Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Unlicensed Military Life How-To Manual - Submarine Edition

Deployments are never easy. Heavy work schedules make it a real challenge to do anything but wait around at home to steal a few spare and precious moments of time.

My Cousin recently joined the Marines, and I'm very proud of the way my family has worked through their fears and come together to support him in his journey.

I see lots of things in Facebook, as parts of military groups, that kind of disturb me. There are lots of people out there searching for answers to questions like, "How can I be sure he still loves me? He doesn't act really  excited to see me," or "He is excited to go on deployment! Does that mean he doesn't love me anymore?" or "I hate where we've moved to! How do you cope?"

I've been doing my best to answer with supportive, and realistic comments. I can't speak from any experience other than my own - and My Sailor and I have a rather unique relationship, granted - but there are a few things I've learned that have helped me thrive.

Foster an overdeveloped sense of adventure.

This is the BIGGEST favor any one with an intimate relationship with a military member can do for themselves. At least, I'm convinced it is. It actually solves a LOT of problems.

For example, with an overdeveloped sense of adventure, I find I actually seek out things to enjoy in life, no matter where it takes me. A great example of this at work is when I moved from Sunny Southern California - a place most people consider a paradise - to the 'frozen north' of Western Washington. And yet, I love it. Sure, I love visiting my hometown area too, but at the same time, I miss the tall pine trees, the occasional eagles soaring over the landscape, and the small towns. There are great ups to both places. That doesn't mean there aren't things I don't like. (I don't miss the constant threat of wildfires or the dry desert-like heat from California. In Washington, I struggle with the drastic hours of sunlight, and often long stretches without sunshine all together.) But fostering one thought pattern is helpful. The other - well - isn't. Focusing on what I don't like isn't going to make ANYTHING easier or better. I just acknowledge there will be things that are hard or that I don't like or even that I HATE, and move on to brighter thoughts.

No One is Promised Tomorrow - so Steal Your Moments When You Can

This one doesn't need some long exposition. It's true of those who aren't in the military as well, but especially true for those that are. No one is promised tomorrow.

We plan for it, hope for it, fear it, and long for it.

But we are mortal.

So you have a choice. Have a miserable day/holiday because your loved one isn't there in the flesh to share it with you, or find a way to honor them and enjoy your day/holiday. Your freedom to do so is part of what they are fighting for. Honor the fight and use the gift.

Speak and Live HONESTLY

It's amazing what a little resolution can fix. Not to mention the huge burdens that can be lifted when you don't have to worry about keeping a secret or making a lie sound like the truth. When you practice what you preach, it keeps things simple.

Imagine what life would be like if you believed your partner was always telling you the truth. Yes, there will be those "Do I look fat in this?" that is honestly answered "yes" moments, but when you assume your partner is telling the truth, you  believe  the I love yous and you find you need less assurance of that, because his/her actions line up with his/her words.

It cuts out a LOT of the bull and destroys insecurity. After all, if you're BOTH telling the truth, and living honestly, what are you afraid of?

Oh, and One last thing... Forgive Often and Quickly

Sometimes, ya just gotta have some space, get some air, and forgive yourself for not being the perfect military support mechanism. Ya know what? You're human! Sometimes it just takes a little Sublimely Self Righteous (my favorite beer - Stone Brewery... Yum) and some fresh air.

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