Today. It’s 12:17 A.M. And today is the day I get to see my husband for the first time in 2 1/2 months. TODAY. Sometimes it was hard. Sometimes it was gut-wrenchingly hard. And other times, it’s almost as if he was right there with me. I can’t believe 10 1/2 weeks passed so quickly. I can’t believe everything that has happened over the course of just a couple months. This wasn’t the life I chose. I told myself and told him millions of times that the military lifestyle was not one I was willing to live. I prayed against it and deeply struggled with his yearning for this career path. I didn’t choose this, but that does not mean I will put any less effort into it. I don’t easily let others take the reins of my life. But after four years, I finally did. It took me four years to trust, love, and open up enough to face my biggest fear. It took him four years to break those walls and lasso the fears that no one else could penetrate in 22 years. So, he chose it for me, and I could not love him more for it. Everyday I have found myself adapting healthier coping strategies and absolutely blossoming under the pressure of separation. I spent my existence terrified of this life. He spent four years trying to convince me of its highlights. I was paralyzed with fear for what this meant for our relationship and my mental health, but he knew me. He knew I would excel at this life. He knew I would overcome anything thrown at us without so much as a flinch. The financial responsibility – I got it. The emotionally-taxing decisions to be made – I’ve made them. He knew my capabilities better than I did. He knew the pressure on a military wife would only inspire me to succeed. He knew me better than I knew myself, and it took four years for me to realize this and relinquish the control onto which I so unhealthy grasped. And so I’m feeling thankful today. Undoubtedly, I am one very lucky lady. I am grateful that I have a partner that sees my potential when I’m blinded by mental blockades. Today, I get to see my husband, and I can’t wait for him to explore the newly-acquired depths of maturity, responsibility, and selfless love I now possess. I love you, C. 💕
This post is from my experience with having a spouse in basic training; however, that does not mean that this post is solely for milsos. We will all face loneliness at one point or another, whether it stems from a break up, relocation, death, or falsely perceived loneliness stemming from mental illness. I have experienced loneliness from all these items. But, at present, I am not lonely. My husband is at basic, but I do not feel “loneliness.”
Being alone has pros and cons. We can’t always equate “being alone” with melancholy and exile. There’s a very fine line of social interaction that we walk every single day. Maybe your walk is straying a little to the right or left – that is okay. There are so many different ways to think about loneliness. Let’s explore:
During my undergraduate career, I took a class literally titled “Loneliness.” It was an upper-division elective for my psychology degree. It was on a Saturday in the middle of summer. It happened to be my birthday. And nothing against Mr. R – he was super rad with his disco music and oral cancer candy – but I don’t think that human loneliness can be fully explicated during one Saturday from 8-4:30. We learned that loneliness can be the cause for so many mental health issues. We demonized loneliness until an impartial view of “being alone” was impossible. Addiction? They’re lonely. Depression? They’re lonely. But I really think that being alone needs to be starkly separated from the feeling of loneliness. The linguistic roots of the words are the same, but our evolved human brains have complexified (that’s not a word) to a much more intricate level than just linguistic associations.
Being alone has value in self-care. And not “assigned value” by society; it actually has inherent value all by itself. Being alone – and learning to delve into the self exploration that this breaks open – that is an acquired trait. That is a learned trait. Actually soaking up all the usefulness of being alone is not something that will ever be accomplished in a day, but it is also something that can never be accomplished without you. You, in all of your naked and vulnerable states, are the sole key part to making the most of being alone. You.
Being alone serves so many purposes. It is not a proponent of addiction or depression; misunderstanding the role of being alone is the proponent of mental illness. I want you to know that there is a huge variety of benefits you can obtain from being alone: self-exploration, uncovering passions, solving problems, etc… Counseling is my passion. The urge to assist others with their problems came out of one of the loneliest times in my life. Now I can look back at tell you that all that time I spent feeling miserably lonely, I was undeniably confused about what was happening in my future life path. I could not fully comprehend what all the mechanisms that were working and gears that were turning in tandem until many years later. I spent a lot of time as a teenager feeling utterly abandoned because of some (un?)fortunate circumstances. I overcame those. During that time, I could not see the innerworkings of my personal passions becoming solidified. But I see it now.
It took me quite a few years to get back to a completely healthy place. When I am alone, I am not lonely. My husband is gone, but I am not lonely. My grandmother has passed away, but I am not lonely. My mother-in-law was taken much to soon, but I am not lonely. I have simply reached a portion of my individual journey where great happenings are bubbling up inside me. I have just reached a stretch of my life where C & I have emotionally united goals that we are striving toward. I have reached a point in my life where my grandmother & I are separately working toward our goal of creating a legacy. My mother-in-law & I are still, undeniably, working together on our united goal of C’s well being. I am not lonely. You are not lonely. What shared goals are you still working toward? What activities do you feel help you get in tune with yourself? Why do you think we demonize being alone?
Good morning sunshynes! If you have a soldier in training (SIT) then THIS is one of many posts created just for you. You could be anywhere across the loved one spectrum – a spouse, mother, father, significant other, or even a friend – and this article would still be written for you, specifically, in mind. I am here to enlighten you about just how special you are and how crucial of a role you play in your SIT’s success. Separation is indescribably difficult, but it is genuinely just a game of “divide, yet conquer.” The age old phrase – tweaked ever so slightly – and given new, more relevant meaning. In case it is too difficult for you to see this separation as a “divide and conquer” scenario – where both you and your SIT are separate players with their own objectives and game plans – let’s try a different viewpoint: “divide, yet conquer.” While “divide and conquer” implies that the separation of you two is necessary to your success, “divide, yet conquer” implies the separation is an obstacle or barrier between you and your loved one that you will undoubtedly rise above and conquer. In spite of, not because of, this separation, you and your SIT’s united goals, dreams, and relationship will continue to be realized. The separation is not a necessary component to the reaching of your goals – that would allow it to have too much power. The separation is an obstacle, in spite of which, you and your SIT will succeed. You both will have your time to “shyne” because of the time, effort, and love you have devoted to one another, not because of the “mystical” powers of separation. “Separation makes the heart grow fonder” is an age old hoax. A hardy combination of devotion, shared viewpoints and goals, unconditional love, and effort, in every situation, is what makes the heart grow fonder. Isn’t it a much better feeling to overcome together rather than to believe a separate arrival is necessary?
With that being said, self-care is immensely important to the success of the relationship. It has been heartbreaking at times to have my husband gone. I will never once utter the phrase, “Separation makes the heart grow fonder,” because that is not what has gotten C and I to where we are today. A devotion to us, an emphasis on we, and a plan for our future has helped us to arrive at our current destination. Together, we have overcome so many unfortunate happenings in our young life: the sudden death of a parent at age 17, a hard battle with mental illness, financial hardship, and family struggles. But I am here to say that I am still strong, we are still strong, in spite of these hardships, not because of them. I refuse to give power to inanimate obstacles. I refuse to give us less credit than we have earned. I refuse to believe that any hardship has led us to accomplish any of our goals. I will hold fast to the knowledge that him and I have built this love; him and I have mortared the bricks, dug the moat, and fastened the drawbridge to our castle, in spite of these obstacles. You are still strong; they are still strong. The construction of a healthy and deeply meaningful relationship with your SIT can never be accomplished by just you or just them. Together, you are a united front that must accomplish all of this together. Do not give up; do not feel alone. Do not feel that the job you are doing at home is somehow less important. It should be difficult to question your worth when you finally understand that you are united in success.
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.