Packing Tape, Panic Attacks, and Pelvic Exams

Wow… that’s a title, huh? I love alliteration, always have and always will. Also – you clicked, didn’t you? So it worked on you ūüėČ

Let’s just go ahead and say that the last two months – not my favorite. January 2016; you laid me out… and then February; you kicked me while I was down. It’s looking like March will have some positives, but may end up being that kid that goes to high five you and ends up pulling their hand away, saying ‘too slow!’ Cynical, yes? But really – when March 2016 rolls through, I will breathe a sigh of relief.

So, I already know that I have *bombed* one of my resolutions – blogging every week. I know why I haven’t. I know that it’s probably going to be a challenge all year long; I hate being open and telling people how I feel and what’s going on in my life.

The fact that I actually feel like God is telling me to be open and vulnerable doesn’t really make me want to do it, either. It feels like a whole lotta pressure. Which, let’s be real, I’m perfectly capable of putting on myself anyway.

However, I did have two Mil So’s from a website I frequent tell me that they loved getting to read what I post, and that they miss me when I don’t. I am not saying that it motivated me more than knowing God has put it onto my heart (for whatever reason) to share my story and be open with my people (online and otherwise). But I do absolutely believe he had so many people mention to me that I start blogging again and ask about it for a reason. I have yet to figure it out yet, but hey, maybe that’s not the point.

I went into 2016 thinking it would have its challenges but I was kind of hoping that they would be a little spread out. Now, I’m hoping that maybe God is just setting me up to have a slower end of the year? Truthfully I have no idea, but with everything going on I can only hope that’s what’s happening.

J and I are moving – gotta keep up my one move a year average that I’ve had going since I turned 18. Nope – that’s not an exaggeration. The difference is that I’m now moving two people, on a time crunch. It’s not my favorite. I have a system that has helped me in the past, but truthfully I’ve never really appreciated how difficult it is to organize a full household into boxes, and coordinate them into storage. Props to my mama who did it not only as a soldier, but wrangling three kids and with a deployed husband!

Really, moving is the smallest thing we have going on, But, when you have boxes on boxes on boxes of stuff around your living room, it makes the apartment walls feel like they are actually closing in on you, and adds that nice little extra added bit of anxiety. I read somewhere that moving rates in as one of the most stressful experiences a human being can go through. While I think that it’s definitely not as high on the list as some others – I feel like the reason a move is so stressful is that it disrupts all of the normal routines that you have going on in the first place, then adds so many little extra ‘to do’s’ that are so easy to forget until they become urgent. The move itself isn’t necessarily stressful – its the way that it impacts your normalcy that makes the stress so pervasive.

… And speaking of pervasive… (sorry – I had to.)

Truthfully, the thing that is keeping my brain completely occupied these days is the journey J and I have been on for the last 16 months to try to get pregnant. (TTC for those of you not spending late nights googling different things about this process.) If I’m being honest with myself, this is probably the reason that I don’t want to blog. Those of you who have gone through the process know – it sucks. It’s painful. (For those of you in doubt – go Google what an HSG is.)

It’s exhausting. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. You name a part of your life, and infertility affects it. Marriage? Yep- duh. Timing your “intimate time” is not sexy, guys. Walking into your husband’s study month after month (after month after month) and telling him in tears that nope – this month isn’t our month either. It’s trying and painful in a way that few people really ‘get’ and can understand. You feel like a failure as a wife, and even as a woman – this is so easy for apparently everyone else, but even though you’re healthy, eating correctly, working out, and financially responsible, nope – no babies for you. (But as SOON as you start going to a fertility clinic and really start recognizing that the ‘i’ word applies to you – everyone you know will get pregnant. At once. It will suck.) Finances? Yeah those are taking a hit. Apparently infertility is not something covered by insurance (in most cases). So – start pausing those dreams of vacations and home buying – you’ve got tests and painful procedures to pay for. Your job? Yeah – it’s gonna be a distraction from everything work related. Especially when you have to schedule around appointments and cycle days. Actual physical health – heck yeah. Every cold you’ve never wanted will come at your stress-weakened immune system.

If you’re hearing that bitterness – it’s a daily struggle not to have it come flying out at people. Possibly (probably) because I’ve been stuffing all these feelings down and just simply not talking about them.

At that point, it’s not surprising that the panic attacks I’ve been experiencing are frequent, and exhausting. Bitterness and panic attacks are things I have struggled with in the past, and in those moments (or months) where I need to lean into my community and my husband and my relationship with God the most, panic attacks and a bitter spirit act as an essential roadblock. Maybe even a wall. With concertina wire and an electric current.

For anyone who knows me – this is a pattern I find so hard to get out of. Bitterness and anxiety can just wrap around me and pull me down into this gross, yucky place. I can’t hear God clearly through the muck, and through my actions to be a ‘people pleaser’ and my desire to basically only allow people to see the ‘yes girl’ and the positives, I just distance myself further and further and further away from those people I really¬†need to have in my life.

So. I don’t blog. I don’t write. And, in the past it’s taken a pretty jarring shock to the system to get me to even recognize that this gross spiral is happening. This time – I had some pretty compassionate people just speak into my life – specifically against bitterness and it was almost like getting thrown a life preserver. I have some wonderful wonderful women in my life, but there are a handful that I really truly believe were given the gift of compassion in a way that I’ve never seen before.

This post really doesn’t have some neat little bow or kitschy phrase to tie it all up together to end nicely. It’s rambling. And depressing, and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to most people – but if just *one* person reads this and says ‘me, too’ then I’ve done what I set out to do.

On Letting The Terrorists Win

Okay, so J told me that I shouldn’t start this post with an apology, like I normally would. But, I feel like the reason I stopped working on my blog merits an apology more than just, “Oh, I’ve just been busy.”

You see, I have actually been busy. Being married, learning to roll with the rhythms of J’s new schools, has kept me on my toes, in a major way. But, I still could have written. Nope, the reason I stopped writing – the main reason – is because I have been scared. Very, very scared.

As is the norm in the world these days, there is a new Big Bad for everyone to worry about. If you’ve been away from the internet, television, and radio, you may not have heard about the rise of the newest terrorist organization, ISIS. There are a lot of different ways this group has pulled the spotlight onto themselves – all equally terrifying, and horrible. But the one that has kept me away from my keyboard, is their open desire to cause harm to soldiers and their families.

Of course, that isn’t a new idea. For as long as America has had a military presence overseas, there has been animosity, and open dislike. But this has felt different. This group has been seeking media attention to broadcast their intentions to ‘slaughter’ military families, and to encourage their sympathizers that are here in the country to do the same. They’ve sought out military significant others, and military kids to frighten them into retreat, and into silence.

And I’m ashamed to say that it worked. I haven’t even wanted to think about posting. Purely out of fear. Fear has been one of the fastest ways to instantly shut me down, and cause me to become totally paralyzed. When I went through my discipleship and spiritual warfare class two years ago, I learned in painful detail that the enemy will use whatever means necessary to make you feel like less of a person. For me, that’s fear, I’ve struggled with being afraid (of everything) for a very long time.

So, I looked at all my ties to the military, and decided to be proactive. I changed privacy settings due to some suspicious friend requests, locked down my Facebook and Instagram, and stopped writing. I even stopped wanting to comment or post to my friends pages and photos. In short, I panicked…

Then, I got pissed. Truly, seriously angry. More horrible videos, more hacked websites, more disgusting language, and more threats toward military members, their spouses, and their kids. We scrubbed Facebook a little more, told people to take down pictures of soldiers in uniform, and were told not to allow people to know about our military ties. And with each deleted picture, and each outing where I was completely stressed, but trying to appear alert and ‘normal,’ I got a little more pissed off.

Not mad enough to ignore the ‘rules,’ but mad enough to learn more about this ‘new’ enemy. The thing that struck me the most, is their use of fear as their primary weapon – really their only weapon. Terrorism is defined as ‘the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.‘ They use fear to frighten and force people into not making ¬†stand – by doing so, they try to take their voice away. But onl, if you willingly hand it over, It’s bullying on a massive scale.

When I was in high school. I allowed this group of older girls to bully me. They were really just not very nice people, who took pride in pushing the new little freshman around. Even going so far as to stand at the fence while I was cheerleading – to tell me in front of a few hundred people (for all of them to hear) that I was fat, a loser, had frizzy hair, etc. Did I mention that they weren’t nice people? I was terrified of them, and had to steel myself up to even go to school the next week. Yes, I did just compare bullying, terrible, high school girls to terrorists. What I should have done is punched the most vocal of them in the face, or at least gone about my business and told them to grow up. But I didn’t. I handed them my voice, without even really realizing it.

Now, if you read that, I just said to punch a terrorist organization in the face. What I am actually saying, in all seriousness, is ‘don’t let the terrorists win.’ Yes, I’ve been wanting to say that, unironically, my whole adult life. Don’t give them your voice.

Fear in and of itself, is not inherently a bad thing. I’m serious – being afraid is a necessary sensation, It alerts you to a dangerous situation, it can keep you alive, if you know when to listen to it, and how to act. I myself have pointed out that the cost of security is suspicion – fears more reactive sister. Fear is what leads to rules that are actually put in place for safety – and are truly smart to follow. But it can also keep you from actually living, if you allow it. Awareness for PERSEC becomes a refusal to go out to the grocery store on your own. You may be a live, but you’re not actually living.¬†

For reasons I may never understand, God created me to have a need for writing in my life, in order to keep myself sane, and to hear Him. I also believe that He would never, ever want one of His kids to silence a gift he’s given them. So, I’m going to use my voice, and this gift and passion he’s instilled in me. Because I’ll be damned if I’m handing my voice over to someone who wants me to feel alone, to another bully.

A Sheepdog Wife Safety Brief

Less than a month, guys… less than a MONTH! If I weren’t laying down, covered in blankets, I could seriously jump up and down with joy (and maybe a little anxiety…)

I can’t believe I’ve been here for two months! Or that the wedding is so close… It’s like all the waiting that we did together is finally coming to an end. And I could not be happier, honestly. I’ve loved the wedding planning… Kinda… Actually, no it’s been really stressful and I’m just happy that the planning part is almost over.

But, I don’t want to talk about that… I barely even want to talk about how Bravo is working so good on being potty trained, and knows ‘sit’ ‘stay’ ‘fetch’ and comes when he’s called (most of the time). We still have a little bit that we need to work on.

What I really want to talk about right now is OPSEC/PERSEC. I know… Not exactly the most exciting topic in the world – but one that really needs to be discussed right now. The current threat of ISIS against military members and their families is very real. And truthfully, after more than a decade of war coming to a close, people have gotten relaxed in their vigilance… This has unfortunately lead to many people being unnecessarily put into danger, and has even caused people to lose their lives. This is desperately important, people.¬†So, to make this a teeny bit less boring, I bring to you; The Rules Of OPSEC/PERSEC With Borderline Creepy, Slightly Politically Incorrect WWII Propaganda Posters.

So; to start. What the heck is OPSEC/PERSEC? OPSEC stands for Operational Security – the things you do/don’t do to keep operations (big and small, over seas and stateside) confidential, safe, and functional. Secure.¬†

PERSEC stands for Personal Security. As with OPSEC, this is pretty self explanatory when you think about it – what you do/don’t do in order to keep your soldier and your family (and yourself!) safe.¬†

The unfortunate thing with the military’s need for efficiency, is that the use of acronyms makes it feel like this is only something the military should have to deal with. However, it really is something that EVERYONE should be thinking about.¬†

Don’t discuss troop movements.¬†

I’m sure you just thought “well, duh.” If that’s true, good for you. For a lot of people, the first level of this is easy. Don’t go around telling people the exact spot your soldier’s unit is going.¬†

That’s a good start. But it goes SO much deeper than that.¬†

No dates. No times. No locations. If in one post you say “my soldier leaves tomorrow. #sobummed” and then a day later “he made it to Texas. Next stop, Kandahar!” You’ve just given anyone with an internet connection the ability to find and locate not only your soldier but other people’s loved ones as well.¬†

The same goes for home comings. A soldier gets news he’s coming home in 2 weeks. He tells his wife. His wife tells Facebook. The soldiers bosses get wind of the security leak – and push the homecoming back another month. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard of this happening. Just because they are coming home doesn’t mean you get to relax.

The same goes for your own personal security. Don’t tell people travel dates, times, locations, whatever. A good rule to follow is that you can say where you were, but you can’t say where you’re going. Because as morbid and creepy as this picture of this sailor is – is also very true. ¬†Just don’t talk about troop movements or personal travel, guys.

Don’t post personal information.

I showed you how easy it really is to put together the puzzle of information that people lay out on the internet.

This goes for personal information as well. And nowhere is the puzzle laid out more clearly than on social media. 

Pictures, location services, your first and last name, the pages you ‘like,’ statuses, current unit patches. These are glaringly easy to put together. And from that, a simple internet search can bring up your home address!

With the current global climate being slightly… er, unstable? It’s really just a smart idea to remove those pictures and things and make sure that your profile is private.¬†

Don’t disclose people’s units and names (last names especially) .¬†

There are only so many people in the military. When you narrow it down to a single unit, you make the job for someone hunting information that much easier. 

The tricky thing about this is that there are units you aren’t even supposed to say your SO is attached to, due to security concerns, or the sizes of the units – smaller units mean an even more narrow-ed down target. If you have a SO or loved who is in a covert/secret ops unit (Special Forces, SEAL, ParaRescue etc), you shouldn’t even tell people they are part of it. It puts them, and their family (which includes you!) in danger – especially with so many special operations teams sent to deal with an increasingly dangerous list of enemies.

This is very important when it comes to social media. No last names – which means no pictures with nametape. No unit patches. Deployment patches can be allowed, but are still advised against. A good rule of thumb is that you can post where you’ve been but not where you are or where you’re going.¬†

Guard What You Say To People

While I wish this was not true, sometimes the safest, most secure thing is to say nothing.

I’m terribly proud of my family. And I love to make sure people know that. But I love knowing they are safe, more.

If you aren’t sure whether something you’re going to say – to a cashier, or person in a restaurant, or a fellow spouse, or post, is going to help someone who is looking to harm soldiers, it’s best not to say anything.

It can be very tempting to tell everyone exactly what your loved ones are doing – especially when it’s something ‘cool’ – the military is kind of full of awesome jobs! But with that comes the fact that once you have said something – it cannot ever be unsaid. And you have no way of controlling who they tell, or what they are saying.

As unfortunate as it is, the price of security is suspicion – but the price of not being mindful is much higher.

Helpful Links:

Surprise OPSEC Rules

OPSEC and PERSEC Guidelines

Operation Military Family

That Thing I Said I Wouldn’t Ever Do? Yeah – I’m Doing It…

It’s official – I’m starting my transition from military kid to military wife. I’m excited, and thrilled and anxious… And, terrified.

There are so many what-if’s that come with this plan. What if he gets injured in training? What if he and I can’t get married until later than we are planning? What if it has to happen months before? (Both are very real possibilities – the joys of planning around a military schedule!) What if he and I start fighting the minute he has to start getting ready for shook? What if he gets deployed? (Although that’s really a “when will” question, not what if.)

Im going to say it – I’m a lot scared. And it doesn’t necessarily help that the answer to almost all of those questions is something along the lines of “soldier on” – keep pushing forward and adapt to your circumstances.

This is where we have to face the reality that it won’t always be the movie style romance – the jumping into his arms in the airport, wearing his dog tags, heart all a flutter every time he calls. It’s the time where we have to realize that it’s going to be a lot of nights spent apart. Dates over FaceTime. Departures, where we don’t know when the next time we wil talk is. Birthdays, anniversaries, and eventual bed and bath times with kids on my own. We have to face the fact that it’s not nearly as romantic as it sounds. And that it’s going to be harder than we think it wil be.

Through out all of this, the process of planning, I’m already learning some life lessons that are going to be completely invaluable for the next few years. Flexibility, determination, and trusting that J knows what he’s doing when it comes to leading us, and handling the tasks that I need him to. It’s been a challenge.

Honestly though, we’ve gotten to have the most amazing conversations and are already seeing the difference in our relationship since this whole thing has gotten started.

I’m going to say that my goal is to continue to write about these things, and process through here. But, it’s going to be sporadic. And sometimes completely composd of “wow I am so frustrated with the military” during the times he can’t be reached. But it’s absolutely my plan to be very intentional with this – because let’s be real, if I don’t have some way to unload, I will go insane ūüėȬ†¬†¬†

“Well, You Signed Up For It…”

That phrase… Unless it comes from someone I trust and have expressly opened my life up to, I don’t want to hear someone tell me “I can’t believe you’re signing up for it.” Or, “I couldn’t put myself (or my kids) through that.” It’s shock and sometimes judgement from people, that I’d be so horrible as to fall in love with my wonderful man. I always want to turn around and say something along the lines of, “Well it does take someone who’s actually strong enough to do it.” Which I know won’t get anyone, anywhere. What generally comes out is, “Yeah… It’s not for everybody.” Or, “it definitely takes a special woman…”

But, I’m realizing now that the solution is to tell people. Tell people why I am more than okay with the life I’ve decided I’m diving into. And what it is that makes me okay with the fact that I’m going to spend a lot of nights cuddled up in J’s sweatshirt, using the manatee he bought me as a pillow. (Yep… That’s what I’m doing right now. I feel no shame.) Because this absolutely has to look insane from an outside perspective.

The first thing that a MilSO is going to get asked about is the loneliness. “Don’t you miss him?” What am I supposed to say to that? “Nope… I love going to social events by myself, and having dates over FaceTime.” Yes, I absolutely miss him. Whether the time between visits is three weeks, or 12 like the one coming up after Christmas. I miss him all the time. When I wake up in the morning and we send each other texts, when I’m driving to work and he’s gone to class for the day, when we get lunch time texts instead of dates. I would be out right lying if I said that I don’t miss him. But, wow, what that does for our time together! He and I can’t take time with one another for granted – we literally don’t have enough time together to do so. And when we get married? Especially during training, I am going to fall asleep by myself a lot. More than I want to admit to myself. But what that will do for us is make it that much easier to appreciate the times where we get to be together – every absence will make every homecoming feel like a honeymoon. How many couples can say that ¬†– that they got to have their honeymoon stage over, and over?

Then there’s the fact that he, presumably, picked this as a job… “Can’t he just come home?” “Why did he volunteer for this if he knew he’d be away from you?” In order to understand this one, people have to know how the Army works. Yes, people can volunteer to leave. Happens all the time. But, they can’t just “come home.” Which means that I have the kind of man in my life who will actively sacrifice his time and follow orders all to benefit the greater good; the safety of his country, and his family. He signed up for a job where he new he’d be taking orders, because he felt that was the right thing to do. That he was called to it. Of course I want a man who can learn what it is to sacrifice, and to follow, in order to better lead his soldiers, and his wife and family.

And, the one that keeps me up at night… J’s job is going to be dangerous. Any person in the military is signing up to be in danger, but J is infantry, and going through training to be a medic. Those two things generally mean danger. My wonderful, fearless man, is among the less than one percent of our country’s citizens who have taken an oath to defend it. And, if necessary, lay down their lives for it, and for the person next to them. I’m not going to try to understand it, or explain it. Because I really have no idea. We’ve all heard the Bible verse;

“Greater love has no one than this; to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)

J, and every person who has put on that uniform, is willing to lay their life down for the person fighting next to them. Simply because that person has sworn to do the same. As someone romantically linked to one of these amazing soldiers, and someone who’s dad, mom, and countless uncles and friends, have all done the same, this is a terrifying fact. One that forces you to come to grips with the reality that sometimes those people are called away, and willingly put themselves in harm’s way. And in those moments that I’m forced to remember that – I am so incredibly proud. That is absolutely the kind of man I want to be married to – to stand next to. The man that will literally lay down his life for the people he loves.

It really is a difficult choice to make, and compared to the 17 years of marriage my parents have made their way through, J and I have barely made it through any huge challenges – no deployments together yet, and he’s been out of harm’s way for the time we’ve been together. We’re going through long distance, and that’s rough, but we can already start to see the end of our time in separate states. We’ve had it relatively easy, for a military couple.¬†But, we both know that those hard times – rough patches, deployments, training, missed holidays/anniversaries/birthdays, are going to happen soon. And I could choose to throw my hands up and say that I don’t want any part of it. That I’m not able to handle it. But in those moments where I start to get frustrated at him, and ask him why ‘they’ couldn’t send someone else, I’m going to be reminded of everything that makes this wonderful man choose to lace up those boots, and miss those birthdays. And it won’t make it easier – but it will remind me that he’s worth it, that we’re worth it, and that the time’s he’s away, he’s away making the world a safer place for me, and the people we love. I am absolutely okay with signing up for that.

When The Butterflies Go Away

Sometimes, butterflies in a relationship go away. And, it’s actually kind of awesome.

Now – before everyone freaks the heck out; J and I are still madly in love – I still think he’s one of the greatest blessings God has seen fit to bestow on me, and he feels the same way about me. We’re not breaking up, and that’s nowhere near what I’m talking about. Glad we got that out of the way.

So back to those butterflies.

I love the feeling I get when I see J after a few weeks of being apart. I love how giddy I get leading up to the visit, and how I kind of, sort of, turn into a 16 year old girl. It’s fun. But, and here’s the part that will cause everyone to ask who exactly kidnapped me and took over my blog: those butterflies go away. When we were seeing each other every single day, I ¬†would go days without getting that little elevator-drop thrill in my stomach. And it was completely fine. It was better than fine.

You see, once you get past the new-ness of a relationship, it’s my experience that the best part of being together actually starts.

Uncovering past baggage. J and I could never had talked about our personal and generational strongholds if every time we got together, we couldn’t keep our hands to ourselves long enough to have a conversation. Or if I was too busy worrying about what he was thinking to be able to focus and truly talk to him. Arguing. He and I have had some AMAZING personal and relational growth through the arguments we’ve gotten to have. Arguments that wouldn’t have been possible if we were in that ‘honeymoon’ stage.

I think a lot of women today have been set up for failure in our relationships. “There’s no spark.” “I don’t get butterflies anymore.” “I’m supposed to want to be with him all the time.” These are things I’d almost guarantee you that you have either said yourself, or heard another woman say. And it is complete and total… Bull…um, nonsense. Romance novels, television, movies, music, you name it. They all say that the second the “spark” goes away – run. Move on. Time to upgrade.

Everything in our culture says this – why do you think Apple is able to release a new iPhone every year? And sales continue to go through the roof. We’ve set ourselves up to look at all relationships as consumer relationships – this person has a flaw and is no longer exciting. Update, upgrade, move on.

And we wonder why the divorce rate is soaring over 50%.

I love J. I do. He and I are planning our futures together. Marriage, kids, grand kids, in laws – we’ve talked about it all. And we can’t wait for what’s next. But my favorite, favorite part of being with him? That the butterflies have kind of… slowed down. That I’ve gotten past the honeymoon stage. To the good stuff. The real stuff.

Yeah, I’ve been walking around like a high schooler the last two weeks, getting ready for the visit. Jumping up and down and counting the days. And I absolutely still get them when I see him and get that “I’ve missed you” bear hug and kiss that goes with it.

But those aren’t the things that are going to get us through to grand kids and a 60th wedding anniversary. That is going to be the less “romantic” stuff. Our faith. Our community. Sheer determination. The talks that happen in the day to day about life and plans. And the fact that long after the butterflies go away, we don’t look for them elsewhere – we will actively, purposefully, willingly, and intentionally¬†choose to love each other. Every. Single. Day.

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Communication?

J and I have started to settle into a routine with our communication. Week night conversations generally go about an hour, then longer on the weekends, timed out around the studying and workouts and church. And I love it. I love the constant flow of information. The back and forth. That’s just my personality. I can, on occasion, be a little needy. So, the ability to constantly be in touch makes me happy. And that’s the key point – the ability. I have, at any moment, at least one way to have a quick interaction with J.

What we’ve learned is that, for us at least, there are some serious down sides to constantly being in touch with someone.

First, due to the fact that he’s military, simply by nature of his job, we won’t always have the ability to speak. Nope – not even phone calls. And just based off the times he has had to go away for hiking/camping trips and how straight up miserable I am, when we are constantly in contact, and then all of a sudden aren’t anymore? It’s so much more difficult. Because now I can’t just pick up the phone and say whatever meaningless tidbit I have in my brain.

Then there’s the fact that when we can talk constantly, we start to take for granted the fact that the other person isn’t here. So, we end up filling up the conversation with useless conversations. Again – I love that. But it drives J crazy. I love hearing about his day – interactions with his friends and roommate, what the other guys are like, even his PT scores. It makes me feel included, or at least like I have an idea of what’s going on in his life. But I’m realizing he’s right – we’re just having ‘filler’ conversation. I’m taking for granted the fact that he’s carved out an hour of his very busy day to talk to me.

And finally, the filler conversation leads to a lot of unhappiness. If I’m being honest, it’s on both ends. I think I’m having real conversation, but I’m not really connecting to him on any level. Because of the ease of picking up the phone – we can even talk ‘face to face’ – we end up feeling like we had legitimate interaction, but truthfully haven’t gotten to really get connected. And the conversations that we do have aren’t meaningless, but they aren’t as meaningful as they could be.

What we’ve decided to attempt to try is start out by having a day where we don’t talk on the phone that night. I use it to write a letter to him, and he uses it to study and take time to send me an email. And we walk away having not talked for the¬†night, but still having done something for one another. Actually building intentional connection. Maybe we’ll work in having more time where we don’t – he’ll have to step up studying more often.

It all comes down to finding that balance. Do I think we’ll be that couple who only sends letters and has a once a month phone call when it’s not necessary? Probably not. But I’m learning that we can’t be the couple that has a live feed either. It doesn’t work for either of us.¬†

We’re lucky to be able to prep ourselves for a deployment by using this distance to ‘practice’ before he’s in harms way. Yep – we’re still messing it up. I bother him, and let myself get too needy, and he sometimes get’s too busy and exhausted to have a conversation. But, what I’m hoping that even having this conversation will do is set us up for that inevitable deployment. Where we’ll be one of the couples that uses the distance to strengthen ourselves and each other – not let it destroy us.

The Test Week Curse

There’s this thing that mom jokes about… It’s called the “deployment curse”. The rule is that the moment your soldier goes on deployment, at least one thing will break. Probably two or three, and they will be major appliances (like the dishwasher, or fridge) or something like the car. Also, sometimes children. Laugh all you want – but I’ve seen it first hand. Without fail, when dad goes, stuff just seems to happen; the fridge stops working, the garage door won’t work, and then the dishwasher needs replaced.

So, I don’t have a house with appliances and kids aren’t in the picture for a while, and J isn’t deployed… But I’ve learned over the last few months that we have our own version, The Test Week Curse.

¬†His training is intense and keeps him busy. As with everything, it kind of ebbs and flows… One week will be fairly ‘easy’ and then the next will be packed full of tests, and lots of studying. Which means that our conversations are squeezed in between study groups, and that he really doesn’t have the time to stop and help me handle things…

So, without fail, stuff comes up that I need him to help me deal with, about day two of a patch of time where he really can’t afford to be distracted. Then, I decide that I am going to try to half-way explain what’s going on, but not really, so that I feel like I got to process, but what comes out of that is that he is confused and frustrated, and I don’t understand why he can’t just ‘get’ how I’m feeling. Cue snappy/teary argument that doesn’t get solved because we only have an hour to talk. I feel like I haven’t been listened to, and he probably feels the same way.

It’s kind of exhausting to try to mentally process it out… It’s an internal battle of wanting to take problems to him, and then also not wanting to be a distraction and make things difficult for him, or make him worry. Because no matter how much he tries to focus, if something’s wrong with me, it’s going to cause him to worry. And I also don’t want to make him feel unnecessary while he’s gone – but I don’t want to overwhelm him either.

Obviously this is one of those things that I’m going to have to get better and better at, and that we’re going to have to unpack as a couple, together. (Let’s call that no. 834 of things to talk about when we’re together.) Lots of grace is having to be handed out, all over.

Maybe that’s the lesson I’m supposed to be working on right now? I have this list that I pray over mine and J’s relationship – things I want us to work on, and for him, in specific areas. And two of those are that I will be supportive – legitimately and in ways that he can see, and that we learn to absolutely cover¬†each other with grace. Not just when we feel like it – but when it’s really hard because, dangit my feelings are hurt and I feel like I need to say something about it.

J taught me the phrase ‘Charlie Mike’ a few months ago. It means continue mission. I keep forgetting that this path I’m on isn’t just me wondering aimlessly (although it does feel that way sometimes). I need to remember that even though I don’t have any idea what it looks like at the end, that it’s a path with a purpose. As tiny as I feel, I have to get all my gear ready and keep moving forward. It’s really hard to remember that when I just wanna lay down and sleep – or take the easier path.

It’s funny how a blog post designed to be a venting board for me, may actually have ended up letting me unpack and get to an area where God may have been trying to teach me something – something I’ve specifically asked for. So, I guess the new prayer is that I actually take the chances He is giving me to grow closer to J and more secure in the relationship, and closer to Him and more secure in¬†our¬†relationship,¬†and not get so lost in the actual problem. To keep on moving forward, and trying to grow myself, and push on, even if I feel like I’ve got too much weight on my back.¬†

Charlie Mike, right? ūüėČ

How I Learned My Soldier Is Better Than Any Prince Charming

Yep. I said it – I no longer want Prince Charming. Prince Charming is boring – and comes nowhere near the man I get to call my own.

Wednesday, on the way home from work, I got into a car accident. My first ever. It wasn’t fun. It had just started raining, and I hydroplaned into the barrier wall on what is apparently called “dead mans curve” on what is apparently the most dangerous stretch of road in Cincinnati. Awesome. Physically, I’m handling some back/neck/shoulder problems. Mentally, I’m stressed. Car accidents are horrible things.

So, Thursday after work, I was supposed to go straight to see J, on a 10+ hour drive. I was so excited. But, no such luck. I drove home Thursday evening in my moms car – sad, depressed, stressed, and panicky. Then, after exhausting all our efforts, and me not really being that helpful, J decided to rescue me, and bought a round trip ticket for me to come see him. Honestly, I just threw up my hands and told him to “make the decision for me.”

I don’t know what it was, the absolute panic that had to have been coming through in my voice, the back pain I’d been in for two days, or the fact that I had yet to have a conversation with him with out crying in 24 hours – but he stepped up – and I’ve never, ever, felt so loved and cherished, and protected.

A little back story; distance sucks. And when the “honeymoon stage” ends while you’re ten hours apart, you really just don’t see eye to eye. So, the last few weeks of arguing have been horrible. And, the visit was partially so he and I could sort out some things we needed to wrestle with. One of which, was that I felt like I wasn’t a priority. That he wasn’t being as affectionate as he needed to be.

I thought I wanted letters. Or emails. Or some of the cute (let’s be real; girly) things I do for him. And he took this chance to make me see the real reasons that I love him. His ability to protect me, even emotionally. His ability to be the ‘good man in the storm’. The heart he has for our relationship. Yes, I would love to get a letter from him at some point in our relationship. But now, what I walked away from this weekend knowing is that he may not love me in the ways I think I want to be – he does it better. And more intentionally.

He and I were even talking about it over the weekend – how many women feel unloved because they aren’t getting the mushy things they’re doing in return. And that’s totally normal, ladies. But maybe, your man doesn’t love you like you love him. He doesn’t love in letters and emails and texts and flowers – he does those things because he thinks he ‘should.’ Maybe, if you give him the chance, he will love you better than you ever thought possible.


A Letter To Me, Five Years From Now

Twenty – Seven, Almost Twenty -Eight Year Old Me;

Hopefully you’re married to J. If the plans we’re talking about now have actually come together, you’ve been married a couple years, with a little one either being tried and prayed for, or already on the way.You’ve moved at least twice, and you’ve probably got at least one deployment under your belt. He might even be gone right now.

I can’t know all of those things. Or where you’re living, or what state your marriage is in right now. What hurdles you’ve overcome, and what direction your life has taken together.

What I do¬†know, is that five years into a relationship with a man in the military, especially this man – this strong, caring, protective, wonderful, difficult man – you’ve “busted draws” with each other – and probably because of each other (metaphorical ones – not real ones… If you do the orienteering thing with him, go you). Probably ones that people said you’re never going to make it past. That you yourself probably said you couldn’t make it past…¬†And that you probably didn’t realize you were battling until you were already in it. And, because there’s never been so much determination (stubbornness) in one couple, you’ve proven them all wrong. In some cases, it was probably just for the sake of showing everyone that you could.

Maybe you’ve come up in some issue that seems bigger than the two of you. Bigger than the relationship, bigger than all the hard work. Maybe right now, you’re feeling like the Army has (once again) come before, or between, J and you, your family, and your marriage. And, probably, your sanity.

Even if life is perfect – and I really and truly hope it is – take time to remember what things are like for me, 22 year old me, right now. How huge ten hours seemed at the time. How incredibly insurmountable that distance felt. And how even though you’ve finally started to fight, you, at 22, and J at 26, have powered, talked, shouted, cried, and prayed through to so much together.

Take time to think about how, right now, at 22, it feels like the end of the world to get off the phone with him. What it’s like to constantly want to know more about him, and learn what makes that complex brain of his tick. In the moments that he’s around, and you aren’t appreciative, and you’re trying to wrestle control away from him after building up a life with out him, think back on how much I’m wanting to just be near him. Appreciate each other when you’re together, because of how well you made it through this rough patch… Remember the whole month of August? The first meet in the middle visit that was followed by three weeks of trying to learn to be gracious with one another? Hopefully when this chunk of time comes to mind – the tears and late night FaceTime calls, and arguments that you never wanted to have, you think back to yourself; “that… That’s when I knew J and I were going to make it through anything life threw at us.”

He probably still makes decisions with out checking with you first. And, hopefully, in 5 years, you can see the benefit to having someone so strong and decisive to lead your family. Hopefully, you’ve gotten rid of the phrase “I’ve got this.” If not – try to remember how much it grates at him. (Really though – do I ever get rid of it?)

Remember all the times that he gently pushed you to pray out loud when you didn’t want to – especially those nights where you were angry at each other and the last thing you wanted to do was pray for him. Wow, I hope you still pray together when you can. Phones, email, text. That you are both still invested enough that you carve that time out, wherever he is, and wherever you are, to actively bring your relationship to God. And that its only made both your relationships with Him stronger – it can only do good things for you.

I hope you lean into your community as much as you do now. That you still use his sister and brother, and M&M as your mentor couples – that you realize you will always have ways to grow in your marriage, and your friendships, and in your walk with God. That you still go toThursday cookouts, and that you still open up your lives to them.

5 years can hold so much. Growth, pain, happiness, sadness. 17 year old me knew absolutely nothing – and I’m pretty sure 22 year old me won’t either. But I really hope you haven’t lost that reckless feeling – that feeling that when everyone said “don’t do this… It’ll be hard… He’ll be gone all the time, and you’ll have to be alone,” made you say “and?” and dive head first into this… Whatever you are handling – I hope that you can still look at the man beside you, and know that with all certainty, with out any doubts, you can look back on the last 5 years, and together, face anything – you got this.