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Stronger Together

It’s funny how life doesn’t work out how you planned, sometimes. Or in my case, like ever.

A few years ago, I was newly separated from my then-husband, recovering from a relationship that had turned negative and poisonous. I was determined to take some time to pursue my own life, to be me and not be ashamed of who I was – be that my body, my personality, or my achievements. That required starting at pretty much ground level. Ground level if an improvement when you’ve been sunk in a pit, you know?

I lived with my best friend for awhile, while I tried to get financially on my feet enough to get my own place. Somehow during that time, a guy I had known from work became what I thought was my summer fling. He was fun, he had a boat and a truck, and the sparks flew. He knew I was planning to join the military and we both agreed our relationship was just for fun and companionship. He had spent 9 years in the infantry; he knew exactly what was going to happen if I did sign up. We were just enjoying each other until life took us our separate ways.

Best laid plans of mice and men.

It took quite awhile for me to stop hemming and hawing and get all the papers signed, but it was almost time for me to leave. We talked a lot. I won’t go all mushy on you. Long story short, we decided we had something special, something worth working and waiting for, and we decided to stay together. When I graduated AIT, then we’d decide where our relationship was going to go from there. He came with me to see my parents that Christmas. They loved him. My dad loved that he could talk military stuff with him. My mom loved that he would talk to her, period. My 14 year old brother thought he was the best thing since sliced bread because obviously infantry = badass. They all loved that he treated me with respect, that he worked hard, and that I was so happy.

I went off to basic training, and things went to hell in a handbasket (as detailed in this post). At least with the military. I really seriously considered going home, and our relationship was one of the reasons both that I wanted to go home, and that I eventually stayed. I wanted SO BAD to be back home with him. Back where I felt safe, and loved, and comfortable. At the same time I had to be true to myself. I’d turned my back on myself for a guy once and swore I’d never do it again. Yes, relationships require sacrifice, but that has to be balanced with being true to yourself. I learned this the hard way. If you don’t love yourself, you’ll never be able to fully love someone else. So this was what I felt I had to do, this is where I was supposed to be, even if it was so hard some days I thought it would kill me. If our relationship couldn’t survive this, than it wasn’t what I – what we – thought it was.

When I came home on convalescent leave I was really worried how things were going to go between us, but it was like I’d never left. He’d taken care of everything while I was away, even my crazy (really crazy) cat. He had taken care of ME, even though I was over 1,000 miles away. He’d talked to my family. He’d written me letters. Even when I couldn’t talk to him for weeks at a time and he had no idea when I was next going to call, he never once missed a phone call. My cat was fat and happy. All was right in my world. Amazingly. Blissfully. We talked. A lot. Decided we were in this for the long haul. So at the end of my 28 days I went back to finish training. Came home for Christmas. Finished AIT.

And 2 weeks ago, we got married. Now I’m in Korea. Hopefully he’ll get to come join me before too long, if all the paperwork gets approved. If it doesn’t, I’ll get 30 days of leave in about November and then come back to finish out my year here. We’ve been apart a LONG time. I miss him like crazy. But we’re in this together and every time something gets thrown at us, we get stronger. Sure it hurts. But he’s worth it. We’re worth it. I love him so much and can’t wait to make our home together, wherever that ends up being.

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Army Strong.

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Getting Through

7 more weeks. Just 7.

Excuse me a little moping right now. Because frankly, I’m tired of everyone (with the exception of a handful of people I can tolerate) here. The immaturity level is through the roof. I swear it’s like being back in high school. Even the few people I do go places with – oh the woes of the necessary “battle buddy” for everything except taking a shower – are at least 6-8 years my junior, and it shows. Not to insult them in any way. It’s ok to be 18, 19, 20 and going through that part of life. I’m just over it. So even the mature 20 year olds…have a perspective so far removed from mine that a lot of times I end up just shaking my head and listening to them. I miss being around people that I can relate to. There are a few of us “older” folks here (which, by the way, means 25-30), but most of them are a lot like me – nose to the grindstone through the week, to hell with any chance of getting disqualified or recycled. Free time spent on the phone with family, trying to make sure nothing falls apart. Even then, they’re not on my team so we see each other in passing. Kind of hard to get to know two or three people out of 90. Yep, my platoon has – or had – almost 90 people.

We were “phased up” recently, which means on the weekend we’re pretty much on our own except for first and last formations. Yay for civilian clothes. Yay for free time. And…no one to hang out. No one I really feel comfortable with. A couple girls on my team I go eat with, even went out into San Antonio with…but in the end, I felt tired. Trying too hard. Wearing too much of a mask. I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not. But the gap – dare I say generation gap? – is almost too big to breach.

Another kind of gap I keep seeing is the difference in mentality between those of us that are active duty, and the National Guard or Reserve (no disrespect meant to them). Because, like it or not, they’re weekend warriors and a lot of them enlisted because their recruiters sold them on that idea. Over half of my company is Guard or Reserve. They want to train and go back home to party. Go back to school. Go back to their lives. This army stuff doesn’t mean jack to some of them. It’s an extra paycheck. Something to get through for a few extra thousand a year. Ok, that’s fine. But most of them – especially the younger ones – give no thought at all to what it means to dedicate the next few years of your life to the military. Most of them don’t care if they get in trouble here, because their units at home will never see those papers or if they do, won’t care much.

Maybe if I didn’t have a family too, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Maybe if my focus wasn’t on getting back with them and making a home for us again, wherever it is.

Maybe I’m just old. 😛

Two Worlds

I’ve had quite a bit of time to think in the week I’ve been home – and in the 3 days I have left, I’m sure the thought will continue to pester me – but I feel very much like I’m one person trying to live in two very different worlds. Or maybe it’s that I’m trying to be two different people? I’m not sure. Either way…it’s hard, and it hurts, and a lot of the time it makes me wonder why the hell I volunteered for this.

Even after the catastrophe that was my Basic training experience, a lot of embracing the suck – I’m still glad I joined. I’m not even finished yet. It’s still hard. But the discipline is a good kind of pain. I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I love a challenge. Usually mental challenges are more my thing, but the army is challenging me all the way around. Physically, mentally, emotionally…sometimes it feels like more than I can handle, but then I remind myself I just have to get through today. It’s a good kind of pain.

Then there’s…the rest of my life. The motivation for being in the army. The people I love, that I want to create a home for and that I want to be there for. There’s the life I want to live outside the uniform. Where long hikes, beautiful gardens, yummy cupcakes, pretty quilts, delicious home-made bread, mail art, and four-legged friends are a daily part of my existence.

How do I combine the two? I feel like I’m being torn in half. Maybe it’ll be different once I’m out of training. There’s just no time. No time for anything. So many things I want to do…and some of them, there’s no point to doing until I’m at my permanent assignment (like the organizing/decorating of our apartment…we’re moving everything in 4 months or less, so it’s pretty pointless), some of them I just honestly don’t have enough time to finish while I’m home. That’s another thing. I feel like nothing is finished. I haven’t finished anything, accomplished anything, in a long time. Well, I did graduate Basic. I guess that was a big one. But still.

Happy Christmas Eve!

Well, it looks like Christmas inside…but outside it’s almost 50 degrees and rainy!

My other half sadly had to work today and probably won’t be home till late, so I’m holed up in our little place by myself. I’m really feeling the homebody vibe right now, so I’m okay with that. I had a really lazy morning drinking coffee, reading the mail (only 2 cards this year, probably because everyone is confused about where the hell I am), and gleefully wrapping Other Half’s presents…which, as I’ve told him umpteen times now, aren’t really Christmas presents…they’re really just stocking stuffers, because we haven’t really done Christmas presents before but I had to have stockings. This year I actually wanted to decorate, where I was a total Scrooge last year. It happens. Life gets better. 🙂

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