In April 2017, I drove to the Norfolk Naval Base in the early morning hours to drop my husband, of almost 11 years, off at the ship, for Deployment #4. To say it was a tearful goodbye would be a lie. You see, our marriage was shattered. You know I am candid with you all here, always have been. I won’t hide anything now. For the past 5 years, we have suffered. You hear stories of how military life isn’t easy, and it takes a strong man and woman to endure the lifestyle, and it’s true.
The move to Virginia, and the events that occurred almost within weeks of our arrival set forth a domino effect that, in April 2017 had us gasping for air and barely hanging on. The night before wasn’t filled with cuddles and love, but silence. Neither of us knew what the next 6-7 months would bring us, we could only hope that the saying, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder,” would give us what we needed to begin looking forward together again.
Writing took hold of me and I’ve said many times how much it saved my life. There were so many instances during the deployment, which ended up being 8 months instead of 6-7, that had me in a very dark place. If it weren’t for the incredible writing community and the idea that I could make writing a much bigger part of my life, I don’t know where I’d be right now. A few nights I broke down and considered calling my in-laws and asking them to come take the kids as I eyed a full bottle of Ibuprofin. I can’t be ashamed to admit that now, nor should I ever be made to feel bad about that.
I wasn’t the only one feeling like the dark cloud looming over us was closing in with its long, pointy tendrils reaching out to choke us; the hubby felt it too. I asked him a few questions when he arrived home, specifically for this blog post. Here’s the mini-interview I did with my husband:
- What thoughts went through your mind the day you deployed? There was a lot of things going through my mind that day. Everything from wondering if I forgot to pack anything to wishing I had more time with you and the kids. Then there was the part of saying goodbyes in the parking lot. I wish I would have asked you to come down to the pier and see us off instead of just saying goodbye at the car. That made it kind of hard when we actually went to leave and not having you and the kids on the pier. I spent a lot of time wondering how things were going to work out with us. Especially since we didn’t get much of a chance to work on things and then I had to leave.
- Other than leaving behind family, what is one thing you struggled with this deployment? I struggled with wondering what would happen to us when I did finally return home. Having to leave like that with everything unresolved like it was made knowing how long I was going to be gone really hard. Along with that, the job at hand was on my mind as well. Like any job, it’s all about the people you work with. They can either make the place great or miserable. Without saying any specifics that I’m not allowed to say, this deployment had me concerned, before we even left, with knowing what location we were going to. The earlier deployments weren’t concerning because it was like we were just going out there, doing a job, and coming home. This one was different due to the mission at hand.
- Describe your emotions when you saw each of your loved ones. What were your fears before you saw them? It was like excitement and kind of like fear at the same time. Walking down the pier, all you said was that you were wearing black and red. So once I got close to where you said you were waiting, I was really starting to wonder if I would recognize you. After 8 months, yeah we’ve sent each other pictures and what not, but still the memory of your face and what you look like felt so faded. Then there’s the hoping that you’re going to be as excited to see me as I am to see you. I know we spoke about it a lot through e-mail and on the phone. But with how we left each other all those months ago, it’s like you never really know until you’re right there in front of each other again. When I saw you, waiting at the end of the pier, it’s like all those fears were finally able to melt away. The look on your face told me everything I needed to know.
With Keira and Tobias, it was a bit different. I know they both missed me a lot. Tobias never really showed it or said anything until closer to the end of the deployment. I kind of knew Keira wouldn’t show the excitement that you were hoping her to show when she saw me. She is like me in that aspect I guess, it’s like we have a hard time showing excitement. But it was so amazing being able to surprise her at school! Tobias, I really wasn’t sure how he was going to react. But it was really nice when he ran up to me and after I picked him up, he just laid his head on my shoulder holding me, not wanting to let go.
For me, the turning point of things was when I took a solo trip to NYC. It was the weekend that marked a year since our marriage took its biggest hit and all our issues were tossed on the table, and I didn’t want to be sitting at home dwelling on it. It was my first trip to NYC and I was 100% alone. Friday night found me with stars in my eyes, but it left me stripped, feeling used, and raw. It was just the wakeup call I needed. Saturday, I ventured out and attempted to enjoy myself, but felt so alone. I missed my kids and for the first time in many months, I missed my husband. When I arrived home and collected the kids from the sitter, I spent a week back under a dark cloud. I turned into my mind and came out with a whole new outlook.
Marriage is tough. I’m not one who says, and actually despise those who say certain aspects are tougher than others. Military marriages are extremely difficult. There’s a whole book I could write on that topic, but at the end of the day, all relationships take work. They take appreciation for the other person. Andrew and I still have work to do, but we’re so optimistic for the future that the work needed is nothing compared to the outlook that lies ahead.
Happy Holidays Everyone!