To my civvy friends,
First of all I need to say thank you. Thank you for being there for me when I was doing my first deployment and doubting if Popeye would still fancy me when he came back. Reassuring me when I had worries about if I could do this navy life lark, and turning up with a clinking carrier bag and packet of twenty.
Thank you for being there during all the other deployments when I leant on you for support, when I needed an emergency buddy at A&E, when the car broke down and I needed help. For sending round your partner to mow the lawn when I was by myself with Sweetpea. For answering the phone when I was in tears from watching Christmas adverts.
Now for the apologies. And an explanation.
I’m sorry that as soon as Popeye has leave I go to ground. I’m less reliable than a Flake. I don’t text back. I forget plans. I cancel plans and I am so vague about making plans until the last minute.
Please don’t take this personally. I still love you and need your friendship. I’m not ditching you. I think or rather I hope you understand this.
If you don’t then maybe our friendship isn’t strong enough to survive one of us being a military spouse. And my marriage will always come first.
My time with Popeye is so precious. And since we became parents it is even more so. When he’s home we are in our own bubble and we never know what we want to do day to day. Except to be together. As much as possible. Even when we start to annoy each other.
Because of this we don’t make plans. When he’s home I find it hard to socialise and not be a bit unhinged. We might do a longstanding birthday party or a few spur of the moment meet ups, but, in general we are, and will continue to be selfish.
When he has leave it is our one chance to put us first, possibly all year.
Our relationship might need alone time desperately, not just rudey times but quality time.
We need time together to get to know each other again. We’ve both changed whilst he’s been away and we need time to date, to flirt and then to become a functioning couple again. Whenever he comes back it feels weird to even kiss him or have him close to me for a few days. It’s a good kind of weird but it still takes a while to get used to it.
We need to create memories. All the missed birthdays and anniversaries have to be compensated for in a few short weeks during the summer and possibly Easter. Christmas is usually filled with family visits and as such is so mentally busy we hardly see each other. Besides he’s never had all 3 bouts of leave in a year since I’ve known him. So we use these precious few days to treat ourselves and spoil each other. Because we don’t know when our next opportunity will be.
Sometimes our time apart has really tested us. We need time to resolve any issues that have come up whilst we’ve been apart. This is not something we can do in a public/social arena. We need to be at home, talking and finding our way back to normal.
We need to get practical. As you know I try to carry on as “normal” when he’s away but there are always projects or plans saved for leave. This can be because only he can do them or because I feel only he should do them.
Like putting together his daughters new bedroom furniture because he missed her birth and first 6 months of her life. Like decorating the house so it feels like it’s his home too, and so he can find out where everything is kept in the kitchen before we have that big summer BBQ. Because he hasn’t been here since before we moved house and he would be mortified if a guest asked him where something was and he didn’t know. In short we need time for him to feel at home.
I hope you accept my apologies because we won’t be changing. And I hope you accept my thanks because I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being my civvy friend and balancing out the madness and giving me a reality check of how it’s supposed to be. Thank you for your perspective.
I hope you understand why I am the way that I am.
All my love,
A military spouse, or partner.
One thought on “To my civvy friends”
I love my civvy friends but the transition to having mostly civvy friends was tough. My husband has been retired for two years but I still miss living near base because all of the wonderful, relatable points you brought up in your post were never said around other military spouses– they were going through the same things as well. I’m still a novelty amongst my friends, as the token military wife, and I don’t mind. I just miss the camaraderie that came with base living. Even though my husband was deployed seven months of the year and still spent thirty-six hours at home a month when he was home, knowing that dozens of other spouses in my area were going through the same exact thing made me feel less lonely.