In many ways, military deployments are such a part of our lives now that I don’t even blink when it’s about to happen. Or at least that’s what I think in my mind. Then it actually happens, and I feel this overwhelming sense of stress, anxiety, distance and disgust with the whole thing.
How I loathe thee.
Each time my husband leaves for another military deployment, things start out the same way around here. Okay, maybe not exactly the same way, but reasonably close.
It’s my best (and possibly dysfunctional) effort to cope with our bizarre military lifestyle: the goodbyes and hellos, the coming and going, the homecoming and deployment cycle that seemingly never ends.
Surviving the first week of deployment.
It takes skill to operate at this level of crazy. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve got it down to a science. And if you’re still trying to figure it out, here’s my best version for surviving the first seven days of deployment.
Clean the house incessantly top to bottom trying to clear your home of any sign of deployment. It’s almost as if you are washing (or wishing) it all away. Bleach will not eradicate a deployment, but try anyway. Deployment absolutely justifies a complete fumigation of your residence.
Make everything “just so.”
Get everything in the house exactly to your liking. Put the remote where you want it. Center the coffee table to align with the couch that your husband insists on moving all the time. Put away any remnants of gear vomit that plagued your home for the past several weeks. Don’t you feel better already?
Prepare for something to break.
Usually in the first week something will break. Murphy’s Law is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s sparing no mercy this time around. Take this one in stride, leaving it for another day or calling someone to fix it. You have rage cleaning to finish.
Ben and Jerry’s (Oh yes).
Since Ben and Jerry’s is going to take up regular residence in your freezer, you may as well grab a carton of Ben and Jerry’s to eat that first night. Scratch that. Better make it two cartons just to be safe. Nobody said drowning your sorrows in emotional eating didn’t have a time and place.
Plan extreme work out plan.
You plan out your extensive work out and weight loss plan for the deployment, but first, you fit in a few more nights of Netflix and pizza before getting started. You have the entire deployment in front of you, no need to work out for the first week.
Meltdown. Yes, really.
According to science, having a good cry releases stress and helps you feel better both physically and emotionally. In fact, people who don’t cry feel worse than their weepy counterparts. I like to think of it as starting deployment with a good emotional purge.
Think of it this way, each tear running down your cheek during deployment is another drop of emotional baggage you’re leaving behind.
It’s like therapy, only cheaper.
Then, call your mother.
You have a good cry and then you call your mother to wallow in self-pity and to discuss. She always sees the best in you when you’re at your worst.
Because moms are amazing. Because moms make everything better. Because moms help you feel safe, loved — and above all else — perfect as you imperfectly are.
It’s time to turn it all around.
The end of your first week is near. You’ve cleaned and purged, rearranged the house, emotionally ate, cried to your mom, and emotionally ate some more, and then you realized that after all this self-destructive behavior, there is only one thing left to do…
Pull yourself together.
You remember all the fun things you enjoy doing by yourself.
You think of 25 self-improvement ideas to do during deployment.
You realize how independent and strong you really are, and you find some sense of emotional balance.
You make peace with the deployment and start to embrace all the things you can do on your own. You put on that song from Rocky and sing along to the lyrics…”Getting stronger, getting stronger.”
You write a “getting stronger” affirmation on your bathroom mirror in lipstick. Then you wipe it off, realizing you just spent 3 hours cleaning the whole dang house earlier this week. You start using these affirmation cards instead.
You stop feeling sorry for yourself and you start enjoying life as a military spouse.
You take a trip.
You call a friend.
You write a letter to your husband telling him how much you love him.
You think about cleaning the house again and then realize that can wait until just before homecoming. No one else will know the difference, right?
You drink wine.
You eat a steak or a salad or even a truffle maybe.
You smoke one cigarette and pretend you’re totally badass (then choke on the smoke).
And then you take a deep breath and say, “Bring it deployment. I’ve got this.”
Want more on military life?
- 75 Amazing Military Care Package Ideas
- 3 Telltale Sign You’re Friends With an Awesome Military Spouse
- 47 Things No One Tells You About Being a Military Wife
- 10 Things Military Spouses Won’t Tell You About Deployment