My denial dinghy.

Popeye leaves for his 9 month deployment very very soon. Obvs can’t mention dates etc but let’s just say we aren’t talking weeks here.

He’s said his goodbyes to the outlaws and is gearing up to say tatty bye to our daughters. And I guess me too but I can’t even go there right now.

Each deployment is different. Usually I’m a sobbing, snotty, puffy eyed wreck (attractive). This time however I’m like totally numb. I’ve zoned out and can’t even get words out of my mouth when we talk about it.

 I have no idea why my brain has done this but all I can guess is my minds gone “no, no. Nope. Can’t handle this. Too painful. Too much. It’s too much! I’m checking out. See you later  conscious brain. Catch you laters!”

So I am calm. I am dangerously calm. Like  the normal emotional reaction is a rip current but I’m happily bobbing about on top on my dinghy. Probably doing a sudoku.

 My little escapist, denial dinghy that I’m fairly sure has a puncture. 


It’s going to deflate at some point and then I must face the depths of this. 

For instance, certain questions I should be addressing such as- 

How do we explain this to our two year old? 

My brain: No idea. We’ve got nothing here captain (plays magic roundabout theme tune loudly on repeat whilst doing some thing Pinterest fail-esque). 

Have we got all the grown up pre deployment shit sorted out? Like making sure his Skype account and mine are good to go. The emergency numbers and his phone card numbers are taped to the fridge, and the Christmas decorations are down from the loft.

My brain: yes, really should do this. Got loads of time (we don’t). Will just do this first (gardening/drinking wine/ starting a quilt). 

Spending quality time together.

My brain: so, it looks like date nights been a bit of a fail. Hey I know why don’t I write a blog post all about it instead of putting my phone down and giving it another shot. Genius.

Capturing each precious memory of the last week on film.

My brain: hey let’s leave the phone at home so you can’t take any pictures. Nothing like a bit of self sabotage to really help your early deployment mental health. Don’t want to make this easy for myself after all do I?

these photos were brought to you by random iphone gatherings over the summer.

I didn’t really know how to end this blog post (I blame my obviously faulty brain at this time) so I read it to Popeye and he said it’s because this time it’s not just about me and him. 

This time I have two children to care for. Two small people’s brains who are looking to me to see how to cope with this. 

This time is longer. 9 months is such a massive chunk of time when I think about it it makes my head go fuzzy and I start laughing in a slightly unhinged way.

This time it’s not just a couple saying goodbye, but a family saying goodbye. 

My family. 

Shit.

Normal service will resume shortly

One woman’s homecoming is another’s goodbye

With the return today of HMS Defender (and if many of you wonder why I bang on about this ship in particular ok I will just say it- it’s Popeyes old ship where I met most of my NWBFFs and felt part of the Royal Navy community for the first time and not just some kind of Lone Ranger navy wife freak) and im filled with such excitement on their behalf, I’m so crazily proud of the families who have waited 9 months for them to finally come home. 

(After doing basically a 7 month deployment about 2 mins before this one- mental).

I can see the wives and the girlfriends, the sisters and the brothers and the mummy’s and daddy’s in my minds eye in a few short hours, finally getting that hug and kiss they’ve waited and waited and waited some more for.

9 month in, 9 months out
But as well as all of this excitement for them, and soppiness and nostalgia it’s reminded me that it’s my turn to say goodbye next. For 9 months.

And I am seriously freaking out.

After I did my first deployment and met Popeye at the homecoming I was naive. I didn’t pause to think there will be another one. And another and another. 

The second he stepped off the ship a new countdown started to the next time he would deploy.

What happened? We had a minimum of a 6 month deployment with less than 12 months inbetween for four years. That’s a lot of deploying.

It was awful. It was hard. It was surreal. 

But it was doable. I look back at “deployment Olive” with no small degree of awe. She was hardcore.

“Did really do that?”

How did I do all those deployments?”

Can I really do it all again?

(in a very small voice, like a stroppy toddler) “But I don’t want to!”

Thinking about this upcoming deployment is filling me with dread. Not just because I know how hard it will be, but because this time I’m on my todd with our two gorgeous baby girls. No pressure then.

And that’s going to bring a whole new level of shit and heartache and stress and strain that I haven’t encountered before. 

And that is a type of deployment I know nothing about. 

So watch this space my lovelies. Hopefully my blog will stay the chirpy quirky space it’s always been. Not some kind of weird online written record of my unraveling. 

I need success stories please!

So as the WAGs of HMS Defender wave that mighty ship home, with the sodding brass band blasting, and the little tug boat getting zilch recognition; my thoughts are bitter sweet and let’s be honest, a bit “me me me.” 

This navy life is (as my good pal Ronan would say) a roller coaster. 

I’d rather be on the dodgems. 

Muchos love,

Olive X 


Goodbyes and doing “It”.

Let’s talk about sex baby.

More specifically “Goodbye Sex”.

Aka ta ta shagging, au revoir ménage, bon voyage bonking, see you later 69ing, or just farewell fucking. 

Whatever you call it, it sucks (no pun intended). There’s a sense of “shit, time is running out and we won’t be getting to DO IT for ages so we’d better make this round count.”

So there’s a fair amount of pressure to be a super awesome, bendy, fluttery eyelashes, up for anything minx. Even when all you want to do is the standard sideways cuddle position, check your phone for Brexit updates and then fall asleep. 


Then there’s the emotional side of it. Sometimes, just before they deploy you don’t want them near you like that at all. Because even if they don’t mean to, they are hurting you by leaving. It’s not rational. It’s not logical but you hurt at the thought of the impending aloneness and their role in it.

No amount of Barry White or wining and dining will shake that feeling.

But you want to be close to them.

You feel vulnerable and angry and sad and scared and downright unsettled. So the natural reaction, the normal reaction when feeling threatened is to seek reassurance from the one person you feel closest to. Sexy reassurance. 

But the emotions are running so high and you’re trying to get yours whilst making sure it’s a session they won’t forget in a hurry and at the same time you’re trying to make sure your mummy tummy isn’t showing and it’s too much pressure.

Goodbye sex is almost as exhausting emotionally as homecoming sex.

Except you don’t get to have another shot in the foreseeable future.

And no pun intended (again) but that’s hard. Really hard.

Popeye couldn’t handle it

The other evening, I was speaking with beloved Popeye about the shocking possibility he might have to spend some time on his own. 

On his own, in our house.

Holy crapsticks.

Now the weirdness of this will not be lost on you dear fellow navy wife or girlfriend or partners or fuck buddy  casual relationship person. 

We are the ones who are alone in the house all the time. We are the ones who might as well have a bachelors degree in Americas Next Top Model or X Factor or whatever. 

Popeye doesn’t know where anything is.

Popeye has only just learnt when bin day is.

Popeye has no idea where any paperwork is kept or filed. He may genuinely believe it all lives in the pile in the kitchen under the boiler, I don’t know.

Anyway this conversation got me thinking. What would Popeye do if he was the navy wife and I was the deploying sailor?
The short term answer (obviously) is that he would play a lot of Playstation, eat a ridiculous amount of dominoes and watch a gross amount of porn watch lots of TV.

“But what would he do after that?” I wondered. 

And then it hit me. And him. 

He couldn’t handle it. It’s not that we aren’t strong enough, it’s that he wouldn’t be able to stand being the one out of control, hanging on my every phone call, waiting for each ping of his email inbox. 

That makes him sound a bit controlling and fifty shades of grey-ish. Trust me, he’s reaaaalllllly  not. For truths.

And he would get so fed up at having to make me parcels and he wouldn’t be able to think of interesting ideas. Accept maybe an entire box devoted to Arnie films. (Can you imagine my glee-not.) The idea of him writing me a letter is bizarre in the extreme. 

He admits he would get v jealous knowing I was visiting all these exotic places whilst he would be stuck flicking through the TV guide with a can of diet coke in his hand. 

(Actually I do get insanely jealous of where he goes but I just try to remind  myself of all the absolute sh*t holes he also has to go to too.)

( I also remind myself that he basically has seen the inside of a handful of pubs a ten minute walk from the dockyard in aforementioned magical exotic locations, and has not  had the spiritual and cultural experience that I am lusting after). 

The dog would probably starve or run away, or have his own dominoes pizza order. 

Our car would mostly like be towed or pulled over at some point. With Popeye looking all bemused when the police officer asks him why he hasn’t taxed/MOT’d/insured it. He has never really had to do these things, at least not without substantial nagging, and it would honestly not occur to him. We once paid no council tax for six months because it was the one bill we decided he would be in charge of. I got a letter saying when our court date was. For real. 

The Royal Navy equips our loved ones with fantastic practical  skills; It picks them up by the earlobes gives them a good shake et voilá! They become a skilled engineer or chef or weapons firer thing. 

In fact, I can say, hand on my heart, that if Popeye hadn’t joined up I would not have fancied him. He admits he used to be just a bit chavvy rough around the edges let’s say. Not Olives type at all.
Instead the Navy took the gobby teen and taught him self discipline, motivation to succeed, how to work hard at a goal, and how to support a team.   It taught him self respect and self worth.

However it did not teach him to sort the colours from whites nor prepared him for encounters with the DVLA. 

It didn’t teach him to pop round to a neighbours on moving day to ask when the recycling and rubbish goes, or to always have a frozen emergency pint of milk in the freezer. Only “real life”, or civvie life let’s say, can teach you stuff like that.

Navy life taught him a lot of things, things that I have literally no idea about (and let’s be honest here, no interest in either).

Civvie life taught me the mundane crap to keep me (hopefully) out of court and with a roof over our heads. 


He really would find it tricky to keep this little Oyl family running smoothly if I was deployed. And emotionally I don’t know how he would cope. Luckily, for him, he won’t have to find out how to. 

Muchos love

X

P.s please if you haven’t voted for me in the Best Lifestyle Category of the MAD Blog awards yet please do just click right here. Huge massive thank you’s and a big snog. X 

Screw your “normal”.

Screw your “normal”.

I don’t want normal.

I want heart racing, pulse hammering homecomings.

I don’t want mundane.

I want treasured kisses, appreciated gestures and hugs in the doorway that squeeze out my breath.

I don’t want “taken for granted”.

I want to feel a thrill when our eyes lock across a noisy family table.

I don’t want to become invisible.

I want tingles up my spine when you watch me walking back into the room. 

I don’t want to lose that lust.

I want you listen to what I have to say, because you respect me and my opinion.

I don’t want “yes dear”.

I want us to keep making an effort with our appearance.

I don’t want to get complacent.

I want to keep you guessing about me.

I don’t want to become predictable and average.

I want you sailor.

I don’t want ordinary.

Give me extraordinary any day. 

Muchos love,

Olive

X

Friday night idiot or optimist

Ok so the rational, sensible grown-up part of me, the one who does her car-tax and uses clubcard coupons knows that Popeye can’t come home this weekend.

But his ship is alongside somewhere in the UK. 

Hmm… The U.K.  you say… Interesting because that’s where I am too…

Suddenly, buried deeply underneath the realistic brain comes a beaming shaft of optimism. Or stupidity. 

Maybe he’s going to come home on weekend leave and surprise me!”

The split second my traitorous brain thinks this I slam shut the mental door on the escapee thought.

But it’s too late. 

It’s too late, I’ve thought it now and it’s in my head. Wiggling and dancing across all my other thoughts for the rest of the day.

  
Maybe, just maybe, he will be coming home.

Tick tock, tick tock.

I wonder if the ship is alongside yet? *checks Google and Twitter and Facebook*

Tick tock, tick tock.

I wonder how long it takes to get from X to our house? *checks AA route planner*

Tick tock, tick tock.

I wonder what times a train would get in from where he is? *checks the trainline.com for an early/middle and late train*

I get on with the evening routine. Making dinner and trying my very best not to look at the door over and over whenever the dog makes a noise or a car door slams. 

  
Trying my very grown-up-sensible-brain best not to do time maths to work out “omg omg if he got that train he’d be back any moment now!”

But of course I do because my treacherous brain let the thought come flying out before I could stop it. Stupid brain.

 

This pic has nothing to do with the post but i think its fucking hilarious
 
Finally I decide to just give him a quick ring, you know, for a chat. Because he’s not coming home (except maybe he is- squeeee!) and it would be nice for a catch up even if he’s not coming home (unless he is and he’s coming to surprise me any second now!!! Double squeeee!) .

Tossing my hair over my shoulder with a blasé shrug, I dial the number… 

…And I crumple as it does straight to voicemail. 

…………

Ah, I see. He’s still below deck. On board. With no signal. Hence the voicemail. 

So he’s really really not coming home. Just like he said. Just like I knew.

Crapsticks I am such an idiot. 

And all I can think is thank god I’ve never ever told anyone I do this. No-one apart from me and my traitor brain know how crazy I get the second that optimistic thought gets out. Just don’t tell anyone and then the secrets safe Olive. 

People would think I’m totally mad, wouldn’t they? 

The Navy effect: When goodbye doesn’t mean goodbye.

I need to vent, here, in a safe space where I won’t jeopardise my marriage. First let me say I’m not so ungrateful that I don’t love having Popeye home as much as possible. I really really do. 

Ok I’m a navy wife, yes sure, but also I’m a mum. I’m a woman in my own right with a career and friends and stuff to do. 

As much as I love and adore and get a giddy thrill  out of hanging around waiting for Popeye to turn up after however long bobbing around on the big blue it may shock you to know that I don’t like being messed around

Saying goodbye is tough. In fact it’s worse than tough. It’s shit and getting shitter. Having kids has tipped me over the edge in terms of “goodbye tolerance”. Now, when it’s time for him to go, I just want him to go.  

Give us each a kiss, maybe give me a cheeky bum squeeze and go. And more importantly don’t come back!

  

Let me elaborate, due to the “technical issues” the type 45s have been having, “bye” hasn’t actually meant goodbye in our family for almost a month. A friggin month. A month of goodbyes, tears, getting my bum in gear to cope, getting wine in the fridge, giant bars of chocolate in the cupboard, sky+ing “my” programs on TV and getting on with it.

Only for Popeye to turn up! Again! At home! His two feet decidedly still on the land! 

Cue my heart leaping through my chest with happiness, soaring endorphins, goofy grins, cancelled plans with friends and having celebratory takeaways. 

Until tomorrow. And tomorrow’s goodbye. Tomorrows heartache. Looking at our little girls face again and explaining “Daddy’s going night night on his boat, bye bye Daddy.” Waving his car off the driveway and wiping a tear away. Again. 

Again I get my bum in gear. Again  I shift, smoothly and silently into deployed single parent mode. I galvanise myself and my household into coping with Popeye being away. To this being a one-woman show. Complete with fish fingers for dinner, slobbing around watching Peppa Pig and not prioritising washing any of Popeyes stuff. Classy. 

Hang on a sec! what’s that noise? His key turning in the lock? Joy of joys he’s home! It’s brilliant to see him, of course it is. 

But keeping this up is exhausting for me! It can’t be healthy to be up on cloud 9 with a surprise bonus night or weekend of leave to then crash back down with a bump to the horribleness of goodbyes.

(not actually popeyes hand btw)

I know it’s not his fault the ship keeps breaking. I know it’s a fleet wide problem blah blah blah. But what is also a fleet wide problem is the families who are on a non stop roller coaster of not knowing which way is up, when their sailor is going to be home or what the hell is going on! 

Planning a life, or any kind of stability, in this atmosphere of uncertainty feels like trying to eat a picnic in a whirlwind. Which is a weird analogy but it’s the only one I can think of that fits.

 I keep trying to get on with our lives but then “the navy effect” happens and we are once again riding those emotional waves before Popeye has even got onto the real ones. Often with little or notice and whether we want to or not. 

Deployment Detectors™: The hidden menace in your house. 

This is a washing machine. Fairly normal right? Just a run of the mill bog standard white household appliance.

  
 
But wait! Look a little closer.

That washing machine is in the house of a service person!

Recent research has brought to light a startling discovery, brace yourselves:

All household appliances built post WWII have built in Deployment Detectors™. 

Deployment Detectors™ are a microscopic nano technology, invisible to the naked eye, that can easily be incorporated into motherboards, microchips, petrol caps, fridge lights and electrical plugs. These teeny weeny microchips can fit literally anywhere and in any piece of equipment you need to use in order to carry on as a functioning member of society.

  
Yes, I hear you cry, but what do they do?! 

Well, after extensive and thorough testing at Oyl Labs we have found that Deployment Detectors™ use sophisticated sensors to monitor the environment. And in the house of a military family their true purpose is revealed.

  
 

When a deployment has begun, a chain reaction of drinking wine, having a good old cry, installing a countdown app on your phone and sleeping in “his” dirty t shirts causes certain pheromones to be emitted by the partner of said service person. 

These deployment pheromones are picked up by household appliances fitted with a Deployment Detector™  which springs into life, randomly shooting out electrical/mechanical/spiritual signals into the appliance. 

Deployment Detectors™ cause the appliance to break without warning. But only when your service person has left on deployment. 

  

Note: They are at their most effective when you are late for work, have looked forward to something all day and/or have too much month left at the end of the money. 

Why do Deployment Detectors™ exist?

Good question. Here at Oyl Labs we can only surmise that it was some evil Nazi plot to drive military wives and girlfriends over the edge during deployment. A second, more modern theory is that Isis have in fact infiltrated most high street retailers and they are doing this because they hate to see women (and men) kick ass coping with deployment. Further research is needed to determine the true origins of these devices. 

All I can say for now is be vigilant, and don’t fight it. Expect for household appliances to break as soon as your Popeye sails over the horizon. And expect it to break at the most stressful time with the most stressful repercussions.

Knowledge is power.

(Olive Oyl is in no way affiliated with Deployment Detectors™. All associations mentioned herein are coincidental. Research carried out under strict laboratory conditions at Olive Towers Laboratorys (Inc) and adhered to health and safety regulations (2005). All published data is attributed to Olive Oyl Labs©.)

Bedtime leave revolution 

You wait weeks, months sometimes for them to come home.

You swap emails and have long (but never long enough) phone calls musing about what you will do when you are reunited.

He says things like “I miss you so much, I can’t wait to see you, to hold you, to kiss you.”

Aww.

Why is it then that after about five flipping seconds back at home out comes the Xbox or PlayStation from the BBKB and you don’t see beloved Popeye again for hours.

  

Once more you are going to bed by yourself. Ears ringing with empty promises of “I’ll be up in a minute babe, just let me finish this level/check out this vault/this round”. 

You know it’s not true and that they will creep up to bed at 4am and fall asleep with their mouth wide open and snore all night until a well aimed elbow stops them.

But still, optimistically, you peck them on the cheek and climb the stairs to your cold bed. 

It’s either that they are lying or that they have forgotten how much they missed you.

Or they literally lose all sense of time and place as soon that bloody loading screen lights up.

To be honest it takes the piss a bit. 

I’m declaring we all do the same and start playing Spyro the Dragon or The Sims with slack jaws, one hand down our pants and a packet of share size crisps open on the coffee table. 

All. Night. Long.

Who’s with me?!?! 

  

The rank elephant in the room

There are tens if not hundreds of blog posts and articles and memes saying categorically, without a doubt, that your partners rank has no relation to the importance of you, his partner.

They stress that there is no connection  between his rank and your importance. 

  
We are told time and again how it doesn’t matter if he’s the lowliest AB or the kiss hug man! Written articles reassure you over and over that you two gals (as partners of said AB and XO) can get along and soon become best buds. Swapping hilarious stories and confiding in each other over Facebook chat. 

Even if one of your hubby’s spends his days ironing the others blues. 

Even if your hubby is responsible for cleaning out the COs bath. It shouldn’t be awkward at all for you all to sit around and have a good giggle about it over a moderately priced bottle of wine.

You can all be friends!” Spout such blogs. “Their ranks don’t matter!” They quip. Dripping in positivity and all American wholesomeness. 

Well how come, in reality, it does seem to matter?

Why are these dynamics getting written about, again and again? Surely if it was such a non-issue then they’d be writing about other burning military spouse problems like….

 Erm, like…. I dunno, “10 homecoming haircut tips” or “20 ways to get him to notice the new deployment you” or how about “get a leg gap in just 100 thigh crunching  steps”or “101 ways to sob down the phone without snotting into the receiver”. Or “phone card sex: how to get him off before you’re cut off”. 

(Btw that’s why I don’t ever attempt serious blog posts- they would suck).

Why  do women, wives, girlfriends and parents having the same old cat fights and arguments and name calling and bitching over and over again- the world over?! 

Why? When we are told over and over rank doesn’t matter?

I have a theory. 

Bear with me.

1. We all know it’s completely batshit crazy to think for a second that our Popeyes rank somehow elevates or lowers us in the eyes of other military wives. It’s ludicrous.

And yet we are so. Freaking. PROUD of our sailors. We are proud when they get on the signal and then pass one of those god awful promotion courses. (Those evil promotion courses that turn even the most placid, loving sailor into a complete and utter selfish, tunnel visioned, uncaring twat-yes you know the ones). 

2. We are so proud of ourselves that we didn’t dump them or kick them out (or we’re proud that we let them back into our lives after going on the course- toma(y)to/tomato) .

So somewhere in the back of our mind we want a little tiny speck of recognition. Just a bit. Just a little pat on the back to say “jeez well done. You’ve survived FOUR promotion courses and a boarding party course.” Hardcore wifeydom right there.

3. It makes sense that at some point some peoples wires get crossed. And they start to feel entitled to the respect their sailor gets onboard from us- regular scummy civvies. Doesn’t make it right but it seems foolish to deny that it happens. 

We shouldn’t give women respect based on their hubby’s rank because- well let’s be honest we all have to survive horrible courses. And we all have to do deployments. And we all have to listen to our sailors bitch about the navy over and over but do nothing about it. We all do it. And we all have our own lives to lead. 

              
So what I’m suggesting is that instead of insisting (like other blogs or articles tell you to) that we must all be happy clappy wives and girlfriends holding hands across rank, race and creed- we all just step back for a moment and get along with the other wives and girlfriends that we actually like.

Shocking I know. 

The idea we may genuinely not like the wife of our hubbys boss. 

Or we may really get along with the ships doctors missus. 

Or we may have a blood-feud-vendetta with the girlfriend of the matelot in charge of the gangway. 

Or think one of the engineers wives is so dull you want to poke your eyes out every time you speak to her just so you don’t fall asleep. 

Whatever. We are all grown women who can form our own opinions of these other women. We can judge and think for ourselves based on these women’s actions. Not the actions of their husbands.

I do not think we all should forget about rank. We should be aware it does mean some women may go a bit psycho with assumed power. 

It does effect some (not all!!!) relationships. It makes some women go weird. 

I think less of the women who feel a sense of entitlement or superiority due to their husbands rank. But this is more about their personality than their husbands rank or job. 

To suggest we should all get along is quite patronising and simplistic. And it simply does not happen! 

Argh!