200 Miles Is An Eternity

Lately, it seems like it’s every day that I wake up on the wrong side of the bed; either I’m in a cranky mood, or my depression seems like it is consuming every aspect of my life.  I rarely feel even the slightest hint of happiness anymore. I’m unsure if this is because I know that Jackson (read my previous post called “Over The River And Through The Woods“) is going to be sent back out at some point in the relatively near future or whatever the military wants, or if its just me getting tangled in the web of thoughts within my own mind. I know his temporary departure is inevitable, but it is beginning to drive me insane.

The distance.
The unknown.
The loneliness.
…the waiting; they all keep me on my toes, wishing I could have more information, that I could know when he is to come and go. The distance…over 200 miles separate us when he’s at his home base…miles that seem like eternity. Given that it is the military and that we aren’t married, I’m not allowed to know most things, like when he’ll be back from things like deployments, and technically, I can’t be on his emergency contact list (who they’d call/visit if something bad or unthinkable were to happen to him).  And then there’s the loneliness…there’s no way to really describe the loneliness of a military girlfriend. All I know is that it gets harder every day that I’m not with him. The more I struggle with my depression and trying to get my life in order for me to move in with him, the worse I feel. Sometimes I wonder if he sees it, if he’s tired of dealing with it, and how much longer he’ll put up with it. My depression is something I’ve had for longer than I’ve known Jackson…it began developing when I was 9 years old, I met Jackson when I was 16 (I’m now an early/mid 20-something).  The depression has always made me feel lonely and isolated, but the feeling seems to keep getting worse as time goes on with him so far away. Last but not least, there’s the waiting: waiting for everything from knowing approximately when he’ll be leaving for another military thing again, if he’ll be re-stationed, what’s going to happen if/when he re-enlists, seeing if he and I would make enough to afford all of our insurances, rent, bills, etc. when we finally do move in together. (I don’t want him to be paying for me, I want to split 50/50 rather than him 75% and me 25% although I only have a part time job [currently, that’s all I have time for; when I move, I will likely have time for more.] Also, I was raised to make my own way in the world.)

Okay, sorry for turning this into a rant…it’s over now, I promise.

What I’m trying to point out in this post is that many people might look fine on the outside, but feel like they’re dying on the inside. I act like I’m fine with the distance and everything with the long distance relationship and all the secretive military stuff, but in reality, it’s all killing me. I want to feel important, I want to feel included…I know Jackson loves me and that he’s a great guy, not trying to hurt me like this; that he’s considering the re-enlistment as a good move for future finances and whatnot, and allowing him more time to think about what he wants to study in college rather than jumping right into it after his first enlistment. Also, yes: I know I could say something, tell him how awful this military thing makes me feel, but he needs it for his future, and I will stick by him…I’m in this for the long run. You see, I don’t want him to feel badly, I want him to do this for himself and to pave the way for his future, but I don’t want to bring him down, I want to support him and his decisions.

Being a military girlfriend is hard, I’m not going to lie. Between hearing everyone talk about date night with their significant other or a first date, you begin to miss that and crave it; everyone getting engaged or married or having babies, you begin to feel even more alone. The distance is hard, the loneliness is hard…but the most difficult part, is wanting to tell them things like stupid stuff that happened during your work day, what goofy thing your pet did that day, show them a silly video you saw while scrolling through Facebook, and not being able to because you can’t contact them while they’re doing military exercises or deployed. I miss the nightly phone calls, the random Facebook tags in funny posts, the monthly/bi-monthly visits…curling up for the night and hearing his heartbeat as I drift into dreamland.

I’m not saying don’t date a service man or woman, I’m just saying it comes with a lot of generally over-looked factors. You have to embrace change, something that I absolutely despise. You have to be strong, stand up for your military man/woman while they are away and unable to. You have to be understanding, they usually don’t know what’s going to happen next until sometimes as close as the day before. You need to find support; it can be friends, family, coworkers, a group of military spouses/girlfriends/boyfriends.

If you are a friend of someone who is the girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse of a military person, don’t leave them even if they seem obsessed with their love, if they become annoying with their depression caused by deployments, exercises, etc. It’s hard to cope sometimes. I know from personal experience that it’s even harder to deal with it all when your friends and family stop showing interest in you because you’re slowly losing your mind due to the military expectations.

(As always, if you’re going through something similar or virtually identical and need someone to talk to, feel free to contact me, I’m more than happy to chat!)

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Over The River And Through The Woods

Here’s a little more background info about me: my best friend in the world is in the military. He also happens to be my boyfriend. We had been really good friends for about 5 years before it became public knowledge that we decided to date…we’re going to call him Jackson.

In high school, Jackson and I dated a little bit, he took someone else to prom and I went to mine alone after my date ditched me a couple weeks prior. (We went to different schools, and met through mutual friends.) He decided that he didn’t want to “officially date” because he was leaving for the military a couple months after graduation and he didn’t want to leave me feeling alone while he was away; I get his consideration, and I honestly adore it, but I did feel alone. He told me to move on, to find someone who makes me happy, so I tried.

 

In September 2012, I met this guy at my school who was a student employee; let’s call him Joe. He was finishing his last few classes before earning his bachelors degree in computer repair/science. I thought he was cute, struck up a conversation, and I started to get to know him. About six months into our relationship, I realized some scary stuff about Joe. He was fairly argumentative and condescending, he always felt like he had the leadership role because he was 8 years my senior. But I insisted on trying to make it work even though he always questioned who I was with or talking to, always bombarded me with texts or calls when I was out with friends (even female ones) or family.

Over the first year, we had already broken up once, we argued more often than not, but he always apologized and I always forgave. During the time that we were broken up, I decided I had enough of Joe’s attitude and I began talking to Jackson again, rekindling our high school romance. Jackson said that if Joe started “pulling all the stops” (ie: flowers, jewelry, etc.) to give him a second shot. About a month after the breakup, Joe calls to talk, we meet up and he gives me a charm bracelet with a peace sign (because my nickname was Hippie) and a treble cleft (because I love music) and he took me out to ice cream while we talked. On that ice cream “date,” he asked for me back and I cried and cried for a few days because my mind was so conflicted. I talked to Jackson about it and he told me to go back to Joe and be happy.

The next two and a half years weren’t any better. Joe constantly would ridicule and control me. About a year after the initial break up, he had grabbed me by my throat and pinned me against a door frame because he was mad that I was tired and wanted him to leave so I could go to bed (I live in my parent’s house and boys weren’t allowed to stay the night). After every fight/major argument, he’d buy me presents like bracelets, flowers, a bottle of one of my favorite rums; as many times as I saw and heard about this behavior with abuse in shows and movies (like ‘Law and Order’), I didn’t really recognize it in my own relationship. Although he was physical with me more than that one time, it wasn’t until the last 8 months that I realized how destructive the relationship truly was. Never in my imagination would I have believed that I would be the subject of abuse in a relationship. I’m not just talking physical abuse, it was everything…emotional, financial–everything.

By March 2014, I had miscarried my second child (the first one is a different story for a different time, stay tuned.) In May 2015, I walked across the stage at my college graduation but he missed it because he went to use the bathroom then got caught up in conversation with his friends that were also employed at the school, helping with the graduation production. In June, he made a scene at my grandfather’s memorial service because I decided to sit with my cousin who was inconsolable rather than with him and my parent and my sibling. In my opinion, he acted like a child and I was so confused. By the end of June 2015, Joe and I were engaged. Was I happy? No. Was I excited? I pretended like I was. Was I scared? Yes. Did I feel like I had to do this because I felt trapped? …A thousand times, yes. In mid-July, my grandparent had two heart attacks within 12 days of one another; my house was being deep cleaned and instantly became a smoke-free home before my grandparent returned from the hospital (they were a pack-a-day smoker prior to the attacks), but even amongst all the chaos that was ensuing in my life during those two weeks, Joe still had to be the center of attention and if I didn’t make time for him between the hospital visits, the cleaning, the cooking, the laundry, and keeping all of our other affairs in order and for me to get enough sleep to keep doing all these things, he would get livid. He would throw the adult equivalent of a temper-tantrum, and make me feel guilty that I wasn’t doing enough for him or my family…I wasn’t even 21 and I was essentially running a house and dealing with all the change that had happened within the past 3 months, I was stressed out and exhausted (mentally and physically) and all I wanted was for him to be understanding and comforting–its all I needed.

Enter 2016. Things between Joe and I had been going down hill for basically the entirety of our relationship but it became more and more prevalent to me through the last year. After discussing the past 3 and a half years with several friends, I came to the realization that I needed to leave–I needed to escape. Some of them knew earlier what had been happening within my relationship and warned me to get out, but I brushed them off thinking that he’d change or that it was a misunderstanding. July 2016, I broke it off. It took an immense amount of courage (something I would never claim to have), and a lot of support by friends. My family had no idea what was going on, although they didn’t like how he spoke to me. A friend of mine told me that I could stay with them if I felt threatened after the breakup, another friend offered to get me help dealing with all of the emotional part of it, and another friend offered to get me a lawyer and seek punishment for what Joe did. But I stayed at home, I never want my family to know what happened, it’s embarrassing and I was taught to be stronger than to let an abusive man into my life and just take what he’s dealing; I was taught to fight for myself.

 

No, I don’t blame Jackson for what happened in my relationship with Joe, or for getting me stuck, because I was an adult and my own individual, I can make my own decisions–I have been doing so since I was at least 6. I do wish, however, that I could rewind, go back to right after high school, and tell him that I will not search for a relationship; but I am also thankful that all this crazy stuff happened because it brought Jackson and I back together. He doesn’t want to know everything that happened and I’ll respect his wishes; last thing I want is for him to get enraged or feel guilty–some things are better left untold, which is why, in this post, I didn’t divulge most of what had happened between 2012 and 2016.

As for my new relationship with Jackson, we’ve been together over 6 months and going strong. He is still in the military, and planning on reenlisting soon for another 4 years. He’s my rock, always has been. The journey was painful, but I am so thankful for where we are, where I am.

Jackson has realized that I don’t care about the distance, or how long I might go without seeing him or talking to him due to his job; I have honestly never cared about any of that. I have always been in awe over him, he’s always been my saving grace, the one that keeps me pushing through every seemingly impossible situation like the one with Joe. Without him, I’m not sure how I would’ve survived. We currently live over 200 miles away from each other; we try to visit one another at least once a month, but when he’s doing his duty, we barely get to talk. Yes, it’s hard, but it is worth it to me. He’s my light, my strength, my knight in shining armor. (Yes, I know…I am such a cheesy person, get over it.)  When we finally made our relationship “Facebook official,” literally every comment was “Oh, it’s about time!” or “hmmm never would’ve guessed lol” or “yayyy!!” …I think you get the point. All of our family and friends were so excited for us, almost as happy as we were to announce it!

I know this may seem like I am depending on him for joy and whatnot, but I am currently the happiest I have ever been since I was 9 years old (when my depression began; again, different story, different time.) Even in high school, I knew there was something about him…I called us soulmates for years…and here we are…finally. It took us years to finally be where we are, where we’re meant to be…a journey over the river and through the woods, up a mountain, and through a desert to be in the best relationship of either of our lives…and I wouldn’t change a thing. 

 

And to end this:
Please, if you think or know that you are in an abusive relationship (or think a friend is, suggest the following to them), please, please, PLEASE
(in the US, I’m sorry I don’t have any other resources)
Visit: http://www.thehotline.org
If you think your internet usage is being monitored (it is impossible to completely clear your computer/internet history),
call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233
for TTY: 1-800-787-3224
Don’t forget, if you are in an emergency situation, call 911, many areas in the US now have texting features for emergency response too; if you are afraid to check for the text feature online, have a friend check for you.

Working with Friends

Nearly everyone thinks “oh, hey, working with your best friend would be awesome!” …so when your friend says their job is hiring and you’re thinking about getting a second job you fill out an application and ace the interview. Your new boss seems cool and you’re excited for the new adventure.

As emails come in with information about the new job, you realize they’re a little disheveled and grow more worried that the job will be tough to balance with everything else you’re juggling…one job that could give you more hours, a volunteer job that you refuse to give up, a significant other who is preparing to exit the military, and trying to keep a house of three afloat, clean, and organized…all while planning on going back to school so that you can finally get a better job, a career perhaps. Not to mention, thinking about it makes your blood pressure begin to rise.

You think on it for days, comparing your options, talking to your friend about your concerns so they aren’t blindsided by your decision to possibly quit. You come to the conclusion that it just won’t work out or end well for either of you. So you spend a day and a half agonizing over how you’re going to tell your new boss about your decision…and then you finally make the call.

You apologize deeply and try to honestly explain things from your point of view without putting any blame on the new employer. “Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re doing this,” you hear from the other end. You think to yourself, “I’m just trying to do what’s best for me and my family, I’m not trying to screw you over, I appreciate the opportunity.” …but they aren’t having any of it. They start berating you, scolding you as if they’re talking to their own children. They ask if you spoke with your friend about it and you’re honest that you mentioned your concerns late the night before.

After being verbally shamed for nearly 20 minutes by a person you’ve met once, they beg you to stay and to try and make it work and to reconsider your decision, you apologize once more and are no longer hungry for dinner that has been ready for 15 minutes. Ten minutes after the call, you phone starts buzzing like a bomb’s going off. Your “new employer” and your best friend have sent you at least five text messages each. The employer is basically making a last cry for you, while your friend is essentially telling you that you betrayed them. Then, the part that hurts the worst, your friend tells you that you two are no longer friends, after nearly 19 years.

Still standing firm on your decision, you vow off texting and social media for a while and hope that your friend will come through their fog and realize its a joke to waste 19 years of friendship, especially after all of the stuff in which you supported each other.

Maybe I’m better off without the job, maybe I just made a big mistake. But I was listening to my gut, it wasn’t going to work. Best friends don’t disappear overnight.

Lesson learned. Don’t work with your best friend, it probably won’t end well.

Getting Help

Let me start by saying that I am currently in my early 20’s and I am not a parent. I would love to be, but that gift hasn’t been given to me yet.  Let me also say, as a daughter of a single parent, I know that being a parent is hard, being a single parent is harder.  Do not tell me that I don’t know how it is because I haven’t been there; many people understand others’ experiences just by witnessing them and understanding them, such as I with my parent. With that being said, let’s move on to what I’m here for.  This blog is to help others see the joy and damage that they might be causing or feeling while they’re in similar situations. Posts may be about my day, my past, or just things that I find important and would love to share with my audience.

Today, part of the reason I started Roses and Quicksand is because today was a day of quicksand. Life isn’t always going to be beautiful like roses, it will have its times when it is like quicksand too and seems to be sucking you down with every ounce of its being no matter how much you struggle and fight back.  If you’re going through a patch of quicksand, just remember to relax and breathe and don’t feel overwhelmed, just like real quicksand.  (I know, easier said than done…trust me, been there done that, got the t-shirt and in the struggle, it got destroyed.)  No matter what life throws at you, be prepared to rule with an iron fist and love with the heart of an angel.

So, back to today. Recently it has come to my attention that my parent has a problem. I have been researching how to help them out with it and get them better…this problem is alcoholism. Not only do I see it effecting my parent and destroying them, I see it destroying me too.  My grandparent, with whom my parent and I reside, was recently diagnosed with cancer and has gone through chemo, we’re waiting to hear an update before they move onto radiation…my parent is recently unemployed due to a lay-off, and I have taken on a second job to help pick up the slack while they’re in their gloomy post-lay-off funk. One week, I counted the bottles as I took out the recycle…it averaged at 54 bottles of beer a week. That’s when it struck me that I need to get my parent help.  Yes, I’m still trying to convince them that they really need it, but it’s a work in progress, change can’t happen over night.

Tonight, I took a shower, got out to dry off and I heard my parent trying to get into the locked bathroom. The door shook and it seemed like my parent was seconds away from breaking down the door because they forgot I was in there…an effect of the alcohol.  It hurts me to see them hurting themself. And as a young adult, getting ready to get their first apartment, it really makes me worry if they’ll be okay when I move out, if they’ll be capable of helping my grandparent.  My grandparent sees the alcoholism too, as much as we try to shield them from it because of the illness and age…we don’t want them to worry. So tomorrow, I’m planning on confronting my parent about their alcohol problem and tell them that I think they need help…I am scared out of my mind but I hope my parent accepts the damage it’s doing to us as a family and tries to better it. As a young 20-something, it’s really hard being the only able adult in the house, and I won’t be here forever, I have my life and I want my own family and kids at some point. As I write this on another sleepless night of mine (which I have more often than not), it is nearing 4:30 am…at around 1:30 am, I heard my parent so drunk that they were puking in their room…it is the first time I have ever heard my parent puke, even when they were sick. I am so scared for tomorrow (well, today I guess) and confronting my parent about their alcohol addiction…12 beers in one night is not acceptable. I’m the one that’s in my “party years” and I’m never drunk, and I’m the one taking care of all the family needs…a little bit of role reversal has occurred, although I was never one to party.

I don’t want to blame my parent. I know alcoholism is an illness, and I want to help them desperately. If you have any form of addiction and you know it’s hurting you, you are also probably hurting the ones close to you too. …just know you are not alone. If you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism or any other form of addiction, call a center for help or advice. It helped me.