Books to Read When Your SO is Deployed

…or at bootcamp, or living in another place, or super busy with military life.

These are the books that I read during long stretches of absence, when I need to find comfort in something small. Some of them are fiction, some are not. Some are self help, some are not. I figure it’s good to read a little bit of everything. Because military SO’s need all the help we can get.

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1. How to be Married by Jo Piazza
You don’t have to be married to get the fruits of Piazza’s bare-it-all narrative, but it doesn’t hurt. She goes into the nitty gritty of what it means to choose one person, and then she explores what that means to different cultures. Ultimately, How to be Married shows that there’s no One Way to be together, just do do your best. I’m currently reading this one.

2. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
Communication is Hard when your SO isn’t there to talk to face to face. Palmer is an expert at asking for what she wants, and she’s very keen to teach you how in this touching memoir about the music business and art for arts sake. “I trust you this much. Should I? Show me.”

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3. Rising Strong by Brene Brown
Brene Brown has her PhD in vulnerability. Okay, not literally. But she should. This book is super important because it shows us how to rumble with the stories we make up for ourselves, especially the ones based on fear and distance. It’ll teach you how to communicate the stories to your significant other.

4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Historical, unbelievable, and a true hero’s journey. Sometimes, it’s nice to read about those who came before our SO’s and survived. Admittedly, this one is a bit harrowing, so maybe try it when you know your SO is home and safe if you’re concerned for their safety.

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5. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
This one I think is particularly great for Navy SO’s. It’s got time travel, sailing, action, romance. Mostly, it’s a great escape from missing someone. But as someone who loves a sailor, that aspect was really fun for me.

6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Do you remember how you fell in love with your SO? All the butterflies in your stomach, the wondering if they felt the same. Those first kisses… This book is sure to remind you of that. Rainbow Rowell is queen of romance in my eyes, and she’s really great at conjuring that “falling in love” feeling.

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Lessons from Loving a Sailor


I’ve had this list in my drafts since my first experience with deployment. With another one impending, I thought I’d finally publish it.

1. His job always comes first.

Changes in military scheduling will always trump prior plans. Dates tend to change often, and as an SO I just have to roll with them. I want to whine and complain so bad because even when he’s home I have to let him go so often. But I don’t because I know he’s just doing his job.

2. He comes second.

I can describe my boyfriend in one word around deployment time: tired. He works so many hours and gets little sleep so time with me ends up more than often being cuddle and fall asleep time. It’s easy to feel jilted from quality time (especially combined with my first point) when he gets like this, but I have to remind myself that this is what he needs. And loving him means putting his needs before my own.

3. Homecomings are wonderful, but they’re hard.

When he came back from our first deployment as a couple, I remember feeling so happy to have him home, but also out of place from not having seen him in months. I had to get used to having him around again. And he had to get used to being home again. It took some time, but it was totally worth it.

4. Communication takes discipline.

During deployments, I try to write every day just so I can have something to hold onto. It keeps our connection alive when we can’t talk on the phone or see each other in person. It gets hard when he doesn’t respond for weeks at a time, but I keep it up as best I can because I know it will benefit both of us in the long run.

5. You’ll surprise yourself with what love will allow you to handle.

I never thought I’d date someone in the military. I thought long separations were too much for me to handle. They’ve been hard for sure, but there’s so much love in my heart for my man that serves and I’m so proud when I can be his rock on a hard day. Love trumps all of these difficulties. I can’t imagine my life without him, even just missing him.

Songs to Survive Deployment

Since my boyfriend left, I’ve been slowly compiling songs to listen to, to help me through this first deployment. I think I have enough now to share with all of you. I really, really love this playlist and I hope you do too.

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For When They First Leave

  • Across The Sea by The Sweeplings
  • 500 Miles (Acoustic) by Jefr Tale feat Louise Rademakers
  • All of the Stars by Ed Sheeran

 

For When You Feel Strong

  • Yours – Russell Dickerson
  • Can’t Help Falling In Love by Ingrid Michaelson
  • Make You Feel My Love by Adele
  • Bless The Broken Road by Rascal Flatts

 

For When You Want To Cry

  • I’m Already There  by Lonestar
  • Glitter In The Air by P!nk
  • Alex’s Song by Grayson Kessenich
  • Restless by Alison Krauss

 

For The Everyday MILSO Feels

  • I Get to Love You by Ruelle
  • From the Ground Up by Dan + Shay
  • I Choose You by Sara Bareilles
  • I Like The Sound of That by Rascal Flatts

 

You can listen to the entire thing on Spotify below!

 

Little Blessings: Why I’m Thankful to be a Girlfriend During the First Deployment


In general, I’d say military relationships move pretty fast. There are good reasons for that: health benefits, the ability to recieve information, love, of course, and still others.

My boyfriend and I have only known each other for four and a half months, three and a half in which we’ve been officially together. For us, that’s way too fast to get married.

This can sometimes make things difficult. Unless you and your SO prepare in advance (we did not) you don’t get access to email communication with the ombudsman and are unable to attend FRG meetings. It’s for safety reasons and I’m all for that, really. But I’m also the control freak that wants to know where the heck my love is. 

However, I have one thing I get to be thankful for as a girlfriend, especially with this first deployment.

My life is still separate.

We don’t live together, so I’m not struggling to wake up without him, or making too much food for one, or thinking the house is too quiet. I have a roommate, my own space. I have a life that’s always better with him in it, but still good while he’s away.

And that’s not to say that life as a spouse isn’t good without the husband/wife. It’s not to say that military spouses can’t thrive on their own. They most certainly can.

But I think I have it a little easier. And since I know this won’t be his last time underway, I’m glad for this little blessing to help me through the first. Even if I do still miss him every day.

Lessons From Deployment

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Hello Friends! Long time, no post. I’ve spent the last month or so coping with deployment feels and goodbyes and all of the things I’ve dreaded since I started dating my boyfriend. And as I sit here watching Army Wives (a great guilty pleasure for my first deployment, never mind that my boy’s on a Sub) I can’t help but think about everything I’ve learned so far.

He hasn’t been gone for that long. We’ve still got more than halfway to go, and I have a feeling that this is all going to get tougher before it gets easier. But just the limited time that we’ve spent apart has shown me my capacity to love a sailor. I never thought I’d date someone who’d be gone for months at a time. I’m a very emotional person, I always figured I’d become a basket case if I dated someone who had to leave. I’m finding out I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was.

“I exist in two places – here and where you are.” Margaret Atwood

So I’m quieting the voice in my head that tells me I don’t know enough to write this post, that he’s only been gone a few weeks and I’ve been sad most of the time and I’m in no place to give advice. None of that matters.

The point is deployment’s hard. Whether it’s for a month, six months, or a year, it’s hard to say goodbye to the person you love most. But the good news is that no one’s alone in it. And with all of the help that I’ve already gotten from other “MILSO’s,” I want to return the favor.

Here are three lessons I’ve already learned about deployment:

  1. No One Can Prepare You for the Goodbye
    • Dropping him off on the boat at 1am on a Sunday was not a walk in the park. I’m super proud of myself for doing it, but I hated driving off without him. I was exhausted and sad. It pretty much sucked. But no one could prepare me for it. I wondered if I’d bawl my eyes out or if I’d cling to him like that could stop him or if I’d be perfectly fine. To be honest, it was a bit of a combination, but everyone’s experience is different.
  2. Hearing From Them Less Doesn’t Mean They Love You Less
    • I struggle with self-worth issues. I had them before I met my boyfriend and I still have them even though he loves me through it. So when I go days without hearing from him, I have to fight the feeling that he’s not thinking of me, or that he doesn’t care about me so much. It’s not true. In fact, the way he feels about me is so obvious sometimes it makes my heart swell. But not hearing from him can make the self-doubt monster rear its ugly head. I have to keep telling myself he’s thinking of me, even if he can’t always write.
  3. You Are Not Alone
    • Ever since I started being vocal about my relationship with a submarine officer, so many people have reached out to me to offer their support. Every single message says some variation of “I know what you’re going through” or “let me know if you need anything!” I know more people than I realized that have a loved one in the military. And tagging my posts/pictures with “milso” or “navy milso” has led me to some really great online friends as well. They’re all a great comfort to me when I’m feeling lonely.

“May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.” Genesis 31:49

Today I’m thankful that the days aren’t dragging, that I get a little closer each morning that I wake up. It’s hard when all I really want is a hug from him. But it’ll happen soon. For now, I’ll keep looking at the flowers he sent for my birthday, reread his few emails over and over and over again, and pray that God will watch over us both.

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