Five or so years ago my family went through my husband’s first deployment. At the time he left, my son was a premature infant of 4 months, my daughter was three, my dog was crazy, and I was holding down a full time job that could not afford to be flexible with me. I also helped out with the family support group for my husband’s unit and was the head of his platoon’s phone chain. I learned many a lesson during that year, and when I found out another deployment would be in my future, I decided that in order to keep my sanity as well as my humanity, some changes would be in order. The first deployment resulted in my being broken on a few levels. I worked too much, I couldn’t balance everything the way I thought I could, and there were a group of wives from the unit who decided it was their mission to make the rest of us stuffer more than we already were because apparently they were suffering more. If I slept more than 4 hours a night, it was a miracle. On top of all that, I tried to keep the family together and keep my husband part of our life even though he was so far from home.
I was lucky last time to have support from so many people–neighbors, family, co-workers, and a few of the other wives who were not crazy. Unfortunately, I was not able to focus on much of the positive. I was lucky to be able to focus on anything, honestly. I had taken on way too much. And in the end, I felt like I had failed. I should have seen that I had done the best I could, but being a type-A perfectionist, that wasn’t remotely how I felt. I can’t truthfully say that I have recovered completely from the last deployment–there’s a lot of baggage from that trip that’s still unpacked. But I am determined to have a very different experience this time.
Since the last deployment, I’ve taken a couple of years to prepare for the inevitable next deployment, do a fair amount of introspection about what I want from myself, and facilitate some changes both large and small. I left my career in publishing to start my own business , we moved to a new home, and I have spent the last year or so learning how to not be so angry and to see change as opportunity instead of an obstacle. While I am technically the owner of a graphic design company, I spend most of my time with my kids, and in particular, helping my son progress past some developmental delays. I will admit that this is not the life I envisioned for myself when I was younger–which has caused me quite a bit of emotional conflict–but I am working hard to find a new path and be happy about it and not have so much frustration at its difference from my former vision. Like any life, it has it’s ups and downs, but when you have the extra added stress of being part of a deployment during war time, it really exaggerates everything. Especially the crappy stuff.
Currently we are in the pre-deployment phase which is packed full of trying to spend family time together and getting things set up and fixed and on track so that every day life moves as smoothly and as normally as possible for us over the next 14 months. We’ve got just a little over a month before my husband leaves for his first round of training prior to shipping out. There’s a lot to be done in a short time and I’ll be keeping track of that here. The point of this blog, though, is not to have a bitchfest, or complain about my woes. What I want this blog to be, and what I intend to make it, is a record of the good things that help me get through this time–before, during, and after the deployment. I want it to show that you can get through a difficult time and still keep it together and maybe even come out with a greater appreciation for life.