So now he’s gone. The plane has taken off, your phone hasn’t left your side, the house is empty, and you feel lost. Now what?
It’s not the end of the world, I promise, although it might feel like it. If this is your first deployment you’re probably feeling scared, lost, hurt, sad, lonely, and even a bit depressed. That is all normal and in time it will hurt a little less and you’ll get more used to the routine.
What To Expect: The first couple of weeks are always a little hectic. Right now, most likely, your thoughts are primarily based around where he is at and when he can call next. I can’t really tell you what exactly to expect because I know that every situation varies. Different branches fly to different places as do different units in those branches. Expect at least a few days before your first phone call though. They are jumping from state to state, country to country, and airplane to airplane, with not a lot of time during the transition. (Let me add in real quick, I am married into the Army. I do not know what deployments are like for other branches. This is just what I know from 3 Army deployments.) They have a lot they need to do while they are slowly making their way to where they will be spending the remainder of their deployment. Also, expect calls at random times throughout the day and night. While they are en route they are traveling through tons of different time zones and the each flight takes a different amount of time so they are touching down at all different hours. Once you finally get that first call, expect lots of excitement, tears, questions, and I love you’s but don’t expect a long conversation. There are a lot of guys that just got off that flight as well that will be anxious to call their families also. So most likely you are going to get just a few minutes to find out where they are, how they are doing, and to hear them complain about how boring the flight was. That will change as well once they are at their base and things have calmed down a bit. One more thing to remember is to expect the unexpected. Things will not always go the way you or your loved one wants them to. The dates for R&R will change at least a couple times before a for sure date is chosen, once he is on his way home flights can be delayed and he’ll be home in 10 days instead of 5, he will tell you he will call you tomorrow but something will come up and it will take him a few days longer than expected, and the phones/internet will sometimes cut out or not work all together. These are just hurdles. Try not to get frustrated.
What It Will Be Like: This one all depends on the person. For some people, it is horrible. The transition from having him home all the time to coming home to an empty house can be very difficult. It will be sad and at times you’ll wonder how in the world you are going to make it through the next year without them, just stay strong, it gets easier in time. I will warn you though there is a deployment curse, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Don’t worry, I am not talking about with your deployed love, I mean at home. The toilet will flood, the oven will break, lights will burn out, and the lawnmower will run over a rock, it will shoot out and break your car window. It happens to everyone; well maybe not those exact things but you know what I mean. These things will definitely test how strong you are. Now for other people though, the beginning is the easiest; it takes a little longer to sink in for them. At first it just kind of feels like a long business trip or vacation. The deployment starts to feel more real the closer they get to R&R and when they are home for good. You’ll get anxious, want everything to be perfect, and start freaking out when things aren’t going your way. Trust me, it happens to everyone. On a good note though, you are going to realize during this time just how much you really love your man and how very proud you are of him. You are going to glow with pride when people ask you about him, you’re going to get giggly and excited when he calls, and you are going to smile from ear to ear when you see his handsome face on Skype. It’s an amazing feeling.
How To Cope: Friends, family, and fun. The 3 F’s. Sometimes you might feel a bit guilty for going out and having fun while your significant other is fighting a war but do you really think he wants you to just sit at home sulking? No, he doesn’t. Enjoy your life. Pick up a new hobby. Join the gym or take Zumba classes. Start scrapbooking highlights of your relationship: trips, milestones, or even just your goofy pictures together. This will help you to feel closer to him. Or you can make a slideshow of those pictures that you can send via email for him to enjoy also. Find a good support group also. I cannot even begin to explain how much it helps to be able to talk to fellow wives/fiancés/girlfriends that are going through the same thing you are. In my opinion, this is the best way to cope while he is gone. You can also start writing in a journal; write about your day, the reasons why you love your man, or even just random thoughts you are having. You could even start a blog, I hear that helps too Also, don’t be afraid to cry. There are going to be days when all you want to do is lay in bed and be sad. That is perfectly fine. You’re loved one is on the other side of the world fighting a war, you have every right to be sad. No one expects you to be strong all the time, most women can’t even begin to understand what you are going through yet alone go through it. So break down, cry, punch your pillow, and scream. Do whatever makes you feel better, we won’t judge you.
Just remember that believing in yourself and having faith that you will make it through this deployment is half the battle. Once you can do that, you can do anything.