Olive Oyl, Navy wife. | The crazed ramblings of a wife of a Royal Naval Sailor
Hi! I started this blog yonks ago as a way to cheer up the other Navy wives on my (then) fiances ship. Basically my blog is a space for me to talk about the real life stuff that happens when you are a Royal Navy Wife.
Ok *oversharing alert* family and friends click away now.
Popeye has just reminded me of something that has happened every deployment and I’m wondering if it happens to you too.
Thing is, it’s a tad embarrassing.
A smidge, a pinch, a wee bit cringe inducing.
When your partner deploys, companionship and wholesome friendship issues aside, it leaves a big gap in your sex life. There’s a *ahem* how do I put it- a romantic need that he just *ahem* can’t fulfill because he is several thousand miles away.
We all have our own “coping mechanisms” and this post is not about that. It’s about something else that happens after a “dry spell” spanning several months.
Every time Popeye has been on deployment I have had (occasional) rude dreams.
(This, so far, is pretty normal right? Stay with me. It gets weird)
Every time Popeye has been on deployment I have had rude dreams that are not starring Popeye.
(Ok ok we’re all grown ups here, we can admit that dreaming about someone other than your partner does happen and although totes cringey and not something you mention down the phone- not exactly something entering into the realms of bizarre.)
Here it is-
Every time Popeye has deployed I have had rude dreams about low status TV personalities.
Not even proper slebs! These fantasy dreams have starred such well known hotties as
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
Each time I’ve woken up totally and utterly freaked out and emailed Popeye in a state of utter squeamishness.
I don’t know why my subconscious seeks out middle aged gardeners and organic chefs as prime X rated dream stars.
But it does. And it scares me. I don’t get my brain. When I’m awake, they do nothing for me. Sorry Al and Hugh, no offence but you’re just not my type(s).
Tell me I’m not the only one?
Seriously, you guys have had freaky weird sex dreams too, right guys? Right?!
The phone rings- I go all Phone Ninjaand leap the dog to answer it- it’s Popeye of course.
My heart leaps, my pulse races- just to hear his voice on the other end of the line is AMAZING.
“What’s that I can hear in the background?” He asks.
“I’m cleaning out the bath with bleach” replies me, “we had a toddler incident this afternoon involving dog poo, bare feet and the slide- so what have you been up to?” <frantic scrubbing>
“Oh it’s awful here I’m missing home so much”.
“Yes Popeye we miss you so much too- but what have you been up to?”
“Nothing much, you know, I’m so so tired I’ve just sat by the pool and read my book”.
I pause from scrubbing possible dog shit residue out of the bath and stand there in our bathroom with bleach water dripping down my forearm.
“What did you just say?”
Not realising the danger he’s in, the poor tired lamb, repeats himself.
“I just rested by the pool and finished my book”.
I give a slightly maniacal laugh, perfectly timed against the background noise of toddlers screaming and yelling and some suspicious thuds coming from the living room.
“You. Have. No. Fucking. Idea.”
I literally bite my tongue. I’ve never done that before. It hurts but it works. It stopped me from going nuclear on Popeye.
I managed to condense it down to only a five minute rant about his lack of perspective, empathy or understanding of what my day to day looks like.
Because I bit my tongue I managed to scale it back to only a handful of F bombs and C words.
Because I bit my tongue I only once told him that he has no idea I would actually shave all the hair off of my head to be sitting by a pool reading a book. I would buy a wide brimmed hat and style it out.
I then stuttered that I had to go. Hung up on him and poured myself a very large wine.
I stuck my feet in the paddling pool and read slow cooker recipes off of my phone.
I’ve been thinking I might have a go at writing some “open when” letters for Popeye. I’m sure you’ve all heard of them. Maybe some of you have even sent them, if you have I’m a teeny but in awe/jelly.
“Open when” letters are letters you write before they deploy that they can open when they’ve deployed at various pre stipulated points.
For example they might say “open when…
You’re missing me
It’s your birthday
It’s our anniversary
You’ve had a bad day
You’ve reached the halfway point of the deployment.
They are a really lovely idea and I’m sure they bring a lot of satisfaction and happiness to many of you.
But (you knew there would be a but didn’t you!) they just ain’t my style.
If me and Popeye were to do this, there would be some serious reality checks involved.
First of all I don’t know when the fuck I would find the time to write a dozen or so poignant declarations of love and reassurance. I barely have time to wash myself or go for a wee in private. Also I’d much rather spend those last few days actually hanging out with Popeye.
Secondly I’m 95%sure Popeye would either read them all in one sitting or forget about them until I mentioned them on the phone and/or the night before homecoming. Kind of ruins the magic a tad.
Thirdly I would be so tempted to put joke answers inside. I don’t think I can be trusted not to be a complete cow and do something like this-
“Open when… you feel like crying” *Popeye, with a sniff, opens letter*
“….ha ha ha ….tit…”
Or “open when…. you are homesick”
*opens letter, maybe a bit more guarded this time*
“….man up or hand in your notice… p.s it’s horrible here anyway…”.
Yeah maybe that’s not the best way to go.
Got it. I’m going to write him “Open when” letters, for a real (as in boring and normal) military relationship, my ideas so far include:
Open when…you’ve spent £200-500 on a night out, phone me from the dockside at 3am slurring, have fallen over and can’t figure out how to hold your phone and stand up at the same time
Open when… you forgot to top up your phone card and we get cut off mid conversation. Even though I reminded you yesterday.
Open when… you haven’t emailed me for days because you’re “so busy” at work but there are Facebook photos of you by the pool and/or selfie with a monkey in gib.
Open when… you realise I’ve spent hours buying, packing and posting out parcels to you and you moan I forgot to put in jelly beans.
Open when… you think it’s a sane idea to give me parenting suggestions from hundreds of miles away
Open when… you’re on a beach sipping cocktails and seriously say that you’d rather be here in rainy old Blighty than a tropical beach paradise luxury resort
Open when… you casually mention on the phone you’ve been doing the T25 work out for the last two months and how it’s going really well knowing full well I’m halfway down a bottle of rosé and have eaten an entire Terry’s chocolate orange since you rang.
And the best thing about this is that I can save time and effort in the contents of the letters! A one-word-fits-all “open when” letter system!
Keeping up a front of “coping”during a deployment is exhausting.
It is so exhausting that I can’t actually do it in front of my closest friends. I know if I see them and we have a quiet moment (I.e I have bribed the sprogs with biscuits or quavers or similar) they will ask how I’m doing.
And I will lose it. The floodgates will open and I will cry. I will get all snotty. I will be a total tit.
Even if I am actually doing ok. Even if today was going alright up to this point. Even if I got an email this morning.
And then, then I will have this weird compulsion to apologise for being like this and will start to call myself names to lighten the situation.
“I’m being an idiot”
“My god he’s only been gone X weeks, im such a loser”.
“This is pathetic I’m so sorry!”
Then usually crack a joke.
So I avoid my nearest and dearest in the beginning. Because with them I can let my guard down. Because with them I can let rip because I feel safe and supported. Because with them I can become a snotty, blubbering mess.
They’ve already seen me at my worst. Either puking in a toilet crying about a boy and how I’m never ever drinking sambuca again (uni and “wild youth” friends), or utterly zombiefied with massive black bags under my eyes and no make up with my v sore nipples out trying to work out the sodding latch (early motherhood/breastfeeding friends).
So me having a howl at the dining room table clutching a coffee whilst CBeebies blasts out of the living room isn’t all that shocking.
But I don’t want to get in that state.
I am coping, I’m doing this deployment. If they ask me how I am and I lose it then surely I am not coping.
That’s just logic.
Except I know that it’s not true. Yes I am coping. I mean, everyone is alive, clean fed and dressed. I’m still getting out and about and we still have lazy days.
Maybe breaking down in tears is part of coping , it’s just the part we all forget from time to time.
Maybe I need to let go of the pressure of being a navy wife and a mum with a deployed sailor from time to time. Like a release valve. So that I can keep going, one coffee at a time.
Phone calls. They are, for some military wives, the silver lining in the shit storm of deployment.
You look forward to them, keep the phone near you, you might organise a good time to call or you might get the surprise of your life, anytime day or night, of the home phone going and the mad scramble to answer it, abandoning any menial task (like feeding your baby), to race towards that noisy cuboid full of promise.
A phonecall from your sailor is a drug, and you never know when you’re going to get your next hit. And boy oh boy how you crave it.
To hear their voice can be the pivotal point of my week, the elation I feel when I hear his answering “hello, it me” is bloody mighty.
And then it’s over, they have to go back to work, or get in the taxi in some tropical haven, or (more likely) you get cut off suddenly.
After the phonecall, I suffer a massive comedown- I get Post Telephone Sadness Disorder, PTSD.
Post Telephone Sadness Disorder is characterised by the following-
Looking at Facebook photos of Popeye
Staring at the home phone willing it to ring again
Temporary consumption of excessive amounts of chocolate (on a school night) or port (love a bit of port) and quavers
Alternating between big cuddles for the sprogs and shutting myself in the kitchen because they are doing my nut in.
Rereading emails I’ve sent and he’s sent
Watching twilight (I don’t know why, I guess phone PTSD effects us all differently).
Luckily, unlike its much more serious name twin actual PTSD, the effects of phone PTSD are relatively short lived, don’t (significantly) effect daily functioning and (hopefully) invokes pleasant flashbacks and memories.
Phone PTSD is a bitch. But it’s a condition I’m happily putting up with because the phonecalls are so worth it. Now I think about it, it really is actually a bit like a drug comedown (I imagine, I have no experience unfortunately I’m far to boring for any wild youth experience in that department).
But it’s a side effect of deployment that we’ve got to live with. A bitter sweet reality that adds a little variety to the day to day routine and the (fucking huge massive scary) countdown.
It’s a condition that we do live with. Another aspect of deployment civvies never really understand, so I like to do it in style, quavers and port at the ready.
I just got home without Popeye and strangely instead of crying or shouting or collapsing into the floor I stood in the middle of the room and let rip the biggest fart ever, right there in the living room.
After the shock and knee jerk reaction blushing, all I thought was “fuck yeah Olive! Now I can do whatever the fuck I want to!”
It was liberating, it was exhilarating, it was a little bit scary.
And as I stood there post fart, hands on hips, chin up in what will now and forever be known as the F U Deployment Fart Pose, I got to thinking.
What else can I now do that I can’t when Popeye is home?!?!
This is what I have come up with so far whilst the girls are being raised on Peppa Pig and I curl up on the sofa trying not to cry:
Spend ages looking for spots in the mirror.
Watch such high brow TV as Buffy, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and GBBO.
Let the dog sleep on the bed (shhhh).
Put all of Popeyes clothes in a big pile in the bottom of the wardrobe so I can use his drawers for my stuff.
Buy and eat food he doesn’t like all the time. YES!
Fart as I go.
Actually talk to and meet up with friends instead of being a super flakey crap friend when he’s home.
Go on social media all evening if I want to. Without feeling guilty im not spending magical romantic time with him.
Secretly throw out any of his honking Pussers socks that I come across.
Order whatever bloody dominoes I want (as a side note- there’s nothing wrong with Texas BBQ chicken).
And potentially the most exciting thing- NO MORE STAR TREK OR GODDAMN PLAYSTATION!
Popeye leaves for his 9 month deployment very very soon. Obvs can’t mention dates etc but let’s just say we aren’t talking weeks here.
He’s said his goodbyes to the outlaws and is gearing up to say tatty bye to our daughters. And I guess me too but I can’t even go there right now.
Each deployment is different. Usually I’m a sobbing, snotty, puffy eyed wreck (attractive). This time however I’m like totally numb. I’ve zoned out and can’t even get words out of my mouth when we talk about it.
I have no idea why my brain has done this but all I can guess is my minds gone “no, no. Nope. Can’t handle this. Too painful. Too much. It’s too much! I’m checking out. See you later conscious brain. Catch you laters!”
So I am calm. I am dangerously calm. Like the normal emotional reaction is a rip current but I’m happily bobbing about on top on my dinghy. Probably doing a sudoku.
My little escapist, denial dinghy that I’m fairly sure has a puncture.
It’s going to deflate at some point and then I must face the depths of this.
For instance, certain questions I should be addressing such as-
How do we explain this to our two year old?
My brain: No idea. We’ve got nothing here captain (plays magic roundabout theme tune loudly on repeat whilst doing some thing Pinterest fail-esque).
Have we got all the grown up pre deployment shit sorted out? Like making sure his Skype account and mine are good to go. The emergency numbers and his phone card numbers are taped to the fridge, and the Christmas decorations are down from the loft.
My brain: yes, really should do this. Got loads of time (we don’t). Will just do this first (gardening/drinking wine/ starting a quilt).
Spending quality time together.
My brain: so, it looks like date nights been a bit of a fail. Hey I know why don’t I write a blog post all about it instead of putting my phone down and giving it another shot. Genius.
Capturing each precious memory of the last week on film.
My brain: hey let’s leave the phone at home so you can’t take any pictures. Nothing like a bit of self sabotage to really help your early deployment mental health. Don’t want to make this easy for myself after all do I?
these photos were brought to you by random iphone gatherings over the summer.
I didn’t really know how to end this blog post (I blame my obviously faulty brain at this time) so I read it to Popeye and he said it’s because this timeit’s not just about me and him.
This time I have two children to care for. Two small people’s brains who are looking to me to see how to cope with this.
This time is longer. 9 months is such a massive chunk of time when I think about it it makes my head go fuzzy and I start laughing in a slightly unhinged way.
This time it’s not just a couple saying goodbye, but a family saying goodbye.
We don’t have many nights when Popeye isn’t working the next day left, plus we have a mental two year old and a 7 month old baby who is teething and beginning to resemble Count Dracula or someone from the Volturi.
We are exhausted but decided to push the boat out (-ha ha ha, punny) and have a date night.
The plan was to do an early bedtime for the kids, settle down with a naice film and a takeaway, a bottle of fizz and then have some maximum effort, sexy underwear, lights dimmed but on “grown up time”. I had shaved my legs and everything.
What actually happened was a massive fail. Like colossal.
The Early bedtime- both children decided they are junior insomniacs. One wanted to jump around singing “wind the (effing) bobbin up” at full blast. The other decided that tonight was the night she would develop super duper senses telling her the precise second I put her down she would wake up, eyes bright and alight with happiness, a small smile playing around her mouth. Over. And over. And over again. For three hours. Three. THREE! I finally got downstairs at about 8.30pm.
The Naice film. Popeye was supposed to choose one and have it ready for when I got downstairs. He was watching Star Trek. Now I don’t have anything against Captain Kirk et al, but it’s not quite what I had in mind. I let him know.
We had a Chinese! Huzzah! As for the booze- I was too exhausted and full of Chinese to even think about having a drink. Plus I realised my super duper 50% off bottle I got from Lidl was probably that price because it was only 7.5%. Not gonna lie, I felt cheated.
So, in summary, our Big Pre Deployment Date Night consisted of us sitting in opposite areas of the house for a few hours, me with vampire insomniac children, him with the crew of The USS Enterprise. We did have a Chinese, however this rendered us really full and fat.
In the end he put on Die Hard and I went on Mumsnet.
Jammy fuckers This.
Who said romance is dead?!?!
The amount of pressure we both felt under for last night to be “amazing” was ridiculous. We are first parents then a couple afterall and even though our date night idea looked pretty fab on paper in reality it’s just not going to work out like that. It just feels like I can almost hear the clock ticking down those final few days and it’s making my adrenaline run, I imagine it’s how John McClaine felt when he realised he had no shoes and had to fight Snape.
P.s we are aiming for round two tonight, maybe if we spread the content of date night over the whole weekend we will get all the boxes ticked???
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