job. If he could be at home with you, sitting next to you watching a movie, there’s no doubt that he would snap his fingers or click his heels to make it happen.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Ok, so I'm in a military frame of mind today for some reason...I can't really figure it out, though I will readily admit that I'm not really attempting to analyze it in the first place. So, to make use of this time here is an excerpt of some of the writing I've done for the Survival Guide my friend and I have been working on periodically. This passage is about the insecurities that rear their ugly heads during a deployment. If any one has comments, they are appreciated...yes that is a shameless plea for someone (anyone) to acknowledge that they are hanging around reading what I write. ;)

Insecurity is an issue that everyone faces at some point; and unfortunately deployments bring out the deepest fears and insecurities in the toughest people without fail. It can be especially unsettling if your man isn’t usually insecure. Austin and I always joked that his theme song (come on, you all know you have one…it’s in the back of your head somewhere...I'll admit's Everybody Got Their Something) is Cocky by Kid Rock. Like most born soldiers, Austin is incredibly self-assured and downright cocky. “It ain’t braggin’ if you back it up” is the attitude; it’s an aura of authority and absolutely no fear. They can take on the world, after all they are off to the other side of the globe to fight injustice and to be your own personal Superman.

Then, the time comes, usually about a week before your man is scheduled to leave the States, and seemingly out of nowhere everything feels like its been turned upside down. I’ve talked to several soldiers who have returned from deployments and the scenario is always the same. Sometimes they are told by their superiors that the should expect their significant others, be it wives or girlfriends, to cheat on them or at the very least leave them with “dear John” letters while they are still overseas. For some soldiers, it’s just an insecurity in themselves. Whatever the reason is and where ever it originates, it will factor into a major part of your pre-deployment relationship.

It may manifest in a variety of ways. For me, it came in the form of frequent fights, where there hadn’t been any previously.

Deployment isn't as bad as the thought of not having Austin as a part of my life at all. The distance did take time for him to adjust at first...especially since he felt that being in a relationship means that it's not just himself involved. Austin has actually apologized to me for bringing me into that point I told him that I was a grown-up. I hadn't been kidnapped or brain-washed and I chose to be with him the same way he chose to be with me...there was nothing to apologize for. After a while, it finally sunk in, but on particularly low day, I still had to remind him. I've noticed most of them freak out and try to distance themselves at some point as deployments draw near.

Once they are gone, emotions will continue to run high and they may shift without even a moment’s notice. Austin and I tried to talk about all the things each of us was feeling even if we didn’t think the other person wanted to hear it. He was usually pretty open with me, but we had a code word for when something was up. If one of us said the phrase, “I’m fine” that was a red flag for a bigger problem. At one point early on, I asked him if he knew what “FINE” stood for. It’s been said the FINE is really an acronym:

F- freaked out
I- insecure
N- neurotic
E- emotional

And usually when someone uses the word it’s either to get people to not question further, or it’s the politically correct answer to use. Rarely are people “fine” when they claim to be. So, with that thought in mind, either of us uttering that phrase signaled a long discussion about what was really going on..

Stay tuned...there is soo much more where that came from. Maybe eventually I'll be able to illicit a response from ya'll.

Side note: Here's a little funny something i enjoyed today. :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

So you want to join the Silent Ranks?

There are a few traits you will need to be a military girlfriend/wife and retain at least some of your sanity. The last few days have put quite a bit of strain on my sanity, even with these things, so if I sound more cynical than usual, take it with a grain of salt. As intense as all this is, it's not all bad. The concessions are more than worth the rewards. None of us would be here if that weren't the case. Intense experiences bring about intense emotions and reactions...that's where this list comes from. I've said before that I wouldn't trade my relationship with Austin for anything in this world...that remains to be true; and I would be willing to bet the other girls feel the same.
  1. Patience and flexibility. I know that personally, patience is something I don’t have in large supply; though I have infinitely more now than I did three years ago when I first fell for Austin. Anyway, if a deployment is involved, there will be a lot of waiting in your future. If you're a hurry-up-and-get-my-life-settled kind of girl, I don't suggest a military relationship, because your life will no longer be your own. Then there's flexibility, which dovetails off of patience. We're not talking normal "oops, there's traffic, dinner will be an hour late" flexibility...I'm talking about, "honey, you know that trip we planned a year ago, that we're supposed to go on in two days, well, we're going to have to reschedule or you're going have to go alone because I won't be home." Big, life-changing flexibility is what being an army girlfriend is all about. 
  2. You also have to be independent and confident. Even if you aren't, you better learn to fake it. Being needy and insecure will not get you anywhere. Your soldier might be the sweetest, most considerate man; but when he is half a world away, he can't stroke your ego and fix your bad days. You have to be strong enough to withstand the creeps (sometimes otherwise nice guys) who will hit on you and attempt to convince you that you really want to be with them not a man who only calls once every other week. I think these guys have a homing beacon or something. You also have to be independent enough to attend parties, weddings, family gatherings and the like, alone. After a while, you'll learn to put on a brave face when constantly questioned about wasting your life on a man who isn't around.
  3. Communicate with your deployed soldier as often as you can, by whatever means are available. Write letters, send emails, utilize the phones whenever possible. Write down everything you think, everything you do, all of the mundane details of life. It keeps your soldier going, and in turn it will help you feel connected too. Work on open communication, don't pick fights even if you're in a bad mood. Work through whatever issues may arise, right then and never know when the next chance will be. Make sure that you verbalize the love you makes it more real to hear it when the one you love is so far away. Austin and I never once get off the phone without saying "I love you." It's not like we thought the other person had changed their mind if those words weren't said. It was more like saying, "I love you" helped get us through the time between calls.
  4. Be committed to the relationship. But be honest with yourself, if you aren't looking for a long-term relationship, don't pretend that you do. It doesn't help either of you to be anything less then forthright with the other. It broke my heart everytime I talked to some of my army buddies who had his heart broken by receiving a "Dear John" letter or finding out that his girlfriend was seeing other people because she wanted something more casual than he did. Most girls don't run around on their guys, but the few who do have given us a bad name, don't take it personally, just don't add to the perception. Go into a military relationship with your eyes as open as possible.
  5. Don't take it personally when your soldier puts on his "war face". They all have one, and when they put it on in front of you for the first time, it can be scary. I was very taken aback the first time I saw Austin put his on. He went from joking and laughing to serious, focused "Army Austin" in the space of a heartbeat. They have to have the war face to survive deployments, but it can be difficult to process and understand to see the man you love change so rapidly. Your man will withdraw at some point...he may appear cold and calculating where he was once warm and protective. The man you love will return, but you have to bear with the "Army man" to get there. He's doing what he has to in order to survive and return to you. So rather than getting upset and hurt, love him through it and remember that once he's gone, you'll be wearing your own "war face" to stay sane on this end.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's a beautiful day!

I am in such a good mood today!! Yeah it’s Thursday, nothing particularly exciting about that in and of itself…but I’m in a great mood anyway! Yeah, I have a crap ton of work on my desk…It’s consumed my entire morning and appears to be poised to take over the afternoon as well…but that’s ok.

I am genuinely happy today folks! There is no specific reason…I mean, the sun is shining, it’s a warm, gorgeous January almost February day in Northern Texas…and I was finally able to pull all my mini skirts out of storage (always a happy day for me, since it means spring is almost here). But, I’m inside at a desk, working on crap…so why am I so flippin’ happy? There is no rhyme or reason to it. I’m not manic nor am I giddy…I’m just flat out happy! Wow…maybe this is what normal feels like…any takers?

It’s more than a little odd that I would be this happy since I was awoken at 6:00 this morning. (I realize that many of you will feel no sympathy for me since I realize that in the scheme of the world 6:00 not early) Since I rarely get to sleep deeply before 4 am…then I cherish the morning hour sleep that I do get.

Well, either way, I will stop analyzing the cause and enjoy this moment of sun (both real and metaphoric).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My 4th Circle

Ok, so ya'll know that there are supposedly 9 circles of my own hell, at least two circles are occupied by Wal-mart. The 3rd circle is Wal-mart on a normal definition, Wal-mart is hell. It also comprises the fifth circle on weekends and payday. ;) Yes, I do know this from personal experience.

But the 4th circle is missing you say? Quite right...the fourth circle of my own personal hell is held by one solitary character:

I have become far more proficient in HTML code than I ever thought possible. Now, I won't pretend that i know a whole lot; but I do know enough to get by. Well, after posting almost 100 entries, I had to go back through and organize them. Not so difficult, but definitely time-consuming and labor intensive. Well, after about three hours of sorting and coding, i went back through to check all my links.

None of them they work a couple hours before when I tried; but now, nothing. What happened? I didn't moce any pages after I input the links...I checked the template again...still right...hmmm.

After hours of going through the entire template, one line at a time I realized what happened. Blogger had decided to "help" out my codes. After I had entered them, Blogger added an extra "/" to each and every link line. Frickin' frackin' Blogger. So then I got the distinct pleasure of going back through each and every link (for the 58th time) to remove the extra character.

So, the moral of this story is:
  1. Computers are a mean breed of machine sometimes.
  2. I hate HTML codes.
  3. Working hyperlinks are overrated.
  4. You can never be too careful when you live in the blogging ghetto.
  5. There is a fourth circle of hell, and it's populated by the /