The military is chalk-full of different job options, also known as MOS’s. The scale pretty much moves from somewhat dangerous, to very dangerous, but almost all of them involve some sort of risk. Even when our significant other is home, the worrying doesn’t stop. We worry when they’re in the field, and we worry when they’re just performing their regular duties. We start to realize, on a much deeper level, the gravity of life and death. It’s hard to know how to deal with that level of stress, and how to help our loved one get through it as well.
The worry seems to swallow us, and the more we learn, the worse it gets. For a long time, I was blind to what Kyle did each day. I figured that until he deployed, there was really nothing to worry about. But that isn’t our reality. Our reality is that when he goes to work, one false move could change our lives forever. Sometimes knowing the truth doesn’t actually make it easier.
So how do we deal? How do we get through the sleepless nights and the distance and the worry that one phone call could make it all come to a screeching halt? How do we wake up each day, unsure of what the next day brings? Truth be told, the worry and the stress are just part of the deal. But there are some things we can do to make it a bit easier.
We all think that we can deal with things alone, and sometimes we can for a little while. But eventually, reality catches up to us. Find a friend/group who understand what you’re going through. Or atleast one that tries to understand. Lean on them, share with them, and be there for them in the same way that they are for you. Unless you live this lifestyle, it’s impossible to imagine how difficult it can be. So it really helps to have other perspectives and input on how to handle these issues.
The military also has multiple programs, from counseling to more informal groups, all of which can offer further insight on how to cope with all aspects of military life. If you’re unsure about pursuing these services in person, you can always check out what they have to offer online/over the phone. Military OneSource is an amazing resource that offers all types of assistance, from financial counseling, to what they call “non-medical” counseling. There’s nothing dishonorable about needing help, especially when it betters your relationship and your family.
Have a Plan
I know what you’re thinking. A plan? In the military?! But keep reading for a moment. As important as it is to have other people to talk to, it’s also important to have those difficult conversations with your S.O.too. It’s important to be able to say, “Hey, I’m scared.” I’ve been there. I’ve looked Kyle right in the eye and said these very same things. If anyone is going to know what it feels like to be scared, it’s them.
They understand what it’s like to not know what will happen tomorrow, or a year from now. And you may not realize it, but in the same way that you are unsure about a life without them, they consider the hardships of a life without you as well. And they think of the struggles you would face if something were to happen to them. They worry on the same level that you do, even if they don’t say it.
It’s important to be honest with each other, and to have a general plan of what you would do if something were to happen. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but that doesn’t mean you can just skip over it out of convenience. It’s definitely not going to ease the worry completely, but it helps not to be flying blind, unsure of what either of you would do. Like any lifestyle, it’s not meant to control you. But you have to take the necessary steps to make sure you’re in control.
There are tons of organizations that stand by the military, and have created different ways to raise money and awareness regarding military issues. One thing that really helped me to cope with the worry and the stress was to get involved in every way I can. Knowing that I was helping other families and soldiers, while spreading awareness about the resources that are out there, actually helped me.
So get out there, and look for things you can do within your own community, military or otherwise. Whether it’s sending care packages to troops overseas, joining one of the fun runs, or simply helping another military family deal with separation. Even if it’s a small step, it’ll go a long way for everyone.
What are some ways that you have learned to cope with the stress and worry? What advice would you have for someone in the same position?