For me, the goodbye was not the hard part (it was the awkward, wait, is this the last time we can chat, for reals this time? because they said that last time, part); the hard part was driving away from him. After years of bus rides, car trips and flights to go see Kyle, seeing him off and having him go somewhere I couldn't visit was gut wrenching. I felt so lost walking back to the car, so alone in the big state of Texas. Driving away from him at such a time was so unnatural, but that's all I could do. And then I drove for two days by myself to get back to Pennsylvania. And, seven months later, drove back down to meet him.
I am ok on my own. I don't prefer it that way at all, but what a valuable thing to know about yourself.
Keep busy, but slow down every once in a while. Keeping busy doesn't fill the gap or adequately make up for anything, but it helps to gloss over the fact that a gap is there, and keeps your mind in a productive state rather than a destructive one.
Pets are really your best friends. I highly recommend them.
Cooking for one is not super inspired. Lots of frozen vegetables, yogurt, and being really glad that you eat at work where you cook for a bunch of others.
There is a lot that you have to do on your own, which sucks when you're figuring it out, driving hundreds of miles on your own, finding a house by yourself, but it forces you to learn essential life skills that you only get from living them, so keep that in mind. You will be a great asset to yourself and your family.
Take advantage of the time to yourself. Focus on self improvement. Do something you might not normally do. Add something to your routine. Find a new hobby. There will probably be times in the future when all you want is a day or an afternoon to yourself, so take advantage of your alone time now. You will probably feel you should be thinking of him at all times, and you will be, but work some time in there to think about you, too.
Don't put your life on hold. The most simple and least "heavy" example I have of this is with your tv shows. There were a couple that I didn't watch, saving to watch later with Kyle because it would be more fun together, or simply because "if he can't then I shouldn't" (which is not the way to think. more on that next). But go ahead and watch your shows. Meet new people, celebrate holidays and the passing of seasons. Don't waste the year. Save things to do with him, certainly, but save a particular recipe to make later with him, don't give up eating altogether (for an extreme example. You get the idea. I didn't stop eating or anything).
This leads me to my next point:
Dont torture yourself. This took awhile for me to figure out, and the guilt started the day he left. I checked into a nice (not shady. name brand. well lit. fake eggs for breakfast dealio) hotel for the night, cried and cried and cried, and felt bad, guilty because, where would Kyle be sleeping for the next several months to a year? Not a nice hotel. Not a comfy bed with 18 pillows. I was certainly in the mentality that for all the unpleasantries and tough times Kyle was surely experiencing, I should have some misery too. Kyle doesn't get to hang out with friends, I shouldn't get to see friends. I shouldn't have down time. Pretty sure there's no real down time when you're at war. I should work work work and no play (I like work, so that's OK for me, but we all need at least a little fun and relaxation). I shouldn't complain (thats a big one); I mean, he's at war in the desert, stuck in close quarters with a bunch of dudes and their smelly farts (tmi?). Yes, his circumstances are not ideal, but it is true when they say a whole family experiences deployment, suffers through it. You're hurting enough, worried enough, going without enough as it is. Don't feel you need to restrict yourself further. Intentional or not, self-pain and withholding is not a healthy coping mechanism. Treat yourself well, because it is your deployment too, and you need to come out of it healthy and well, just as you need your soldier to.
He really loves me. I don't believe that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it may make you both more inclined to let the other know just how fond you are of them.
I really mostly dislike any of those military deployment encouraging images floating around Pinterest and internet land. I don't like that they give off a sense of superiority. You're not superior because you love someone and they love you and they have a tough job that keeps you apart sometimes. You're lucky. Just not my thing, but I know everyone handles a situation differently and finds comfort and meaning in different places. I am proud of my husband; I loved him before the military and I will love him after. I will never disparage someone else just because their significant other is not in the military. That makes no sense to me, and it's simply not cool. Sure, I think my husband is the best around; every wife should think that.
|this is what I mean. not cool.|
Let yourself be angry. At him. At life. Don't always suppress it. Don't let resentment build. If you're angry, just be angry. You know you agreed to this, that you married him, that this was going to happen, that you love him and wouldn't give him up to save yourself a few painful months or years, to have a different life. So let yourself be angry, and then you won't be anymore. It's all good.
To be everyday thankful for the person you are sharing your life with. When they're back, to not nag too much (but nag you really sometimes must, because how else is all that Army crap going to get picked up and put away?). To smile. To know you can probably make it through anything, because you made it through being so very far apart, together.
Don't expect being together to be all roses and sunshine, just because you are back together. It is wonderful, and you certainly don't take it for granted, but being together presents a whole other slew of challenges. Frustrations will come up in any relationship, no matter who or where you are (though the military really brings frustration to a whole new level and consistency, I am certain). It's not being together that makes a relationship work, it's working together.