Dear Deployment: Let’s Be friends
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I guess we can be friends now.
Oh, I didn’t like you the first time we met. First impressions were terrible. You were terrifying: War. Iraq. Danger. to my boyfriend, and no communication for months. I cried. I wrote letters. I felt like there was no one to talk to who would understand you. But somehow, after 9 months of you, we both survived and got through. You changed us both, and I wasn’t even sure we were still meant to be together. But our friendship was stronger than you.
Then you came calling again and again. He left, I stayed. Because of you, I threw myself into my first job. I formed a strong community of friends. I had plans for every single weekend because I didn’t want to be alone with my fear of you. I planned I prayed, I worked. I lived on my own for the first time and learned to handle everything that came my way.
Deployment, I may never forgive you for the time you wounded the love of my life. But that horrible news helped me realize the depth of our love and the fact that together, we could truly conquer anything. You took a piece of his foot, but it turns out that it doesn’t matter at all. He healed from you, but I got to keep his heart and soul. Our love was stronger than you.
Once we were married, I thought you would be easier to handle: an old adversary who had been beaten before. But then, there were babies. I wished I could have been pregnant when you were around. But no; instead I had newborns. Twice in 3 years you called him away again, right when our babies were due. Oh deployment! Why did you have to add your huge pile of stress to my sleep-deprived nights? The days felt exhausting and endless. I was constantly on edge, listening for that once-a- month phone call, and hoping I would hear it above the baby’s cries. The nights were long and lonely. There was only one of me, and 3 of my little children. I could barely handle your weight on top of all of that.
But somehow, I did. I made friends who knew all about you. My military friends cheated you as they helped me with meals, babysitting, even cleaning my house. They helped me forget you as we planned field trips and events for the kids, or spent mornings chatting at play dates. They even helped me embrace you, as we planned monthly get-togethers and mom’s nights out. You are strong, deployment, and you can break a lonely woman. But you cannot break the entire network of military spouses! Friendships are stronger than you.
And so, deployment, here we are again. #6. This time is different. I have to laugh because now I know your tricks, and I know that I am stronger than all of them. When the toddler went to the hospital during the first week, I was hardly surprised. I knew it was only the first challenge of many. So I stayed calm and handled it. When the bathroom water wouldn’t stop running, when the doorknob literally fell off the front door, and when all the computers broke, I was frustrated, but not really surprised.
Of course, you would throw all that at me. So I stayed calm, I explored options, and I handled it. When our house wouldn’t rent and money grew tight, I tried not to worry. I cut back, I made smart choices, and… I handled it. One day at a time, one month at a time, I celebrated my small victories over you. I have my husband’s love to carry me through, and military spouse friends to lean on. Together, they make me strong. Deployment, I am stronger than you.
So, now that we have finally established that, I don’t want to fight you anymore. Deployment,
let’s be friends.
Lizann Lightfoot is the Seasoned Spouse, a military wife of 9 years who has been with her husband since before Boot Camp—15 years ago! Together they have been through 6 different deployments and 4 different duty stations (including 1 overseas in Spain). Lizann spends her days at home wrangling their 4 young children, cooking somewhat healthy meals, writing about military life, and wondering where the family will end up next. She is the author of the book, ‘Welcome to Rota,’ and of the Seasoned Spouse blog. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.