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Left Behind? No. Taking on My World Alone? Um, Yeah.

Joan asked an intriguing question and I cannot wait to read her follow-up post.

As I contemplated my answer, I realized that my feelings about my "alone time" have changed in the past six years since becoming a Guard Wife.  And, as we thrust ourselves headlong into another overseas pre-deployment cycle (yep, we’ve received real word), I began to think about what this deployment may look like.

I make no secret that I use "compartmentalizing" as a coping mechanism. 

I’ve heard negative connotations about compartmentalizing, but I think of it as a way to say goodbye-for-now to things over which I have no control and that I would obsess about if left to my own devices.  I simply mentally overwork those things until I no longer can do it and then I put whatever it is in a box, slide it onto a high shelf and refuse to get it down to "play with it" after that.  Granted, someday I may look forward to an avalanche when my curiosity gets the better of me and I open the closet door, but for now, I have some rather lovely boxes full of things I don’t dwell on anymore.

Deployment for me, last time, was very much like the labor and delivery of my girls.  I treated it like a competitive sport and once I survived it, the endorphins convinced me I could do it again the next day, if I needed to do it.  Luckily, biology doesn’t work that way and I was spared actually learning the folly in the overconfidence in one’s ability to push a human being out a ten-centimeter space on a daily basis.  Deployment waits for no one as does the inevitable eviction of those little buggers who turn your cute, metro loft into a sprawling duplex. 

In the time since Hubs returned home from his first overseas deployment, I have caught myself wondering what lessons I learned during the first deployment will carry me through the coming one.  I wonder what skills and strategies that were hard victories won during those long months will benefit me this time and which ones will be inapplicable given the difference in my circumstances.  I know there will be much more I need to do this time — I’ll be starting a new job that will be much more demanding and time constrictive than the one I had last time.  My girls are older and my sister-in-law no longer lives fifteen minutes from our home.  One set of neighbors who were so very helpful last time have moved, albeit only a few blocks away, so no more dashing across the street when one child needs to go to the hospital and the other is fast asleep.  It appears at first glance that this deployment has several more gaps than the last and that one, frankly, was resemblant of Swiss cheese.

So, I’m interested.  I’m interested in your experiences.  I want to know how (if at all) your first deployment helped you prepare for subsequent ones.  I want you to share anything you wished you had known prior to that subsequent deployment that you had to learn the hard way.  I want your sage advice and your insight.  And, more than anything, I want to hear from you because when I do, I’ll know that you will be there soon to help me make it through this next phase of my military spousedom.

Fire up the comments section!  I’ll be taking notes!

About Guard Wife

Melinda, who writes as Guard Wife, hails from a rural farming community in a Midwestern state. She moved to the southwest part of her home state to attend college and remains there some twenty years later. Today, she's a licensed attorney who spends most of her professional time working within the academic support and bar exam passage programs at her alma mater. Her volunteer interests vary from pro bono legal work to Brownie troop leader to Soldiers' Angels. Melinda and her husband have three daughters, the youngest of whom the couple brought home from Ethiopia the same week Melinda's husband returned from a deployment to Iraq.

Melinda also writes about her experiences as the mom of an older internationally adopted child at www.5forHope.com and maintains her individual blog at www.mostcertainlynot.typepad.com.