My husband graduates basic next week. While many of the loved ones have struggled greatly with the separation, my husband has complimented me on my “incredible strength.” But I’m not strong; I just know how to occupy my time in a healthy manner!What type of loved one are you?The Worrier, The Crier, The Overdoer, The Social Media Fanatic, The Sulker, The Emotionless Robot, The Researcher???? Okay, my personality is definitely aligned with the overdoer and the researcher. I’m just a normal spouse who fits into a typical category, just like you. I would love to just write and tell all of you how I made it through having an SIT in basic training with relatively few emotional cuts and bruises.
- GET OUT THERE AND CROSS THE LINE: Step out of your comfort zone. Yes, I know it is super fun to sit in the corner at Panera Bread and stalk his company Facebook page (totally not talking from experience, haha), but that will never satisfy you. It may actually upset you even more because 1.) His company page is probably going to post very few things, 2.) Panera Bread alone is actually super depressing, and you’re probably sitting there, watching all the couples and cursing the day your SIT swore in, and 3.) It is just not a productive activity. You finally have some alone time, and, by golly, you are going to make the best of it!! What did I do to step out of my comfort zone??? I started mixed martial arts classes. Now, that was a huge leap out of my tiny, nonviolent comfort zone, but it’s something that tiny voice in my head had kept encouraging me to do for years. But I never would do it. I was too busy or tired. Not only has that provided me with group exercise (yay, endorphins!), but it has also created a tie between my experience and my SIT’s. It allowed him and I to feel connected through similar activities. C thinks it is amazing that I started MMA and is ecstatic to begin classes with me when he returns. He also said he hopes I can’t K.O. him. That last sentence was completely irrelevant; I just wanted to brag for a second, haha!
- Join a support page: I am not a frequent poster to my support page. I personally like to sit back, relax, and understand how amazing it is to be digitally tied to all these people overcoming the same struggle as you. Sit back and think about how huge the world is, but, at the same time, how many of your strings are crisscrossed with the strings of others. Sometimes the posts are super sad – missed phone calls or recycled SITs – but sometimes they are beautiful. Sometimes there are people in that group that you connect with so effortlessly that your life will never be the same. Sometimes there is a person who posts the most uplifting, incredibly things that you really need to read and absorb. Sometimes you can be that person for others. They make never know how much they affected you, but that string will always be there.
- Make the letters fun: There is no reason to feel like your letters need to be plain Jane. I am sure that your SIT would absolutely adore an unconventional letter. It will make their day and will give you something to look forward to. What new letter format can I think of today? The best part about these letters is the fill-in-the-blank and return letters. Not only are SITs short on personal time, these letters are also a great deal of fun and can add a deeper level of connection between you two. Contact me if you want any more details about the letter formats I have. Some of his favorite questions were, “If basic had a theme song, what would it be?” and “If you were an ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?” I didn’t stop at just fill-in-the-blanks; I would sit down and think, “What are our short-term goals? What is my SIT interested in doing? What is a common interest we share?” So I’d sit down and create anything from hand-copied hilarious memes off Twitter to house plans I personally drew with our future home in mind. He loved all the effort and personalization I put into the formats. He said it really encouraged him to know that I was still giving it 100% even while separated. So do something that lets your SIT know that you are, undoubtedly, thinking of them.
- Find out who your friends are: You’ve been through many obstacles with your friend group, I’m sure. But there’s something about having an absent loved one that really weeds out those friends. That is not to say that you won’t be friends with most of them anymore; rather, it’s saying that there will be one or two of these people that just stand out from the rest. There will be those few friendships that absolutely blossom during this time. Look out for those people. Those are some irreplaceable friends.
- Enjoy the little things: I honestly just had to throw this one in there – think about how much less laundry you have to do???? Isn’t that incredibly??? I went from 5 loads a week to like a half of one, haha! Clothes next to the hamper instead of inside it?? Solved. Spending an excessive amount of money to feed this huge dude?? How about investing that money instead!
- Document the moments: Take pictures or videos of events that you think your SIT would want you to share with them. I’m not talking the obvious moments, like babies being born. I’m talking everyday moments that unite you guys. For example, C and I had been on edge for months waiting to see what this new building could possibly be! There were rumors circulating that it might be a Starbucks, but, personally, I thought the building was shaped like an Aldi food market. So, I took a photo of exactly where I was sitting (the Braum’s drive thru) when I discovered that it was actually ANOTHER Verizon store. It was understandably a very melancholy day after that. But he is definitely going to laugh at me for that one.
- Focus on your goals: This is me. Focusing on my goal of counseling. It took two months for me to think of blogging my journey of becoming a counselor, but here I am. It’s my first day, and I have made like four posts already. These thoughts were just overflowing out of my brain. I am so glad I created this blog. I am so glad you’re here. I cannot wait to use this blog as a tool to help others and become a better counselor.