I was a rock star for the first month of my husband’s deployment. We lived in my hometown so I figured I already had a support system in place. I threw myself into work. I enjoyed a sense of freedom from being able to eat ice cream without judgment (my own not his).
Around Day 28, my inner rock star faltered. I was lonely. I missed the simple conversations of marriage and every day life. I turned to Ben and Jerry but they couldn’t make the enormity of coming home to an empty house go away.
Luckily for me, I was rescued my Deployment Wife. My Deployment Wife is a fellow military spouse. Her husband is a Marine while mine is Air Force. Her husband is an officer. Mine is enlisted. Her husband leaves for a year at a time. I was two months into a four-month rotation.
None of that mattered during deployment. On nights that I couldn’t take the quiet, I showed up at my DW’s doorstep with Ben and Jerry in tow. DW was more than willing to open her door and make room on the couch.
We enjoyed our girl time. We laughed. We gossiped. We drank wine and watched too many episodes of Real Housewives of Wherever. Together we found the normalcy we were both missing.
We began to depend on each other for the day-to-day human connection. We talked daily– just to chat about our days to someone who cared. We braved the commissary on payday. When we were feeling adventurous we went to spouse events around base.
Mostly we laughed and helped each other through the darker moments of the deployment. DW was the person who understood, better than anyone else my feelings of guilt (for having a real bed to sleep in at night), insecurity (I ate a lot of Ben and Jerry) and loneliness.
When I got worried that my husband wouldn’t like me when he got home, DW was the one who talked me off that ledge. When she was worried that her son wouldn’t know his dad, I was the one who listened and offered advice. Together we kept two households running and kept each other sane.
It felt sort of like a divorce when our husbands came home. Our worlds soon shifted away from each other and back toward our families.
Her husband is now a recruiter. He works long hours but he won’t deploy any time soon. My husband is leaving again soon. This deployment will be different since we both aren’t in the same boat. I know that if I need her, she’ll cook me dinner, pour me a glass of wine and watch the latest cat fight in New Jersey with me. Because that’s what good deployment wives do.
Katie Lasota teaches American History to high school students in Tucson, AZ. Her husband is stationed at Davis-Montham AFB.