*Written the Sunday after my husband left for 2 months, again.*
If anyone would like an unfiltered, inside look at the life of a military wife, let me give you a quick rundown of the first 36 hours following my husband’s departure yesterday:
Saturday, 6:00 a.m.- Leave the house to drive husband to his ship.
Saturday, 7:15 a.m.- Say goodbye to husband for 2 months.
Saturday, 7:16 a.m.- Sob uncontrollably as you drive off base.
Saturday, 7:18 a.m.- Realize he left his gym bag in the backseat, so you call him to ask if he needs it. He does.
Saturday, 7:19 a.m.- Avoid eye contact with the guard checking your military I.D. as you drive back onto base so he doesn’t feel awkward when he sees your puffy, red, completely sopping wet eyeball area.
Saturday, 7:21 a.m.- Return the backpack, but now this goodbye is less dramatic because you already did the dramatic one.
Saturday, 8:30 a.m.- Go back to sleep.
Saturday, 11:00 a.m.- Wrestle with ordering Chinese
or and pizza in preparation to stay inside all day and sulk.
Saturday, 11:30 a.m.- Reject pizza idea, and go to the jeweler like your husband asked of you, to pick up his new wedding ring. (He’s wearing a rubber one while underway…long story as to why he needed a new real one.)
Saturday, 11:45 a.m.- Sit in the jeweler’s parking lot, wondering what to do next, picturing yourself morbidly obese by the time he returns.
Saturday, 12:10 p.m.- Arrive at the Barnes & Noble that is kind of far away, deciding it’s worth $60-70 to buy guilty pleasure books to read for distraction instead of eat for distraction.
Saturday, 1:00 p.m.- Go to the beach and read a book written by a former contestant on The Bachelor ($30).
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.- Realize you haven’t eaten all day, so make a Shakeology shake. Proud of yourself for being so healthy and not binge-eating out of sadness.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.- Order a large pepperoni pizza from La Pizzaria.
Saturday, 4:35 p.m.- Decide to go to the birthday party you thought about bailing on, so you shower before the pizza guy arrives.
Saturday, 5:15 p.m.- Eat 3 1/2 very large slices of pepperoni pizza. You were full after 2, but ate a 3rd for no reason. Then you started eating a 4th and realized you’re going to get sick if you finish it.
Saturday, 6:30 p.m.- Put on a nice (very stretchy) dress and some makeup in order to feel less like a big ball of teary, pizza-y grease.
Saturday, 7:00 p.m.- Run an errand like an adult.
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.- Arrive at birthday party.
Saturday, 9:00 p.m.- Leave birthday party after awkwardly telling a couple you barely know that you ate too much pizza and need to go lay down.
Sunday, 8:00 a.m.- Wake up and read a few chapters of the Bachelor contestant book.
Sunday, 8:30 a.m.- Cancel plans to drive to Richmond in the afternoon for a pageant event.
Sunday, 10:30 a.m.- Go to church alone (no shower).
Sunday, 12:15 p.m.- Eat 2 1/2 slices of pizza, cold this time, while watching Parenthood.
Sunday, 2:30 p.m.- Turn off T.V. and force yourself to start writing a blog post that you were supposed to write on Friday, but didn’t.
Sunday, 3:15 p.m.- Finally get off Facebook and begin writing.
Everyone under the sun has reached out to me, offering support and distraction while Aaron is away. Amazingly, my friends haven’t stopped caring when Aaron leaves, even though it happens every two months. For them, I am extremely grateful. And I will most definitely take them up on their offers for distraction. But not today. Not right now.
No, right now, I want to be alone. Even though I don’t. It’s weird. When you are a military spouse [named Shannon Leyko], you want distraction, but you also want isolation. I can’t decide if it’s because I’m too sad to deal with socializing, or if it’s because I honestly want to get used to living alone again. I think it’s a bit of both.
When I’m down, the last thing I want to do is socialize, even though that’s probably the best thing for me. But I’m tired. I’m drained. I will be terrible company. These sweatpants are so soft.
Although socializing would definitely help ease the overwhelming silence I face without my other half attached to my hip from 7:00 p.m.- 6:00 a.m. every weekday and 24/7 on weekends, I also want to readjust to the quietness. When I lived alone as a single woman in NYC, the silence rarely bothered me. I would sometimes go 2-3 days without speaking to another person if I had a slow work week (waitressing). I’d entertain myself with the gym, writing, social media, long walks, television, you name it. I remember occasional moments of feeling sad in my solitude, but most of the time, I loved it. I’m such an alone person by nature. “Me time” is awesome, making me the perfect candidate for living alone.
In fact, I enjoyed my tiny studio in New York so much that I opted for a one-bedroom apartment just for me, myself, and I when I moved back to Virginia Beach last year. But, as you know, I was married a short 6 months after moving back. Now, that one-bedroom apartment is for my husband and me. I like him so much that I happily took him as a roommate, despite having imagined having the place to myself until I started adopting tons of cats and wearing nothing but moo moos.
Before I knew how great it was to live with someone you love, however, I truly treasured living alone. In his absence, I need to readjust to that mindset– at least enough to be alright while he’s gone. The first two times he deployed, I didn’t embrace living alone for a few different reasons. The first time he left was right after our wedding, and you literally couldn’t reach the refrigerator or walk through our living room because of all the boxes. I opted to stay at my parents’ house about 80% of the time to avoid the mess and lean on their company. The second time he left, I was only home for 4 days before embarking on a month-long road trip, first to stay with friends all over the East Coast, then to visit him at his different port calls in the Northeast. I simply wasn’t home.
This time, while I still may travel to see friends in his absence, and I might occasionally crash at my parents’ house, I plan on staying home much more than before. For the first time– just as every military spouse eventually does– I need to fully embrace flying solo on the homefront as a married woman.
Living alone means killing all the bugs and fixing the sink. It means doing dishes for the approval of no one but yourself. It means carrying all the heavy bags in from the car, calling your landlord when the sink breaks, and remembering to refill the Brita. It means putting on a sweatshirt when you get cold, instead of diving into your husband’s arms. It means going to the gym even though no one is going to ask you how your workout was. It means humming to make sure your voice still works, shaving only when you the spikes on your legs start waking you up from your sleep, and wondering how long it would take for someone to find you if you died.
In those terms, living alone again is pretty dreadful.
But then there’s the side of things that works out pretty well. First of all, I drink a lot less when I’m alone, because I love sharing a glass or two of wine with my husband. I still have the occasional glass on my own, but it’s definitely less frequent. I get to watch whatever I want to watch on T.V. or eat whatever I want to eat without taking into consideration the preferences of anyone else. I get to leave dishes in the sink for 24 hours and not feel guilty. I feel entirely self-sufficient, knowing that I can reattach the chain on the toilet like the Girl Boss I am.
Yeah…writing all those upsides felt pretty lame in comparison to the downsides. Obviously, I far prefer living with my husband. BUT, I’m sure I’ll get better and better at remembering why I used to love living alone when I was single.
If your spouse is in the military and you’re reading this, I hope you know that you’re never alone in the battle to remain happy while he/she’s gone– especially the first few days. Clearly, today’s post is a written illustration of that battle…trying to convince myself that being alone is a good thing. And I’m sure it is, in some ways. But right now, I just feel sick from all the pizza and sad that he’s not here to keep me warm.
Life is full of days when it’s harder to choose happiness than others. As long as you keep trying to see the positives, even if you’re completely unconvincing (just like this blog), you’re doing what you should be doing. That goes for anyone feeling down about anything in life– just keep looking for the light. Fake it ’til you make it. Eventually, I’ll begin truly seeing all those reasons I used to love living alone. But if I’m not trying to see them, I probably won’t. So for now, I’ll just keep telling myself that it’s going to be great.