The Worst Advice I’ve Received About Deployment

It was hour 2 of sitting in the classroom, surrounded by other military spouses, and it was safe to say I was a bit lost. Looking around the room, I could see the same desperate expression on everyone’s face. We had just been given a fire hose of information, and I was now lugging around a tote bag of packets and folders that were supposed to tell me how to transition into this next year. “How to deal with deployment”. The information was practical, helpful in some cases, and rather obvious in others. But nonetheless, I clung to it like the last life raft on a sinking ship.

Since the moment we found out that Kyle would be deploying, I found myself surrounded by resources that offered advice, guidance, and tools to make this process easier. As we got closer, the classes and ceremonies took up every weekend, and I started to get to know the people he would be deploying with. I met their spouses, and we started to form this inner circle of trust and support that I never thought I needed. We were all determined to follow the advice of the veteran spouses; the ones who have been through multiple deployments. And the most common advice of all: stay busy.

With Kyle being gone, it’s safe to say I’m busier than I’ve ever been. I work 8-5 every weekday, with a 45-minute commute. I have a 10-month old German Shepherd puppy who I love beyond measure, but she’s wild and demands my attention. I have a new house that we’ve only been in since December, and the list of things to complete just gets longer each month. There are bills to pay, a lawn that needs to be mowed, dishes to be put away.. and at the end of the day, there’s just me.

In the first few weeks of this deployment, I used “staying busy” as a crutch to not think about what was happening. I didn’t want to think about the distance, or where he was. Because every time I did, I got that flutter in my heart that made me want to cry again. I didn’t want to be weak and sad all the time. Staying busy was the easy thing to do, because I was tired of feeling so much all at once.

I censored myself because I was tired of all the emotions. I just kept thinking, if I stay busy than eventually, this won’t hurt so much. But staying busy is not a challenge for any of us who’s spouse is deployed. Being busy is our new normal. There’s always something that needs to be cleaned or fixed, and it doesn’t get done unless we do it. That’s our reality. But by staying busy constantly, I didn’t truly evade any of the emotions or the pain of missing him. I avoided it for a while, but it only made it more overwhelming when I let it back in.

Related: Dealing With Emergencies While Your Spouse Is Deployed

Now, I want nothing more than to slow down. To sit for a moment and just hear myself think. Amid all the chaos, I crave a day where I can just lay in bed and do nothing. And honestly, we all need that. We all need to have our moment to take it all in, and staying busy only avoids the inevitable. If we’re going to grow through this journey, we have to take the time to understand it, and ultimately make peace with the way we feel about it. We have to feel all of those difficult emotions, and in doing so, we stay in check with ourselves.

If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that we all experience this differently. Sometimes the strongest people are the ones who fall apart, and sometimes the more introverted people offer the best guidance when you need it most. It’s okay to be busy, but don’t feel like you have to stay busy. Take it all in, and use those quiet moments to reflect on how strong you are how far you’ve come.

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received about deployment?

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “The Worst Advice I’ve Received About Deployment

  1. German Shepherd puppies can be so much fun and so much work! We got one right after a deployment – he’s six now and is a blast!

    Staying busy was the same advice they were dishing out earlier in the war, and like you, I found it to be ZERO help. Staying busy while dealing with deployment stress is a good way to crash and burn.

    Best advice I received: Find/develop a supportive community and let them know when you’re stressed the you-know-what out. For me, this was a support group at the VA Vet Center (our FRQ was insane…not exactly a supportive space…and there was a shortage of base chaplains which meant almost no availability). Having a community of spouses that knew what it was like to be alone at home while your loved one was in harm’s way really helped me stay grounded and manage stress in more healthy ways.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!!!! 🙂

    Like

    1. That’s great advice, Hannah! I’ve definitely found that having other people that are going/have been through the experience makes a huge difference. And on the other hand, it’s sometimes refreshing to step back and be around people who have nothing to do with the military.

      Thank you for reading!

      Like

  2. You know maybe instead of “stay busy” they should say “make sure you let yourself still have a life.” Because part of stay busy is if you keep busy you don’t think about them being gone, which also means don’t process it. And you do need to emotionally process them being gone. Part of it is the spouse who’s everything is (or seems to them) linked to the active duty person. That type of person can drive themselves crazy with loneliness, missing and worry, etc. So, the point is you need things you do yourself, and the bravery to do that (or for some the self-permission to do that), to have a hobby that is yours, trips alone that are yours, tasks that you handle alone. Sounds like for you, you already had things to fill your life, the dog and house.

    Not sure about worst advice. Best advice is that after the deployment is worse than during. Completely agree with that, and will be heads up when that time comes. I already see with all the time he’s been gone this year before the deployment that if I solo parent for half a year I may just need to physically step away to prove to myself and the kids that daddy is a capable parent. My husband, of course, knows that he might not be mommy, but he is capable enough, and does not like me stepping on his toes when he parents and I’m around.

    Like

    1. Absolutely! I agree that the reintegration after deployment can be really difficult too. I think we get lost in all the excitement and then the reality hits.

      Thank you Cheryl and best of luck!

      Like

  3. “But staying busy is not a challenge for any of us who’s spouse is deployed. Being busy is our new normal.”

    This is so true!! Often times I found myself wishing I wasn’t so busy. Having been on both sides of a deployment (the stay at home spouse the deployed member), i can honestly say, it was more relaxing for me to deploy than stay at home.

    With that being said: Best advice – Take care of yourself on a regular basis. Whether it’s a spa trip, or having a day away from the kids. We all need that time to rest.

    I will agree with you that staying busy is the worst advice. All it does is encourage us to not work through our emotions which is horrible advice for a woman lol

    Like

  4. Sometimes you truly do need a mental health day to just rest and relax. My advice? Take it before you reach a breaking point. It’s a much easier return to life if you take time to recharge early.

    Like

    1. That’s great advice and I agree 100%! It’s a lot easier to check in with yourself periodically then to end up having a breakdown unexpectedly. Mental health has been a huge focus for me, and I really struggled with it early on when my husband started training. It made a big difference when I learned to slow down and collect myself. Thanks Rachel!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s