Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to Be Independent & Self Reliant while Your Sailor is Deployed

By Amy Bird

I'm all for independent living. My Sailor and I have our independent careers (one sea, one shore), pursuits, and while he is away, homes. But every so often something happens to remind me that when you have the chance to be dependent, you should seize it.

photo by soccerkrys via flickr cc
Take this week. I was on my way home from work on Wednesday when I twisted my ankle badly while dodging out of the way of a bike. I clutched to a lamppost for support for about 10 minutes, then made it home. With no-one else to look after me, I did the ice-pack, the hot meal, the sugar (and a little wine) for shock, then the next morning got a cab to the local hospital and back. All very independent, caring for myself in a capable, self-sufficient way.

It was a joy, though, when my Sailor phoned to say he was coming back from the base early and would be back by Thursday afternoon. Suddenly, I no longer had to be self-sufficient - there followed three and a half days of him looking after me, doing the shopping and cooking, and providing morale support as I sulked about my ankle. It was lovely to be able to rely on someone else for a change. Of course, come Monday, it was back to self-sufficiency again, and I adapted easily as I always do.

And that, for me, is one of the great things about a Naval marriage. Sure, you spend a lot of time apart, and you have your own independent existence in that time. But when your sailor is home again, or is able to reach you on the phone, you are suddenly mutually dependent again, and can revel in it.

The Navy Wife protagonist in my thriller, 'Yours is Mine', doesn't quite manage that - she is too dependent on her husband, even while he is away, and goes so far as to surrender her own existence in an identity exchange in his absence. For me, the secret is to adapt quickly to the dependence and independence as they arise, and cherish both of them.  I hope you can do the same.

I realise, though, that we can all have moments in times of crisis or upset where we are having to be independent due to the circumstances, but would much rather there was someone there looking after us. If you find yourself struggling in those times, here are my tips on how to get through:

1. Focus on the issue, not the emotion.  Think about the practical arrangements you need to put in place to solve your current situation, rather than dwelling on how nice it would be to have your Sailor at home. This might be something as simple as phoning a cab, or booking extra childcare. Once that is done, you will feel a lot more positive.

2. Prioritise. Sometimes, when our Sailor is away, we can think we need to do everything, everyday, just to get things done, because we are the ones running the house. There may be times like that, but part of mature independence is to realise that at times we get to prioritise ourselves. Last week, when I injured my ankle, the priority had to be resting up with an ice-pack, and taking a view on other things, even if it meant cancelling other commitments, and not having to be superwoman.

3. Keep your chin up. I suspect that if my Sailor was writing this action point, he would have described it as 'deal with it' i.e. man-up and stay cheerful. Although that sounds harsh, there is something to be said for that approach. It's important to focus on the positives and by deliberately keeping your spirits up internally, you will ultimately end up feeling better.

4.  Use other channels of dependence. Your Sailor being at home is not the only way you can be looked after emotionally and practically. Don't be afraid to call on your family, or your Sailor's family, or friends, for support. If your Sailor is at the end of the phone, then tell them all about it - sharing your emotions and practical concerns in this way will ease the burden, and make you feel less alone, and it will also help your Sailor to feel involved in your life.

5. Laugh. Laughter really is a good rescue remedy. Watch a funny YouTube clip or make a quick call to a friend who really amuses you. Comedy is also often based on the universal things that make us human - truths that we can share in. So even if you have to fend for yourself after you're done laughing, you'll know that you're not alone. You'll probably also find yourself taking a much more resigned attitude, approaching your situation with good humour.

And finally - in case anyone is worried, the ankle is healing well, so I'll be able to enjoy my independent existence fully soon. That is, until I'm in more 'dependent' mode again!

About Amy Bird
The London Authoress
I am a Navy Wife, lawyer, and a published author of Navy themed romance thriller Yours is Mine. Born in London, England, I moved all around the UK for 18 years before coming back to London for university. I've been here ever since, with the occasional epic holiday to join my Navy husband overseas. 

I have a MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, and I'm also an alumni of Faber Academy.  My creative focus is on novels and plays. As well as being a writer, I'm also a lawyer. I work four days a week at one of the big city firms, specializing in employment law – and I'm a trustee of a new writing theatre. 

When I'm not writing or lawyering, I'll generally be found cooking with my husband (when he's on shore!), or in a theatre somewhere. My debut novel, Yours is Mine, is the first in a three-book deal with Carina UK, the new digital imprint of Harlequin. 

Visit me at and purchase Yours is Mine on Amazon UKAmazon US, or Amazon Canada.
Find me @London_Writer on Twitter Facebook Too!

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