Coping with the Deployment of a Loved One
This hub is written to answer the question: "What is the biggest source of stress in your life and how do you deal with it?"
The biggest source of stress in my life is coping with deployment of my fiancé. He's been gone for a long time. There's a lot of uncertainty about when he will return, so I find it especially hard to stay positive at times. I think it would be easier if I knew when he was returning, but that's not possible in our situation.
Being that he is in the military, there are many times that he is in danger. Of course, I worry about him every day. Because we are engaged and not yet married, I find the support to be rather lacking. I joined a group online for family and friends of soldiers, but I did not find it beneficial. One woman complained that her son had to go one night without a blanket. I'm not sure how to empathize with that rather trivial problem while my fiancé is being shot at in a combat zone.
I've had very limited support from friends. People don't understand what it is like to cry every day because your loved one is deployed. People don't know what it's like to have your one true love tell you the music that he wants at his funeral in case he is killed. I've stopped talking about it to anyone, because I was actually getting criticized for waiting so long for his return and for struggling while being involved with a soldier.
So, I've had to try to be my own support system. For people going through the same or similar situations, these are things that worked for me. I would imagine that these things would work with many situations involving the absence of a loved one.
Coping with Deployment of a Loved One
1. Use your gifts.
I'm a poet, artist, and writer. I try to distract myself by working on projects that use these talents. I write poetry to my fiancé at times. Working on a painting or short story helps to at least get my mind off my loved one's absence for awhile.
2. Try to keep a sense of humor.
After watching a clip from Monty Python's The Holy Grail, I started calling my fiancé "Patsy" in messages sent to him. This comes from the part of the movie when King Arthur is riding around the country while a servant follows him banging coconut halves together. He introduces his servant as "my trusty servant, Patsy." My fiancé is indeed a very un-Patsy man, which is why I find it amusing. He and I don't get to communicate often, but I look forward to his response on his new nickname.
3. Communicate as much as possible and in different ways.
One thing that is especially difficult is our lack of communication. However, there are many options available to couples who are separated. Instant messaging services allow users to see each other via webcam. I email him regularly. For something a bit more personal, I have handwritten letters to him and scanned them into the computer to send to him. I like to share links and photos with him.
4. Try to recognize some benefits to the absence.
This one can be hard, but I find it helpful to try to view this time as an opportunity to focus on my goals. Another positive aspect is that I will indeed appreciate the time we share together when he returns. One of the difficult things to hear right now is people complaining about their spouses or loved ones. When I hear a friend complain about having to pick up after her husband, I just think that she doesn't know how lucky she is to be able to do that. When couples argue face-to-face, I think they are lucky. They can say exactly what they feel and don't have to guard what they say as to not worry or stress the loved one who is away and can't do anything to help fix the problem. This is a very difficult time in my life. There is no changing that. But I can try to at least see some positives in this challenge.
5. Say the Serenity Prayer.
When there are days during which I am crying and worrying more than usual, I try to remind myself to say the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
These are the things that have helped me. I hope you found them helpful.