When I think about the loves I have lost in my life the more I realize how loved I am by my husband. He watched me ache over men that didn’t deserve me, he let me break his heart but gave me a second chance without hesitation, he supports me in the ventures I take on, he is an incredible father to our children, a self made hard worker, and my best friend. When we finally began a relationship long ago I knew then he would be mine, but I was so frightened by the men I had loved before him and I let that scare me into leaving him the first time.

Before him I had the rumor man,the catfish, my first boyfriend, the AT, the fraternity guys, a handful of random guys from my hometown, Jon, and Navy flings in Pensacola that led to legal hold. None of those had ended in any type of healthy way, mostly just lessons to learn from. With my husband I felt safe, loved, desired, wanted; it scared the hell out of me.

I had no idea when I enlisted in the Navy that Andy had a slight crush on me, and I do not think he did either. I had entered the delayed entry program for the Navy the day after I turned nineteen. My next trip to Little Rock I made my announcement. Instead of anyone seeming excited for me, they all seemed like it was a really stupid decision. I continued spending time with my friends, going to raves, and having fun but I was also incredibly excited about my upcoming adventure. 

I surprised my parents by passing my drug tests and they basically gave me fairly free reign but they had no idea I was still talking with my first boyfriend and best girl friend that I had been banned from. My relationship with Andy and his friends grew more intense, but Jon became more distant the closer it came time for me to leave for boot camp. We spent our days laying around, eating junk food from a buddy that worked at Sonic after trading in CDs and Movies for money, and going to as many raves as possible when they were not working.

The day finally arrived to head to the entry processing center for the military and I really don’t think I ever went to sleep the night before. I made a last round through my hometown, said my goodbyes to my girl friend and my first boyfriend, and finally to my Mom, Step-dad, and schnauzer, Schmitty (my dog since seventh grade). My recruiter showed up, I grabbed my small bag of required items and hopped in his car for the trip to Little Rock. Once we arrived I checked in my seedy hotel off the interstate and called my Dad. I spent time with him and my Nana and had him drop me off at Andy’s. I spent the entire night with him, and finally Jon for a short time before I had to say goodbye.

They left me in my hotel room and for the rest of the trip it felt like the twilight zone. We boarded a bus, went to the airport, landed in Chicago, immediately were asked to dispose of our cigarettes, and ushered into the USO. We boarded another bus to Great Lakes and spent yet another night awake doing processing. One quick phone call was allowed to let a loved one know we arrived, but a deafining solitude had already set in the minute my friends left me at the hotel.

I stayed up until taps the following night, and aside from that phone call, I didn’t have contact expect through letters for quite awhile. Somehow my mail was delayed and I did not receive any until closer to halfway through boot camp. I thought my parents were mad at me and none of my friends cared. I was determined I was going to complete my goal and worked as hard as I could during training. Our first phone call came sometime after I finally started getting mail and I tried to call everyone I knew, but the only person that answered was Andy, my parents were not at home and we did not really have cell phones then. We spent the entire time on the phone and he had begun writing me regularly.

 I graduated boot camp from the performing units division and made my way to Pensacola for A school. My parents visited me on Liberty and as I got more freedom back, I spent more time talking to Andy.I quickly realized I was falling for him although I had a couple of small flings before either of us would admit to it. Eventually, he asked me out over the phone and I told him he had to wait. I had reconciled with my first boyfriend on a trip when I arrived and got off base liberty for the weekend for the first time and I had not gotten my period from then at that point in time.

I knew I wanted to be with Andy, but I also knew I had to talk to my first boyfriend and figure out my other situation before I could commit. The time finally came for me to take leave and I made my way home to Arkansas. I told my first boyfriend about my missing period and he almost immediately blurted out, “Just do what you have to do to get rid of it; I’m not ready to be a Dad.” His sister had just been involved in a horrible accident and had her leg amputated below the knee while still in high school and sunk into a deep depression after he thought she may not survive. I knew what I had to do.

I didn’t respond. I asked where he needed me to take him, drove in silence and left without another word; until the following year. I was so hurt, stung, my body felt like it was shutting down. He got out of the car and went into his friends house while I broke down and drove away as quickly as possible to hide my tears, embarrassment, and horrible shame. I drove back to Andy’s and started drinking with my best girl friend and another guy we all hung out with. I’m not sure if Andy ever knew about that conversation back then, but it happened and it was the catalyst for our relationship to begin.

During the leave period I still had not gotten my period, but was not showing positive on pregnancy tests. Relieved, I pushed my thoughts of my first boyfriend aside for good and committed to Andy. The week we spent together after we were officially a couple was amazing. I had never been more in love with anyone like him in my life. We spent days laying in bed talking and snuggling with one another, even discovering we could feel each others heartbeats through our pinky fingers. We went on a date to the Old Mill in North Little Rock and by the time I left to go back to Pensacola to await orders I was completely and fully absorbed in our relationship. He lost his virginity to me but I gained a future with him; I just did not know it yet.

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