As 4th of July is approaching, I figured it would be a perfect day to share a little from my journals during my short time as an Army wife!
I have always kept journals, since I was in elementary school. Boy are those funny to look back at! Journaling has always been my personal therapy, as I am such an introvert when it comes to sharing how I am really feeling about things going on in my life. I kept a journal through his boot camp and then through his 1st deployment. Just recently, I started typing my Army life journals to put it into book form, so I can print it some day, and my future daughter will be able to enjoy reading about my life as a military wife!
These are some excerpts from my journals! Please enjoy the raw feelings mixed with some humor!
So, why am I writing this and sharing my thoughts and feelings? Well, for starters it is great therapy for me! Secondly, as a new Army wife, in this new thing called Army life, I could not find one book out there for a girl like me. What does “a girl like me” mean? Good question! We became a part of the Army life at the “older” age of 26 and 28. We both have our bachelor’s degrees. We do not have kids…yet (I was hoping the military automatically made me fertile)! We’re working on that! I had a career that I loved and was very proud of. My dad calls us “DINK’s” (Dual Income No Kids)! We lived apart for a year and half. I did not grow up around anything military life related, so this is ALL new to me. I am no expert whatsoever, but I am not alone. There is someone out there that is just like me, sitting alone, wondering how they are going to get through another day without their better half, or another day of Army life. I am experiencing emotions that I never knew existed, never wanted to experience, can’t wait to be done experiencing them, etc.
Background story on Paul and I: We started dating in 2001, I was 15 ½ and Paul was almost 17. We were engaged in 2008 and married on May 30th 2010 (the best day of our lives)! Paul is now 29 and has his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. I am 28 and have my bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Paul joined the Army in September 2011. He left for Infantry boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia, March 26th 2012. His boot camp and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) was a total of 16 weeks. He is now stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. He left for Afghanistan December 15, 2012 and came home August 6, 2013. We’ve missed 2 wedding anniversaries, 1 round of birthdays, 2 Easters, 2 Fourth of July’s (One of my fav holidays), 1 Christmas, and numerous family and friend functions! We have 100 more years to make these up, but in the moment, making memories without your better half, feels like the world is caving in on you.
He was gone at boot camp from March 26th to his graduation date of July 13th. His boot camp was at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. During this time we had to write letters, yes, old fashioned snail mail letter writing. Let me tell you, I miss it terribly. Letters are so unbelievably romantic. I will cherish forever, the letters I have from him during boot camp.
The weekend of June 9th (his birthday is the 8th) he got a 32 hour family pass. Originally I was not going to attend as flights were expensive and I had already registered for my college graduation ceremony. What were we thinking? I needed to get my ass on a plane and be with him! In the meantime, I had met some wives whose boyfriends or husbands were with Paul, on Facebook. His company had a Facebook page and they would post updates pretty regularly. I met a girl named Kerry whose boyfriend Josh was with Paul. They are from Pennsylvania and a little older like we were and Josh is the same rank as Paul. We got talking and all of us wives were exchanging travel information. Most were driving as they lived close enough. We all gave out our phone numbers so we could catch up once we made it to Fort Benning. Kerry sent me a text and we realized our flights got into Atlanta about 15 minutes apart. We decided to share the cost of a rental car since we were going to the same place and we booked the same hotel. We instantly made a friendship connection and had a blast experience all of these emotions together as we went to pick up our specialists (E4 rank)! From picking out every outfit for each event and texting pictures, to silent screaming together, to laughing at all of the Georgia things we had never experienced, and stalking our men for roughly 4 hours and FINALLY catching a video of them walking past us as we are the only car in the parking lot, and 2 blondes stick out like a sore thumb with no tinted windows! We have the greatest memories and awesome pictures/videos to show for it! She will always be my battle buddy!
After boot camp, he had to report to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas and found out what unit he would be assigned to. Once we found out the unit, I, as the researcher I am, went looking up the unit online and found they had a Facebook page. I instantly started following it to see what was going on. One day I logged on and see a flyer for a deployment readiness workshop. Say what? Did I see that right? This confirmed every fear I had. So, he is deploying. Deploying to Afghanistan for 9 months. I really have a hard time expressing my feelings about it. Of course I knew this would happen; of course I have always known this is what Paul wants. But once it is a reality…it changes everything. I am scared, sad, worried already, excited for him, wondering how I am going to do it, etc.
I believe it was like 3:45 in the morning when we woke up. Although we never really slept that night. We stayed up as late as we could so we didn't miss any second we could together. There was a lot of silence as we were both filled with nerves and every emotion in the book. We drove to his unit on post. We sat in my car for a while just holding hands and getting in as many kisses as possible, again not saying much. We watched the sun rise and then I walked him into his unit. You could sense the excitement of the guys and the nervousness of the wives. They weren't leaving for a couple of hours, but we decided just to say our “see you laters” now so I can hit the road and not have to drive in the dark. It hit me, I started to cry. I took in every smell, every kiss, every touch I could. I didn't want to let go of his hand. I didn't want to get in my car, I didn't want to drive away alone. I didn't want this to be happening right now. I drove away, hysterically crying. I stopped and took a picture of him outside of my car, love this picture! He watched me drive away; I could see him in my rear view mirror. My heart was racing; I was crying even harder; I could barely see the road.
I was still in contact with Paul while he traveled from El Paso to 2 stops in the US. After he left the US they stopped in Russia and were there for a couple days. We were able to use Wi-Fi to FaceTime/Skype and email back and forth. Thank God for technology. You will be saying this once your service member leaves! You’ll notice in this book that I actually heard from him a lot during the deployment. That was the biggest blessing while he was gone. My mom and sister were over for dinner a couple days after I was home, when I got the text “Getting on the plane to Afghanistan, not sure when I will be able to call. I love you.” I couldn't speak. I just cried, the tears started to roll and didn't stop the entire night. Everything made me cry. This is the real deal. He is going into a hostile country. I don’t know where he is, how he is getting there, if he’s safe, where he is going to sleep. The vicious cycle of thoughts started, and really didn't stop the entire deployment to be honest with you.
I could go on and on from my journals! Just wanted to share a little on the emotions a military wife went through! I feel like God gave me the role as a military wife, because he knew I could handle it! You are not alone. You are on assignment, He chose you for exactly what you are doing right now.
Have a blessed weekend!
Boot Camp Pics!
Do yourself a favor, and hire a professional photographer! These memories can't be replaced!