I was listening to Pandora the other day and the song I Never Told You by Colbie Caillat came on. It’s been awhile since I heard it and all these feeling came rushing back. I listened to this song a lot during The Man’s deployment (it was on my deployment playlist.) I know the song is about missing an ex but so many of the lines fit with missing my husband while he was gone for a long time. It’s amazing to me that five years later the song can still make me cry. It’s not the only song either. Most of the songs on my deployment playlist still elicit that response from me. Missing and longing for your other half is nothing new to a Milspouse. It goes with the territory.
The Man separated from the Navy 20 months ago. I don’t miss it. I don’t miss the long days, the uncertainty in everything…what time he’ll be home, if he’ll have to work over the weekend, if they’re leaving, if they’re coming home early (yeah, right) or late (almost always) from a TDY or a workup or a deployment, of getting orders, or thinking you have your orders to nope, you don’t have orders to FINALLY getting orders. I love knowing his schedule, knowing when he has to go in and when he’ll be home. Sure, sometimes he works overtime but he knows when and can let me know. Plus, he gets paid EXTRA for it. Amazing, I know. Well, that’s expected in the civilian world but in the military? You stay until the job is done and there’s no such thing as overtime pay. When I’m sick, he can call in sick and stay home to take take care of me or the baby. He can call in sick if he’s sick and doesn’t have to go in first to see anybody and then come home again. He has more flexibility for taking vacation (and taking a Friday off doesn’t mean he has to use two days of leave for the weekend either!) We’re loving civilian life. (I don’t even miss Tricare or “free” prescriptions!)
The Man doesn't miss much about military life either. He doesn't miss the BS, the politics, dealing with officers & chiefs who are clueless, the procedures. He doesn’t miss being owned by the military. He does miss doing his job. His actual job, when they were deployed, not when they were in port or in the shipyard. He also misses some of the ceremony and tradition. When we first met he thought he was going to stay in for 20 years but it turned out that isn’t what was best for our family. For him, staying in would have made it very hard to stay sober. His sobriety is WAY more important so he got out. He now has 3+ years of sobriety.
The Man didn’t join the Navy until he was in his mid-twenties, so he has spent more time as a civilian than he did in the military as an adult. I think this helped the transition. The civilian world wasn’t all new to him, like it often is for those who join the military right out of high school (there is nothing wrong with doing that!) The fact that we didn’t move when he got out helped with the transition as well. We had bought a house while he was active duty. At the time we were hoping to get back to back tours in the PNW, something that isn’t all the unusual for the area. We know several people who have been here for 10, 15+ years…some for their whole careers! We figured that we could rent it if we PCSed somewhere else but knew that we wanted to come back here. We just love the area, so it was natural for us to stay here. Staying put hinged on The Man getting a job in the area and we are so, so thankful that he did. He now does something very similar to part of his job before, just as a civilian now. It took longer for him to start work than we expected but he now has a good job, with a good paycheck and benefits. The Navy helped provide this.
Another perk is that he’s been around for the past 20 months to see Munchkin grow and change. He LOVES his daughter and he loves being here. If he had stayed in, he would have deployed three weeks after she was born. Instead he was unemployed and was home a lot and was able to bond with his daughter. We’re still in touch with some guys from the boat & their wives and if he was still on that boat, he would have been in and out of her life (and he would have still been on that boat. They refused to let him transfer, multiple times.) I know the constant being apart from family is so hard and it affects everyone in the family in so many ways. I’m so thankful for the people who do it, who sacrifice for our country. I’m just glad it’s not us anymore.
The Man is in the IRR (Inactive Ready Reserve.) It’s not the active reserve where he drills one weekend a month and two weeks a year. Basically he just musters via a phone call or the internet once a year and needs to keep his uniforms in order. There might be more to it but that’s all I remember at the moment. So technically he’s still “in” and I still have a military ID as well. We still have base access and privileges. We don’t use them much. Part of me feels like we shouldn’t since he’s not really in.
With everything considered, separating from the Navy was a good thing for our family. We’re happier and love civilian life. It works well for us.