A Month By Myself

Something happens when your spouse is suddenly not in the picture. They have to leave you for a little while, whether it be for work or maybe something else beyond their control. You both know you’ll eventually see each other again but the days until then feel like one big question mark after another: What will this time apart look like? How will it feel? How will I cope by myself? Suddenly, you’re alone. And you’re not quite sure if this could be a good thing or will almost definitely be a bad thing! This happened, quite recently, when Steve went on course for six weeks to Borden. I didn’t know how to feel about it at first but I suppose that I was happy to have him go if only to have it done and over with and under his belt. Compared to other tours/taskings/courses, six weeks is not a long time! I’ve talked to fellow military spouses about the times their partner has been away and I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to be with Steve as often as I am. I tried to look at his upcoming absence as an opportunity to focus on myself. I thought about all of the things I could do that I normally don’t because of wanting to spend time with him instead. I could write, read, watch ridiculous amounts of the Food Network, binge rom-coms on Netflix, go to the gym!

~*~

But then he left, and I honestly didn’t know the first thing to do. We hadn’t even been in New Brunswick two months and there I was, driving him to the airport, mentally preparing for the next six weeks without my best friend. I bawled when we finally parted at his gate; I didn’t care that people could see I was 100% ugly-crying. I really couldn’t imagine how I was going to go day to day when I knew I would miss him so badly. Back at my car I collected myself and went into Fredericton for some retail therapy and, for a couple of hours, I forgot that I’d be returning to an empty house. But when I eventually turned back onto our street and drew closer, I saw Steve’s car in the driveway and my brain momentarily tricked me into thinking he was home. And then, just as fast, I remembered that he’d just left and I started weeping all over again. Those first few days were some hard, I tell ya!

~*~

I think our time apart wouldn’t have been nearly as difficult if we were still in Ontario. In Kingston, friends and family would only be a phone call away and Steve, a few hours down the road. Back home, there’d be many welcome distractions. But we were here, and I hardly knew anyone. Steve and I had spent most of our earlier days sorting out the house, making sure all the t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted, so very little socialization with anyone (other than each other) occurred! I’d recently given my two weeks’ notice at work for a better job offer and my boss, at the time, told me she didn’t need (my guess is want) me to come back. Without work to keep me busy, the days were very long and lonely. The part of me that wanted to reach out and make plans with people was always trumped by a stronger desire for the familiarity of home. And honestly, at the time, I didn’t really have it in me to try and get to know people so it left me in a bit of a conundrum with myself. My only consolation was that my dad and grandmother were coming to visit me. A very happy coincidence as my dad had booked the tickets before we’d known Steve was leaving.

~*~

When they arrived, I immediately felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. I was so excited to show them what Steve and I had been up to and I couldn’t wait to properly explore New Brunswick. Looking back now, I’m grateful that I didn’t have work to keep me from enjoying every second of their visit. I feel extremely fortunate we were able to spend that time together because, for as many times as I’ve been away, not living close to my family still challenges me some days. It was exactly the pick-me-up I needed! Dad managed to get a lot of work done to the house and I coaxed my granny into showing me how to make her infamous battered cauliflower and corn fritters. And they were just as delicious as ever! We saw so much of the province (every day we made a point to do something new) and my heart was happy and full to the brim. I got to spend quality time with two of my favourite people and seeing them enjoy this place as much as I do was an awesome experience.

~*~

But nine days later I found myself saying goodbye, yet again, at that same bloody airport. This was starting to feel like a cruel joke! In future phone conversations, Steve would joke that I’d eventually have a happy reason to return and that would be to pick him up. But that felt very far away. That was Thanksgiving weekend and I couldn’t help but feel envious of those who were spending time with their family. That night, I bawled on the phone to Steve. In that moment, I was so frustrated that we were made to move out here and, to add insult to injury, Steve was away, my dad and grandmother were gone and everyone was probably eating a delicious turkey dinner while I sat alone in an empty house with no loved one in sight. I felt absolutely isolated. I was bitter, resentful and just plain angry at how unfair I felt it all was. That was my hardest day; it took a good amount of time to quash those feelings.

~*~

I wish I could say that I thrived during that month alone. But the truth is, I just became used to it! Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of times in my life where I’ve been alone. I’ve lived abroad and I’ve always been a single gal, so I had become quite comfortable with my own company! But then I met Steve and things shifted in a major way (I blame him for all of this! HAHA). I knew I couldn’t dwell on how “unfair” it was that I was alone. I had to tell myself to suck it up because I realized that I could either mope around for six weeks or I could try and make the best of it. Those were my two options! I still had those days where I was COMPLETELY over not having him home (there were many days like that!) but I learned to appreciate the solitude and focused on things that made me happy. I signed up for a blogging course at the family resource centre on base, organized my little office corner upstairs, watched a bunch of sappy movies, started to mentally lay out plans for each room of the house. And once I eventually started my new job, the days held more purpose for me. I had a reason to get up and out the door every day. I love my new job and I’ve been lucky enough to find a community amongst our tight-knit office.

~*~

It’s been three weeks since Steve came home (naturally, there were many tears at the airport! HA!) and we’ve returned to our regularly-scheduled programming. This brief pause in our life together was definitely a challenging test, for both of us. I commend all those who may not have the traditional relationship; those couples who have demanding jobs that take them away, couples who were (or are) in long-distance relationships and everything in between. Some days, I had to dig deep to see the positive in this experience! But if one thing is absolutely certain, it’s this: it made me appreciate all that Steve brings to my life. Every day, he would tell me how much he loved me and how much he couldn’t wait to come home. He’d make me laugh through the tears and remind me of what was still to come in our life together. It’s crazy how much positivity and perspective helped push me through this time alone. I can’t say that I’d wish for another go at it (I’m good! HAHA) but I remembered how strong I could be and I’m pretty darn proud.

4 thoughts on “A Month By Myself

  1. Beautifully written, very honest. I feel for you kiddo, I know how I feel when I’m alone. I have to admit though I am so glad that my son has someone who misses him when he’s not around. You are a great duo, we all see the love you both have for each other. ❤️

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