The Learning Stage

It has been about 18 months since my husband has been on shore duty. Over 20 months since he’s been off the ship. Our marriage began with only a few months left on his sea duty, with a few underways scattered about; which, after going through a long distance relationship, seemed easy to get through.

Since the beginning of shore duty I have said that we were getting spoiled. Oh, so true. Who wouldn’t when work days are shorter and there are no duty shifts (other than, “Hey, I’ve got to stay at work an extra hour since I’m on duty”).

It is then understandable that after two years of marriage, and just under two of shore duty, having him gone for a few days is surprisingly challenging. Not challenging as in, “I can’t handle it — please, please come home!” But challenging in that I’m realizing I need to start learning some tricks of the trade.

The evening after I dropped Adam off at the airport was by far the worst. Yes, I indulged myself in unhealthy foods. Our weekend had been extremely busy with every hour scheduled, and though I was with him most of the time, we weren’t spending time together (in that way a girl likes to spend time). Monday was better, but still annoying. I wrapped myself up in his Navy sweatshirt and sat around trying to decide what I should do. Tuesday progressed to still wearing his sweatshirt but working on homework and cleaning up Michael’s room. Last night, I decided that I needed to figure this thing out, otherwise when he switches over to sea duty again I’m going to be an unorganized mess — with a kid.

Today has been the best day. I still have a few days to go, but so far I’m confident. There are a few things I’ve learned that will help my mind get out of the “oh, I am so pathetic — I’m already feeling so lonesome without my man!”:

  1. Cook for yourself. Yeah, this may seem elementary, but frankly it’s been awhile since he’s been gone from the house. I’ve realized that by cooking a proper dinner for myself (and for Michael) I am not only getting my butt out of my chair but also proving that I am still worth dinner. My eating dinner doesn’t stop just because he’s gone — especially with my present appetite!
  2. Take advantage of him being gone. The stage of “I like anything you like, Honey” has passed, thankfully. There are things he doesn’t like, and things I don’t like. First, I decided to play some Buble’ music, and then listen to Christmas music. Yes, you heard me. Christmas music. Second, I chose a meal that, if I recall correctly, he doesn’t like so much. And, of course, cookies he isn’t a fan of, either.

Granted, these seem pretty simple and not much. But it really hit me last night that this is something I need to learn to get through, whether it’s for a few days or for months. They say to keep busy, which is a good thing as long as I don’t become too busy. However, I’m seeing the truth in the other thing they say, “Take time for yourself”. Just because no one is around the house to care about me doesn’t mean that I stop caring for myself. What good does it do anyway? I am worth my own effort, and my worth is not dependent on others. Isn’t that what God wants for my life?

Adam and I have talked often about when he switches back to sea duty. It’s honestly a tough discussion, mostly because I see the emotional struggles I’m going to go through. Yet, I am glad for this week’s opportunity to be reminded of what life is like in the military. By viewing this as a learning stage for what’s to come it will help me get through it, and get through what the future holds for us. It’s important to take the mind off the difficulties and onto the solutions.

Doesn’t stop the missing him, and doesn’t stop that ache in the heart for him to be home. I will always miss him, even when he’s been gone for a few hours. It’s just the way I’m wired.

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