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Adios Friends, I Don’t Need You Cuz Deployment Is Over

Am I a bad friend just if I disappear after homecoming? Since my husband is coming home in a few days, I’ve noticed that all of my friends have been dropping verbal notes of goodbye into our conversations.

Oh, Brad is coming home. Well, I guess I won’t be seeing you.

You won’t be around for a few weeks, will you?

I’ve gotta come over and see your new countertop before Brad gets home, right?

Even my mom told me this week, “I’ll sure miss hearing from you.”

I’m not, in fact, breaking up with anyone. I am not moving outside the reach of a cell phone tower. I am not taking a shuttle flight to Mars or building a lava pit around my house and infesting it with Orcs.

I’m just getting my husband back. And letting the honeymoon rumpus phase of deployment start.

I know some people really object to this phase of homecoming. They object to the idea that they can be such close friends during deployment with someone, but then get “dropped” when the servicemember returns.

One SpouseBuzz reader this way. “They depend up on me for support during deployment, but then when Major Hubby returns, adios friend, I don’t need you anymore.

I remember how that can annoy or even hurt — especially if you have one of those ultra-close deployment friendships going on and your own servicemember is still deployed.

I’ve had deployment friends in the past who were closer than sisters. Melissa went to all my Lamaze classes with me and took me to the beach every weekend. Susan and I sat on our shared steps and drank wine coolers together after we finally got the kids to bed. Kim spent hours and hours in my kitchen cooking and talking and laughing.

During this deployment, my 23-year-old daughter dropped by almost every Sunday to hang out and put something on the grill and watch movies and talk endlessly about our work kerfuffles. She made the worst day of the week the best day of the week. What would I have done without her?

So I feel a little guilty. Because I know that when my husband gets home, all my deployment friendships will fade in intensity along with the deployment. Is that so wrong?

The same thing happens to our servicemembers. The close friendships they make on deployment also fade away over time. Researchers say that for servicemembers, that loss of friendship can be one of the highest emotional costs of war.

When the husbands of my friends have come home from deployment, I really missed the closeness of the deployment friendship. It takes some adjustment to move the friendship to the next phase. It is a loss.

But I tell myself those deployment friendships at that level of exclusivity have to change. Even though I treasure my friendships, my husband comes first. The hours I had to lavish on friendship belong to my husband to claim first.

I don’t think my friends or my mom have much of a problem with this — they each have their own close relationship. They each know me well enough to understand that I will resurface in a couple of weeks when Brad goes back to work. They know I will be the old me again.

I think they also know that I will not be the deployment me anymore. That woman who had so much time to talk on the phone and so many empty evenings to do extra work and so many weekends to fill, fill, fill is gone.

And I’m glad she is going. Deployment me needed so much support and gave so much support and got so much support from all the lovely women around her — and I’m grateful. It is just that Homecoming me has so much more to give — and I just gotta get started.

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.