Deployment is long, and having a deployed spouse is hard and weird and strange. The first few months are tough in a different way than the last few. Today I’m sharing about how enduring deployment as a spouse is going.
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A note: I originally wrote this during months four and five of a
Y’all, having a deployed spouse is weird.
How I feel, how I am, feels like such a hard thing to explain to friends. The fiercely independent part of me wants to be fine without my husband physically here.
Some days I’m just sad. And I know it’s okay to be sad, I don’t feel guilty about it. But it means that some days are much harder.
Other days, I seem fine. Even to myself. I’m not faking having it together; a lot of days, I function pretty much normally.
But underneath the everyday functioning is this:
What others don’t necessarily see (and what I sometimes forget) is that it is taking an enormous amount of energy to cope with deployment. I’m not constantly sad or depressed or anxious, so it’s not obvious [even to myself]. But a ton of my daily bandwidth gets shunted into this hole of dealing, coping, maintaining. It took me almost four months to articulate that, but now I can see it in myself so clearly.
It’s why I’m so easily thrown by small things. A huge chunk of my daily energy/bandwidth/ability to function like a normal person gets eaten up by dealing with the deployment – all in the background, of course – that hiccups in the day that normally would annoy or frustrate now can wreck me.
And that’s okay. Sometimes the efficiency-obsessed part of me hates that I get so thrown, which of course makes me more frustrated in the moment. I recognize the sheer sillliness of letting a rude person at the post office get under my skin, but that doesn’t mean it I can turn it off.
The best analogy I’ve come up with is this: you know how sometimes when you’re downloading something with not a great WiFi connection, and anything else you try to do on the web runs at a snail’s pace? That’s my brain all the time. So much of my energy goes to dealing with my other half being gone that my normal threshold for dealing with minor struggles well is way higher than usual.
What helps right now:
- morning plans, especially walks. I have several friends who work remotely, have non traditional hours, or are at home with kids. Meeting them for walks means it’s not hard to hit the gym before or after, and I usually bring my laptop or a book to coffee dates so I stick around for a bit after.
- get a haircut. It’s silly, but there’s nothing quite like a good haircut to make you feel a little better. Or insert whatever easy-but-
frivilousself care thing here.
- find what works. While I have the time to become a total gym rat or fluent Spanish speaker or fill-in a hobby here, I find that the best way to make me actually do it is to find the path of least resistance. Or at least decisions. So I run/walk on the treadmill for an hour, watching the latest dramatic show I’m into on my iPad. Initially, I tried to do a weights routine but got lost in all the decisions about what the routine even should be and stopped going. So now my plan is simple, just one set of decisions or goals to make. That helps me so much with actually following through!
- try a new habit, especially one with a friend. I took up rock climbing about halfway through, and wished I’d started sooner! It was fun and active and not too hard to learn.
- fill your time. I traveled a lot because travel speaks to my heart. It makes me feel alive, whether I’m lounging on a friends’ couch or seeing something epic or spending 8 hours a day at museums. So I found ways to travel inexpensively (go visit faraway friends, mostly) while on my own.
For those of you in the midst of having a deployed spouse: you’re not alone. Reach out: to your friends (from base or from home), to your family, to whatever community looks like for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, whether that’s distraction or space to process or just to come and visit for a few days. It’s okay if Netflix feels like your best friend. Do what gets you through.