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The Sixth Sense of PreDeployment

How does anyone go through a deployment without friends?  This week I was totally going off on my workfriend, Rachael.

Other people “go off” by losing their cool and getting all mad and yelling things they do not mean.  I go off by unleashing a torrent of anxiety few have ever seen. I try never, ever to do this in public.  It makes people go running for their bell jars.

Thankfully, Rachael, being Rachael, was having none of this. “Really?  I mean, really?  You are really going to worry like this about an event that is six weeks away that is already under control? That is already good?” she questioned.

“Well, there is just so much to do… and I am not sure…and do you really think….” I ruminated.

Rachael leveled her cool green gaze at me.  “Jacey, how many days until Brad deploys?”

I did not know why she was asking me that.  Didn’t I just tell her how quick this deployment would pass?  It would be over before we knew it!  Besides, what did Brad’s deployment have to do with all the stuff that was making me so anxious about work?

“How many days?” she pressed.

“Four,” I said.  And promptly burst into tears.  At work.  There is no crying at work. We do not cry at Military.com.  Or they give us something to cry about.

But until that moment, it really had not occurred to me that Brad and I only had a few days left together before our eight deployment would begin.  We had days. Hours.  Minutes. Really?

Rachael was the kind of friend who could see that all my anxiety had nothing to do with work.  All that anxiety was really about the deployment.  I was so busy making myself anxious about work that I did not let myself know how fast the deployment was coming.

It was almost like the logic employed by that kid in The Sixth Sense– if you don’t let yourself look at the scary thing, maybe it is not there after all.  I see deploy-ment.

When I told Brad about it, he said he caught himself doing the same kind of crazy thing.  He was suddenly obsessed with finding a new belt to wear with jeans, driving all over because he had to find this belt.  The fact that he was going somewhere he would not be wearing jeans or a belt on his jeans for months and months did not occur to him.  He just had to get that belt.

“Ummm, I think I need a Rachael,” Brad said.

Me, too. I think we all need a Rachael.  When it comes to predeployment, we all need a friend who sees our behavior, and sees past our behavior.  We need someone who listens to what we say on the surface, yet hears the unspoken message underneath.

I wish that predeployment was something we could all do without effort.  I wish deployment was no more significant than a trip around the block.  Instead, the predeployment period has a pile of these unseen little things that our brains must do in order to make departure possible.

It helps to have a friend with a sixth sense about these things—who can keep us honest about what is really going on.

 

About Jacey Eckhart

Jacey Eckhart is the Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.