Struggling through Army life..

“It’s about who you miss at 2pm when you’re busy, not at 2am when you’re lonely” – I saw this quote recently and thought how true it was.

We might be half way through the army but instead of getting easier it only seems to be getting harder, and more stressful.

Its been over 4 months since I last saw Berkay, which is the longest we’ve ever not seen each other  since we met – even before I lived in Turkey we saw each other every 3 months. People say to keep busy to take your mind off it, but that doesn’t really work, does it? Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind, and as the quote above says, it’s not about missing someone at 2am when you’re lonely and bored – it’s about who you’re missing during the day when you’re surrounded by company and are busy. Little things where you think ‘I wish they were here to see this’. I went camping with my mum last week and really enjoyed it but the whole time I was thinking how much Berkay would have loved this or that and wishing he was there..

He was supposed to have holiday booked for the beginning of October, but it’s now not certain whether he’ll get the leave or not due to the rising tensions in Turkey… Some of his fellow national-service men had holiday booked for last week and got called to go back to base early, so it’s really impossible to make any plans or book flights for me to go and visit since the dates are so uncertain. I’m still hoping to go if he can get holiday, but if it’s too short notice I won’t be able to get time off work (if I’m still working there as that too, is uncertain since it was a temporary contract).  It’s very frustrating not being able to make solid plans, anyone who knows me knows how much I need plans to stick to, I hate not knowing.

Now is a pretty scary time to be doing national service or serving any kind of time in the army. It’s a fairly safe country, just like any other, but in the last few weeks there have been a few incidents where Turkish soliders have died through terrorist attacks from the PKK, and with the events going on in Syria, the border between that and Turkey is a fairly scary place to be right now too , I expect. A lot of Berkay’s army friends have been sent to ‘bad places’ recently, and although Berkay hasn’t had to move base from Kayseri yet, it is a possibility, one we hope he can avoid. People in the UK who say “bring back National service for the youth of today” need to have a reality check – it’s not just a fun little army training camp, it’s real life, real situations and real people, and that’s scary.

Berkay isn’t enjoying it at all, he’s finding it difficult and struggling more than he lets on, I think. We rarely get a full conversation as the signal is bad or we’re busy. There’s no deep meaningful conversation, just a simple “hi, how are you, what are you doing” – no time for anything else. It makes you feel really distant.

Perhaps the scariest part of it all, is knowing that in five and a half months time it will all be over, and we’ll be free to move on, finally. Although he’s only been in for 6 months, the army has been a huge obstacle for a long time, and once it’s out of the way we’ll be ‘free’. Free to live together without knowing we’ll be separated for a year later on, have a permanent home rather than a temporary one, be able to get married, have a family, etc without the army lingering over us. This is a relief, but also overwhelming, and the future is just so uncertain. I know nobody has a crystal ball, nobody knows what is going to happen tomorrow, a week from now or a year from now, but we can’t even plan which country we’ll live in. I don’t earn enough for Berkay to get a visa to live in the UK, hopefully I will eventually, but what time limit do we put on that? Do we just live apart even after the army has finished in the hope that one day I’ll get a payrise or find a job offering more money? I have to be earning the set amount for 6 months before applying, and we have to be married, so there’s something else to think about. Do I save and go there instead?  People keep asking me ‘what’s your plan for once he’s finished?’ – the answer is I don’t know. Neither does he, and we don’t get to speak to each other for long enough to even contemplate or discuss it.

There is so much more to this whole ‘army thing’ than just missing him, it’s a big part of our life, and it really sucks. People say ‘it will go quick, half way has gone already, it will be Christmas soon then it will be really close’ – well, yes, I don’t doubt it, but it doesn’t just end there once he gets his completion papers. A year of our lives will have gone, forever and we’ll probably still be apart for longer.

For now, we’ll keep plodding along. Day after day, putting marble after marble in the ‘days down’ jar, and hoping that everything will eventually come together.

“Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end”.