Sunday, April 17, 2011

Looking Back: Boot Camp

So someone I know is starting their Marine Corps journey today.  The one I started four years ago (it's absolutely crazy that it will be 4 years in a few months and how much has changed).  It's weird though looking back on it now.. Everything I experienced and learned through the corps.  I keep thinking the whole "if I knew then what I knew now" nonsense.  I reached out to her this morning.  I remember that initial shock when they ripped you away from me.

At the time 3 months seemed like an eternity.  I'll never forget the day you were leaving.  It seemed to be never ending and I cried alllllll day as usual.  I remember they were late (big shocker MC.. I should have known then you were out to get me) so the day just drug on.  I remember sitting on the couch when they said he was there.  You came back in the house.. hugged me.. kissed me on my forehead and said I love you before walking out the door.  I stood there crying.  Just like that you were gone.  Actually, that was the first time I ever saw you cry.  It all happened so fast I didn't know what to do.  I took off out the door to my great grandparents two doors down and started hysterically crying.  It was such a shock that it finally happened.  Like the "and we're off" on our Marine Corps journey.  I kept thinking 4 years and it's over.  Well, I got the over I wanted too soon and not how I pictured it.

So, basically boot camp blows.  The one day (2 months in) I finally turned my phone on vibrate you called during my 8 am volleyball practice.  I still have that voice mail, "Chrissy, whatever you do do not call this number back I'll get kicked out of here. I shouldn't be calling you."  Right.  I should have called back :p

I remember sitting on the front porch.. patiently waiting for the mail and tackling the mailman to frantically dig through the pile looking for these:

I love those letters.  I read them from time to time.  Marine Corps lesson #1: You become an avid letter writer.  The first few weeks I remember saying, "Who writes letters?!  This isn't 1865!"  But low and behold those letters are some of my most valued possessions.  There was something about those letters that makes you fall a little more in love everyday.  I HATED Sunday because, well, there wasn't mail on Sunday.  I remember the first letter I got.. It was July 17th.  3 weeks later and I was getting my Senior pictures taken that day.  I was leaving my house.. saw the mail man.. and turned right back around to check the mailbox and there it was.  I read it over and over and over again.  I don't think I could have been happier.  I wrote a letter every single day.  It was like part of my routine to write a letter at night talking about my day. 

It's so tempting to just walk away during boot camp.  To be with someone else because it almost feels like your boyfriend fell off the face of the earth.  And of course the good ole drill instructors pounded it into their heads that every girl was back home cheating.  I don't know how many "please don't leave me" letters I got because they said it so much.  I think the DI's have a field day when they find out that someone has a girlfriend.  Lame.  Douche bags.  But that was lesson #2: Don't give up.  You have to be a fighter.  It's one of those "only the strong survive" kinda deals.  And lesson #3: Beware of the best friends.  I'll just leave it at that.

Lesson #4:  you're friends will tell you "they understand."  You just have to learn to tell them to eff off.  Don't be surprised when they complain about their boyfriends being gone for a weekend.  Because you know, 48 hours is such an eternity.  You learn to deal with the annoying complaints of your friends even though you want to punch them square in the face.  They try to understand, they really do.  However, unless they go through it, they never will.  It's just how it goes.  They will be there for you though.  To make you laugh or to listen to you cry.  Erica practically lived at my house with me and we became guru's on guitar hero.  I remember the day he left sitting on her porch, "Chrissy, if you can get through this you can get through anything."  She was right.  You can and you will.  

You will also have one massive break down thinking you can't do it anymore.  I'll never ever forget the night that happened to me.  It was the night of the bonfire; the weekend before school started.  The next morning at volleyball my eyes were swollen shut.  I remember my friend Cara getting out of her car and the first thing she said was "what the hell happened to you?"  I cried for hours thinking I can never do this.   You can though.  I promise you that.  Boot camp changes you too.  You learn about yourself, life, and your relationship.  You become a different person over those 3 months, too.  It gets to the point where you feel so broken down and you miss them so much (really it's like they are non-existent sometimes)  that you just can't keep doing.  Whatever you do, don't give up.  Remember why you're waiting and you will never regret it. 

It pays off in the end.  Every second of those 3 months is worth it when you see them again.  I remember first seeing him on family day.  I lost it!  I couldn't believe he was finally there in front of me again.. and that hug.  Gah!  Although I got tears all over the perfectly fixed uniform.  Oops.  Oh, but lesson #5: don't be surprised when all they can do is "escort" you on family day.  I was so pissed.  I waited alllllll day long for my little kiss hoping no one saw so he didn't get reamed.  Although, I spent most of that day angry he was so distant.   

Which brings me to boot camp lesson #6: they will be different.  Not a whole lot, but definitely different.  Oh, and A LOT skinnier.  Don't worry, it doesn't take long to get the beer gut back.  They break you all the way down so they can build you back up.  I hated them for it at first, but I appreciated it later.  I hated so many things the MC did to us and in the end I appreciated it.  It made us the people we were and it only made us stronger.

My point through all of this is it's a huge shock at first, but you learn to adjust and survive.  And when you make it through you realize that it was worth it.  Boot camp is just the start of this long journey and it's crazy for me to look back on it now because I knew absolutely nothing about the Marines then.  So that's where I stand now: to be there for the ones that don't know.  I think how different it would have been if someone had told me what to expect.   I didn't find my Corpswives family until much later so at the beginning I felt really alone.  Truth is, you're never alone when it comes to the MC.  It's just a matter of finding that family and learning to lean on them when you need them.  That's the definite upside. 


  1. Aww Chrissy I absolutely love this post. Everything you wrote is 100%true. I still remember the night my husband was picked up at 4:30AM for boot camp. That the was the hardest day of my life, just like I remember the 2 letters I got for the 1st time. Along with the 1st time I saw him on Family Day. I can't believe how fast the time goes.

    If you ever need to vent or talk to anyone, even though I live in NJ you can text or call me anytime you want (862-220-0799) or we can even meet up one day.

  2. This is amazing. Its crazy how everything you wrote is exactly how I remember it too. I love your blog. Your friend is very lucky to have the bootcamp survival guide! I know I could have used it!

  3. Wonderful post as always. I also went through boot with a Marine writing me letters. At that time I was in the same boat, I didn't know anything about the MC.
    I may not know you personally, but you are in my prayers.

  4. this helped me out alot chrissy! Thank you so much for being there! It means more to me than you think!
    Jess :)

  5. every single word you said was true.

  6. My heart reaches out to you, I randomly came along your blond through google and this was the blog that same up. Ironically, my man just left last Tuesday for boot camp. Therefore, I can relate to everything you talked about here. I'm so sorry for your loss... the rest of the day, this will be on my mind ((in a good way)). Puts things in perspective for me. 10 weeks is nothing... you're in my prayers.

  7. My boyfriend leaves to Marine Corps boot camp on Monday. Here we go.

  8. My boyfriend just left for boot camp on June 24. Let the Journey begin.

  9. My boyfriend of 3 years has been gone for almost a month now. I can't believe I'm already a third of the way through. I'm seventeen, and people always try to tell me that I don't know what love is, but I do. I know I do. And this journey and the way I miss him reminds me that I am in love and I will get through it because that's the only way. He's all that I want, and I'm just lucky enough to have found the love of my life early on. I trust him with my heart and seeing this post reassured me that we're gonna be okay. We're gonna last through this; it's just a mere bump in the road and it's something we'll look back on as what made our relationship stronger than it already was.

  10. Very Nicely written! I just experienced my boyfriend going to boot camp. All I can say is that if it's true love, the love does not fade. I wrote my boyfriend a letter a day and he wrote as much as he can. I think what the harder part is, is when they come home for ten days AND THEN have to leave again for another two months for training. Especially Infantry School, once they are their, its back to no cell phones (at least during the week). You tell yourself you don't want to do it anymore, but take it day by day, hour by hour if you have too. Make a list of things to keep structure in your life and to keep yourself busy. Great advice Chrissy!

  11. My boyfriend just left last monday I am 3 months pregnant we were living together for 1 1/2 years and this is our first time apart since then, it's been hard, but your blog is helping me a lot Thank you I write him everyday I am just waiting for his first letter

  12. This was an amazing piece (although I wish I would've read it back in January, lol). But I went through this this year, only I didn't get to go to my boyfriend's BCT graduation, I had to wait till this last weekend to see him, so in total, we were apart for about 6 months and everything you explain here is exactly how I felt earlier this year. I think as hard as it was, it was crucial at the same time. I think it really strengthened our relationship in ways that aren't just physical. He's coming home for a week next month after he finishes AIT and then we have another year of infrequent visits while I finish school till we get married and finally live together and I cannot wait!