The truth about deployment.

What deployment is really like. And what it’s really not like.

It’s not all staring off into the horizon in a floaty white dress with a single tear rolling down a polished cheek.

floaty dress? check. staring into middle distance? check. must be a navy wife

It’s not about getting a long awaited dog eared letter in the post, hugging it to your chest in quiet bliss and rushing up to your room to flop down onto the bed to read it in matching pyjamas.

Seriously, who the fuck does this?!

It’s not beaming ear to ear with pride whilst waving a Union Jack (well homecoming is but that’s only a couple of hours out of the whole thing).

Standard navy wife Tuesday activity

It’s not romantic. It’s not magical.

It’s cereal for dinner.

It’s explaining again and again and again where they are and why they couldn’t make it.

It’s wine. Or gin.

It’s weddings and BBQs and Friday nights and Tuesday lunchtimes alone.

It’s having to take both kids with you to your smear test because there’s no one else to help.

It’s suffering the same questions at every family gathering.

“Where is he now then?”

“Heard from Popeye lately?”

“It can’t be much longer now surely?”

Gah.

It’s making coffee for one every morning.

It’s being ill and having to carry on.

It’s dutifully sending one email (at least) a day and hearing nothing back for days.

It’s learning to carry the ache of missing them around with you and realising that it won’t go away until you’re back together again.

It’s checking your email a zillion times a day just incase, and keeping your phone within arms reach for months without fail.

Deployments are not what people think they are. They are marathons not sprints and we are running in a race we’d rather not have to enter.

But we get to cross that finish line eventually and that part of the illusion is true. That moment is indescribably scrummy and romantic and fantastic.

So even if well meaning family and friends don’t have a clue of the reality of a deployment, or even if this is your first deployment and you’ve realised you didn’t have a clue, just trust me, even if the race is a steaming pile of groundhog poop, that finish line will be so worth it. 

Must dash, got me some sea starin’ to do.

*i doubt shes going through the lidl shopping list or what to cook for tea*

Muchos love,

Olive X

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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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