As most of you know, my husband recently returned from deployment. He has now been home almost 2 months.
I still constantly feel like something precious has been stolen from me. From my children. From my husband, who missed things he should have been there for, and who doesn't know stories I thought he knew... moments that are just gone.
I want to start immediately by saying, this is not an anti-war post, or an anti-army post. This is a me being real post. This is about what life is like when your soldier deploys.
I don't know if I can talk about this in story format, honestly because.... I'd be typing for days. So here are some thoughts about the last year of my life, and probably about a lot of other army wives too.
|The night before deployment|
-The first part of deployment was both SO HARD and not as hard as sending him off. I made a big huge rainbow chain for every day that he was gone, and hung it up in my living room. I got through each day by saying One Day At A Time. That was how I got through the deployment. Each night when I put my kids to bed, I ripped a chain off, and felt like I conquered the day.
-I moved home to be with family, but I lived in an apartment (not with my parents). My parents still have kids at home, so it was more peaceful for us to all have our own space. It worked well. My dad is still in the military, and my parents have been through deployment. My mom is my best friend, and I don't know that I could have done it without her. It is such a hard decision, whether to stay at your base or move home during deployment, those are the reasons I chose home.
-I remember all the people who reached out to me, especially in early deployment. I know its hard to know what to do when someone you love is hurting. So many people, especially family, encouraged me by telling me things like that I was strong, I could do this, I was a great mom, they were glad that I was the one who was the mother of these children. I didn't need to hear that they felt sorry for me, I needed to hear those things they loved about me and how they knew I could survive this and come out on top. Those words were so encouraging to me at a time when I was unsure about everything to come. (Thanks, Family!)
-Things not to say to a deployed soldier's spouse....
At least you have Skype. (Please. We Skyped about once a month. Its choppy, it cuts out, you are trying not to keep the kids from touching the keys. It was wonderful to be able to see his face, and I'm thankful for it.... but it isn't all it is cracked up to be, and makes us feel like our husband being able to Skype for 20 minutes makes up for him missing every other part of the day/week/month/year)
I couldn't do it/ I couldn't do what you're doing. I get it. I was there. I am sure that before deployment, I said things like that too. It is daunting to think about. But I didn't think I could do it either, and I did. I had no choice. I was sure that the love my husband and I had would ward off separation and heartache, like some kind of a force-field. When it didn't, I was heartbroken and shocked.
I'm so sorry, you poor thing, how are you doing? Hear me out on this one. I'll try to explain what I mean by this. We don't need pity, we need love. We need action. We need fun, and something to fill the time. If you are going to say something say, Is there something I can do for you, like make you dinner? or Would you like to with me? A friend invited me over for dinner one night, it was just pancakes, but the kids played and I was refreshed. We went over for Friday night pizza at my parent's regularly, and it felt so normal to have a family night. Also, we are tired of thinking about/answering how we are doing. We are surviving, but it mostly sucks. That's how we are doing, but that is awkward to say. If you are actually close enough to the person you are asking to really care about their answer (like a best friend or mom), this does not apply to you. Please ask how they are doing today.
I wouldn't mind a break from my husband. I know you are trying to be funny...but this makes you sound ignorant and hurtful.
At least now you have time for . Yeah.... if I can summon the energy to get out of bed today. Some women rock deployment. Some women fake it. There are good seasons and harder seasons of deployment. Right about the middle was my sweet spot. I was confident because I had made it through a few months, but knew I had to keep trucking because I still had months to go. So I was in survivor mode for the "middle". But things like making dinner or doing certain hobbies often feel like they took all the energy I had. It would seem like my little apartment would have been spotless. No husband, plenty of time. But I tried to keep busy outside of my home and I was often exhausted. I hired my sister to help me clean regularly, and if it was really bad my family would come and do a big clean in an afternoon (probably every couple of months).
|Visit to the pumpkin patch a few weeks after he came home|
This is the phase we are in now. It is formally called Reintegration. It is one of the hardest parts of deployment (not to discourage those of you who are going through deployment right now... but it is just a different kind of hard). Hi, my name is Adrienne. I'm the 2 billionth person to think that reintegration wouldn't happen to me. I thought that our love was so strong, we wouldn't have those problems. And those first few days were bliss.
It is so so different for everyone. But I'll tell you my experience. We were fine, for a long time. Our marriage was fine. But the everyday stuff was often hard and awkward. The kids sleep schedules were off, we had no routine, I kept forgetting that he didn't know where stuff was. He still doesn't really feel like this is his house (we moved, and I did a lot of decorating/furniture shopping while he was gone as a hobby). He doesn't mind that I changed things, but he can't help but feel like he doesn't quite belong. It gets better each day, and each time he helps us settle more into the house, but it is so weird to have these problems.
Going back to household duties is a challenge. Feeling like I had no friends and not being sure what my daily purpose is was a challenge. I thought people had reintegration problems because their marriage had fallen apart, and maybe that is true for some people. But for me, my reintegration problems were within myself. I struggled with depression and feeling out of place.
It is slowly getting better. But if you think that deployment stops when that plane lands, you are wrong.
I am still madly in love with my husband, but things have changed between us. There are issues to work around that didn't used to be there.
That all being said, this is life. My husband and I have agreed that some things have changed for the better, and while we don't want another deployment (any time soon.... or ever!) we also wouldn't change our experiences.
I am more mature, more capable, more independent, more confident. I got married at 17 (which I don't regret for a minute!) but I was able to learn a lot about myself through this deployment. I see my husband better for who he is, and I try to give him more space to be that person (I was pretty clingy before... we are moving more into normal dependence now).
You, who are going through deployment, YOU'VE GOT THIS!
Happy Veterans Day!