I started this blog 5 years ago, when Horatio and I broke the news of deployment to our boys. I wrote posts to help myself and others get through long deployments. During deployments, often, the days are long, but the weeks are fast; sometimes, though, the weeks, months and years are very, very slow. Over the years, I’ve shared the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of military family life, in particular, life of a military spouse. With 20 years of experience, I can speak with some authority on the issue. While Horatio is not in a deployable position right now, he does spend a lot of time away from the family and it helps me to have coping mechanisms to get me through the long weeks.
Here is a list of 6 ways to get through your spouse’s deployment…
Find Your People
When you are on your own, in a life which you usually go through with a partner, you need people. People who support you, people who understand you, people you can escape with, people who share your interests, and people who will listen to you when you need an ear. Sometimes you can find one or two friends who cover all of these aspects, but sometimes it takes a village. Try to figure out who your people are before your spouse leaves, but even if you don’t think of it until after he (or she) departs, find them. Think about the people in your life and you’ll figure out how they fit into the roles you need to help you get through the deployment.
After finding people who “get” you, routines are probably the most important and simple way to make getting through deployment more tolerable. Make your days and the days of your kids, if you have them, predictable. The quicker you and your family adjust to the new normal, the better you will be able to handle any curve balls that come your way.
Go Back To School
As a military spouse, you know there’s, most likely, another move in your future. Furthering your education can help you find a career that you can take with you wherever you go. As a teacher, I can, at the very least, substitute teach wherever the Navy sends us, and schools need teachers, so I always know there are jobs out there. Take time to think about how you’d like to spend your career and then start taking classes with an online program such as Martinsburg, which has knowledge and experience to specifically help military spouses. There are special programs that give money for education to military spouses. Use it! There are also unique programs that cater to military spouses looking to expand upon their education to help advance in their mobile careers. Martinsburg’s instructional methodology accommodates a wide variety of learning styles as well as providing for flexibility of time and place for engaging in coursework. They also provide one on one support, if necessary and even have a facebook group that offers great support. Do a little research and you’ll be cracking books in no time!
Get Involved In the Community
If you have kids, get involved in their schools; if you don’t, get involved in your church or synagogue, volunteer at the library or a museum, find some way to feel connected to the community. It might feel like you are too busy to take on something else, especially if you have a child or two, or more, but I speak from experience when I say that staying busy, with community, can really go a long way to feeling less alone during deployment. I volunteered as room parent for one of my sons and helped in an art program at the school while Horatio was on his most recent deployment. I’m not usually the mom who volunteers for steady gigs like those, but having the routine helped me keep my mind occupied.
Take Up a New Hobby or Embrace an Old One
Ok, yes, I know, finding time for a hobby is a bit optimistic, but if there is something you love to do, even if you can’t do it very often, you’ll know it’s there and you can make time every once in a while to do it. I decided to learn to knit when Horatio left in December 2010. My mom taught me how and my neighbor friend, master knitter, gave me refresher lessons whenever I picked up the needles after very long periods of time in between knitting sessions. I never really caught the knitting bug, the scarf I started is about an inch and a half long, but I always knew it was there if I needed something to keep my hands busy while I indulged in a little tv watching. Now I needlepoint. It’s something I took up in high school and it is simple. It’s hard to forget the simple stitch. I’m making belts for my sons and it is taking me such a long time that I’ll have to add inches to the ends before finishing them off with buckles, but it passes the time and I like the idea that I’m producing something that will, some day, be useful for the boys.
Yes, I said it. I definitely like to keep things in perspective and make note of the fact that things aren’t that bad, in the scheme of things, but sometimes you need to wallow in the misery that is a long day without your spouse. I hereby give you permission (not that you need it) to drown your sorrows in whatever way you need. You earned it. The job of military spouse is grossly under-valued, under-appreciated and misunderstood. When someone says, “well, you knew what you were getting into when you married him,” and they will, resist the urge to punch them in the throat. You can say, “well, no one can really prepare for what it’s really like,” or you can just smile and nod and go home and call one of your people, have a glass of wine or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and blow off some steam by talking about every big and little thing that is getting on your nerves. You’ll feel better.
This post is sponsored by Martinsburg College. I received compensation for this post through my relationship with the Quality Blue Community. All opinions are my own.