Memory blindness.

I want to talk about something that has happened to me every single deployment. 

It’s not something I’m proud of but its still a thing that happens time and time again so I’m hoping that it is therefore, normal and healthy. And sane. 

It happens when they’ve been gone for a good chunk of time. 2-3 months maybe. The longer they’ve been gone the worse it is.

Im going about my day to day fabulousness and I’m generally coping and looking pretty fly whilst doing so.

It hits me.

The crippling, genuine fear that I’ve actually forgotten what Popeye looks like and/or sounds like. 

It’s happened. 

I’ve gone memory blind.

  

“Omg omg omg I am the worst wife/girlfriend/life partner ever.” 

I blush and get a hot and cold panicky feeling in the bottom of my tummy. 

Suddenly I pelt my poor deployment beaten brain with such questions as:

What does his nose look like?!

What are the shade of his eyes?!

Does he have Gaston from beauty and the beast type chin or a Rick from TWD type chin?!

Does he like ketchup or mayonnaise?

Exactly how tall is he?!

WHO IS POPEYE?!?!?!!!!!!!” 

                                     

Sure sure I could just whip my phone out and look at a picture. But that would be cheating. So instead I go for the self torture route. Of course. Very healthy. Very British. 

I test myself. I quiz myself and berate myself for every question my memory can’t answer perfectly and instantly. 

“What are the shape of his lips?

How do I hold hands?

What does kissing feel like?!?!” 

These last two tie me up in knots as I freak out over whether I will remember how to snog on homecoming day. 

Visions of teeth crashing together or accidentally giving him a Glaswegian Kiss sail into my merciless mind as I struggle to remember the slant of his eyebrows.

Cursing my memory to the depths of Hades- I give in and open up Facebook to see Popeyes smiling face. I let myself have a little cry and resolve to study every freckle and hair, every quirk and crease until they are tattooed on my memory. 

And as for the kissing and hand holding I will just have to wing it on the day and hope that he’s feeling as beyond nervous as I am to see each other face to face again.

Besides if I do accidentally nut him in the face it will be one hell of an ice breaker, right? 

Muchos love,

Olive

X

Saying goodbye. The ugly truth. 

Goodbyes. They ain’t pretty. 

And I’ve got something awful to tell you. Something I’ve only just figured out after almost 5 years of marriage.

They DONT GET EASIER. 

I assumed that they would. Surely they HAVE TO. Right? 

The first goodbye was head spinningly, puke inducingly, hot and cold flashingly – surreal. 

I stumbled back to the car at the train station and sped off before Popeye had even made it over the train station walk way bridge. He turned around (apparently to give me a last romantic wave and blow me a kiss)- to hear wheels screeching, to see me speeding off with clouds of l&b smoke coming out of the drivers window and some probably angry “girl power” music blaring. Just the classy, elegant stage exit I was aiming for. Not. 

Next time round I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t breathe and got snot on his coat. See this time I knew. I knew how hard it was going to be

I knew it was real. I knew it would take work. I knew long lonely evenings stretched out ahead of me. I knew the harsh reality of no contact was not romantic. That sending parcels did not equate to spending time together. 

I knew I was going to have to dig deep. Again. I was going to have to endure side ways head tilts from well meaning people and people telling me how bloody strong I am. Again. 

In short part of my panic and grief was because there was no illusion left. I had done my first deployment. 

The level of shiteness of the goodbye stayed the same to be honest, over the next few goodbyes. It never got easier to be fair. And I would sway wildly between hysterical-crying-snot-monster and dangerous-driver-denial-woman. 

Side note: I’ve always wanted to master the “black and white film star” goodbye. You know, with me standing there on the train platform, or dockside, or even (more likely) car park/lay by. And my makeup is fresh and dewy and my hair is immaculate and I have a hat on. And I wave him off with a kiss and a single tear glistening on my cheek. 

A bit like this:

  
This has never happened. It’s more like when Bellatrix Lestrange loses it in Harry Potter. 

  
Anyway…

So yes the awfulness of the goodbye kind of plateaued for a while. 

Until we had Sweetpea. Then this whole other level of goodbye horribleness opened up like a cess pit hidden under a rubbish tip. 

They are getting harder. So much harder in fact that I am seriously considering telling Popeye to just disappear, to sneak off and not tell us he’s going. I know I would wake up, realise he’s gone and turn into a kraken but by then he would be safely aboard a warship and (fairly) out of my wraths reach. 

At the moment, on his side of things he’s finding it so difficult and heart breaking to look into his daughters baby blues and say the G word, that he’s considering packing it all in and maybe *whispers*- leaving the navy. 

I know, right?!?! 

To be fair he has considered leaving approx 5,285 times since I met him. He mentions it at least once a week. So I don’t think it’s a totally serious idea, yet. 

But what happens when these frankly cruel 9 month deployments start up for us in 2016? Which  we did NOT sign up for ? 

In fact I’m sure there are hundreds of naval families and couples up and down the UK feeling the same. 

Anyway the ugly truth is out. And I’m sorry to be one to break it to you. Unless I’m wrong and I’m just getting wimpier?! God I hope that’s true for all our sakes! 

Still I know I can do it. It’s just usually the more you do something the easier it becomes, right? So how come this law of nature is not applying to our goodbyes? 

Maybe Brian Cox knows.  

Muchos love x

The run ashore

So it’s happening again. A run ashore is imminent.  My response to this varies wildly, so much so Popeye is now pretty cautious about how he tells me. My response SEEMS to depend on whether or not I’m on maternity leave and hormonal  or have work the next day or not. There may be other factors at play here. 

Basically I’m jealous of him and how free he can be. My life is tied down and full of adult responsibility. I have to be (vaguely) sensible. I have to be organised.  His life, when he’s onboard, hasn’t really changed (outside of his job role), since he was 16. 

  

If you have no kids and can go out and party hard yourself at the drop of a hat then good for you (teeny bit jealous here btw) . DO IT. Do it for ME if nothing else.

Forget all about how much fun they are having, who they are with, what super dooper clubs they are in, what exciting shinnanigans they are having and enjoy yourself

However. If you cant get rat arsed on a Tuesday or Thursday from lunchtime onwards, because of silly, unimportant, things, like:

  • Have to go to work the next day.
  • You are woken up by small people screaming at you for boobs or porridge at the crack of fecking dawn every day of your life. Forever.
  • You (shockingly) haven’t got stupid amounts of free money wanging around to spend on booze and taxis and casinos and more booze.
  • You actually want to sit in, curled up with a bottle of wine  cup of tea and bag of malteasers and watch new The Walking Dead, Stella or Modern Family or some new box set.
  • Inviting your bestie round for a bitch and gossip  catch up sounds like a much more appealing evening than having punctured ear drums and freshers spilling apple sours on you. 

DONT feel bad. You are not alone. Most of the Navy and Military Wife/Partner population will be feeling the same, whilst skimming through sky+ and checking their phone. 

Its NORMAL to feel jealous. They don’t have the same responsibilities as we do. To be there for our kids night and day 24/7. To go to work not smelling of sambouca and shame. To budget so we don’t, as a family, starve.

We have the luxury of a comfortable house around us, entertaining TV or company for good nights in. They don’t. They have honking pits, and are thrown together with others that, some of the time, are a bunch of pricks. 

When Popeye is deployed and goes on a Run Ashore I try to empathise. And when I thought about it I realised holy crap of I was in the Navy I’d be out having a drink (or ten) too! After being stuck in that metal box for, possibly weeks, working all hours God sends and thinking about home and missing us and seeing our faces smiling down from above his bed whilst he plays the same Xbox game for a few hours of free time. 

  

Shit man, I’d probably be drinking like a fish and dancing on tables in denial by the end of the night. It’s a form of escapism, denial and group consensus we’ve escaped in our normal lives. 

So next time your Popeye lets slip he’s going out for a “quiet few” (obviously code for getting plastered and tattooed and ending up stealing a large decorative fish) try to quiet the inner jealous, wine deprived, pub deprived, eye shadow deprived, grown up conversation deprived, she wolf. 

He’s going out either way so you might as well focus on all the good things youve got around you that he hasnt. 

Bottom line is he would do anything to be sitting there next to you nicking that last malteaser rather than replaying the same night out over and over again for years.

Muchos love 

Olive

X

P.s this does not mean you can’t remind him of all his nights out when he’s home so you can have a girls night out, complete with blackjack, vodka, possibly karaoke and all the glory of the “Mummy Lie In”. Life’s funny that way.

Back OFF-I’m a military WAG, not single!

For the vast majority of a deployment you are of course pretty much on your own. On your todd. Uno. Table for one. Just little old Olive trying to get by. 

But of course, that’s not really true is it? You are taken. You are wanted by a man. Hell- hes so bowled over by you that he’s terrified you won’t be there when he gets back and so sends you more romantic stuff in six months than most other girlfriends or wives get in five years. In short it’s tough but he’s worth it!

And if you’re anything like me, you want to scream it from the roof tops.

IM NOT SINGLE! For the love of God stop giving me that “poor dear- she’ll probably end up a spinster” kind of look! Im in LOVE ok? And it’s not even unrequited! It’s very much requited! (Side note- is that a word?)

I think it when I get a sympathetic nod from the checkout lady at tesco, when I’m buying my ready meal for one, tub of Ben and Jerrys and bottle of wine (standard).

  

I think it when I go out (I should say when I used to go out-now I’m all mamma’d up a late night is being out past 7pm and fills me with irrational anxiety) – and people either chat you up or say I don’t have to pay for rounds because, you know it’s not fair because I’m alone.

Or when blokes say “what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him”. Well actually dick cheese it would hurt him. And me. And us. And no slimeball guy in a bar who talks to me like that is ever going to compete with Popeye. So run along little Weasel and try it with a women made of weaker stuff. Quickly before I punch you. 

I want to say it when I see other Mums and Dads at the park or wherever and see the Dads not even interacting with their kids- “do you know  how freakin lucky you are to have that time?! And you’re just pissing it away! If Popeye was here he would be showing you up mate.” 

So I have come up with a few ideas. I may even dragons den one. Deb Meaden would be onside I’m sure.

Ok, how about a “I’m not single I’m neck deep in deployment shit you couldnt handle” neon flashing badge? One that’s invisible until you get *the look* then you fire that baby up? Ka-POW!

Or…how about a speaker hidden discreetly in a bra that shouts loudly “phone call from YOUR HUSBAND incoming, I repeat YOUR HUSBAND is phoning you –now!!!”. This would also be useful for a phone ninja who is in a noisey place or who can’t hear very well. 

Ooh ok, how’s about this- some kind of hat with a flag on the top that you can flip up that simply says “TAKEN- back off loser!” 

I’m not completely against all that “my hearts out at sea”, or “My sailor, my hero” stuff but it’s not really my cup of tea. See this post to see my POV on that. 

Sometimes you need to be heard a little more clearly, with a little less soppiness, and a lot less fashion sense. 

Muchos love x

Starfishing

The art of Starfishing. By Olive Oyl.

1. Look at your bed and feel a bit sad your sailor is not in it (if like Popeye tonight you’ve gone on a run ashore, however if they’re deployed feel sad for longer if necessary).

(2. Only if they’re deployed- get into one of their smelly T shirts or spray their smell on their pillow).

3. Caress the duvet with a whimsical smile.

4. Get phone and iPad 

5. GET IN THE HUGE BED 

6. Appreciate the lack of boy farts and extra leg room.

7. Fluff as many pillows as required.

8. Spread those legs and arms with a self satisfied “ahhhh”.

9. Check emails and phone to see if he has contacted you. He probably hasn’t but who cares- tonight is YOUR night.

10. Starfish the night away my lovelies.

X

  

Define strong. 

“You’re so strong“. A phrase often heard and seldom repeated by navy wives and girlfriends. It’s usually followed by The dreaded head tilt and something along the lines of “I couldn’t do it, you’re so brave”. Etc etc. 

The truth is, I am not strong. I am not a super person. I am just your average twenty something trying to not totally screw their life up and hopefully, one day, have some plus money in the bank. 

I never feel less strong than when Popeye is away. I cry, I rant, I stall, I freeze, I overreact, heck I probably under react sometimes. The point being that I feel I’m getting through a deployment more by luck than any shining moral fibre. I swear it is a complete, utter fluke. A spin of lifes roulette wheel that means I survive each one by pure chance. 

I have plans for getting through each deployment, sure, but I never follow said plan. I never do the good, wholesome, organised option. I don’t  bounce through the days and weeks and months, looking like someone from a Pantene advert. In fact I say to friends and family on an almost weekly basis that “I’m not coping, I can’t do this!!!” And yet….I do. 

I have never paused to think “omg, check me out, I am so coping right now” because then I am sure to jinx myself and then the car fails its MOT or the dog runs away or the back door lock breaks. Or something. 

The other thing that I just don’t get when head tilters say how strong I am is… What the bloody hell is my alternative?

Pray tell I would love to know what the other option is. Because if I am strong by surviving a deployment, then this definition of “strength” needs to change. 

If I am strong then this needs to include: 

Crying at films, at adverts, at people on the street.

Eating cereal for dinner. A lot.

Walking to the corner shop in your slippers to buy cheap wine because you drank the good bottle already *hic* .

Never having food in the house.

Asking your sailor to ” just come home” when they call, even though they are thousands of miles away and there’s not a snowballs chance in hell.

Staring at photos of him.

Staring at the countdown app until 12.01am so you can tell yourself it’s one less day.

Sticking your face in the wardrobe to smell his clothes.

Frequently forgetting bin day / recycling day then having to do the “clink of shame” walk holding two weeks worth of glass recycling, whilst praying no one sees you and that there are no tell tale clinking noises to dob you in. 

Wandering round the house like a refugee on those horrible weekends you don’t have anything planned.

Pressing refresh on Facebook a gazillion times a day.

Calling my mum at least once a day, 60% of the time to cry or moan about how hard this is.

Saying goodnight to his pillow every most nights. 

I think that’s enough.

So yeah, if that is being a strong person, what the F does a weak person bloody do?!?!?

Muchos love,

Olive x

P.s what amazingly “strong” things do you guys do?  

 

PARPs in Pompey, sweet goodbyes. 

I’ve just said goodbye to Popeye. Again. Not for a big deployment thank god, but long enough when SweetPea has discovered mobility and seems to have a primary objective to try to trip me up by stealth crawling right  behind me in near silence. Like a small, squidgy, yoghurt covered ninja. . *mental note: ninja baby-possible Halloween costume idea*.

I dropped Popeye off outside M&S in gun wharf quays, the shopping centre in Portsmouth, because he forgot, as he always forgets, that you can’t turn right at the traffic lights to get to the dock gate. *sigh*. So at 6am this merry morn I was stressed, he was stressed. And. We said goodbye. Again.

In hindsight, driving home listening to Mumford and sons, was, probably a bit of an error. But I managed to hold it together for the best part of the first song, until I got to my Pre Approved Rant Point (PARP).

My PARP is silly really, it’s a point fairly near the dockyard but just far enough away that I can’t turn around and hit Popeye over the head and drag him, feet first, into the trunk-cave woman style.

My PARP is the Eberhardt Signs sign shop along the A3. When I see their neon pink sign, I’m allowed to cry. Or scream. Or vom. Whatever seems best. No matter what time of day or night, what weather or what season, there is the neon sign of my undoing. 

Right next to where the A3 turns into the M27 and splits east and west. So, nice  and safe then.

Every time I drop him off I think “get to the neon sign Olive, get to the sign. Then you can rant. Not before. Step on it girl!”

 

That’s the one. The PARP that let’s me know it’s time to lose it, just for a minute, before I have to concentrate on not crashing the tonne of steel I’m in charge of.  

Btw I didn’t, like, decide  on a PARP. I didn’t even want one. But sometimes, I guess the PARP life chooses you. 

Deep man.  

Anyone else have a PARP? Or just me that likes to let rip at certain landmarks around the south coast?

Muchos love

Olive x

Google obsession

Google Obsession. TELL ME WE ALL HAVE IT!

Tell me I’m not the only one who, the second the ship disappears over the horizon, whips out their phone and starts googling “HMS Pinafore” or what ever in the hopes of a news article or, the greatest internet search prize of all, a YouTube video of life onboard. 

If you find a video whilst they’re deployed you watch it repeatedly, pausing on pretty much every sailors face, incase it’s your Popeye. Which it usually isn’t. You almost convince yourself it’s him at 3 minutes and 15 seconds. Then again at 7 minutes 23 seconds. And kiss the screen. Or paw at it like a cat with a new toy. Or stare at it trying to memorise everything you’ve seen in that shot, so you can conjure it up again as and when necessary.  I have done this then realised said trophy video was shot before Popeye joined the ship. Awkward. 

I do this mostly when it’s late at night, I’ve snuggled into bed and, rather than relishing my recently acquired space, I spend a good five minutes rubbing my leg in small half circles on “his side” of the bed whilst willing my phone to bleep with an email. 

If you find a news article whilst they’re deployed you (obviously) repost it on your ships family and friends Facebook page, your Facebook page and tag your sailor in it so it’s on his Facebook page. So everyone knows how awesome your Popeye is, and to make goddamn sure no-one forgets him or where he is and what he is doing. Which, no matter what, is very action man-ey, selfless and uber kuul. Even if it’s just delivering sandbags to help with the flooding in Romsey. 

That done, you get comfy and read and re read anything and everything to do with the ship. I even have been known to read Argentinian news using an online translator thing when Popeye was in the Falklands. It was either that or learn Spanish. Which I seriously considered. The other option, which, to me seemed ludicrous, farcical even, was to not obsess about where the ship was. This was and will always be, such a non-option, I didn’t even consider it. 

The urge to google is at times so strong I will turn on in private browsing so any friends or family who happen to see my search history won’t think I’m a nutter. I’m (apparently) happy for them to assume I have no search history due to porn, but not it seems for them to know my dirty little google obsession. 

Why do I do this? Do other people do it? It almost becomes a ritual for me, especially during a long deployment. Check emails, check Facebook, check twitter, press refresh on hotmail, press refresh on the google window I’ve got open in safari, play candy crush, go to sleep, press refresh on hotmail, sigh, really go to sleep.



 

Decisions decisions… The great mayo or salsa debate

Why is it that just before home coming I lose the capacity to make decisions? During deployment I can make decisions like a power hungry Cold War dictator. But during those last few weeks I’m less effective than Nick Clegg wanting to pass a new policy.

Last deployment I was able to organise moving house, I found a new one, bought it (without Popeye seeing it), moved in, grew and birthed a human AND organised building a new bathroom and all the stuff to go in it.

All of these things involved a LOT of decisions and choices. Big decisions, big choices. I was able to do these things swiftly and decisively, confident in my ability to choose, and choose right .

However a month before deployment ended I was minding my own business, daydreaming about homecoming and I had a meltdown at the drive through. Completely lost it. And all because they asked me if I wanted mayo or salsa on my chicken burger.

For a good few seconds my mind went completely blank. What had they just asked me? Oh, a choice! A simple choice! Then… “Oh my God, what do I want??? Mayo? Salsa? Ok, I definitely want salsa. No. I want mayonnaise. WHY IS THIS SO HARD????

IMG_1645-0 With people starting to beep their car horns behind me, and Sweet Pea kicking off in her car seat, I garbled in an anxious ridden tone “I don’t know! Surprise me!” And sped off to the pay window with red cheeks and a pounding heart.

I lose the ability “to decide” in those fabled last four weeks. WHY is this? Popeye is not in anyway Mr Controlling, if anything, infact (and I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this) I am the powerhouse in our marriage that gets things done and organised. He’s more of a laid back ideas man.

Maybe in the early stages of deployment it’s just knowing that when he’s away I have no other option than to decide. Theres no choice. The bucks stops here, squarely at me. At this early stage of deployment the idea of him actually being here has taken on a “Stars In Their Eyes” mystical quality that doesn’t seem all that realistic. Homecoming really is a day dream.

Then suddenly, four weeks to go, shit! Get outta the way Mathew Kelly, clear that fog from the fog machine, he’s actually going to be here, to help me!

Crap! I’m going to have to factor in his opinion! His preferences! I’m going to have to start playing as a team player! No more Olive-The-Dictator, time for a UN resolution and swiftly.

This realisation puts my head in a spin. Basically I think my brain stalls.

I temporarily suspend any “decisions”. Big or small. Or even McDonalds miniature happy meal sized ones. My brain just can’t handle it, knowing that the cavalry is just on the top of the hill. Or at least on the sea surrounding the same continent.

This realisation of help, support and opinion being so near yet so far makes stuff like mayo or salsa become a HUMONGOUS decision, towering above my head, staring down at me like a drill sergeant from some 80s military film, “which one is it soldier? You must decide, NOW!”

And yes, I guess I must. I must decide the little things, or go hungry. But the big things, like getting the car serviced (or not), booking a holiday, painting the baby’s room or getting the driveway paved can all wait. Because at this point I can’t plough ahead knowing that this dictatorship is about to become a democracy. And who the hell has salsa anyway?

Muchos love X

Moving goalposts.

“You knew what you signed up for.” One of the many uber helpful, kind and not at all annoying comments I’ve had flung my way as a navy wife. Usually when I’m upset or (dare I say it) moaning about the trials and tribulations of navy-wifedom.

For years I’ve replied with “yes. I know, but it’s still hard” or, “yeah that’s true, fair point”. And as of today have not retaliated verbally or physically, well done me.

BUT a couple of nights ago, about three days before the end of Popeyes leave, I was brushing my teeth before bed (rock and roll) and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Indignantly I spat out the Colgate, took a long hard look at myself and realised:

This so is not what I signed up for!!!

Dear readers, let me take you back in time, to when I was fresh faced graduate, without the odd grey hair, without a baby, with more money, and probably with more optimism. I was out in a bar. I met a young sailor. He came over and bought me a raspberry cosmopolitan. Yes readers, my Popeye.

We spent a good few months getting shiters and doing it having good clean fun, keeping it bright and breezy (deffo not me staring at my phone thinking “why doesn’t he call? He hates me. OMG HES SEEING SOMEONE ELSE. Why won’t it ring? Ahhhhh!” ) . Anyway after some super cute “dates” and, “I love you more” “no, I love you more” type convos, Popeye decides it’s time for The Navy Talk. You know the one, “I will have to go away a lot”, “my job will always have to come first”, “are you sure you want to do this? Are you sure you want this type of relationship? This type of life?” blah blah blah.

So, for once in my life I was sensible. I was practical. I put my emotions aside (“oh how I love him, I’d do anything for him, being a forces wife sounds oh-so-romantic” etc. Bleurgh) .

I asked him exactly what is the worst case scenario.

And he told me. He told me that worst case scenario he’d have a six month deployment every 2-3 years. Plus sea trials, plus duty weekends. He told me the truth. Or at least what was true at the time. Popeyes been in the navy since he was 16 and so was basing this worst case scenario on that.

I can handle that, thinks me. A deployment every couple of years? That’s totally manageable. That is what I signed up for.

So, obviously I went for it. And I’m so glad I did.

However.

About a year into our serious grown up relationship, I notice the goalposts have moved. There’s a six month deployment, plus sea trials, plus duty weekends, plus pissing about whilst stuff breaks over and over
Very important maintenance. “Ok” thinks me, it’s just a couple extra months. Next year is our deployment free year, so that’s ok.

Oh no. Oh no no no no. Like it could be that easy! That straightforward! Then follows a good three years each with it’s own glorious six month deployment! Now with added extra crap warship sea trials! And an extra large helping of fleet ready escort buggering off for Christmas fun!

Ha. Ha. Ha.

And now. NOW the goalposts have been moved so far they’d have to strap a football to a freakin rocket to score a goal. Just before he comes home from his seven month deployment, (which I was told was only for six months, after I had moved house and pushed another human out of my hoo hah without him there). Then I am told via bbc freakin news (!) that all deployments will now be for 9 bloody months!!!

Nine! I can make a person in nine months. That is a ridiculous amount of time and NOT what I signed up for!!!

The Royal Navy need to consider the impact this change will have on families and marriages. Not to mention morale and person-power within the fleet.

I’ve got a lot of support for Popeye and have sacrificed for him, for the Royal Navy. I’ve done it because I love him, not his job and I’ve done it with good grace (mostly). I’ve stayed quiet again and again and watched those goalposts recede into the distance with an increasing sense of foreboding. This, quite frankly, is taking the piss.

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