by Tamala Malerk, Guest Contributor
It’s the news that every military spouse knows is coming but absolutely dreads: deployment.
I, of course, was distraught when my husband told me he would be deploying for 5 and half months, but when I finally came to terms with it and looked on the brighter sides (i.e. could have been longer, could have been in a much more dangerous place), I began to reach out to military spouse blogs and sites in search for ways to survive deployment.
I was overwhelmed by stories of spouses who found independence, stronger (and weaker marriages), and inner-strength. I was now excited at this journey that I was about to embark on:
What would deployment do for me? What life-altering “aha!” moment would I have?
Well we have finally hit the less than 10 days left mark and I have to admit, I did not get the self-identifying experience that all of the blogs seemed to promise me…..
I Did Not Have a Huge Self-Identifying Experience and Other Things Deployment Did Not Do for Me
There was no new found independence for me.
If anything, I became a more dependent person. I was lucky enough to move in with my parents during this deployment and I actually had two more people to do the household chores that normally all fall on me.
Let’s be honest, you don’t need your service member to deploy in order to find your independence.
For example, when my washer flooded – for reasons that need no further details than that – my husband could not rush home from work in the middle of the day to come fix it; it was me that was using 2 42-oz cups to drain the washer for an hour until I got it fixed.
There was also the time that my husband was on a 24-hour CQ shift and I found the baby snake (or snake-like thing) squirming around my living room at 2 a.m. Again I was solving that one all by myself.
Alright, so no new feelings of independence for me….
Deployment did not save my marriage nor did it destroy it.
Not that it needed saving in the first place nor did deployment destroy my marriage. Deployment merely existed in my marriage.
Now trust me, it was not easy, and yes there were many annoyances that came along with it, but after awhile our separation became a new normal (a horrible sucky normal, but normal). We were very fortunate that there was an ability to have almost daily communication, even if just for a few minutes because of the time difference, and weekly Skype dates.
We downloaded deployment tracker apps (yep multiple ones just to make sure the first was correct), and constantly talked about what we were going to do when he came home: where we were going to eat, where we wanted to visit.
By constantly focusing on the homecoming, the separation became a little more bearable.
I did not become a stronger person.
In my deployment research, I read a lot of inspirational quotes that read something like
“Deployment did not break me, but rather, made me stronger.”
I do not feel any stronger…I cried…. A lot.
And not just for the 5 minutes that was “allotted” by all the advice givers, I would sometimes cry for a good hour or two.
I would cry alone, with a friend, with my mom…
I would just cry.
I was angry and resentful and really lonely.
I just wanted my person home (I mean, who doesn’t).
This is not to say that the deployment was all sadness, anger and tears. I got to hang out with friends and be around family, and had many pretty great times.
Maybe I was a strong person beforehand (if tears count as strength), but I do not feel like a stronger human being after this deployment.
I know the Army did not send my husband on a deployment to give me some a self-realization experience; I am not that self-absorbed or vapid; but in my search for what I saw others get from the experience, I found mine just did not compare, and that is not a bad thing.
I got the opportunity to intern at an awesome archives and I lost some PCS weight I had gained from the last move.
I never had an “aha!” moment and that’s OK, because the most important thing of all, is the deployment is almost over! AHA! (scratch that)
Tamala Malerk is a graduate history student who spends her free time reading comics, drinking coffee, and freelance writing. You can read her comic books reviews and featured stories on AVN Today and follow the adventures of her basset hound on his blog Adventures of Otto.