I was standing in a LOFT dressing room when I heard it for the first time. John and I were engaged and John was deployed. I hadn’t seen him in months. I hadn’t had a phone call from him in months. And I had hit the Deployment Wall that sneaks up on even the best of us. I was definitely not being my best self that day. I missed John. I was tired of deployment. I was at my breaking point.
And someone I love very much (who will remain anonymous because she is still so awesome) said it to me:
“You knew what you were getting into.”
Cue my exploding head.
I know that it was said with love. I know that it was said because she didn’t know what else to say.
But it just hurt.
It just made me angry.
And it made me feel unsupported.
Because the truth was, I had never done a deployment before. I knew nothing about the military. I literally had no idea what I was “getting myself into.”
And even if I had, knowing doesn’t mean you can’t feel worried or upset or depressed.
If you’ve ever been in my position– or if you’ve ever found yourself comforting someone who is struggling with military life, here’s a list of things you can say other than, “You knew what you were getting into.”
- That sucks.
- I’m so sorry.
- How can I help you?
- Do you want me to watch the kids for the afternoon?
- Come over for dinner tonight.
- Can I give you a hug?
- Let’s have a girls’s (or guys’) night out.
- I’m bringing over cookies. What kind do you want?
- I’m here for you.
- I can listen, if you want to talk.
- Tell me what you need from me.
- There’s nothing wrong with being frustrated/sad/angry.
- I’m don’t know what you’re going through, but I will be with you every step of the way.
- You’re not alone.
- You’re not crazy.
- You’re not less of a wife/husband for feeling this way.
- I feel for you.
- I’ve been where you are and I understand.
- You’re doing a great job adjusting to military life.
- Did I mention I’m bringing over cookies? But seriously, what kind do you want me to make you?
- Let’s go catch a movie this weekend.
- I’m grabbing a bottle of wine and two glasses for us. My husband will babysit our kids while we talk.
- I am proud of you.
- I am thinking of you.
- I am praying for you.
- I’m adding extra chocolate chips to the chocolate chip cookies, by the way.
- I’d love if you could join us for (Christmas/Easter/Thanksgiving/New Year’s/etc.).
- It’s okay that you’re attached to your phone. I get it.
- You can cry in front of me.
- Let’s go for a walk.
- You are so strong.