Deployments suck. They are horribly hard emotionally on all parties. So far I haven't found anything 'fun' about them. And so far I've learned that these months spent apart bring out both the best and the worst in people. I can vouch for that. I'm not sure if I've thoroughly explained our military history. Well, Kevin has been active-duty for 6+ years, has spent a combined total of 36+ months (2 past deployments and currently on his 3rd) in theater and with only two duty stations. Those of you who have been around long enough know that this, while not the busiest resume isn't a horrible one either. All the same, Kevin and I have only been married going on two years (in September) so for those of you who haven't done the math this would be our first deployment together, married.
Enduring these months in the shoes of a spouse versus any other relationship is something that really I have no words for. I have seen a family and go through multiple deployments before it was my turn up to bat. This provided me with a very unique perspective and gave me a vague idea of what to expect. I have watched while my sister's family suffered through 3 deployments and wait (not quite the right word) for Levi to deploy on his fourth tour in only a week’s time. I remember very vividly in the early months of this war after my brother-in-law deployed for the first time and my sister was still at home, waking up in the middle of the night to her sobbing down the hall. I walked down the hall to her room and said nothing; simply held her hand while she cried. Cried the tears that all of us have. Let our minds wonder to places they shouldn't with visions we shouldn't have. I have told this story a few times. It holds more weight and conveys something more powerful than any cluster of sentences little ol' me could ever put together. At the time I had no clue that I would be destined for the same fate. My heart broke for her at the time. However, this memory made me hard when I chose a soldier to spend my life with. I knew that deployments would be in my future. I knew that I would have to be strong for myself, maintain our life so that when my husband returned he would return to what he left (if not more), strong for my husband so that I could support him while he was gone. Remembering my sister's tears gave me a glimpse of what was to come. My heart ached all the times Levi deployed, redeployed and then all over again. My heart ached for my brother. I've known Levi since I was umm 14, give or take. I grew up with him. His being gone did affect me; it affected everyone (of course). My husband like yours has siblings, a mother, a father and even friends who miss him and pray for his safe return. They are all affected by his deployments in all of their own unique ways.
I had my own experiences with deployment, supporting my sister, her child, my brother-in-law and missing him for my own purposes. But, as you can guess none of this compares to a very early September 2nd morning at the S&A, then the Waller Gym, or those god-forsaken white busses! Sending your spouse to war is something that you really cannot fathom until you've done it. One of my biggest pet-peeves is when people tell me "they understand". Ummm, but unless you are apart of that (less than) 1% of Americans whos spouse serves in the miliarty, and an even smaller group within that, who has kissed their spouse good-bye not knowing if it would be the last time than no, asshole YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND! It felt like my heart was ripped from my chest, yet there was relief in the parting, then I was numb. I spent two days wallowing in my heartache, crying, wondering, and waiting for him to call from Germany and Kuwait.
But with all things, I had to learn to sleep alone in our bed (this took months), take care of the dog, go to work (in the beginning of the deployment), cook for one, clean the house and maintain my sanity all the while leaning on just me. I got out of bed every morning, breathed in and out all day, went to bed at night... 1 day down. 2..3...4....5, ect, ect. This is the best of myself. All my strength. Going on with life is necessary in this life. You don't leave them behind; you don't forget your vows and turn your backs on your husband, your soldier while they sacrifice themselves. No. But maintaining life, yourself, your children is our duty. It's what we do. So much like our men, we step up. We suck it up and we drive the fuck on! Pardon me.
*NOTE: Relief in the parting comes from the months pre-deployment when my living room is transformed into more of a barracks room with gear strune all about with no recognizable organization. The months that don’t count towards deployment time, yet the Army and my man’s unit gets more of him than I do; NTC, the field, Pinon Canyon. The anticipation of the deployment is almost more difficult than the deployment itself. There’s the fighting that ensues, the purpose of which is to create ‘emotional distance’ in order to prepare one for the physical distance looming. These things happen. They are just as much a part of the deployment stress as the awful white bus.
I am thankful to have had the benefit of watching not only my sister by my best-friend and many other women kiss their husbands good-bye since the invasions of two countries in the Middle East. These experiences gave me guide... I fully expected not to hear from my husband on a frequent basis. I expected the worries. I expected to miss a call from a strange number and curse myself for not being there; for not getting there fast enough; for letting him and myself down. This is what I had expected. This is the guide which I had when I got married and when my husband came down on orders and when I turned my back, walked away from that gym in tears, sobbing miserably, wondering how I would manage to get myself off post. Well, this is not how my first deployment has been. Expectations ruin things.. create problems.
I am thankful that my husband and I have been lucky enough to speak to each other every day, with only few exceptions. Well talking every day turned into talking multiple times a day on the phone or constantly on the computer... This was a huge problem for Kevin and me. I was prepared to be on my own taking care of me and the home life not having to stop and pick up the phone/computer whenever my husband should miss me, get bored or just want to hear my voice. Brace yourselves ladies because this is something that I doubt you'll enjoy hearing and will have a slight problem understanding. I resented the amount of calls I received I had no idea what to do with them. It was overwhelming. I felt more pressure with him calling me so much. This was a hot button issue for Kevin and I. We did thankfully find our groove, so to speak. We found a frequency that works for BOTH of us. This balance is essential for deployment survival. The process of finding this balance was me at my worst.
The low down, dirty-rotten, honest-to-god truth of deployments is, they are difficult; they will bring out the best and the worse in you and your spouse. But, when you make it through to the end- which I haven't quite done yet, so I'll rephrase: When you work out the kinks and come through the worst parts of yourself and the months apart you will be left with something solid, strong and amazing.