Did you know that there are about 336,240,037 people in the United States? Did you also know that about 1% of the American population is part of the United States Military? Within the U.S Navy about 28,000 men & women belong to the Submarine Force.
A while back I had no freaking knowledge about Submarines, I did not know that about 40% of Submariners fail to complete their first enlistment due to all the hardships. I had no idea that Submarine marriages have an 80% divorce rate. I had no clue about the lack of personal space, no sunlight, the disrupted sleep and the many more high demands that Submariners phase.
But one day I met him... and even though I was warned... I did not care! All I knew was I wanted him in my life!
I thought to myself... how hard can it be? I have been deployed before. I have served. Pshh the Army is way tougher... but it is a different way of life and I knew so little.
I do think that my time in service has given me an advantage. I understood what being away from loved ones was like. I knew that the mission came first always. I was aware that long hours, missed holidays and many days apart would be a thing. But marrying someone and raising a family while they are attached to a Submarine is another story.
When I met my now husband he was not attached to a Submarine, he was what the Navy calls shore duty and was an instructor. His hours were easier & no duty days. When we thought of getting married he actually warned me that keeping a relationship while working on a Submarine was tough work. He warned me about the long days, duty, being away...all sorts of red flags came up! But my heart knew that he was the one and that we would make it work no matter what.
Dive, Dive, Dive
Becoming a military spouse happened pretty quickly and moving to a Joint base where different branches are around came with the trials of knowing that not everyone would understand our circumstances.
Even at a Submarine base not all spouses in the area are married to Submariners attached to a sea going command. Also, many spouses from other branches have never had to deal with a deployment and the ones that did had a different take on their deployment experience so I found it hard to find certain things in common.
Deployments are tough for everyone. Our service members, their spouses and their families. Sub deployments mean very little to zero communication for long periods of time, it means no video calls or regular calls unless they make it safely to a port and have available means to communicate.
Communication means e-mails I could send every night without replies. E-mails that are read by someone else upon delivery and censored if need be.
Our deployment meant worrying about the unknown, the days of silence adding up building up fear. The days filled with mixed emotions and loneliness creeping in.
Deployments also bring Murphy's law along and even though you know there is no control over certain situations everything happens all at once causing chaos in your routines. Our deployment meant long days raising our children alone, not being able to vent to my spouse and also feeling guilty if I did vent through e-mails because obviously while I am home he is under the ocean waiting to be home. Our deployment meant holidays, celebrations and many milestones missed. It meant answering questions like "where is dada?" and hearing "i miss dada" multiple times a day from our toddler.
I will not sink
And unlike a Submarine who dives deep I know that doing whatever it takes to stay a float is a priority. No time to sulk. Every deployment...i give myself a week. A week to make a routine, schedule, set goals, motivate myself to stay busy and feel like I can handle whatever comes my way. Because the one thing deployment will help you be is more independent. You learn to do things on your own. And if you are reading this and deployment is coming your way know that there are so many things you could do to keep your heart from sinking. You can work, plan a trip, volunteer, spend time outdoors, join a local club or organization, take on a new hobby...and of course to find a tribe of people you can kick deployment in the butt with.
Amine fills the air
Ok... so what is Amine? You are probably wondering why I would call this post such thing... Since Submarines remain submerged with a sealed atmosphere they rely on a chemical called Amine to remove the carbon dioxide. This chemical makes everything stink.
When my husband is in port I smell it every single day he walks through our door into our home. I smell it as he gets close for a kiss, i smell it as i hug him, as i do his laundry, as he gets ready for work, in his truck, his closet... everywhere. The smell is so hard to get rid of and i hate it....
But it is the smell I adore and love so much as I get to welcome him home while standing on that pier alongside so many other families holding lovely signs, crying, waving, taking photos ...
It is the smell I hated but craved so much to smell again. The smell that lets me know he is safe and home again. It is the smell that will fill our home once more, the one I will try to wash again off his uniform and the smell I will have on me as he gives me a kiss when he gets home from work. It is that smell I weirdly longed for because once again Amine fills the air and our Submariner is safe and sound.
Our lives can be normal for a while again.