We Did It…
We officially made it through that first call.
I have a flair for the slightly dramatic but I’m not kidding when I tell you all my stomach completely dropped out of my body when I saw that I had missed Matt’s first call from port.
I called him back as soon as I could but then realized with a quick Google search that it was anywhere between 3am and 5am where I thought he was. So I waited… and waited… I mean how long can a guy who has been waking up so early really sleep in?!? (The answer is a LONG TIME!)
I paced, I stress cleaned, I actually wrote down a list of things to talk about in case I couldn’t think of anything (I mean… probably a little overkill, I’m just talking to my boyfriend here) but that anxious feeling was real.
When you’re so connected with someone before they deploy, you make due and get used to your new normal but it never compares to having that person along by your side each and every day. The occasional email just isn’t the same as a hand squeeze while walking down the sidewalk, that look he gives you at dinner over his wine glass, or the rise & fall of his chest as you’re cuddling on the couch watching television.
I finally gave up and sent a quick “wake up… wake up” text but then it was back to the waiting game. When Matt finally (I mean this ordeal took maybe five hours total but like I said… #dramaticmuch) did call,
I have never heard a better “hey babe” in my entire life.
We quickly recapped the emails we had sent back and forth. I caught him up to speed on my Mattless routine and progress I was making on my goals. We tried to get the dog to Facetime but he was too cool for anyone and not interested. We checked in on our relationship, talked about some emotions for 47 seconds (that was plenty for Matt), and just spent some time “being” together.
It felt so familiar and yet at the same time there were definitely little pauses and parts of the conversation that weren’t flowing like what I knew our relationship to be. Let me tell you this though, I’m not sweating it at all. I refuse to let it mean anything more than we just haven’t talked face to face or on the phone in awhile.
It would be so easy to read into it, to let that little anxious voice creep up & take over. It would be easy to completely get into my head and say, “I can’t believe he didn’t call me the very first second possible… Doesn’t he miss me?” or “Why is he not sharing as much as I am?” but let me tell you who wins when insecurity & anxious thoughts take over…. No one.
The reality of it is, I’m willing to bet I know Matt better than anyone on the face of this earth and I know he misses me. I also know he was probably so excited to take a break and be with this team “off the clock” and that he called me as soon as things settled in and he had a minute. I know due to the nature of his job he doesn’t have that much that he’s allowed to tell me and he probably doesn’t want to talk about pizza from the chow hall & his gym routine anymore. I know he loves me and he does everything in his power to let me know it each and every day even during deployment. I also knows he needs his sleep (ha!) and at the end of the day, that he needed & wanted our conversation just as much as I did.
Ya Feel Me?
I also know though that I’m not alone in my feelings. Deployment can be an isolating experience for the spouse or partner left behind. Your friends just don’t get it and even if it’s not your first deployment, they all come with unique challenges and differences. Depending on your partner’s specific job, the location of their deployment, or even just what’s going in the world – communication can be extremely limited at best and although you know it has absolutely nothing to do with you… it’s hard to remain strong and keep negative thoughts at bay.
The good news is, technology and social media make it easier than ever to find your support network and really confide in people that are going through the same thing as you. I’m lucky enough that Matt’s deployment has some FB groups that a few spouses made for us to connect & support each other.
I will say this though, on the same hand that FB connects us all, it’s also really easy to fall back into that disappointment trap when you see that others are getting phone calls or letters or hearing from their partner often. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bummed sometimes when people with innocent intentions post about how their spouse called at the perfect time and it brightened their day. I’m definitely happy for them and so excited because I know what it’s like to need that call. I also know that there are a million practical & operational forces at bay that are way bigger than just me or my partner and that the amount of love Matt has for me does not depend on the number of calls or emails I get. I just sometimes have to take a deep breath in and remind myself.
I started blogging so much about my personal journey with deployment to connect, support, and inspire others who are going through the same thing (or will in the future). This is my first deployment and really first experience with the military & I’m no seasoned vet (but I am so punny) by any means but if my journey helps anyone else figure out how to better navigate this new and different lifestyle, it’s worth it.
Life is lived best in community and although your other half may be half way around the world, know that you always have a home & support system here. My inbox is always ready if you want to chat, ask a question, or submit a topic for a future blog post. I’d love to meet you and learn a little bit more about your journey (while practicing OPSEC) so please introduce yourself in the comments below.