NWBFF

Every navy wife has them, and they are as essential to a deployment as cereal, chocolate, phone card minutes, Whitney Houston and wine, I’m talking about, of course, a navy wife BFF, or, best friend forever.

A navy wife BFF, or as I shall dub them, for ease of typing, NWBFF, is one of the most essential supports for surviving the madness that is having a relationship with a serving member of the armed forces.

These friendships are essential, but also, unconventional. Let me be blunt. Do you really have any civvy friends left that you can text at anytime, anywhere, just to have a moan about your partners latest deployment exploits?

Do you really have any civvy friends that don’t try to make you feel sorry for how hard your sailor is working/remind you that “it’s not long now” or how “strong” you are?!?

Do you really have civvy friends that don’t say how “I could never do it” and that “the time will just fly by/has flown by”.

I think not, and this is exactly why you need a NWBFF. They should be standard issue upon embarking on a relationship with a sailor.

Civvy friends are great, they’re a laugh, they are understanding, they are sympathetic. But they will never really get it. I don’t blame them for that, and I need my civvy friends in other ways. But, when it comes to military crap, you need friends that can understand what you’re going through and don’t do the sideways head tilt, dodging the shit rebounding out of the of the fan towards your post-homecoming head. You need a friend standing there with a poo shield saying, “yeah, that sucks, don’t it?” And holding out a tea towel.

A NWBFF is usually acquired through slightly odd friendship means. It can be through a brief chat on a Facebook group, a random barbecue whilst the ships deployed, or during a one night meet up characterised by cocktails and karaoke.

And that’s all you need. Not even a face to face meeting in some cases, and you’re set for life.

Sometimes the reality of your relationship with a sailor is so bloody crap that you don’t want a laugh. You don’t want to be understood, you don’t want sympathy.

What you want, what you need, is rage. Pure rage.

For example (ahem): How dare the navy screw you over again.
How dare Popeye go out when he promised he’d call. How dare the woman at work say that she understands because her hubby works away on business, and finally, how dare someone say how a friend of theirs is super duper tired from looking after their baby alone for the last week whilst their husband works away. For five days. So they totally know what you’re going through. Yeah.

This is when you pick up the phone, or tablet, or jungle drum, you text or you email, you forum, you Facebook, you smoke signal, you do whatever it takes to get that feeling out to your NWBFF.

And you moan. Oh my god you moan. Then they moan, and you both bitch. And then that turns into a joke. Usually about willys. Then the jokes get ruder. Then you start swapping rude stories about sex things and then you’re both pissing youself laughing and the rage is gone. you end the phone call, or email, or text chat or whatever it is and you feel so much better.

What were you even angry about?! Oh yeah. It’s funny now. Stupid Navy.

When/if you meet up, it’s like you’ve known each other for years, even if you’ve never seen them, aside from their Facebook profile pic. Once you’ve stealthily checked it is your NWBFF, cos you’re not sure, you make it that evenings mission to party as hard as the lads are, wherever they are. And you do. And you wake up with your head pounding, realising you’ve left their front door open all night (sorry Ju).

Even when sober your chatting may get so out of hand you feed someone’s child a dog biscuit by accident (sorry Ang). Or come up with elaborate parcel theme ideas (not sorry at all Em).

Put it this way. The last time I went on a navy wife night out, I went into labour. Seriously. Thanks gals!

So this blog post is dedicated to NWBFFs everywhere. You may not speak for months or years on end, but you’ve been through it all together. And you’ll probably have to do it all again. But, swapping dits, knowing that you’re not alone in this madness,makes it feel like you’re sharing a mess, chatting whilst staring at the bottom of the pit above you whilst counting down the days, even when, in reality, you might be opposite sides of the globe, trying to keep it together in a civvy-wife world.

The phrase “we’re all in the same boat” has never been so apt.

This post is dedicated to my NWBFFs, Julia, Angie, Emma.

Love you ladies

Muchos love

X

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Socialising and trying not to be mental.

I think being a navy wife has made me slightly unbalanced. Please feel free to judge me, because I feel quite guilty about it, even though I am actively trying to remain stable and rational.

Especially when I compare me, in my time-greedy-navy-wife marriage to “everyone else” and their civvy-wholesome-sensible relationships.

Let me explain a bit,

Popeye is generally away for six/seven months, then home for about 3 out of 4 weekends a month the rest of the year, bar lovely lovely leave. So suffice to say, our time together is precious. (This time of course does not include time apart for effing BOST, Super-Annoying-Promotion courses of Stress And Grumpiness, or SAPSAGs for short or any other ridiculous and possibly pointless jaunts around the home waters).

(As a side note I once calculated the actual number of days per year we would spend together, including summer and Easter leave. All I can say is DONT DO IT. Deployment Maths is evil and led to me having a massive cry and freaking out about how we were ever going to make this marriage work. Not a good idea mid deployment, or anytime for that matter.)

Without fail on those precious Fridays he can actually come home ( crazy idea I know) at approximately 4pm our world is paused and our metaphorical drawbridge goes up.

We hole up in our house and because a)he’s a chef b) I don’t want to leave his side for more than 10mins to shower/pee, we order takeaway and totally veg out. Then we spend the remainder of the weekend hiding from friends and relatives and generally being lazy, spending money we don’t have and eating out, a lot.

We do venture out from time to time and actually see other people, and when we do I have to remind myself to share. Share my husbands company that is.

I restrain myself from standing on the edge of the circle of guys talking about football and cars and simply strain my ears trying to eavesdrop from the girls circle, only vaguely listening to our conversation, and replying with vague “mmm hmm’s”, “yeah I know” and “no way”‘s as appropriate. This has back fired on me several times when I’ve said something like “yeah I know” to someone’s horrible bad/ serious news like their dog died or they’ve lost their job or they think they might be gay. There are times when I gravitate over to where hubster is and laugh a split second too late at a joke I haven’t really heard. Awkward.

If someone dares to say that we should split up for a bit during a night out, i.e boys go to a different bar, girls will catch up later, I get a bit of a sicky feeling, and I start doing Deployment Maths (Deployment Maths is a bit like OCD, so when this happens on a night out with friends you can’t help but calculate that out of the 48 hours he’s home for, he will spend 16 sleeping/being hungover, 8-12 hours socialising, you will spend x hours going to/from said friends house therefore leaving you with approximately 5 hours together all weekend. And he’s not home for another month.)

I KNOW how totally clingy and mental this makes me sound, I’m a trained psychologist remember, however, I am at the merciless grip of Deployment Maths. My only defence is that in these cases I don’t let the panic get me. I smile, wave goodbye to Popeye and quickly order a double, hey if he’s getting those 16 hours, I might as well too.

Popeye copes much better at social gatherings such as the above than I do. He is chatty to everyone, to the point where he’s sharing stories from life on board that I haven’t even been told. It’s like finding out about this whole side of him he doesn’t think is all that relevant or interesting when he’s home and we are hiding with the home phone off the hook.

If your sailor, like mine, literally sends a variation of the same email every day week for 6 months, these escapades and anecdotes of daring do’s and hilarious scrapes from deployment can leave you feeling, well, quite surprised and then miffed to be honest. Popeye literally sends this email to me 80% of the time whilst deployed, ahem:

hey baby, nothing much is going on here, same old stuff. I miss you loads and I can’t wait to see you, all my love, Popeye.

Every email. For 6 months. Seriously.

This has led me to conclude that he either-forgets about these adventures on the high seas/around the globe, can’t be bothered to tell me, or doesn’t have time to email me the details. To this day, I still have no idea which of these theories is true. I’m leaning towards the former as its not so depressing.

So when my super-sonic-social-gathering hearing picks up on how he stole a giant fish from a bar in New York and they got pulled over by the police with said giant fish in the back of their car, or how his friend broke his collar bone trying to do a breakdancing move in Norway or whatever, I am just a tad peeved.

Is it wrong that I feel a pang of jealousy that Popeye doesn’t share these stories with me when we’re sitting at home watching tv and snuggling on the sofa? Or is it that he doesn’t feel they are important enough to waste our precious paradigm phonecall minutes on? I’m not one to disapprove, in fact I think it’s bloody hilarious the stuff him and his shipmates get up to, so that can’t be it. No, it’s more likely that when he’s home he, and I, mentally “shut off” the outside world, including navy dits, bills, report writing or visiting my grandparents.

When he phones home its for a bit of escapism from what generally is drudgery day to day on the ship. He wants to hear about what he misses, not relive another day apart, no matter how much fun he’s had. Rather wait until he’s been home, had some downtime with the drawbridge up, then go out and entertain. My husband the social butterfly who just wants to come home and forget all about work. Until he’s got an audience. Bless him.