As soon as my boyfriend and I began getting serious about our relationship, my quest for knowledge on life in the military began.
I searched through blog after blog, article after article, and probed my guy with questions upon questions (all of which he was happy to answer and amused by).
For kicks, some of them included:
How do you know who to salute to?
What do you mean you can’t use the pockets on your blouse?!
How do you remember to keep saying “sir”?
I was curious about this lifestyle, and I wanted to know what to expect. Come to find, everyone’s experiences are different, but one thing that is a constant is that you’ll, at some point, be without your partner while they’re on TDY (temporary duty) or a deployment.
Although I’ve been through one TDY already, it was a brief stint of four days, and it was a breeze. It was weird not being around my guy, but it was doable. I managed.
This go around is a little bit different with the TDY lasting a little bit longer, and so far, it’s been a whirlwind.
The first day Felix left was a hard one. I was a mess, because I was fearing the distance, his safety, and my first bought of true aloneness all at once. I expected to feel this way, so I was armed with travel shows, Grace and Frankie, and not one, but two types of Talenti gelato.
When he texted me and told me he landed, I felt better knowing he was there. When he told me he was at his barracks, I felt a little lighter. When he told me he met his wingman (a fellow Captain he’d be spending the majority of his days with), a little more weight lifted off of my shoulders.
It wasn’t until the fourth day of separation that I felt okay and accepting of the semi-long road in front of us.
For those of you who are in a similar situation as me, I’d like to provide with you my list of ways I’m coping with being alone while my service member is away.
Some might work for you, some might not. My TDY is not your TDY. Everyone is different. But so far, they’ve helped me, even on days when I felt at my worst or when I thought the time would never pass.
Ways to Make It Through A TDY or Deployment
- Reexamine your schedule.
This was one of the first things I did as soon as Felix left. When he’s here, I wake up at 5am and go to bed around 9pm. That wasn’t going to work for me while he was away, because a) I love sleeping and b) I’m a night owl. I quickly changed my schedule to fit my needs, because my needs are my priority right now. This won’t work for everyone depending on your schedules, but I suggest tweaking things a bit to make them more appealing to you while you’re flying solo.
- Kept up with my workouts.
The first day Felix was gone, I couldn’t muster up the energy to work out or muster up an appetite for anything other than ice cream and brownies. It happens. But as soon as I saw the light of day, I was back in the gym. Working out releases endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. NAME THAT QUOTE. But in all seriousness, staying focused on my fitness keeps me feeling happy. Bottom line. It makes me feel productive, healthy, and I have an excuse to not wash my hair because “I’m going to the gym later.” Also, is there anything better than leaving the gym a sweaty mess and treating yourself to an iced coffee?
- GET OUT OF TOWN. If you are able to bounce for a bit, BOUNCE FOR A BIT. As soon as Felix told me of his TDY, I booked a five day trip to L.A. to spend time in the sun with one of my best lady friends. It. Was. Awesome. It allowed me to have ample girl time, explore a new-to-me place, and just make me feel gosh darn independent and amazing. Did I miss my dude? Of course I did, but I was in flipping L.A. with a chick who’s too cool for school, so I was good to go.
- Journal. Write everyday. Feeling low? Write. Feeling happy? Write. You’ll want to look back over it when the TDY is said and done. Impress yourself with your growth.
- Hoard all of your favorite snacks without sharing. I’ll be honest and say that it has been wonderful to buy a protein bar, put it in the cabinet, and find it there days later. Felix steals snacks. I have a handful of months of ZERO snack-stealing (unless you count Tuki) and it’s been kind of great.
- Make plans with friends and family. I know this one is on all of the lists, but it’s there for a reason, and it’s because it works. We aren’t saying go out every night and party it up, especially if that isn’t your personality type, but meeting a friend or family member (if they’re close by) once a week will do you wonders. Reconnect with people you’ve lost touch with. And if you’re family isn’t close by, suggest they come visit and play host. I did for nearly a week, and it was wonderful!
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone. You’re not going to want to do this. At all. You’re going to want to sit in your living room and watch Netflix and order take out, and by all means, DO THAT because it sounds amazing, but don’t always do that. Talk to people at places you frequent and form connections. Introduce yourself to people. Go out with new friends. Join a community activity. Do something that you wouldn’t typically do when your person is home. Grow, baby, grow!
When I found out my guy was leaving for work, initially, I was horrified. As soon as we hung up the phone, I buried my face in my hands and I sobbed hard…for ten seconds.
I then stood up, said “Okay. Okay. It’s going to be okay,” and it was, and it has been.
Will you have days that feel like they’ll never end? Oh my God, YES. But will you have more days that fly by? Even more yes.
TDYs and deployments are scary, and not just for the one who stays back at home. They are scary for everyone involved. Your service member misses you too. A lot. And they can’t wait to come home. But while you are separated, use this time of being apart to reconnect with you.
At the end of it all, you will be so, so happy you did.