3 months down.
Deployment is certainly a big adventure. One that is unpredictable, difficult to navigate…but I’m certainly glad to be in this with Josh. We’re good for each other. That’s not to say that the last 3 months have gone perfectly well. We have had our share of crosses and stress, but still we are blessed to be on this adventure together…even when the road is hard. Sigh. It’s good to remind myself of that, because to be honest this last month has been quite tough. Some of it can be described and communicated (as you will see), but some of the difficulties are so… intangible and interior that I can’t really get into them. But I’ll share some deployment things that people have been curious about.
So. What have the last three months of deployment consisted of, practically speaking?
The first nearly two months, Josh and I battled against technology. Our original plan was that we would write letters regularly, talk once a week on the phone (if possible) and email when we could. (fyi, skype isn’t an option for us that’s why I don’t include it.) We wanted to keep the expectations low so that we wouldn’t be disappointed. However,about a week after Josh arrived at his location, the phone lines weren’t working properly…meaning that the phones were cutting in and out on Josh’s end, and he had to repeat himself 3 or 4 times for me to hear him. I didn’t get any of his letters for about a month and a half because there were some troubles with…I don’t know…something. He wasn’t getting my mail. But there was a lot of grace in that first month. We were so patient with each other as I tried to discern what Josh was trying to say…but after a month or so of that, we basically stopped trying to talk on the phone.We quickly began to rely heavily on email and g chat as we struggled to keep in touch. At first this seemed great, but my expectations quickly became un-managed. I expected Josh to be available to talk throughout his work day and that is certainly not the case. You know how it is with instant messaging…it’s nice at first, but in the long run it’s not satisfying. We could barely scratch past the surface on conversations, which left us frustrated and wanting to talk more but not having a way to do so.
I finally started getting his letters some time in August and about just about at the 2 month mark they fixed the phones…and then they went down again a week later. Thankfully, they knew the problem and were able to fix them more quickly. Still it was extremely disheartening in the moment. All in all, I feel like I didn’t REALLY talk to Josh for about 2 months.
It’s been alot better lately. We get mail somewhat regularly now, although letters generally seem to arrive out of order (for instance, I just received a bunch of letters from the beginning of July). We try to limit ourselves on how much we talk online, but it’s still comforting to know that we can get in touch fairly quickly. More than anything, online communication is about expectations – knowing it’s not going to be a long, in depth, really personal conversation. Knowing that he might have to leave suddenly or not respond at all. It’s more like “Hi, I’m thinking of you. I love you. Ps, I locked my keys in the car yesterday but everything is fine now.”
So I’ve learned that it’s important to keep expectations low, hopes high and resentment away.
How do you do it?
God’s grace, tears, family, good friends, care packages, writing letters, endorphins, taking trips, having projects to work on, learning new things and positive thinking. Before Josh deployed, we entrusted his deployment to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We prayed a novena leading up to his departure and placed it all before Jesus. At this halfway point, we will pray a novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary asking her for grace to help us make it through the second half, and to draw us nearer to her Divine Son.
I keep active. I am thankful I have a full time job that requires time and attention. I go to the gym more regularly than I ever have. I spend time with friends – cooking, laughing, sharing, learning, talking. I catch up with people on the phone when I can. I actually need quite a bit of quiet time. Some might think that I’d want to always be with people while Josh is away so that I don’t feel lonely. But I really do need quiet time alone to process what I’m going through, and to feel the movements of my heart. I’m thankful to God for guiding me in this balance between spending time with people and helping me realize my own needs for coping. Although there are really hard days/weeks, I am generally well. I am growing and learning and dreaming. And in a way, despite the miles between us, this deployment as brought Josh and I closer than ever. We face the challenges together as much as we can. Praise be to God for the unity he has blessed us with. We’re so grateful…and although we continue to face struggles and challenges, we’re in it together.
The best thing someone has said so far to help me with deployment
There’s a group of 10th graders that hold a special place in our hearts. We began teaching them at religious education when they were in 8th grade, taught them again in 9th and then this year I’ll be leading their youth group (it’s awesome and hard but awesome). I was sitting with a few of them just the other day when one guy asked “So when is Josh coming home?” and I responded “Man, it is not even half way yet. Almost, but not quite half way.” And they all were like, “WHAAAAAT?! Not even halfway?! THIS FEELS SO LONG!!” Their reaction was so genuine, and honest. They miss Josh, too 🙂 and it was just nice that this process feels like FOR-EV-EVER to people other than myself 🙂
The good news is, in terms of counting down, we’re on the downhill. Appoximately. Nothing is guaranteed with the military. We’ll see how the last few months go – will it be easier? or will it feel like we’re climbing Heart Break Hill in the Boston Marathon? I don’t know. We’ll see! But one thing is for sure…His grace is sufficient.
A little jam to pump us up: