I posted a picture last week of this guy (for those of who you don’t know me, that’s my hilarious & hot boyfriend):
Normally not a big deal, but what most people don’t know is that he just returned from a 6 month deployment to the Middle East. Sometimes deployments are portrayed as something of a romantic notion; the soldier goes away and those left behind pine for him until he makes his triumphant return.
Great. Except that they always gloss over the every day life that we deal with by ourselves. Remembering to pay the bills. When was the last time I did laundry? Have I vacuumed at all this month?
I’m here to dispel the notions about deployments. Hollywood has lied to you. There is nothing romantic about watching your best friend walk away from you at the airport gate. Nothing about sleeping alone for 6 months. Nothing about coming home to a dark and empty house, night after night. There is nothing romantic about be able to talk to your loved ones sporadically, worrying everyday about their safety.
Grocery shopping can be done almost monthly. The laundry gets put off as long as possible. Sometimes dinner is a box of macaroni and cheese and the dishes stay in the sink for two days. Spiders are trapped under jars. The novelty of being able to not worry about anyone other than yourself and stay up late and go out with your friends wears off.
There were so many time where I found myself wanting more than ever for him to be home: when his 9 month old nephew giggled; when it was a lazy Sunday and I wanted someone to drive around with; when I had a bad day. He wasn’t here to partake in my joys nor my sorrows.
Let me repeat: deployments are romanticized. The homecomings are amazing and worth the wait, but the leaving, the first day, the first week, the first month, they all suck. Don’t forget the middle. Don’t forget that you’ll only be able to see your loved one through pictures. You’ll find yourself hungry for snippets of their daily lives. You’ll worry daily about them. Your days will start to blend together, until one day, you realize that you’ve established a new routine that doesn’t involve anyone else.
It’s hard, but there are some sweet moments. Receiving a text that tells you how much they love and miss and appreciate you. Being asked to Skype because they miss seeing you. Talking; really talking about everything and nothing at the same time. These are the things that keep you going when you think that you can’t do it any longer.
You’ll learn things you never knew about yourself while you’re alone for so long. You’ll find that you really are incapable of killing spiders. You’ll learn you can reupholster a couch by yourself. You’ll find yourself driving around and finding small back roads that beg for exploring. You’ll learn how to be alone & do things by yourself. I traveled by myself, went on dates alone, & I even learned how to jump my car battery (I mean, I had him on the phone with me, but still).
Deployments suck. You’ll never find someone who enjoys them. I’ve struggled the last few months with a myriad of emotions that have thrown me around. This isn’t an excuse to why why I’ve been scatterbrained and forgetting to post, and blahbitty blah blah, but real life happens. Deployments happen.
Homecoming is so sweet; seeing him walk down the stairs at Logan made every sleepless night and anxiety attack worth it. It was like a dream being able to hug him for the first time in 6 months. Now the fact that he is just a phone call away from me is still so amazing. I wake up every day thankful that he’s home and safe. Transitioning is tough, but so worth seeing him every single morning.
If you know someone who is dealing with a deployment, offer an ear. A free dinner. A movie night. Even letting them know that you’re around if needed is the biggest thing that you can do. Trust me on this one.
(PS: that last shot? Taken the day after he came home, with my camera precariously perched on the hood of his truck and the self timer!)