Thanks to new blogger, Tori, for sharing her story today!
My husband’s first deployment was a whirlwind of emotions. We had only been married 4 months, I was in a strange place and I didn’t really know anyone. Looking back, of course, hindsight is always 20/20. I was extremely blessed to meet some people along the way that became family and I will be forever grateful for that support.
If I could send myself a letter with what I know now, my life during deployment would have been so different. If this isn’t your first deployment, this may be a fresh perspective on the things you already know. If it is your first, here are a few tips to make deployment a little more bearable.
It’s okay to wallow, but don’t drag it out.
After the initial shock wore off, I sat in my house for the better part of the first 2 weeks my husband was gone. I couldn’t sleep so I binge watched Netflix & painted. I was forced to surface when I didn’t have any more food and I actually felt better. I am a firm believer of crying it out and facing your emotions, but don’t let it go on for too long. You don’t want to fall too far off of your normal program.
Surround yourself with positive people.
I cannot say enough about this. I made the mistake of hanging with some really negative people in the beginning. In turn, that made me think negatively about everything, including my husband. Negativity is not a good influence on already fragile emotions. It fueled my depression and my anger about the whole situation. I fell into this downward spiral and didn’t even know it at the time. When I finally found positive people, my perspective changed drastically. I distanced myself from the “Negative Nancys” and it was one of the best decisions I made.
You being positive = your husband/kids/coworkers/etc/ being positive as well. If you are having a hard time staying positive, fake it ‘til you make it! It’ll catch on eventually.
Keep to a schedule.
Having a normal routine during deployment is a life saver. It took me halfway through the deployment to figure this out! I am generally a “fly by the seat of my pants” type of person. As I’ve gotten older I have recognized that I function better with a routine/schedule, on or off deployment. Once I was able to establish a routine, my life seemed to start flowing again.
I knew the trash had to go out on Tuesdays, so I made sure to put the trash cans out on Monday night. I set specific times to go to the gym. I ate at specific times. It was a game changer and set a more positive tone for the rest of the deployment.
It’s okay to break down.
I always thought showing emotions made me weak. But truthfully, holding them in made me feel worse! I hit a pretty low point while D was gone. I ended up seeking counseling and medication for my depression. There is no shame in it. I don’t feel bad about it. I did what I had to do to survive and I felt a million times better once I knew what the problem was. My therapist helped me find the root of my depression and I was off meds in a few months. I dealt with my issues with the resources I was given and I’m a better person for it. Don’t be afraid to cry, feel or seek help if you need it.
Get involved in the local community.
This is one area that I wish I would’ve done more. The only thing I really did to branch out was do more craft projects. But I was holed up in our house doing them alone and that wasn’t helping anything. I stopped going to church and I had no idea what was going on in the military community or the local civilian community. Now when we get to a new duty station, I start looking for ways to get involved and meet people. It is totally out of my comfort zone, but I do it for my mental health. Pick up a new hobby, join a club or start one! Immersing yourself in the community only makes you more busy and makes the time fly by.
Set small goals & celebrate small victories.
Not only does this give you something to work towards and look forward to, it helps pass the time. I set small goals like finishing sewing projects, running for an extra 5 minutes on the treadmill etc. I would celebrate and be proud of myself when I did accomplish something. For the first month, our trash didn’t get taken out because the trash was one of D’s chores. The day I finally remembered to put it out, I felt good about myself! I did not really figure out how much this helped until over halfway through the deployment. I wish I would’ve done this the entire time!
Find your “person.”
I saved the best for last. I reference Grey’s Anatomy when I say to find your “person.” Having a huge support system is wonderful, but having that one person that you can be 100% transparent with is crucial. You will break down while he is gone. You will have a day where you are shocked by your own reactions and emotions. This is where your person comes into play. Do deployment together! Stay up til 4am because you can’t sleep. Do crafts, play cards, cry, laugh, lean on each other. Revel in each other’s victories! Commiserate and make the best of it.
Trust me when I say, this is the most important thing. My person will probably never know how much she actually supported me. Sometimes you have to go through a storm to gain a gift. God gave me the gift of another sister. I wouldn’t trade her for anything!
Bottom line: Deployment is HARD.
It will never be easy.
But you can change your perspective.
You might go in scared and unsure. But you will come out the other side a warrior woman. It might be one of the most difficult obstacles you have to overcome in your life.
But you can do this.