This upcoming March will mark three years of long distance for my husband Q and I. The main reason for this separation? The Air Force. Q and I decided from the beginning of our relationship that we would support and encourage each other to pursue our passions. Mine took me to college, and his took him to the Air Force. Both of these decisions have made phenomenal impression on us. We have been stretched and challenged in ways that we never would have encountered if one of us had given up a dreams for the other.
The road to this growth however has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination. To be perfectly honest, one of the hardest aspects has been facing the daily response to living in such sacrifice. I think that’s because many people don’t think about sacrifice. Or maybe it’s because sacrifice is something human beings try to avoid for the most part.
Either way, I’m writing this blog post not to shame others and judge their level of sacrifice; but instead to give a little advice to others who are living in sacrifice. I want to tell you what I’ve learned. How you can kindly respond to those around you who just don’t get it. So listen up military spouses, or anyone working in public service. These tips are for you.
- Just say thank you
This sounds pretty simple, right? But when you’ve been bawling your eyes out all night because he just lost his Grandpa and you have no way of comforting him (since, you know, he’s across the ocean), and your coworkers turns to you the next morning and says, “Gosh, I don’t know how you do it. You make living apart look easy.” It’s hard to say thank you. It’s hard to take solace in the fact that you’re just living this out one day at a time, and you don’t really know what you’re doing. Sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. And saying thank you is one of those ways you keep going.
- Allow yourself to smile
Sometimes I get really lonely. Sometimes I just want to be held and admired and forget all of the emptiness that’s left behind when he’s gone. The way I get over this? I go play with one of my nieces and nephews. I visit with a friend over a strong cup of tea. I find joy in someone else’s life. I volunteer myself to help a friend and really plug into their needs. It makes me feel less empty and reminds me that I have a lot to give. Now remember, this takes time and a lot of effort. Friendships that allow you to plug in without taking over are few and far between, but they are a must.
3. Don’t read into what they say… or don’t say
“I haven’t seen my boyfriend in three weeks. It’s killing me.” I haven’t seen my husband in five months,and someone else hasn’t seen their husband in a year. So on and so on it goes. There is always someone who is living worse off than you. I learned a long time ago that comparing my troubles to another person’s
problems is not going to get me anywhere. Instead, I believe that every person has their level of difficulty and discomfort. None are to be compared, but all must be felt. It’s really easy to be offended, and it’s very easy to offend. So instead of making broad statements that end with “It’s killing me”, I say “It’s really hard”. Instead of being offended by someone else’s “comparatively less difficult” situation, I tell them to own it, and know that I feel that way too. It isn’t healthy to be someone who is always looking to be offended.
- Invest in finding one person who gets it
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take the time to find someone else who gets where you’re coming from. One of my very close girlfriends is engaged to a man in the Air Force. He is currently overseas. We have a lot in common. We FaceTime our men instead of going on dates. We get that he lives in our phones. There is something safe and good about being able to text your loved one who is only available for a two-hour stretch and know that your friend isn’t judging you for looking at your phone every thirty seconds. So go, find someone from his squadron, have that talk with his mom, reach out to your sister. Whoever it is you need to talk to, reach out and talk to them.
Did I forget something that has gotten you through the rough times away from each other? Do you want to find someone to talk to but aren’t sure where to start? Maybe you know someone who is struggling and want to pass on my advice. Please feel free to comment and share this post. Thanks for checking in with me and listening to my struggle.