December 6, 2016
The Gift of Deployment
I know that title sounds funny, and I know that, generally, people feel bad for the spouses of deployed soldiers. And I fully admit that I've turned feeling sorry for myself into an art form during certain time periods from the last 7 years.
However, going through the redeployment process (the process of coming back from a deployment) is a special kind of gift. Deployment in itself is a life-changing process for both spouses and I've gotten a lot out out of it, whether I've wanted to or not.
People cock their head to the side and say Awww if I say that Scott is deployed. Fellow military spouses usually just nod and give a tight smile, because they know exactly everything that is running through my head. I generally don't tell people my story unless it really happens to come up. I've noticed that it comes up a lot less these days than it used to; I don't know if this is because I'm less inclined to go there or because people are more into talking about themselves and I'm more into listening (i.e. just letting them talk).
One of my very first army wife friends told me that deployment was a weird and strange gift. (I may or may not have talked about this before...I can't remember.) At the time, I was very young and assumed that God was playing games with me and trying to torture me. However, over the years, I've come to realize that what she was saying was more than true.
A homecoming ceremony is better than anything I can actually imagine. The giddiness and happiness and all-encompassing joy you feel to know your loved one is anticipated to be in that crowd of camouflage is like nothing else. It makes the months of deployment worth it. It's like a thousand Christmas mornings wrapped into one (and none of us will get to live a thousand Christmases, so that's what I imagine it to be like). I never reflect back on it as a big deal. I never remember that feeling until I'm in that last week or so of the throes of deployment and then I remember and it all comes rushing back. Every homecoming ceremony we've done (four now, and some more ceremonious than others) materializes in my mind and I remember.
And, in all honesty, I feel bad for people who never get to experience this. I've been taught appreciation and perseverance and independence in a tough way. I am so very grateful for this. Deployment is hard. It's all-consuming in so many ways. But it has literally shaped me into the person I am. It's taught me patience and trust and reliance on God. It's made me wish time away and lament my luck and complain. It's made me cry happy and sad tears at once. It's made me fearful and anxious. It's made me realize how life can be chunked into befores and afters. It's made me appreciate my spouse in a way that we don't always remember to do. Even the messy house, the incredibly messy house, that I'm left with when he does get home...I appreciate that.
It must be said that not all families get to experience a happy homecoming and, trust me when I say, military families' hearts break when they hear of tragedy. It becomes nearly impossible not to dwell on the idea of something bad happening almost all of the time. Compartmentalizing is key. This is where patience, trust, and reliance comes in; to not be fearful in the waiting, to trust that you will come through this one way or another, and to rely on God because you, dear military spouse, are definitely not in control. It took me a long time to give up my "control". I never really had any, of course. I just tried to control through my worry and fretting and that was not a productive way to live. Because the other part of deployment is that you have to go on living while they're gone; which is why this blog is so important to me. It's a record of my independent life that I've fought really hard for during these times of worry and stress.
I have tips for living the military spouse life and many thoughts on the subject. I do not consider myself an expert but I have experience and sometimes, in the military world, that's enough to qualify as someone who appears to know what they're doing.