Friday, January 27, 2012

Dealing With A Deployment

Do you like my new re-vamped blog? I DO! I was feeling like a change, and I'm lovin' this change. If you haven't read my header, Hope For Military Wives, then this post will seem like it's a surprise. But it's not. I would suggest you give it a brief read, then come and read this blog. :D

My friend Marie Lester, over at Home Is Where The Heart Is, a fellow military wife and I, have decided to come together and do a three part series called "Dealing With A Deployment." If we get good responses, we hope to continue working together on different series, but we'll see when the times comes. We are very excited to unveil our first part to the series today.


Deployment is tough. There are so many words that can describe it; it's hard to choose the right word or words to express a feeling to associate it with. Everyone feels something different, thus dealing with it differently. My experience, most likely will not be your experience. But the beauty of it all is that's ok.

Let me start off by saying I am new to this. I am no trained or skilled professional. I am still going through my first deployment, but he's set to be back soon. YEAH! So my experiences will definitely be different than Marie's or yours, but I think I have a lot to bring to the plate. My husband left for deployment on August 10, 2011. I didn't know what to expect, since I hadn't done this before, however, I did know that the day was going to be hard no matter what. Yes, I had left him for basic and then again for A school, but those weren't for nearly as long. Three months is a lot easier than seven months (when it's all a brand new experience for you). I knew I was going to be a basket case. And I was. And you know what? I had (and you have) every right to be sad. It's ok to be sad. Quite frankly, it would be hard not to. You're showing him that you care so much for him, because you feel sad to be away from him. The hardest part of that day, was the last memory I have of him. We were hugging by the terminal, he gave me one last kiss good-bye, gave the attendant his boarding pass, and while he walked away from me he said "I love you so much. Never forget that," as tears flowed down his cheeks. Yes, that was hard. The hardest thing I've done so far in life. As I watched his plane take off and leave, with my one true love, I instantly was hit with the shock of it all. All of a sudden you have this huge wave of realization: he is gone. He is gone for seven months, and I will not physically see him until the end of this time. I won't be able to hug him, kiss him, and tell him face to face how much he means to me. He. Won't. Be. Here.

Fortunately, the wife that Adam's friend who had gone to A school with him and got stationed in WA and reporting at the same time too, Demi Hines, drove with me back to the hotel we had stayed at. (I would highly recommend carpooling to the airport if your hubby is leaving from an airport with a friend. You both can help calm each other down.). However, from the hotel we both would be driving back to our houses alone. I remember driving home and I couldn't listen to any music. I had just gotten into Country music and we all know that country music has everything to do with love, feelings, and eggs at our hearts emotions. Ya, that's not what I needed at that point. I had the quietest drive of my entire life. And if you know me, my radio is always on and I am singing to every song I know. Yes, it was weird. But on the car ride home, realization came over me again. This time feeling that you know what, he is gone and there's nothing I can do about it and I am going to have to get myself through this. So that was my mentality from day one. That day I was set to leave to go back to Cali to finalize our move, thus heading back to the airport. Fortunately, I was able to be with family by nights end, although, it didn't make dealing with emotions any easier. It was hard, because I felt like I had to mask my emotions for my family, although they were trying really hard to distract me. Nothing really works. Nothing is going to make you feel instantly better, because the only one that can is gone. However, you can take your family as being helpful and not annoying. The first night was so hard. However, not only was this hard because I wouldn't physically see him for seven months, but this was also the day before my birthday. Great timing right? Wrong. The day after he left, my birthday, was so strange. I had always celebrated my birthday with him, and it just felt different. That's when it really set in that from now on I'm gonna have to get used to him missing life events. Although the day was long, hard, and not normal, it was manageable. And you know what? I got through it. And those were the hardest two days of the deployment thus far. Why? Because I am a positive person.

Positivity is one of my strengths. I went to Azusa Pacific University (APU) and one of the things that you do when you first start taking courses, is you take a Strengths Based Test, based off of the book, StrengthsQuest. Like most personality tests, one answers a series of questions and then gets results that show one's weaknesses and ways that you can improve them to be strengths. However, with Strengths Quest, the creators, Donald Clifton and Edward "Chip" Anderson, believe that is the wrong way to go about it. Instead, they believe that you answer a series of questions and it gives you a list of your top 5 strengths, and ways that you can prevent these from becoming your weaknesses. It's actually really helpful. In junior college before APU, I took two different types of personality tests, and I didn't find them helpful at all. This one is so resourceful. So when I took the test, positivity was one of my strengths that I wasn't too surprised about. This enables me to view this deployment with the mentality, "it is what it is." Yes, I am sad about _________, but it could be worse. This is frustrating, but it's not Adam's fault. Let me tell you the power of positive thinking. It works wonders! Although there were times where situations or things were difficult and I would have moments where I was frustrated (usually involving technology), I didn't or haven't let it consume my whole being and mentality. One day of slipping up is different than letting it consume your mentality for days, weeks, months, or maybe even the whole deployment. While other people fixated over the smallest details that we have the power to control whether it affects us or not, I was smooth sailing. I am not saying this to sound cocky. I am saying this to state my next point. What does it take to think positive, if it does not come natural to us? Here are 7 ways to look at your life and see what you could evaluate:

1. DO NOT WATCH THE NEWS!!! It will not do you any good! The news displays a negative connotation, most of the time, and that is not helpful.
2. Get out all distractions from your life that brings you into negative thinking. If you need to take a break from FB, so be it. If you need to take a break from love songs, because they are making you sad, don't listen to them. If you can't watch sappy romance, chic flicks, DON'T watch them. If you can't stand to see happy couples holding hands or making out, DON'T go to the mall. You know what affects you, so don't do those things.
3. Don't let negative people bring you down. If you need to take a break from certain people in your life for a period of time, politely excuse yourself from certain situations, or kindly tell them the situation. It will help BIG time.
4. Let yourself have moments, knowing it is ok to be down and cry, however, if you find this to be a ritual or lasting for long periods of time, then I would not suggest it.
5. EXERCISE!! Great distraction PLUS it helps relieve tension (More on that next week).
6. Find resources or groups online. HOWEVER, if you find that a lot of people are negative on those sites, then stop keeping up with them. There are certain groups that are good and helpful, and certain ones that are full of drama or full of negative people. I had to take a long break from all of them, as this was the case.
7. What really helps me, every step of the way, every day, and every moment: GOD. Reading the Bible and being swept away by his comfort, strength, and provision is the total reason why I am a sane human being today (More on that next week).

These are just a few great tips (Marie offers some other good dos and don'ts. These are my stay positive ones).

First off I will say this: no two deployments are exactly alike, much like no relationship is exactly the same; things, places, situations, and people are all different. So what I'm saying are things I did that helped, things I realize I should've done, good advice I got, or things I want you to know I am giving, so you don't make the same mistakes I did. My husband may also have a different job than your _________.(fill in the blank with whatever applies). So he maybe was in a different area, going through different things, and most likely with different people. Don't take anything personally! It's not meant that way...♥

And here we go, my husband left for Afghanistan in June of 2010, our first deployment and our first year of being married. Keep in mind neither of us was very strong in the Lord at this point in our lives, so obviously our marriage wasn't either. I reacted very much to the shock of deployment like many women do. I was HYPER, I drank WAY to much coffee, I did NOT sleep, I CONSTANTLY had my phone with me, I was so freaking motivated to ACCOMPLISH THINGS!!!!...*I didn't know what but darn it I was going to DO things while he was gone! Great things! Make him proud!* And I was NOT going to cry!

To put it simply I was so freaking unstable I should not have been operating a motor vehicle or preparing people's food (I was a cook at a restaurant at the time). I was rushing, rushing, rushing around all the time. I needed things to be perfect ALL the time, when my life was the farthest thing from perfect. I was having a hard time sitting down, breathing, and accepting the fact that this was happening no matter how scarey it was. It was not going away or magically getting fixed. My biggest problems were in the beginning of deployment (which is a little weird most women or the ones I've known have a harder time at the middle and end). I will say that I began to make very poor decisions, as emotionally things became harder and harder and I sank into a very bad depression, and my husband went into his own. I will spare you details if you want to know or need to talk yourself feel free to Contact Me! And I will just end this by saying I thank God every day that I 'woke up' and he was still there waiting for me and pulled me out of that depression (but that's more for next time!).

Alcohol does NOT help
Friends do NOT help
Buying things WILL NOT (Seriously not EVER) help
Having a job that works you to death does NOT help
Acting like everything is fine does NOT help
Everything in Moderation

Find a small group of trustworthy, drama-free, friends that you can confide in.
Exercise regularly, the endorphins help!
Remember that depression and anxiety are treatable and nothing to be ashamed of!
Keep a journal, and remember to be honest with yourself!
Give yourself one designated 'cry day' a week, a day to be down and frumpy and blaah and to just cry. Your feelings are valid and don't be ashamed of how you feel. Don't feel as if you are in competition with someone else who is 'handling it better.' You are different. There is nothing wrong with that! Crying isn't bad, anger isn't bad, being happy while he's gone isn't bad. Just remember not to let the negative emotions take over your life.
Get a pen-pal.
Look for support groups on Facebook (beware of the ones that attract drama).

Try to explain it all to civilian friends. If you do, don't be upset when they don't get it.
Watch the news (no really turn the tv off). T
ake everything he says seriously.
Be upset if he isn't his usual sweet self.
Push him to make big decisions while he's gone.
Over plan R&R.
Let the military take over your life. You still have an identity, and chances are your husband feels the same way. Remember he isn't JUST a soldier. Yes, that is his job, but make sure you let him know you're proud of HIM not his job. That you Love HIM not his uniform.
Take things people say personally. Chances are they don't get it.
Try to be super woman.

We hope that you liked this post. Stay tuned next week for Dealing With A Deployment, Part Two: Handling a Deployment.


Marie &