The Experience of a Lifetime

Hello My Darling MilSo’s!

It took me long long time to figure out how to write this post, because the last thing that I wanted to do was to deter you from your own journeys in your relationships, but honesty has always been my best bet, so here goes!

My Marine and I broke up. I know, I know, you’re all gasping and heartbroken and maybe even about to stop reading but please don’t! There was no horrible scandal, no cheating or lying or really even broken hearts. You see, we started dating when we were seventeen years old, and were together for three amazing years. However when you look at those three years we were together, that is the time when people do, in my opinion, the most growing and changing of their life. Especially when you go down such different paths as we did. I am in college, and last semester I studied abroad in Florence, Italy (the MOST AMAZING EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE AND I WOULD LOVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT IF YOU ASK IN THE COMMENTS) and he is in the Marines, which is full of structure and rules. Filled with constant early morning wake ups, unforgiving standards, and a very steady way of life. My life is not like that, especially when I was abroad.

Eventually, we simply realized that we were still together because it was comfortable, not because we were happy. And that’s ok. I mean hell, I’m 21 years old. It’s okay that I have changed, and he changed, and it’s okay for us to change again and again. That’s what being in your 20s is all about, discovering who you are… and as it turns out, we weren’t the same people that we had been in high school which, again, is ok.

But fear not, this post is not one of discouragement and sorrow, it is actually one of joy and thanksgiving. Even if I knew back then how the relationship would turn out, you can bet your bottom dollar that I would still do it! I loved my Marine with all my heart, and a part of me will always love him and be thankful to him because he truly taught me what it was to love another person. True love. Beyond experiencing that with him, I learned so much about myself through the whole process. I learned about my strength when I had to endure him being at bootcamp, my independence during all those months where we were on opposite sides of America, my ability to love so much it hurts, and much much more.

So please girls, I beg you to keep doing what you are doing because it is truly the experience of a lifetime to love someone in the military. And not all couples will grow apart, but even if you do, know from experience that it is SO beyond worth it!

All my love,

 

Lacey

You Gotta Love Yo Self

If you don’t know this already, you will soon find out: being a ‘military girlfriend’ is a fairly rare thing. In military culture, couples get married soon and they get married young. I completely understand this, I can imagine how many hardships I wouldn’t have to face if my Marine and I were to go ahead and get married, and I’ll admit, the idea is very tempting. But I decided to share my personal story of why we are deciding to wait to get married.

Firstly, you should know that my boyfriend is stationed in 29 palms, CA and I attend Clemson University in SC. We are 2,171.3 miles apart. There have been many times where I have considered at least transferring schools to a university in California so that we would at least be closer. However, Clemson has been my dream school since I was a child. My mother, aunt, uncle, and both of my cousins are all Clemson alumni (Dad played football and baseball at a school in Minnesota, so he’s the odd one out… We try to forgive him). At Christmas and Thanksgiving, all you see are Clemson class rings. Furthermore, since I got here, I have fallen even more in love with my school, which I didn’t know was even possible. There is nothing in the entire world that can compare to a Clemson football game. It gives me chills even thinking about it. There are 451 other reasons why I love my school so much, but in short, it’s home to me. It is where I belong and I am filled with joy even being able to tell people that I am a Clemson student. When my Marine got his orders and we found out that he would be stationed in California, I put a lot of thought into whether or not I would transfer. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t imagine my life without my Marine and definitely want to spend it with him, which is part of the reason why I chose to stay at Clemson. It’s like this, my man is following his dreams, living life as a United States Marine, and I chose to stay figuratively by his side, supporting and loving him even though it brought a long of pain and hardship into my life. And that is awesome, I am so happy and proud that he is able to do that, but that is what being here is to me. I am following my dream of getting a degree from Clemson University. Now I am NOT bashing women who got married right out of high school or left everything they knew for their military man. I am sure that for them, that was living their dream, but getting married is not my biggest goal right now. While I do hope and pray to be married to my man one day, getting my degree from my school is my biggest dream right now. I can get married after college, but this, going to school and getting the Clemson experience, is something I can only do now. I know that if he asked me to move to CA, and I went, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I would always have those what ifs, and every time I watched my Tigers play I would hate myself for not being there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s gonna be hard. It’s one of the hardest things in the world, being away from the person you love. What keeps me going is the knowledge that if it is meant to be, it will be, and thinking about what an amazing life we’re going to be able to lead together, once we have lived our dreams and supported each other through them.

What you have to realize is that it’s not about not loving him enough to move across the country, it’s about loving yourself enough to know that you need to follow your dreams too. He made the decision to join the military, and while you love him and support him, you need to know that he made that decision so he could follow his dreams. Which is smart! Now is the only time in your life when you have an excuse to be selfish; when you don’t have a family, or a mortgage. Do whatever you want to do with your life, whether that is going to college, joining the peace corps, or getting married. The most important thing is that whatever you do is going to make you happy. Sorry this got so long, but I think it’s important to tell you that while military culture will pressure you like crazy to get married, it’s okay to not. Do what makes you happiest, and follow your dreams!!

The Ugly Truth

* This post may be a little hard to read, but it’s the truth, and it’s a truth that no one warned me about, but one I feel that you need to be warned about. Also, I am in no way bashing the military, but just attempting to open some eyes.

Being in the military is, in my opinion, THE most brave, honorable, and strong thing that any person can do. I always thought it was a great thing to do, but I have learned so much more about it than I ever knew before becoming a Military SO. It is brave and honorable because yes, these people are putting their lives on the line for the country, but there’s also so much more strength and commitment involved than I ever knew. Last weekend, a man who my Marine is in school with, committed suicide. Now I do not blame this on the military, because I think there definitely were other issues going on there, but it did make me think hard about the things that my Marine and others are experiencing that are much harder than they anticipated.

Now before you start, I do realize that yes, they knew they were committing the next 4 years (at least) to the military, and that they knew they would have to move around and follow the rules, but I think even the most knowledgeable men were still surprised by the reality that is military life. Especially if they keep in touch with a lot of their friends who are civilians and going to college, or even just living civilian life. Because here’s the reality that you should know before joining or committing to a relationship with someone in the armed services:

Never plan on anything for sure. Their liberties are not guaranteed and are at the whim of their superiors. They can be taken for reasons that have nothing to do with your man’s behavior, or even the behavior of his platoon. When this happens, he will be devastated, and you need to stay positive because he will be dealing with a lot of disappointment, without your added sadness. You will need to be very flexible with your schedule, and not ever make any sure plans. You have to understand that if they do in fact get restricted liberty, they will be confined to their base, and while the base may have things for them to do, the fact is, for enlisted, they are 18/19 years old, and while their friends are doing whatever they want on the weekends; traveling, or staying out as late as they want, they are following strict rules. One of the great things about college for me, was that I could do whatever I wanted without my parents permission. No curfew, no rules, just freedom. I could stay up until 4am just because I wanted to, or go visit my friends at their schools on weekends, or go home, or drive off to anywhere whenever I felt like it. (I didn’t go crazy and do this, because I needed to keep my scholarships and therefore go to class) but the point is that I could if I wanted to. Your SO doesn’t have this option, and even though they may have known this, it isn’t really that big of a deal until they are living it, so be compassionate and realize how hard it would be to be confined to your campus or town at all times. There are many many things that your SO probably won’t realize are big issues until they’re there, such as being punished for someone else’s actions, being told that they will very likely be stationed here or there and then not getting that place, having to be with a partner every time they leave the barracks, and being told they will get their phones at a certain time, and not getting them until 2 hours later, if at all.

Again, I am not trying to make the military seem like a horrible thing at all, just expressing that there are things our boys will encounter that are hard, and things that civilians will never have to deal with or understand.

Also, I cannot stress this enough; you will really NEVER understand how military life works unless you live it. And being in the family of an officer and the family of an enlisted member are very different. Being in the family of someone who was is in as a career and a one or two term-er are also very different things. Rules change, orders change, and times change. Don’t ever let someone who had a family member in or who was in a failed military relationship try to tell you that you shouldn’t feel how you do, or it’s never going to work, or they knew what they were getting into so you guys shouldn’t be upset. You have every right to be sad, or upset, or even mad at the military, but the most important thing is that you accept that it is what it is, and move on from your frustration and focus on the positive things.

Long distance military relationships are a special kind of beast, but they are not impossible, and they are not a long, depressing time in your life that you just cry your way through. Prayer is the number one way that I deal with the bad news, let downs, and months on end without seeing the man I love. You have to trust that this move is what is best for your SO, and if nothing else, try to focus on how amazing times will be when this is over and you can be together without the rules, dropped Skype calls, cancelled liberties, and constant fear of deployment. Romans 8:18 says “The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that is coming.” I think that is something to hold on to dear readers, because how amazing will it be when you are together, and know that you made it through a situation that most people could never imagine? It’s hard, but I know it will be oh so worth it. I believe in God’s plan, I believe in hope for the future, and I believe in the love that my Marine and I share. So be strong, be encouraging, be loving, and believe in yourself and your relationship.

How to Deal With Not Knowing

I have always thought that one of the hardest things in life is the unknown. Some people are blessed from the start with a blind trust that everything in their life will work out the way it should, and that there’s no need to worry. I have never been one of those people. As my life has gone on, I have seen things work out, prayers answered, or even unanswered, that have led to everything being okay. Unfortunately, this simple fact of life is multiplied infinitely when you being to date someone in the military. A few weeks before my Marine graduated boot camp, I began to stress and worry about who the man would be that I was going to see at Parris Island. One of the most precious things about our relationship was always that we could keep each other laughing. Together we are so light hearted and joyful, and I worried that through his transformation into a Marine that would all be lost. As it turned out, the worry was for nothing. He was the same man he had always been, and the laughter and fun was definitely still there, in fact he was so happy to be able to laugh and joke again. I foolishly thought that would be the end of all my worry for a while. After they graduate, they go to MCT, and then they go to school for their job (forgive me, I forgot the acronym for that one),  and then finally they get stationed somewhere. My Marine is currently at school for his job, and is only a short 4 hours from me, which is awesome. The hard part came when we got the news that only 10 guys from his “class” will be stationed on the East coast. And then we were told that if he does get stationed there, there is a good chance he will be deployed in September. I don’t say this to discourage you, to let you know that it doesn’t ever get better or anything like that, I just wanted to say that I too, am dealing with uncertainty, and understand that no matter what stage of the relationship you’re in, there will always be a certain level of it. There are no simple steps to magically make the worry disappear, but there are 2 sure fire ways to keep your sanity and not lose your mind with worry and stress.

1. Pray it out!!!  There is no better way to ease my mind than to realize that all of this is in God’s hands. Everything will work out according to His perfect plan, and that thought alone is enough to bring me comfort. If we are meant to be, we will find a way to be, and if not, I have been so blessed by every day I get to spend with this man that I love with all my heart and who loves me.

2.Make Every Day Count – There really is no time like the present. Right now, instead of worrying about what may happen, I am enjoying him being so close. I enjoy being able to talk to him, even for a short time, every day because I know that one day we may face a time once again where we don’t get that.

Holi(HellishI)Days

With the infamous Valentine’s day coming up, I thought it apt to take a minute to give you some tips on how to handle not only V Day, but other special days sans your significant other. There is no magic formula, no way to really completely take your mind off of it, but there are a few alternatives to crying into a tub of ice cream!

1. Family Time! If you’re able to see your family on these holidays, they can be a great help when it comes to taking your mind off the sadness, especially if you’re in college or don’t live at home and can enjoy some time that you don’t always get to spend with them.

2. Workout… Once you convince yourself to go, you won’t regret it and I do promise you that! All those happy endorphins it releases will get your spirits up! The hard part is actually convincing yourself to get up and go!

3. Stay Off Social Media! The last thing you need is to see all those other couple’s sssuuppeerrr sweet and cute pictures of how awesome and amazing their day was. Yes it’ll be hard, but if you can do basic training/deployment/or date a military man, you can stay off the social for a day!

4. Girl Time – Never underestimate the power of girl time! I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, nothing is quite as therapeutic as some quality time with your leading ladies.

I am sorry that this is such a short list, but there’s a lot of things I could tell you to do that don’t really work. These are the few things I’ve found that can take my mind off the hardness of the day, but it depends on you, and what makes you happy and less sad! I hope that you all are able to spend Valentine’s Day with your man, but if not, know that I am in your shoes, and we will make it through!!

Oh my love, My darling

**Warning: This is a sappy love post, so just be ready.

Being in any relationship is hard, not to mention a long distance relationship, and then on top of that, there is added stress when you’re involved in a military relationship. It can be hard and lonely, but for me, it’s totally worth it. They say that God made special women to love military men, and I couldn’t agree more with that. For me personally, it was never really a choice I had to make. I fell head over heels, blindly in love with my man, and I couldn’t imagine doing life without him. And while it is definitely true that this life is hard, there are so many blessings that it brings. I have given this much thought, on the nights when I come home alone and my friends are with cute boys, or dancing it up with tall dark handsome strangers, and what I have now with my Marine, is more than I have ever known and could have ever imagined. No matter if we break up, this whole experience has been well worth it. My wish for you dear readers is that you find that same peace and happiness with your relationships. The experiences that we have shared, memories we’ve made, and love that we have shared are things that I will never forget. I believe with every piece of me that I could spend the rest of my life with this man. However, I also know that the odds are against us, and what’s in God’s plan will come to fruition. Even if he is not the man God has planned for me, I have been blessed to experience a love like this. Making it through bootcamp has shown me how strong I am, which in itself is awesome. If you can face the challenges that it presents, and keep the faith and the strength, it is such a blessing in discovering the strength you have. The benefits I have reaped from experiencing life as not only as a military girlfriend, but also someone who is blessed with the amazing man I have are innumerable and I probably will never know how many exist, but the biggest one I have seen is this:

I was blessed with an amazing family, and wonderful parents that raised me in a church. I also went on an amazing mission trip to Monterrey, Mexico that changed to way I saw the world; so I had definitely experienced God’s glory and awesomeness before in my life. I will tell you this though, being in this relationship with my Marine every day has shown me so much of God also. I don’t know how someone can feel the kind of genuine, pure, unconditional love and not believe that God created that for two people. That kind of thing just has to be created by a divine being. Words can’t describe the feelings and emotions and joy that can be experienced when you love and are loved in return. I once read a quote that said “to love and be loved in returned is to feel the sun from both sides”. I don’t know if that’s a strong enough analogy for me, but it has a nice ring to it;)

To conclude, I hope that you are able to feel these emotions once in your life, because nothing compares. Even if you make it through basic and don’t stay together, you have felt your love tested and you have persevered, which is something not many people can do. When things get hard, and I feel lonely or sad or I’m questioning my future, I just think about what I have been so blessed to experience for almost 2 years now. Things in this MilSo life are tough, and I know there are more hardships to come, but I hope that not only you, but I can take a minute to remember how blessed we are to love these true American Heroes.

A slap in the Face(book)

This is just a quick little post to give some real insight as to the MilSo “Support Groups” of Facebook. I joined one of these soon after my recruit left for basic, and I’ll be honest, I was really disappointed. I was really excited to know that there were other girls who were going through the same thing as me! As you may know if you read my other posts, I am a college student, so that puts a bias on my perspective. I also am very close with my Marine’s mother. That is something that was one of the most helpful things to me while he was gone, was my relationship with her. So having both the things in my life, I was horrified by what I found on the “support” pages. There was a lot of girls/women on there bashing their SO’s mom or family, or girls planning their weddings when their boyfriends were on leave. There was also some serious bashing of women labeled “Dependa’s” or “Dependapotamous’s” or “Tag Chasers” which are women who only date/marry military men for the benefits. The posts that actually talked about what life was like when you’re dating someone in the military or posts supporting girls who were dating those men were few and far between. Now you may get lucky and find one that is actually very helpful and encouraging, but I was really upset and sad when I discovered that this thing that was supposed to be for “support” was really an outlet for drama and complaining.