Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo First Deployments

Now that the deployment has been and gone, I thought I would look back and share my experience going through my first long deployment, which I will admit was hella scary. Sure having gone through several short-term TDY's and being happy in my own space helped, but having this feeling that you will somehow fail.. was kind of overwhelming. 

A lot of thoughts go swimming through your head for a few weeks or even days before the actual deployment. Will you do something wrong, will you fail your service-man or let them down one way or another. Will I let myself go and entirely fall apart despite my brave bravado?  

These thoughts and fears are to be expected; many other spouses go through the same emotions, but here's the thing, these factors are all out of our control. I decided to try and focus on what I could control; as you may well know, Military life is unpredictable. You cannot plan anything; when we prepared for this deployment, the date changed at least three times, and while that gave us more time together before he left, it meant that those intense emotions you get just before they go the door happened three times over. Dates and times change continuously; the way you handle that is within your control, so take it as it comes and be happy for the day they come home. 

Now when I started this deployment, I had a plan - a plan to blitz the house, to clean the mess of the last couple of weeks before the deployment, and remove and sign of it. Here's the thing, after dropping him off and getting some time to myself (and the dog), I just didn't feel like it. I looked at the mess and thought f*** it, I have, however, many more months to clean this crap up, and in all honesty, I want to get some me-time in. I want to get some blog photos done, make some gluten-free cookie dough, put that in ice-cream and bake pumpkin seeds. 

The first week was tough, I still hadn't cried, and the time difference in the UK made it so we couldn't talk on the phone as often. I put my efforts into baking his favorite cookies to go along with his first care-package. This was going to be our first Christmas and Birthday's together; however, we weren't going to be together. I was determined to not let the distance stand in the way of these special occasions and got started on a Christmas package and a Birthday Package. Filled to the brim with lots of goodies tailored to him and a few bits he could hand out to his fellow Airmen. 

After we hit the first-month mark, I actually felt pretty good. We were strong, and he was doing his best to keep me reassured, ringing me regularly, keeping me clued in on future assignments and plans. The only thing I found hard was not being able to go to him for simple things, needing a hug when times were tough at work, and my anxiety played up. I couldn't fault him though he did his best to keep a smile on my face, to keep me laughing on the other end of the phone. That's the one thing I would say is to keep communication open, truly open. We found that I was still walking on eggshells around him, not because of anything he did but due to past relationships, and once we overcame that, the dialog became so much more fun. I can't really explain it. 

I celebrated my 30th birthday with a close friend of mine by going to Disneyland Paris. Something I had always wanted to do as an adult, having this little break away with my girlfriend, really cleared my head. There's nothing better than a good old girly chat, so keep those friends close.

Hitting the half-way mark had its challenges. Tensions were high where he was, and the work was pretty much 24-7, leaving him only a small window for him to actually get some downtime. Leading to miscommunication and upset between the two of us. I will be honest towards the end of the deployment, I was not sure we were going to make it. 

With ongoing work on both parts, we made it through. Sure it took a little while to get back into the groove of things once he was home, but with us, it didn't take very long. That doesn't mean that anyone of us will ever look forward to deployments or wish it upon anyone.

Always be kind; you never know what personal battle people are fighting.


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