I mentioned this months back, but at the beginning of the year (in February) John went on detachment to New Mexico for a month. It feels like ages ago now, but it was the first time that we spent any time apart due to training, and in hindsight I learned a few things that seem worthwhile to share over here for my military readers.
Firstly, what is detachment? Detachment, more often known as “Det,” is when a squadron relocates somewhere for training. In our case, an entire Primary training squadron leaves Pensacola and heads somewhere with better weather, typically New Mexico or Michigan, for a month to six weeks in order to take advantage of clear skies and push the pilots through the program a little faster than they would be able to in Pensacola. Pilots usually fly twice, if not three times a day, and are subsequently accelerated through training. Squadrons normally start leaving on Det when there has been a significant back up in training or if the weather has just been really bad in Florida.
Many of our friends went on Det towards the end of Primary, so it wasn’t a surprise when John got called up to go. While no one likes to wave goodbye to their husband for a month, John and I dated long distance and have spent a few months at a time apart, so I wasn’t really nervous about his absence. As my friend Haley says, you can do anything for a few weeks, and in comparison to deployment Det sounded like a breeze.
Here is the gist: For us, Det wasn’t a huge deal, but it did give me some unexpected perspective. The reality is that, because of John’s career, there will be large periods of time in our marriage in which we are apart, and although one month is not comparable at all to a six to nine month deployment, I feel as though God used the time to teach me a few things in preparation for longer seasons of absence. I established a routine, got lots of exercise with Flynn, kept myself busy with girlfriends, and worked a ton. The most obvious thing that was impressed upon me, though, was that it is ok to make the first move and ask my friends and family for support if I need it when John is gone. While John was away this time I had a family emergency that (thank God) ended up being ok, but looked pretty dicey for a few days. During that time I realized that there will be things that happen during John and my life together, whether to us or to the people we love, that are hard and scary and sad, and in those times John may not be with me, and I may be living in a place far away from my family. I am not someone who likes to ask for help (pride) but I am learning that in this lifestyle is it so important to be able to reach out to your people and say “Hey, I need some extra support right now, will you check in with me this week to ask me how I am?” Our friends want to be there for us but sometimes they don’t know how, and it is so ok to be specific. It is so much better to ask rather than end up resenting the people you love for not supporting you when they just really didn’t know how. I am so thankful to the people who rallied around me for those few days, let me crumble at work, pick their nursing brains, or just shot me a text asking how things were going. It meant the world to know that even though John was miles away there were people who had my back.
Military life is challenging for sure, and it forces us to be so intentional about maintaining and establishing deep relationships across the board-- with friends, family, and spouses. Over the past few years in Pensacola, though, I have realized that those deepened relationships, both old and new, are one of this lifestyle's greatest joys, and that is a gift that I will continue cherish.
My fellow military readers--anything you have learned from time spent away from your partner? Any tips or perspective, whether for short term or long term absences? I would love to hear, feel free to comment below.
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