Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How to Deal with Trust Issues & Communication During Basic Training

Crying by Maren via Flickr cc.
Saba K asked: Hi Stephanie! My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half now. . . . He's been at bootcamp for 3 weeks now and we were living together before he left, so I feel like I'm crazy because I've been so upset and stressed out and keep crying! 
. . . he was able to call a few days ago. But the conversation wasn't so great. He was all over the place, contradicting certain things he had already told me, and kept giving me half pieces of information, so it made me feel worse. . . . 
He also mentioned that a lot of the guys flirt and mingle with the girls . . . That comment really bothered me . . . He also told me in his letter that no one was able to talk, so now I'm like what's the real story and why can't he just be honest? We've also had trust issues in the past because he's lied about things a few times, and I felt like he was going back to making things up or lying. . . . 
I really want to be honest with him about how I'm feeling and how that really hurt my feelings so our next phone conversation can be better, but I know everyone always says to only write them positive things while they're at boot camp and I don't want to say anything to hinder his progress or hurt him. . . .


Why Can't I Stop Crying?

Hi Saba,

So first off I want to say that you should really be proud of yourself for how well you are handling this entire situation. You have probably been thinking that you aren't handling it well, but the truth is that you are! You really, really are!

Everything you described is quite normal. Separation, especially for the first time, is really tough. This first separation may be the most difficult of all the separations you do simply because it's the first time. 

Don't feel bad or weird about the constant crying, loneliness, fear, sadness, etc. It's all normal and psychologically healthy. Any kind of change requires psychological processing and you are dealing with major changes! It's not just separation, it's also mentally preparing for this new Navy life, which have no way to prepare for because you don't know what to expect. It's learning how to have a relationship with minimal and often poor communication in a new form, i.e. mostly written. You are dealing with an insane amount of what-if scenarios. It's also very common to feel like no one you know understands or like you can't talk to them and so you feel isolated and alone. It's all crappy but normal.

The good news is that it's not always going to be this bad. He's in boot camp, but so are you. You are getting a crash course in separation, which is a big part of Navy life. Right now it's really hard, but it gets easier each time. Plus in the future he will also have much more communication opportunities, so that will be easier as well.

Why Did My Sailor Seem Weird When He Called? Why is He Contradicting Himself?

By Defense Images via Flickr cc.
When they go to basic training, i.e. boot camp, they aren't just getting trained in how to do something, they are seriously getting mentally and emotionally trained for how to deal with situations that are unimaginable, i.e. war situations. 

Everyone in the military doesn't experience those extreme war moments we see in movies, but they are all trained for it. 

My husband, a former Chief Petty Officer, described this experience as: 
They have to learn how to communicate in a different language, and they have to learn to respond to situations differently than they did previously. For example: it's normal, when there is a fire, for people to run away. Sailors are taught to run in and fight the fire because if there's a fire on a boat, that's bad. There's no where to run to. This is just one way in which their thinking and responses are altered. 
The changes that are required happen very rapidly, and are very stressful mentally physically, which is why it's such an ordeal. What they result in is a professional who can communicate with others and who can respond and know how others are going to respond in these situations. 
He might be all over the place because he's in an extremely stressful situation. Even phone calls are rushed, so there is an element of stress and urgency. While you might have been waiting for this phone call, your Sailor could have been in the middle of several stressful situations when he was told this was his opportunity to make a phone call. Consider how much information and how much training and how much he's being forced to process right now, and then being told you get to have your phone call.
Another reason for contradicting himself is because for some reason the military gives very ambiguous and confusing information sometimes, and or information that changes at a moment’s notice. This is even more true in basic because they are keeping them on their toes. It's also true in general. It took me years to feel like my husband was telling me the full story when  I finally realized that he didn't really know the full story himself.

How Can I Deal with Trust Issues While He's in Boot Camp?

Navy Seal Training by Rennett Stowe via Flickr cc.
When it comes to talking in there, they can't generally chit-chat during training, but that doesn't mean that they are barred from speaking to each other at all times, so there are probably opportunities for flirtation, especially when it's a bunch of young adults. 

However, do not imagine boot camp as summer camp. They do not have the time, the ability, or the energy to "hook up." They are exhausted all the time from the training. Plus, if they got caught doing that, they would get in so much trouble, which in boot camp means some kind of very unpleasant punishment even to the point of having to restart boot camp, and trust me, they do not want to do that!

The real problem is that if you have these concerns now, they are only going to get worse, so you need to definitely communicate with your Sailor about your feelings and do some research in how to heal trust issues because you are going to need that trust in a Navy relationship. You will be separated a lot in the future and even though "hooking up" is hard in boot camp, it's not so hard during A-school, detachments, and deployments, not to mention just in life in general. Here are some resources that might be helpful.







Although this wasn't Saba's problem, some people might benefit from the following articles:




Should I tell Him How I Feel Now or Wait?

By Pimthida via Flickr cc.
Whether you should talk to him now or later is something you have to make a call on, but if you are concerned that it could affect him negatively while he’s in boot camp, then it might be worth waiting. (Read Saba's response to see what she decided.)

Saba's Response.

Hi Stephanie! Thank you so much for responding to my questions and being so helpful. I keep telling myself if we get through boot camp, we'll at least be able to talk and have more contact after he graduates, so this pain and the really hard days are just temporary.
 Also, going from talking and seeing each other all day, every day and telling each other everything, to having no idea how he is or what he's up to and vice versa is a HUGE change and extremely difficult. Some days I've been doubting my strength and ability to deal with it and just give up and say this isn't for me, but him and our relationship is worth it to me. I don't want to give up on him just because I'm afraid of what will come and trying this lifestyle.
 I decided to write him a letter today finally and wrote normally, but also nicely put in my honest feelings about how our conversation made me feel and asked him to just consider my feelings next time we're able to talk. I felt like holding it in all week made me feel worse and more apprehensive, so I wanted to let him know. I would love it if you shared my post as a general post, you really helped me and it means a lot when I feel so alone in this situation. None of my friends can relate so it's nice to come on here and see so many strong women going through similar things! :)

Thank you Saba for sharing your experience with us. I hope it's helpful to anyone else in a similar situation!


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About Stephanie Carroll
U&E Founder & Author

Buy Her Book A White Room!

Photo by Randy Enriquez
I dated and married my husband in 2004 when I was 19. I felt like an outsider for the first half of our marriage. He didn't understand what I needed to know about the Navy, and I didn't know what to ask.

After ten years of learning in the Navy, I founded Unhinged & Empowered. I wanted to spread the knowledge that I needed when I was new, to reveal what took years for me to learn.   
Cover Design by Jenny Q
  
In addition to being a Navy Wife, I am also a novelist. I write historical women's fiction.

My first novel A White Room debuted in 2013 and is about a woman forced to sacrifice her own ambitions of becoming a nurse to marry a man who can save her destitute family. He moves her to a strange, small town where she slowly succumbs to madness until she stumbles on an opportunity to nurse to the poor despite the fact that her husband prosecutes unlicensed practitioners.

Learn more at www.stephaniecarroll.net and connect with me @CarrollBooks on Twitter, Facebook, or on Pinterest!

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