This is the first part in a series of posts just about deployment and how I’ve learned to adjust to the different challenges and stages (so far)!
I am not a patient person. Shocking, I know. I don’t like surprises and my already higher than average anxiety skyrockets when I know there’s an upcoming event, good or bad. Waiting for things is the worst. Some people thrive on that anticipation. I am most certainly not one of them.
Which makes the fact that I married J even more hilarious. He’s constantly gone, and when he is home his schedule can change from day to day. I can generally handle the back and forth and be mostly okay (which is a success on my book). But it makes the lead up to a deployment the absolute worst, followed quickly by the reintegration period in my ranking of “Things That Make My Anxiety Go Crazy”.
There’s no sense of purpose in the waiting, other than packing and checklists for things you don’t want to have to think about. Once the packing is done, it’s just… sit and wait. Once the deployment actually happens, and I’ve watched him walk away, I can start counting down the time until I get him back. I can give myself a routine. I can have some level of normalcy inside what is a very weird situation. I want Jason home as much as he can be, but in the last 2-4 weeks before a deployment, I almost start wishing he’ll actually go so we can just get on with life.
And then I feel like a jerk. I mean who wishes for their husband to leave?
According to conversations with my other military spouse friends – most of us. It’s not that we want them to leave and be in danger. It’s just that is so incredibly difficult to be in that space of waiting and waiting and waiting. And, it’s no picnic for the one deploying either.
Our first deployment we didn’t really have the lead up – because I was so freaking panicked. Not about the deployment or him leaving. He graduated from training, then one week later we were going to move 10 hours, then another week later he was deploying. I almost didn’t have time to freak out or worry. I was too busy!
Before our second deployment, I’d had a few different schools to help him get ready for, and while not on the same scale, I think it really helped us learn to be intentional with preparing for the actual deployment. Here’s some of the stuff I think helped us tackle the waiting and start his second deployment off on the right foot.
Don’t assume they know how you’re feeling. J is wonderful. Seriously, the man is a rockstar. We’ve spent the last 18 Months kind of rewiring and reworking our marriage, and it’s been so difficult and so amazing. So, I assumed he just knew what was in my head. And I assumed what he had in his. The result? I didn’t know how much he had on his plate. And he didn’t know what I needed to hear from him. After a conversation, we were able to get on the same page and it was so much better.
Make A “To Talk” List. I love lists. Love them. They’re scattered in my apartment and in my phone everywhere. We put that list making to good use, and wrote out a list of what we needed to do, and talk about before he left. Everything from deployment expectations to finances to my deployment goals and bucket lists. It was awesome and it made sure we didn’t have that last minute “oh shit we need to talk about ______” moment.
Go on a date. Don’t talk about the deployment. We got to go out after a particularly intense day of getting ready to leave for him. We didn’t go anywhere fancy – we went to Red Robin and then got ice cream. And we talked about everything BUT the deployment. It was almost like it didn’t exist, and it was amazing. And it gave us some time to be a couple without the looming absence over our head.
Breathe. And call your people. Deployment just sucks, okay? It’s freaking hard even on the best and most well adjusted marriage. More than once I had to realize that all the deployment prep I thought I HAD to do, could totally wait until he was gone (and I had copious amounts of free time). The things that couldn’t wait? Enjoying my time with J, and making sure I talked to my best friends and my community. They reassured me that everything was going to be just fine, and it allowed me to believe that and just enjoy my time with him.
I’d love to hear what you’ve done or what has worked for your marriage and your family!