Army Life: Tips to Get Through Your Other Half's Deployment
We the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.
As someone who has lived through my other half's almost year-long deployment overseas, I know how hard it is. I know that if you're the person being left behind, you'll spend sleepless nights wondering what they're doing and if they're okay. You'll be counting down the days until they think they will be coming home (because nothing with the military is set in stone). If you're anything like me, you'll have random panic attacks, especially when you haven't heard from them in days. Deployment is not easy for either end of the relationship. Depending on what your SO is doing overseas, there is little communication, and you're given very little details about what is actually going on over there. I do have some tips for you to make the time a little easier, so keep reading.
Get Prepared for the Unknown Before They Leave
Know how to handle the unknown at home.
You both need to sit down and figure out how things are going to be handled on the home-front. For example, if you're not the one that usually handles the finances, make sure you know how to do it before your SO leaves. Make sure that you know how to keep things running smoothly without your SO around to do their part.
Know how to handle the unknown overseas.
Understand that your SO can't tell you everything, and they probably don't want to. Depending on their job, there's a fair chance they play witness to some horrible events, which is not necessarily something they want to talk about. You must be respectful of this. It's not that they don't want you to understand; it's just either not worth it or too painful to talk about.
Also, understand that there will be times where they can't communicate with you. You may go a week where you hear from them daily, then nothing... for two weeks. It's scary; I know, because I've been there. Don't jump to conclusions, and just keep going know that you don't actually know what's going on.
Where is your SO going/gone?
Take Care of Your Other Half
There's a few things you can do to make things easier on your SO while they're away.
Remind them that you're proud of them. Remind them that you've got things handled at home. Remind them that everything will be okay and that you're waiting patiently for them to return. Depending on your SO's job, they're under incredible amounts of stress, and they'll feel better knowing that you're still there for them.
Here's one of my favorite things to do while my SO was away -- send care packages! I would send mail-safe food (i.e. beef jerky, granola bars), and I mailed a super soft pillow with a home-made reversible pillow-case sprayed in my perfume for my SO's birthday. Think of fun and thoughtful things you can send to make them smile! They'll appreciate the effort!
Take Care of Yourself
The best advice I can give to save your mental health through your other half's deployment is to keep busy. Keep working, spend time with friends (maybe others that are waiting on the unit to come), and keep going with your hobbies or maybe pick up some new ones. Keeping busy helps keep your mind off of things. For example, when my SO was deployed, I worked as many hours as my job would give me.
Also, set goals to complete while they're away. For example, get in shape or save up for a nice weekend away when they return! Make the day they're supposed to come home your deadline. If they don't know when they'll be home, which was my case, just plan for a year. That's a good starting point. Setting up goals will give you something to work towards until they get home.
Finally, take time for yourself. If you need to cry, do it. If you need to break things, go buy yourself a cheap set up plates and have at it. You will occasionally lose it, so make time to do so. You can't hold it in the whole time, or you'll explode. Deployment isn't easy for anyone, but follow these tips, and I promise it will be a little easier.
Have you ever had to be the one left behind during a deployment? How did you handle it? What did you do to make it easier on yourself? What about for your loved one?