Today, I'm writing this post with a happy heart... and not because of hearing from my loved one! Last night I went along to the 'Touching Base' evening at the local Community Centre at the base where my loved one works when he is home. Touch Base is a group started by NEDC for those who partner is away on deployment, on a course or involved with other factors relating to their service. It was an amazing first time experience that has left me with joy and a motive to write another blog post to share with everyone who may be reading!
Thanks to the Facebook Page 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment I was able to find a closed group on Facebook named Partners & Family of the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. It's amazing how much is available via social media these days!! Through the closed group I was able to find events being held during the day and evening for family and friends to go along to that support partners/family/friends of loved ones that are involved in service.
It was a mixed emotional experience before going to the event. When saying goodbye to my loved one at the airport over a month ago, I noticed that most of the deployed soldiers had families and children they were leaving behind. However, my partner was leaving behind his family and friends and I... His girlfriend of just over a year who was 19. So, I felt that going to this event would be a struggle for me as I wouldn't "fit in" or be able to make conversation with others easily as I imagined our situations of life would be different.
My assumption of the age differences was right.. So, naturally I felt uncomfortable but all the people who were there talked to me and made me feel very welcome! Although, I was the youngest (by far), I would consider myself a mature person for my age, so I think that helped! I spoke with a lot of people who attended and got the chance to listen to their stories, which is inspiring to hear... Especially, for someone young like me. Being able to listen and discover this group was highly enjoyable!
I would 100% recommenced that regardless of where you may live to do some research pre-deployment as to whether anyone is organising events similar to the one I went to. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet others going through a similar situation to yourself and create new friendships! While it may be out of your comfort zone, it's also a chance to share stories, listen/offer advice and most importantly support one another.
Never forget you aren't alone throughout this journey! Don't feel guilty for having 'a bad day' because it is going to happen. Bad days are just a reminder to be grateful of the good days. While it is challenging for your loved one who is on deployment, you will go through a roller-coaster journey of emotions during their time away from home. It is natural to feel that way and nothing to be ashamed or have guilt over.
Madeline - 29/06/2016