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.

51 comments:

Kelly said...

Very good post, I will have to mark this for my first deployment experience. I like number eight.

Kelly

Davinson_family said...

THANK YOU!!! My husband will be leaving on his first deployment to Iraq in a few weeks and I've been looking for support to help me through those 15 months...this has to be the most encouraging, realistic advice I've come across. Thanks again for sharing your story- I'm sure you're touching more lives than you realize! God Bless!
Julie

Ramie :-) said...

WOW.......I have to say that this is the best "pre-deployment advice" I've ever read. We've been through about 100 deployments (Navy, shorter ones) over the last 12 years, and have several more years to go. It doesn't get any easier, but it's definitely more familiar.

Thanks for the awesome compilation!

cc said...

Hello again. I have been following your blog every now and the for the past howevermany months. My husband is in afghanistan and deployed a few weeks before yours. I just finished RandR myself last week. (sigh). we are in the home stretch. thanks for that list. i agree with it all. imagine how much we have been learning. thank you.

Diana said...

This is great advice. My husband has been deployed since June 2007 and I have to remind myself to be strong for him each day.

T said...

Wow. What a wonderful post! I need to link to this in my blog for those times that I feel like I can't do it anymore. What great advice. Thank you so much!

Sarah said...

I just found your blog today, and I had to link to this. What an awesome list.

Kiki said...

This is great. I found it through Sarah. It is something many woman would be able to see after a deployment or before, but not many could see it during. Kudos. #1 is so true, during my husband's first deployment before we were married the communication made us who we are today. We even got 100% in communication in a premarital counseling thing through our church.

My boys are Army Brats said...

Great blog!

We're going onto deployment #2 but this time will be different. We hate where we're stationed most of the time and the kids are older too. The boys understand now which makes it tough to explain why daddy's gone.

I get to the point where I'm mad as hell that they screwed us over by a 9 week BNCOC class followed by the 15 month deployment but everyone gets screwed byt he army at some point, I guess FLW had it in for us! UGH life...we shake it off and keep going.

Karen said...

Thanks for this. Hubby is currently on basic training, so we're just getting started on this roller coaster. I'm going to save your post to come back to... I'm sure I will, many times!!

Anonymous said...

AWW I LOVE YOUR TIPS!!SO TRUE..SO SINCERE..IM GOING THROUGH MY VERY 1ST DEPLOYMENT W/MY BF..THIS IS HIS 3RD DEPLOYMENT BUT 1ST W/ME!:( & SOO FAR IM NOT LIKING IT IS ONLY BEEN A COUPLE OF DAYS..& WELL I WAS FEELING A LIL DOWN SO I WAS JUS BROWSING THE NET & FOUND THIS ..SO THANK YOU FOR THE TIPS!!VERY MUCH!>GOD BLESS!
chantelle

jessie said...

My husband is deploying in four days. Thank you so much for this, it's very helpful! It just makes me wish I was living closer to a base and people who have been through this. Thanks so much for the insight :)

Tanya said...

Thank you! My boyfriend is about to leave for Iraq for the second time. First deployment for me though. Finding sites like this is what helps me keep on going. Having support from people who are going through or who have gone through the same thing is the most beneficial. God Bless You.

. Becca . said...

Hi! I just found your blog through a bloggy friend. You're in San Diego? I'm moving there this summer! My hubs is a submarine officer, and we've got a deployment to endure before I'm rewarded with the move, lol! Do you like it?

Becca

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog. We are 2 weeks into our first deployment and this is the toughest thing I've ever experienced!

Your words are wonderful reminders to live outside my own pains and are uplifting. Thank you.

KMU said...

Thank you! "We" are gearing up to go to the Sand Box. Your words of a wisdom hard-won are a great comfort and inspiration to me. Thank you again!

Becky said...

Thank you so much. my husband leaves for his first deployment to iraq next week, he will be gone for 6 months. I will definitely read this everytime i get down or worry (which i do constantly)

I really appreciate the advice you have given.

Anonymous said...

This is such great advice. Sometimes it feels like there is a distance between us and I wonder if the letters, packages, and intermitent communication is enough to support him. This advice made me realize that staying strong and focused on each day as it comes is the best way to get through. THANK YOU

Anonymous said...

Your advice makes so much sense. I understand that they go thru so much over there and need unwavering support. I do have a question though. Is it common for your significant other to become emotionally distant after they first deploy? How do you handle this the right way?

Kathy said...

I am going through my first deployment with my boyfriend as this is his second. Our relationship is strong and I am also a strong and an independent woman as I have been for some time now and I do enjoy my time alone it feels good once in a while. However if our relationship is strong and open and honest and I like space why do I question if I can do this? Really needs help with this.

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend just left two days ago for his first deployment. Since we are not married we spent a lot of time trying to figure out if we were really staying together. Since we have decided to go for it... I have been looking for insights on how to manage the deployment. I really appreciate the post. It is nice to know I am not a lone.

Anonymous said...

This is definatly something I will read daily. My husband left for his 1st deployment just 6 months after we were married. The first month went by quickly... but now we're into month 2 and it's starting to feel like I will never see the "light at the end of the tunnel". Thanks so much for posting this.

Anonymous said...

think that this is prob the best advice i have ever gotten..and it wasnt even directed toward me
my bf left for haiti jan 16 and will be back in 6 months... i miss him like crazy but im so proud of him.. i will def bookmark this and read it!! i love #8 and know that where im weak god is strong..to all the miltary wives/ girlfriends ..we will get through this we just have to take it one day at a time!! ..
- god bless

Anonymous said...

Thank you...it's been almost 6 months since he's been gone and we started going through some really rough patches.....this has given me new faith and a new outlook....it's the way I was in the beginning....I hope that by revising my thoughts I can be a better fiance'.....Thank you thank you thank you for giving me my stregnth back

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this :)

Amanda said...

Thank you for this. :)

leesh said...

Your writing is very profound. I was tearing up reading the posts realizing the ordeal you had to go through. It breaks my heart. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt. In a few months I will be leaving my husband to deploy to iraq. This writing helps me empathize with how it would feel to be in his shoes. We are going to stay as connected as possible via internet and phone calls, letters etc. I can't wait to be back already.
Alicia

Kathie said...

Thank you! My boyfriend is not in the military but working for a private contractor in Kirkuk, Iraq. This is hard even for a Navy Brat. Communication is sketchy at best and my emotions are on a giant roller coaster. My favorite line is to show the grace of a woman. I'll make that my mantra from now on. Best wishes to all of us who live and breathe this everyday and fingers crossed that everyone comes home safely. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this article. This is my first deployment experience and believe it or not I use this as one of my resources as a friendly reminder from time to time to keep myself balanced and keep on moving forward. Thank you again for your tips! :)

Fabi

Anonymous said...

These are by far the best survival tips for deployment I've seen. My boyfriend is currently deployed in Afghanistan (8 months in, 4 months to go). I put the tips on my "favorites" and refer to them every time I'm feeling lonely or depressed. It reminds me of his sacrifices and what he is going through too. Thank you!

Sara Mac said...

Love this list!! I'm just getting my toes into the water of our first deployment. I'm going to keep this list on hand to remind me of everything He's doing for our country, and everything I want to do for him!

lisagoldwater said...

My hubby just left for his 2nd deployment to Afghanistan. I have 6 more months to go and lately ive been super depressed but reading this helps. We were 'talking' through his first deployment so this is a whole new ball game now that we're married. Thanks so much I'm definitely favoriting this!

Adrienne said...

Thank you. I'm going through hell right now, and I'm trying my best to keep on moving. I am not on post and in fact, am far away from ANY army base...I have no one to talk to about this, at least no one that understands what it's like. Anyway, this helped me today, so again, thanks.

Anonymous said...

This in and of itself is the BEST article I've read regarding dealing with deployment. It has been so difficult trying to be supportive, but every now and then I come back to this and read it to remind myself of what I need to be for him. Thank you so much for your priceless words of wisdom!

Rhonda said...

Just stumbled across your blog. My husband just deployed and I desperately needed to read this post. Thanks for it. I was wallowing in my own misery but you put some great perspective on it!

Anonymous said...

You are an inspiration!! Thank you for words of wisdom and encouragement!!

PADDYWAK PUGS said...

AdeYou wrote my experience to the t. My husband's -Army mission began with an unaccompanied tour, then an assignment in Germany where he deployed to Afghanistan. We literally have not been together for four years. Our sons have gone through middle school, puberty, first prom dates, and now I am teaching them how to drive. I have survived these last four years and a deployment by reading the stories of other spouses who have been there or are in there or are going to be there in deployment mode. May I add to never ever hesitate to seek out all avenues of assistance out there for us. Best place to start is your FRG. I'm living in Guam and my FRG is in Germany. I reach out to FRG and I receive assistance and support within 24hours. To all spouses who support a soldier who is deployed............you are America's true hero for maintaining the home front. Home is the nucleus to family.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. My fiance and I are going through our first deployment together. This has been a key part in my everyday motivation. Your post has been the most comforting and realistic advice I have been given or been able to find in dealing with a loved ones deployment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I really loved reading it and plan to share it with my spouse support group. I'm sure all the ladies there will appreciate it as well. I came across it while searching for some words of encouragement a few days ago. I am pregnant with our first baby and we are 8 months into a year-long deployment. I hit a rough patch and this really helped me to put things in perspective and realize how I can make this deployment a success for me and my husband. Thanks again!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. No matter how many deployments you go through it never gets any easier. It is great to see others in the same situation encouraging other military spouses to be strong. Lines 7 & 8 are so well said..Again, THANK YOU!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you! Now i can see a glint of light in the end of the tunnel. And God bless you all.

Anonymous said...

My fiance just went to basic training a month ago. I still have 4 and a half months before he'll be back. Thank you so much for writing this. I am not starting to experience how it is to have the man you love being a soldier. I have many deployments up the road and i will use this throughout the years. Im learning little everyday, how to stay strong and be strong for him. This has helped me so much. Every bit Of it was so true.

Jessi Dawn said...

FYI... Four years later, your post blessed me. Four and a half months into a currently-open-ended-was-supposed-to-be-six months deployment. Blessings!!

armela said...

Thank you very much for this post. I really needed the words of encouragemet!... My BF is going away in October but since he is in the States and I'm European, I cannot be there with him for the last days home(I wanted to, I tried, I fought, but it just could not happen). So what lies ahead is 13 months of separation and that seems unbearable! But I do find strength in posts like this one, thank you so very much for that, it is good to know I am not alone. If you have some tips for me ... I'll appreciate every piece of advice you can give me!
Thank you all!

Anonymous said...

This was great help and very well written. This is his first deployment and its only been a week since he has left and yes I've been struggling but with this advice I know we can do this. Patience and prayers:)

Anonymous said...

Anonymos said...

Thank you for this post. I needed something to get me in a more positive motivated spirit. My BF just left two weeks ago for a year long deployment to Afghanistan. His 4th deployment, but my first with him. He told me not to get too mushy and I've tried, but it can get to me at times. Staying busy helps, and yes you're right about the cookies, he already requested to have some sent.

It's nice to read from someone who has been through the experience and keeps her head level and does not get off balance. It can be done!
Your words on focusing on him instead of myself helps put the whole deployment into perspective. Going with the flow is important! Patience is key, I'm still working on it:)

If what he told me about not writing mushy letters to him makes sense please let me know. He mentioned to me he likes to stay numb to not lose it over there.

Anonymous said...

I just had to comment after reading this. I absolutely do not amount to the strength of you wonderful ladies as I have only been dating my soldier for a short time. He just got orders for his 3rd deployment and my first. Although he does not believe in God like I do, I have decided to make it a habit for praying for him every single day, deployed or not. God bless you for sharing your wisdom. You are an incredible woman. I am only 20 and I can't wait to have the strength all of you have. Stay strong!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for those tips and the language you used. I am going through my first deployment at a very early stage in our relationship, which makes it very daunting.

Anonymous said...

This is so helpful. I am currently in a situation where I have been seeing a marine for about a year. We never made an official relationship knowing he was getting deployed because he said it wouldn't be fair. The deployment is finally here and I am scared. I promised to wait for him I am just scared that what if he gets back and doesn't want me anymore. I have care packs ready and I know the distance as it may not seem right now will bring us closer through letters and other communications. I have never dealt with something like this. I envy your strengh.

Anonymous said...

This is so helpful. I am currently in a situation where I have been seeing a marine for about a year. We never made an official relationship knowing he was getting deployed because he said it wouldn't be fair. The deployment is finally here and I am scared. I promised to wait for him I am just scared that what if he gets back and doesn't want me anymore. I have care packs ready and I know the distance as it may not seem right now will bring us closer through letters and other communications. I have never dealt with something like this. I envy your strengh.

Erica Riker said...

I read the last section in number five, "ride out the waves...," quite often as this is my first underway after dating a sailor for over two years, and it truly makes me feel like I've got someone here holding my hand and letting me breathe a little easier. I want to thank you for putting it in the present and not just telling us, "make sure you stay busy, it'll be hard." I'm a graphic designer and I plan on making a print of your quote and keeping it on my wall