Seven months ago, I had one of the hardest goodbyes in my life. I said goodbye to the person I love the most in this world. I had to wait patiently for the next year to go by before I could hug my best friend again. And it is hard.
But it is worth it. I'll take every second of it if it means that my best friend comes home safe. I'll relive all the lonely moments if it means we no longer have to be at a distance. I would do it all over again just for him.
I never imagined that I would be a military girlfriend, but I'm so glad that I am. I have learned so much about myself through this journey, and I wouldn't trade that for the world.
At the start of this journey, we knew that this would go one of two ways: we would either grow stronger or this would be the end. We weren't planning on making this the end, but we knew that a deployment can push a couple to their limit.
And it has been rough. It's tough continuing your life without your best friend physically by your side. It's hard coordinating busy schedules from opposite ends of the world, just to have time to Skype for a few minutes. It's scary not being able to talk to them at all times and fearing what might happen. And it's even harder when you aren't a point of contact.
But through it all, we've both learned a lot, not just about each other but about ourselves. Spending so much time apart helped us realize our goals in life and how much we are willing to compromise in order to make our relationship work.
I'm not going to lie, it is very hard. It is emotionally and mentally heavy. Even with a community, it is hard, but without one, as I have had, it feels almost impossible. Deployment loneliness is such an extreme.
But it is through that difficult time that you learn some of the best lessons. You learn who your friends are. You learn how much your families support you and your partner. You learn about who you really are. And those lessons are some that I wouldn't trade for the world.
I've watched myself grow into a different person because of this, and it has made me so much better. While I always was alone, I learned how to enjoy my company more. I discovered some new interests that I never realized I had. I worked and studied harder to get my mind off of the loneliness. I have bettered myself because of this.
Not only have I grown as a person, but my relationship has also grown as well. We've stuck it out through the hard times because we know how much we love each other. When one of us falls short, the other will easily forgive because we know how small those mistakes are. Our trust has grown because we've had no other choice. We've started making plans for our future because we know we want one together. We've simultaneously grown individually and as a couple, realizing our strengths and weaknesses, our goals for ourselves and each other, and we've allowed a tough situation to better us.
When I looked online for some advice on how to endure such a difficult, exhausting life experience, I found very little help. So I'm writing this article for all the girls like me out there. All the ones who are saying goodbye to their whole world for a while. The girls who might not have a community like most military wives do. The girls who are too old, yet too young for their circumstance. The girls who are surrounded with love, but still feel alone without their partner. The girls just like me.
Take this time to figure out who you are. Life is constantly changing, and so are you, my dear. It can be a hard journey, but it is so rewarding. Take this time alone to dive deep and really uncover who you are, what you want and everything else about yourself. It is not selfish to put yourself first, especially in tough, stressful situations.
If you don't have a community, build one yourself. I've made some of my closest friends during this time, and I've grown closer to others that I never imagined.
Discover. Travel, take up a new hobby, take a few different classes. Really put yourself out there and try something new. Really spend this time on yourself.
But lastly, be supportive and loving. Just as this is a very hard situation for you, it's even worse for them. Always be there to support your partner, no matter how hard the times get. You'll never get back this time, use it to your advantage. Just because they aren't physically present, that doesn't mean that they are absent. Grow closer with them, tell them everything, good and bad, and always, always, remind them how much you love them.
It's defining moments like these that lead up to the best stages of your life.