In mid-2011, I found myself in a strange position I had never been in before—and never even considered before. I was the better half (ha!) of a couple with a Navy man. We knew each other from high school, but were never a thing until 12 years later. I don’t know any military folks. I haven’t been around people who’ve dealt with something like this, or are experiencing it now. This is all completely foreign in my life.
Being a military girlfriend is not easy. I knew that, intellectually, going in to this whole situation. But it’s one of those things that you can’t understand until you’re in it. He is stationed in Europe. I am in the middle of the states. He’s a career Navy man. He’s not on deployment with a return date. He should be moving to his next location this year, but we have no idea where that might be. Could be as far as Japan or Bahrain. Could be in the states somewhere. And that’ll be for a few years. No six-to-twelve months and then we can be together again and all squishy and lovey and happy squee! Nope. The future is a complete unknown. He won’t be all mine within 4 years or less. He could still have 7 years left in the Navy.
I mention this because so far it has made it harder to find an online “community” of people in a similar situation to mine that I could read about or commiserate with. I don’t know anyone in person who has someone in the military. There are many “milspouse” communities/blogs. Many communities for new milspouses. Even some communities for military girlfriends who are going through their lovers’ first deployment or boot camp, etc. I don’t fit into any of these. I still try to find some common ground with these bloggers, but other than a small handful in a general sense, I haven’t found any who I can really relate to.
I’m not a spouse, so I’m not a milspouse. Milspouses are often militarily (lolol) Christian and extreme-Republican. I am an atheist and have a heart. I have no children. I have no plans for marriage or children, so finding things to relate to, other than missing our men, is pretty much impossible. Some of these women are dealing with deployments to dangerous areas, so I’m pretty lucky that my sailor isn’t in that kind of danger. There are some perks they get to have with being a spouse as opposed to a girlfriend, so their struggles are different than mine.
The new military girlfriends (like myself) are not 29 and own a home and are established in a community a world away from their lover. They seem to be typically in the 18-20 year range. They’re thinking about marriage and babies. They are just embarking on adulthood at the same time as they are dealing with their lovers leaving. They are devastated at the idea of a 2-month boot camp stint (I think it’s 2 months?), whereas I’m trying to find strength in having no idea how many months or years it’ll be til I see my sailor. That’s certainly not to belittle their experience, it’s just that what we’re struggling with is very different, and doesn’t satisfy whatever I’m trying to find in not feeling alone with this.
I’ve even tried seeking out bloggers in long-distance romances (LDRs) to relate to. Mixed results. Again, it’s hard to relate completely since their lover isn’t in the military. The military throws a huge wrench into a relationship. Your schedule is your lover’s schedule which is the military’s schedule, which has no wiggle room for negotiations. You can’t be like “let’s visit in May!” and plan it out because anything could come up between now and then and dash your plans. Even planning a Skype date can be difficult. A 7-hour difference in time zone is also a factor.
I suppose what I’m saying is, are there any new military girlfriends in their late 20s with a career-military man far far away? Or someone who was that? Finding that combination in someone other than myself has been impossible.
I think a few factors have made it a little easier on me. I’ve spent the vast majority of my life single, so being alone every day isn’t any different. As a web designer, I have the kind of job that (in theory) is pretty portable, should I be able to move where my sailor is.
(I say “in theory” because jobs that let you work from home, even as a web designer, are incredibly scarce. With all the technology we have, employers still can’t wrap their heads around having remote workers. Get with the times! Grrr!)
Another factor possibly in our favor is some maturity. Would I have been able to deal with this a few years ago? Or at 18? Probably not. I have a better understanding of relationships and time and waiting for worthwhile things. The flipside to that, of course, is that time is ticking. We won’t live forever and time apart is time we’ll never get back.
Since I still can’t find any communities that I fit into, I’ve been working on outlets of my own to deal with the diffcult side of all this. I started a tumblog called Inconvenient Love. Just a place to repost things that are funny or inspirational relating to having a love that is inconvenient (whether it be long-distance or unrequited or forbidden, since there is some overlap in sentiments). Hopefully people who feel the way I do can find something there that helps or makes them feel less alone with their situation.
Another outlet? Blogging about it and sharing my story.
I suppose I should wrap this up by stating how happy I am with my sailor boyfriend! If given a choice, I’d certainly rather have him be with me, but I’ll take what I can get to be able to have him. The pros far outweigh the cons. When things get tough, I remind myself that hopefully someday we will be together on a regular basis. This will all be worth it on that day. We are ridiculously compatible and drawn to each other. It’s very rare to get along with someone so well and feel all schmoopy and squeebily, and have that someone feel the same way at the same time! (You know what I’m talking about.) I wouldn’t trade him for the sake of convenience. ♥