Sometimes when I think about the deployment, I wonder how we got through it. Not only did we get through it, but we got through it almost unscathed. 15 months is a long, long, time. Yes, it was hard. Yes, we lost a friend. Yes, we had reintegration issues just like everyone does. But we made it, and we are stronger because of it. We appreciate each other more. I enjoy being a mom more. We cherish our time together more. I could probably go on all day.
So many couples don't make it through one deployment, much less multiple ones. We are close friends with a couple who did not, in fact, make it through this deployment, and it still blows my mind daily. I can't believe they are in the situation they are. I'm certain there is more to the story than what I know...there has to be.
It brings me to the question: What makes one seemingly strong couple crumble while one thrives? Is it faith? Because I'm certain that during some points in the deployment there were only one set of footprints in my neck of the woods. Is it love? Is it personal strength? Is it determination and pure will?
I don't know all the answers, but I think it's a combination of all those things. Here are a few of the things that I think helped us get through our deployments.
#1. Realization and acceptance of the fact that you can't change it. He will deploy. It will be a long time. You can't stop it. Find a way to deal.
#2. Faith. I am a Christian woman. I believe that each of us has a set amount of time on this earth, and that it's predetermined. This was a huge thing in helping me get through this deployment. I believed that if Stryker's time was supposed to be up during the deployment, it would have been up whether he was deployed or not. This prevented me from worrying so much. Of course I still worried, but it wasn't as extreme as the first deployment, and thus, resulted in less stress.
#3. Faith. Faith in our marriage. Faith that despite the length of time apart, our marriage would survive, and we would be ok.
#4. Care packages. I wanted to make sure that Stryker knew I was thinking of him, and loved him, and sending care packages was one of the ways I could best show this. I loved sending care packages because I knew he and the guys enjoyed them, and it also helped me feel closer to him. I knew that I was touching something he would touch.
#5. Being understanding of weirdness. Sometimes while Stryker was deployed, he would go through periods of weirdness. He wouldn't have much to say while we were on the phone, he seemed down, he just was not himself. It's not a cause for panic. They go through ups and downs during the deployment just like we do. It's normal.
#6. Finding something to look forward to. When we started making plans for R&R, conversations were great. We smiled, we laughed, we made plans that involved us actually being together. It was fun.
#7. Living life. I kept on living life. It helped pass the time much more quickly. Yes, sometimes I felt guilty about it, but it was better for Fuzz, Stryker, AND me live life instead or wait for it.
These are just the big ones off the top of my head that helped me, and us, get through deployments. What is something that helps you get through a deployment?
*Here's what I was sending to Stryker one year ago today.