I had every intention of blogging my little heart out over the 13 month stretch of deployment. Suffice to say, I got 7 posts in and quit cold turkey (something that I cannot say for drinking, smoking, or eating to excess, which is unfortunate).
Someone once told me about deployment that "the days seem to stretch on forever, but the weeks go by so fast". I couldnt have put it better myself. While 5 pm just wouldnt fade into 6 pm, Friday always gave way to Monday rather quickly. Someone also told me to be warned that I would look back and not even remember what deployment felt like ... and this has also turned out to be true.
Somewhere in the midst of weekly get togethers, bonding with battle buddies (and severing a few of those bonds), taking road trips, doing shots (usually bought by Mrs. Milligan :P ), and covering our calenders with daily, weekly, and monthly rituals to pass the days .... the days did just that. They passed. And before you knew it, the longest year succesfully drew to a close.
So, looking back, Ill share some "deployment tips". This may be helpful to those of you who are going through one, who will go through one, who would like to understand someone who is going through one, or it may just be me assuming that I know it all (dont try to prove me wrong, Im too old and thourghouly convinced), and wont help a damn soul. But its my blog, Ill do what I want.
Deployment Tip #1: Love Many, Trust Few:
I wish someone had told me this out of the gate. I went into this with a rosey point of view that "Were all Army Wives, and were going through deployment, and were all going to get along and be there for each other, and build the fortress of love and light ....". Which is false.
People, no matter what ties bind them, are still people. Humans are a flawed species, no matter if we have the best intentions or not. So while you can count on meeting an abundance of wives in your situation, you should reserve your innermost secrets for at least the second date.
Although it might seem obvious to most, I found a lot of wives who faced this particular senario. The absence of your spouse, coupled with being hundreds or thousands of miles away from your family and friends, added to the fact that MOST of the folks you already knew moved away from post during this time .... it tends to create a false sense of comfort between people that barely knew one another. Add that to no husbands around to run interference, no one getting sex, and a bunch of women with a lot of emotions and a lot of time ..... even the best can be overcome with their worst intentions.
A wise woman once told me that I needed to learn to "date" my friends, and I think that was the best advice Ive ever been given. Instead of putting all your cards on the table and *hoping* that someone isnt going to stab you in your back, put one card down at a time, slowely, with a deliberate effort. Then you wont be too far in before you realize youre hanging out with a serial killer.
Deployment Tip #2: You're Gonna Miss This:
If you had told me at Month Three that I was going to look back and MISS some aspects of Deployment, I probably would have cried and said "You dont understand, I LOVE my husband ....".
Of course you do sweetie. But what I wish I could have told myself back then is that I didnt have the monopoly on love, or sadness, or missing someone. And that missing someone doesnt mean the world stops turning, or that you stop having reasons to smile.
What I said in tip #1 stands ... you should never dive into a trusting relationship too soon. But what that point didnt cover was when you find the people that you CAN trust.
When that happens, you forage a little relationship that we like to call "Battle Buddies".
Wikepedia defines the Battle Buddy system (used in the Army) as : A procedure in which two people (the buddies) operate together as a single unit so that they are able to monitor and help each other. In adventurous or dangerous activities, where the buddies are often equals, the main benefit of the system is improved safety: each may be able to prevent the other becoming a casualty or rescue the other in a crisis. When this system is used as part of training or the induction of newcomers to an organization, the less experienced buddy learns more quickly from close and frequent contact with the experienced buddy than when operating alone.
If you've ever been part of a Battle Buddy group, you know how true this is. Your "Battles" become the people you have dinner with every week, the people you spend your holidays with, the ones who know you had a bad day and leave candy outside your door, the ones who you call in the middle of the night because you're scared, the ones who sleep next to you so you arent alone, the ones who become your friends, your sisters, your "stand in husbands", your therapists .... and especially your bartenders .....
The relationship is so close that you operate as a large mass of people. Where one of you is, another one is sure to be found.
And then the guys come home. And while that is the moment that youve waited for, wished for, hoped for, dreamed about, you may experience a small bit of remorse .... now youll be a wife again, but can you still be a Battle Buddy?
In my experience, things do change. Time is more limited, there are less chances for girls dinners, coffee, ect. But those who want to hold on, do. However ... every once and again, you may find yourself missing the days when it was you and the Battles against the world.
I think thats healthy. It shows that you had people worth missing.
To wrap this up, I think Ill post my favorite video from the year passed. Stay tuned for tomorrows post, that includes Tip #3: Reintegration is a Verb (AKA .... dont expect miracles ...)