652. 564. 156. 103.

My life is defined in numbers.

1 dependent.

1 canine.

6 months of deployment.

12 months until deployment #2.

32 lb. bag of dog food.

12 boxes of stuff I don’t need.

Stupid, random numbers. And surprisingly enough, the numbers are what make up who I am, since starting this crazy life in the Corps.

652 days ago, I thought I was doing the hardest thing I would ever do. I woke up at 3 am and sat on the edge of Ricky’s bed, knowing that it would be the last time I watched him for three months. Which, now, 3 months doesn’t sound terrible. 3 months is a blink of an eye. But then, 3 months, was the longest I had ever gone without hearing his voice, or seeing his face, or holding his hand. 652 days ago, I started on the journey that has made me the woman I am, and now, 652 days later, I am thankful for it.

564 days ago, I finally got him back after those then-long 3 months. I felt whole again, and I was happier than I could remember. I had withstood the 3 months the Marine Corps had thrown at me…surely I could withstand some more. 564 days ago, I experienced the joy of reuniting with my other half, which definitely made up for the loneliness I had been feeling.

156 days ago, I married my best friend. I promised my life to the one person who has stood beside me through almost everything, and if I had the option to do it all over again, I would. No question. Even on the days he makes me angry, or we don’t agree, I will always choose to do it all over again, always with my best friend. There is a sort of peace that comes with marrying your best friend. I don’t wonder if I am loved. I don’t wonder if there is something I could do to make myself feel whole. For the rest of my life, I have found the other half of me, and I will hopefully never feel like a half a person again.

103 days ago, I encountered the trial that put boot camp and those trivial 3 months to shame. I said goodbye to my other half, watched him turn and leave, and wondered when he was going to come home. In those 103 days, I have cried miserably. I have sobbed until my head was pounding, my eyes were stinging, my nose was stuffy, and my heart felt broken. I have laughed at myself, and I have pushed myself to be a better me. I have been lazy, and I have been productive. I have been unable to get out of bed, and I have conquered the day. For 103 days, I have survived deployment.

My life is defined in numbers. These numbers mark the milestones in my life, and there are so many more to go. I am on a constant countdown, for his coming home, for my moving, for being together with my friends. These numbers are what shape who I am now, and its almost comforting, to watch the countdown, and know that another number is going to be put behind me. It’s strange, I know, but it’s something solid. The numbers don’t change. And in this life where everything is constantly moving and changing and nothing is certain, I look back at the numbers and know: “I’ve got this. I survived 103 days of deployment so far. I can survive another 103.

This life is crazy, hectic, go-with-the-flow, and hard to handle for someone like me, who likes lists and order and this-is-what-we’re-doing-when. So my advice is to start watching the numbers.

XOXO,

Em.

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Suck It Up. 

SUCK IT UP. 

GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF. 

IT’S LIKE BOOTCAMP. 

YOU’LL BE FINE. 

LEAVE YOUR PROBLEMS AT HOME. 

No. No. It’s not. I will be, but I’m not. It’s not a problem, it’s my life. 

The past 97 days have been the hardest 97 days of my life. And for the past two weeks, I’ve been in a different kind of place than before.  I haven’t been happy, or in the gym, or loving myself. I’ve been insecure and sad, I’ve been exhausted and I’ve cried all night long. It started just the other night last week: it had been a day. Just a day. Nothing bad had happened, really. I’d gotten up and gone to work, and gone to job #2 in the evening. And driving home that night, for no reason, I just broke down. I pulled over into a parking lot and cried for a half hour. It felt as though everything had hit me at one time, how lonely I was. I got home and cried more, took a shower and cried more, and thought about who to call. 

But the fact of the matter is: at 11 pm on a Tuesday night, I don’t have anyone. My best friend is off at college. People are sleeping for work the next day. And to be honest, I’ve never felt so lonely. It didn’t matter that my sister was in the next room. It didn’t matter that I had friends in town. It didn’t matter that I could call people and I knew they would answer. It didn’t matter. 

I’m in a place where I don’t want to be alone. But I don’t want to be with people, because I don’t want to smile and pretend like I’m okay right now. I’m not. I feel like everything is falling down and like I can’t stop it. I’m in a place where one minute I’m smiling and laughing and thinking “I’ve got this. Today is a good day”, and the next minute, I’m crying on my bedroom floor because I’ve dropped my car keys. I’m in a place where the alarm goes off at 4 am and I burst into tears because the idea of dealing with people at work is too much. I’m in a place where I’ve seldom been, and this time, there’s no Ricky to hold my hand and tell me I’m okay. There’s everyone, and at the same time, there’s no one. 

And that’s not saying people don’t care. They say “call me if you need me” and they say “I’m here for you”. And they mean it. But what am I supposed to say? “Hey, it’s me. And I don’t know what’s wrong with me. But I’m a sobbing mess on the floor because I spilt a glass.” 

I don’t know what to say to explain the way deployment feels, to those who don’t understand. Yes, I’ve been without him for 7 months, and that’s more than twice the time currently of deployment. But it was different. We had skype dates. We talked all day, almost everyday. We fell asleep on the phone together. We argued and made up in a few hours. We didn’t wonder if the other was okay, because we knew. This is different. I go through the day with my phone attached to my hip, with the ringer on high, because I don’t want to miss a phone call. I haven’t heard his voice in almost a month. I haven’t had a Skype date with that loser in 3 months. When I sleep, I’m afraid I’ll miss that Facebook message notification. We argue and the lack of communication screws everything up, and we apologize and make up immediately, because we don’t know when we’ll talk next. I’m constantly wondering if he’s okay, he’s constantly asking me if I’m okay, because we don’t know. The worst feeling in the world is saying, “Goodbye, I love you. Text me later”, and wondering if “later” is going to be in a month. 

Don’t tell me to suck it up. Especially if you don’t know what this feels like. I get up and most of the time I make it to work and through my shift. I find the energy to shower and put makeup on and make it to the second job. I get through the night there and if I fall apart on the way home, so be it. Don’t tell me to suck it up.   Can’t you see I’m doing my best? 

I don’t have any advice tonight. I don’t have any ways to get through what I’m feeling, because I can’t seem to right now. I’m just hoping that maybe someone else feels or has felt the same way, and thought they were alone, and now they know they’re not. 

XOXO, 

Em. 

Doing Things Alone

Hey there, lovelies! It’s been a hot minute since a new post, because I’ve been SUPER busy, and also, the Marine Corps hates my guts. Bright side, my housing application is done, and I will hopefully be jumping a plane to the West coast before the end of summer! 

It’s the end of prom weekend, and I know more than one girl who went to prom alone, or with friends on Saturday. And I know how much it sucked. Not because prom is monumental or anything, but because it’s one of those things that he’s supposed to be there for. 

I went to my senior prom alone. Sure, I had my Grace, my best friend, but she’s not Ricky. And I spent half the night crying in the bathroom, and I spent half the weekend holed up in my room at the beach house on the phone with my then boyfriend. Prom is just a dance. It’s not that important. But it’s not prom that you wished he was there for, I know. It’s that you miss him and wish he were there everyday, and prom is supposed to be an extra special day, and his absence is magnified a hundred fold. 

I did a lot of things alone, that first year in the Corps. He left on 8/11 for boot, and it was my very first day of high school without him. I, a senior, felt like a freshman, without his hand in mine. Which, admittedly, would’ve been the case anyway, but he wasn’t there for me to text during the boring classes or to come over after school or to pick me up after practice, either. Homecoming, prom, band banquet, football games, all the events that I’d had him for before; absolutely alone. I had my friends, and Grace was an amazing date, always. But it’s not the same. 

And the big one: GRADUATION. I am a covertly sentimental female. I will not say “This is important to me, and I want you to be there.” But that’s what I meant when I asked if he would be able to make it. And up until about 2 weeks before, we thought he would. Until command said, “Oh, nope. Sorry, bud, you’re going to be in the field for two weeks. No can do.” And that was that. 

I picked a dress and wore cute heels (band geek tip: when you spend hundreds of hours marching on turf, walking it in heels is no biggie) and did my hair and wore a stupid cap and gown with all the people I had grown up with. I sat in a chair next to my classmates, and I FaceTimed my best friend across the field. I took a selfie as I walked across the stage, because that’s what Ricky had done the year before, and it was as close as I could be to him in that moment. And when I got back to my seat, all I could think about was that he was missing. Not that I’d finally done it. Not that I had suffered through awful teachers and kids I hated and stupid projects for a piece of paper. All I was thinking about was how my very best friend in all the world hadn’t been there for something that had been important. 

Which is what I’m sure lots of girls felt this past weekend. Here’s the biggest piece of advice I can give you: get used to it, sister. It’s not his fault. He can’t make it to everything you want him to be at. You will have prom, you will graduate, you will give birth to children, and he won’t be there. Your babies will turn one, two, ten years old, and he might be halfway across the world. And it’s not his fault. He’s doing something much bigger than your lives together, and you will always take a backseat to the mistress that is the military. She’s got it in writing, girlfriend. 

But you know what? When he misses things, he will always try and make it up. About a week after graduation, Grace and I were in bed one morning after spending the night, eating cookie dough for breakfast, I believe. And somebody knocked on my door. Now, if you know me personally, I do not like people who knock on my door before 11 am. I do not like people who continue to knock on my door, after I have not answered. But the knocking was consistent, so I got out of bed and it was my boyfriend’s mom, saying she brought my graduation present. Like? What? First off, you’ve already given me a present, and now this one can’t wait until the afternoon? 

Turns out, he couldn’t wait until the afternoon. I walked into my driveway and there was the stupid boyfriend who had missed my graduation a week before. The very next day, he proposed, and here we are, almost a year later and married for almost half of that. So, yeah. He missed banquet. And homecoming. And football games. And prom. And graduation. But the payoff was kind of an even trade. I don’t care that he missed all those things, because in the end, he’s mine and I’m his, and we’ve got the rest of forever to experience things together. 

So, to the girl who cried on prom night and the girl dreading a milestone without who matters most: think long and hard before you make this your life. It will be lonely. It will hurt, and it will suck. But he will always try and makeup for the misses, and he will always love you fiercely, because he doesn’t know what he’ll miss next. 

Live hard, laugh harder, and love the hardest.  

XOXO, 

Em.