Although I will not be posting any details about Josh’s upcoming deployment, I do think that I will use this space to share a bit of what deployments are like/how I cope (or struggle to cope) with the deployment. As we prepare for Josh’s impending departure, I go through extreme optimistic and pessimistic moments.
Optimism feels and sounds like: “We can do this! There are so many creative ways that I will enjoy keeping in touch with Josh. We can use this time to grow and learn to love each other and God more! I can use this time to do crafts and get to know more people on base! I know that God will take care of us and provide all the graces we need!”
Pessimism sounds like this through tears/anger/sadness: “I can’t believe that I am going to be in North Dakota by myself, thousands of miles away from Josh and my family. I moved here for Josh, for us, and now he has to leave and go away and I’m stuck in a state that is either freezing or swarmed with mosquitoes. I have to stay here while he’s off having adventures and learning all sorts of new things. I’m scared. I’m going to miss him so much because he’s my best friend and I can’t imagine what it’s like to be with him allll theeee tiiiime and then all of a sudden he’s gone. No one understands – they whine and cry when their boyfriends/fiances/husbands go away for two weeks. They think they can relate to what a deployment feels like. They have no idea.”
I want to be the person who sees everything with a positive spin because I know that I will get the most of out this deployment if I keep that perspective. And it will be the healthiest for our marriage and having positive attitude is the best way to show Josh my support and love. The second pessimistic attitude, I think, is a normal reaction and one that I need to ride out, but it’s also poisonous if I cling to it. I need to let God work through that, let him redeem it and help me to turn to learning about what he wants of us during this time.
So, as I process all of this, I’m starting to form some lists. Of course.
Things I know about deployments so far
1. Someone always endures a more difficult deployment and we are very blessed.
I know that there are thousands of people out there carrying a way more difficult load than I am – military or not. But specifically military…I know that things can be much worse than we have them. In the grand scheme of things, I know that AF deployments are generally shorter than the other branches. I know that people work in more dangerous areas of work and in more dangerous locations. Wives are left behind with children – a different battle than I will face. I know that people have it tough and I know we are blessed – and I say that with utmost sincerity. We are blessed.
2. Nonetheless, deployments are difficult no matter the circumstances.
Whether a wife (or in some cases, a husband) is left alone or with children – it’s tough. Whether a person is stationed at the nicest base in the world or in grand forks, deployments are still deployments. Whether a spouse goes to the middle east or somewhere else in the world, spouses are still separated by thousands of miles and time zones. No matter where each person is, they are apart and they miss each other. And I need to be sensitive to myself in that and know that my longing/missing my husband isn’t unjustified just because we have a shorter deployment than the Army.
3. Everyone handles the separation differently.
I can garner wisdom from those that go before me, but I will still respond as Ashlie and I cannot compare the way I deal with deployment to another spouse. That is a set up for failure, because I am most likely comparing my internal worst to their external best. That doesn’t do justice to the struggles of either party – I glamorize the other person and minimize their interior battles, while beating myself up over the struggles that I face. I do pray to be guarded against slipping into temptations of sloth, despair, isolation, etc – but still! everyone’s homefront battle is different and I need to be sensitive to that for myself and others.
4. If someone is not from a military family/military spouse, it is typically more difficult from them to relate.
I know that part of this comes from my sensitivity and my emotional state, but in general it’s really hard for non-military people to understand what a deployment is like and how spouses need help during this time. I can’t hold this against them – how can I expect people to understand what I’m going through if they have never experienced anything like it? I know that internally I’ve been holding people up to know exactly how they should respond to my hurricane of deployment emotions. That’s unfair. Which leads me to my next set of lists – things are helpful and things that are not helpful (to me) during this time.
Things that will be not be helpful during deployment time
1. Thinking that I am in a constant state of sorrow
I am sad, yes. And it will probably take some time to work through that. But I will still experience happiness. If people expect me to always be sad, it causes me to feel guilty when I do experience happiness. Like, should I be sad right now? Should I be mourning that my husband isn’t here? Should I be having a good time without him? Yes! I should allow the joys that God gives me to fill my heart – so please don’t expect me to always be sad 🙂
2. Trivializing the fact that my husband and I are apart by saying “It’s only X months” or “I know someone who ________”
This has been the hardest thing for me because EVERYONE knows SOMEONE who has had a WAY longer or WAY more difficult deployment. I know that people are just trying to relate. And I know that when people say these things they are usually coming from a good place of trying to make me feel better/see the positive. But it does not help. It trivializes the fact that deployments are a big deal and that they are difficult no matter what. Like I said, I know that people have it harder than I do – and when people try to remind me of that it just comes off as, “you shouldn’t be having as hard of a time with this because I know someone who had it way worse, so suck it up and stop missing your husband.”
Now, to end with something a little more cheerful 🙂
Things that I think will be helpful during deployment
1. Write letters to Josh.
Knowing that people are pouring out love on Josh makes me feel better. I love knowing how much people miss him and care for him because hey! I feel the same way!
2. Write letters to me.
I love getting letters too! And with quiet evenings without Josh at home, I may have more time to respond. If in between writing letters to Josh you have time, please feel free to write me and tell me about your life. I look forward to the time to learn, catch up and hear about the adventures taking place in other people’s lives.
3. If you can tell that I’m having a hard time, allow me to go through the ride of emotions that I will experience.
In other words, when you know that I am sad just let me know you care. Sometimes I will just need space to be alone and have a good cry. (Please do not confuse this with isolation – sometimes being alone is good) And sometimes I will need/want to be with people and simply enjoy where I’m at and who I’m with. I will pray for the wisdom to discern what I need and to obey God in following his Spirit – please just be with me in that process and respect what I need to do. Know that I am trying to keep focused on Christ and His will for my life. I am trying to mature and handle this with God’s grace. I’m not trying to push people out and turn inward on myself. I’m not trying to be selfish or manipulative. If you are concerned that I am isolating myself in an unhealthy way (I guess people in ND would mostly be the ones to have an accurate assessment of this), then feel free to lovingly express your concern and I will take it to prayer.
4. Remember, this is my first deployment and that I am still learning.
Although I am trying to approach this with God and my husband in a healthy way, I am learning and ultimately I don’t know what I will face in the upcoming months. Please be patient with me. Please be real with me. Please be sensitive.
Best for last – being assured of your prayers during this time means the world. I know that God will hear these prayers and keep us afloat in love and grace!
That’s all I have for now – I’m sure there’s more to come as I learn and grow. Thank you for your love and support! We truly appreciate it.