Going nine months without seeing the love of my life when he was on deployment was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced.

While he was gone, there were a lot of things he had to do that he wasn't allowed to go into detail about. I lost a lot of sleep when he went out on missions or when he didn't answer his phone for long periods of time. I was fortunate enough to talk to him nearly every day, but that didn't always take away the nerves. The unknown was the scariest part.

The most reoccurring words I've heard throughout this entire deployment was “you're so strong," but I never felt strong. For the first several months, I broke down nearly every day. I cried in my bed or in the shower where no one could see or hear me. I even questioned if I should publish what you are reading right now, but I genuinely didn't feel strong.

I was at an all-time low. I have never been one to bottle things in. If I'm upset, you know it. But this was the first bothersome situation that I rarely spoke about with friends or family. There were several times I questioned if I was depressed. I lost touch with myself and even sometimes with God.

I felt lonely. Not only did I feel distant from him, but I felt like I couldn't relate to anyone else. I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone around me because no one else understood what I was going through. I wanted to express my feelings to him, but I felt pathetic complaining about my problems when he was going through so much worse.

I didn't realize my strength until it was nearly all over. I have grown so much in these past nine months and can see so many changes in that amount of time.

I've learned that strength doesn't necessarily mean I had to go through this challenging experience without crying or feeling an ounce of sadness. It's okay to cry and to feel the way you're feeling. But true strength is accepting what is happening, acknowledging your feelings and knowing that they're okay, and pushing through each and every day, despite the roadblocks.

It wasn't until the end of deployment where I realized that I did wake up with a positive attitude every day, I did laugh and make the most of this blessed life that I have, and I did wait patiently and loyally for my boyfriend.

I did something that many people can't do, and I'm pretty damn proud of that.

We got through this experience together, and we're both ready to take on whatever God has in store for us next.