Monday, February 25, 2008

My Top 8 Tips for Surviving Deployment

R&R has come and gone and 9 months have passed since he left. It seems like a good day to reflect upon what I've learned so far through my experience and from observing others I know with deployed spouses.

In that vein, here's a few gems that I've started to carry around in my pocket each day.

1. Go with the flow and make use of technology (IM, email, pics, video cam). Use the time apart to get to know one another and learn how to communicate with eachother in a way that not many people ever have the chance to develop.

2. Don't ever spend energy wondering if you two will grow apart or focusing on how much the situation stinks. Stand up straight and walk through the experience a little bit everyday. Above all, keep moving. Like a pastor of mine once said, "If you're going through hell, dont stop, keep on going!"

3. Dealing with deployment is at times, a very one-sided seeming experience because a man at war doesn't have the luxury of catering to your every womanly need. Don't get too hung up on your "rights" - what you've chosen to do will at times be nothing more than an act of selflessness. In no way equals the selflessness it takes to put your life on your line for another soldier--be grateful you are safe at home.

4. Always try to remember that no matter how hard it is for you, that he probably has a lot of the very same loneliness that you do, except he's also in a combat zone. Strive to accept these rough patches with womanly grace, not the grief of a child.

5. Don't sweat the small stuff or every detail of his communication pattern with you or the lack thereof when those times come (and they will). Relax and rest in faith that you WILL have the opportunity to talk to him again and the grace of another opportunity to interact again so that you two get back on course. I say this because you'll see many others panic in the sometimes choppy seas of deployment. Ride out the waves, sister, just as you might if you were lost at sea and remember that kicking and screaming when you think you are going to drown only brings you that much closer to doing so. Try not to lose your head, know what I mean?

5. Everytime you feel like you want something from him to fulfill something missing inside of you, think instead of what you can do for him and the voids he must have being so far away from the colorful landscape of America. If you feel unloved or ignored or sad, do something that you think will make him feel loved, wanted, less alone. Instead of focusing on what things are like for you, try to think about walking in his boots a little bit every day.

6. Listen to him, accept him, encourage him, remind him that he's strong, send him lots of cookies, give him a break, and don't weight him down with unrealistic demands that he somehow be the kind of partner he could be if he were here in person. Concern yourself with how you can be his "friend."

7. Know that you too are a soldier of sorts. Take pride in knowing that very few women are woven from the kind of cloth that shrouds you. You were made strong when you were made for him.

8. When you can't touch him, sleep next to him, talk to him, laugh with him, or tell him you love him, pray for him.