I think I may be a bit spoiled.
Now before you come after me with pitchforks, let me explain.
I don’t mean I demand material goods and luxuries from my husband or insist I be lavished with diamonds (but if he wanted to ever I wouldn’t stop him!). What I am talking about is more like … deployments.
Last month we moved down to Camp Lejeune, N.C. and for the first time I am beginning to experience life in the military ‘fleet.’ Previously my husband was stationed in D.C., a non-deployable unit. His hours were long some days but there was no time in the field and, naturally, no deployments. Now in Camp Lejeune less than a month my husband has been to the field twice and we are on notice that his unit is on the list to deploy next. Unlike his last job, he is now part of a regiment so he has a year-long deployment in the future, not the seven month one we expected.
My husband has deployed before. He volunteered to go on a Task Force to Iraq a little more than a year after we started dating. Things were different then. We saw each other when we could, usually on weekends, and while he was doing his work up I was preparing to graduate college and go off to Florida for my Disney internship. I was distracted, I had ways to avoid the D-Word rumbling down the pike. I am in no way, shape or form knocking girlfriends or non married significant others … but I feel like it was easier then. Not easy, but a little easier.
His last deployment was hard, please do not get me wrong. I sobbed like a baby when those buses pulled away. I never felt anything like that before in my life. But the idea of doing it now seems so much harder. We’ve built our lives together, I am used to him being around in some way ever single day. Even though we just did nine months of geo-bachelor status, I still texted him constantly, had a phone call every night, and usually had a cross-country visit every six weeks or so.
Someone recently told me, “You should be able to handle a deployment, you just did nine months apart!” That’s just it. We were apart nine months…. but we were über connected. I will not be hopping a flight to Afghanistan to see my husband for his birthday. Adding a year apart to a stint of nine months just completed also feels slightly like a kick in the shin. We have to adjust to living together as a couple once more only for him to leave again.
Plus this time I don’t have the distractions. No college finals, no graduation, no big move to another state, no internship. Instead I am living in a new place, I don’t know many people or have friends yet, and I am still looking for a job. Now that I have my husband with me in the same time zone, the idea of having him deploy for a year is making me panic. I haven’t had to face a deployment in three years. Our entire married life he has been stateside. Safe.
And I have been spoiled.
In the back of my mind I always knew he could go at any time. That’s his job. But it still managed to sneak up on me. We barely finish our PCS, settle in the house and the D-Word comes out. My heart may or may not have stopped in my chest a bit. I know if he does have to go we will make it work, we always do. Even though we have been together four years now, I still feel so new at this. When we first got together I admired those spouses who had been with their men through deployment after deployment over the years, and I still do. I never thought at this point I’d still feel so fish out of water, like the military is still able to surprise me.
But it is. That is the life we lead and I know this … somewhere deep down.
How do you all deal with back to back separations? Do deployments still throw you through a loop after years of going through them? Have you ever been ‘spoiled’ in military life?