written word

Kathy

I have been a military spouse for a little over 15 years. We were active duty for the majority of the time. Just in the past three years, we have been with the National Guard.

I have been with my spouse through an active duty deployment (Iraq) and I am currently three months into our second deployment (Afghanistan) with a National Guard unit.

This is my story…

I am a proud Military Spouse. That is what I tell everyone. There are days, that I am extremely proud of who I am. Who WE are. What WE stand for. WE are an exceptional group of individuals. Not too many people can say this about themselves. We support some of THE MOST important people in the world. America’s Hero’s.

But, there are those times that I don’t feel so proud. That I do not feel like I have it in me any more. Times that I am tired and worn down. Times that I don’t want to be strong, put on my game face and “rise to the occassion” one more time.

There are times, I feel like everything and everyone is working against me. The boss at work, the kids, the dishwasher filled with clean dishes. Times that I feel like that there is no hope and no one out there cares or understands what I am going through. Times that it feels like my soul has been sucked out of me, there is a heavy weight on my chest and I just can not breathe anymore.

These are the feelings of deployment and they are extremely difficult feelings for anyone to have to deal with when their spouse is deployed.

My husband is my best friend. He is always there for me to talk to. When I lose this constant in my life, this “rock”, it is very hard for me to find an individual I can confide in.

During our first deployment, we were active duty stationed in Germany. It was the beginning of the war in Iraq. Deployment was new to many of the military people we were with. It was exciting for our guys to get to go off and do what they were trained to do. It was exciting for the spouses to stay back and do all we could to support them.

In Germany, I found I had a great group of spouses around me. Officers wives and enlisted wives, we were all one. I made it a point to surround myself with other spouses who were going through the same thing I was going through.

We got together, we talked about what bothered us, we leaned on each other for support. We kept ourselves busy. We cried together, laughed together, got bitterly angry together and we all survived the year. I emerged from that year with some very good friends. Sisters, if you will.

Sisters who are now miles away from me but, who are there for me if I need them. Sisters who would drop everything to come to me if I needed them to, no questions asked. Sister that I can call at the drop of a hat and talk to if I need to get something off my chest. And they listen. They listen because they have been there. They listen because they will be there, again one day. They listen because I would do the same for them.

After all, isn’t this what being a military spouse is all about? Being there for one another?

This time around my husband is deployed with a National Guard unit so, the spouse situation is very different for me. I do not know one military spouse associated with this deployed. I do not have that crutch to lean on this time. And, it is ok.

So, what am I doing about these feelings? The same feelings we all know too well that surface the same way they always do during a deployment?

I am learning to ask for help. Which is very hard for a seasoned, independent military spouse like myself. But let me tell you, it feels great to take people up on their offers to hel

If your day feels too overwhelming and you need help, ask for it. Turn to all of those people in your life who are constantly asking “what can I do for you” and ask them to help run an errand, watch your kids, make a meal, cut the lawn.

Whatever it takes to make your day a bit easier and less stressful, ask for it.

It may be hard for you to do at first. It was for me. I am of the school that “I don’t need help, I can do this all by myself”. But, once you ask, you will find that they are happy to help in any way that they can. Asking for help is worth it.

I am learning to give myself some “me” time. Ignore the laundry, the dishes, the cleaning. It won’t be going anywhere and you can tackle it when you feel better, tomorrow.

I am learning that although one day might be a really crappy day for me emotionally, the next day will be better.

During these hard times, surround yourself with “helpers”. They can be spouses in your unit that are going through the deployment with you, your civilian neighbor who wants to lend a hand, your immediate family or an old friend who would be more than happy to lend an ear. These helpers will get you through it.

You may even find that if you open up to people, you will learn that they do care and that they do understand. So many of us have our guard up during this time, let it down, get to know people, you may be surprised. You may make a sister for life.

None of us should go unheard during these times. We are all here for each other. We are all experienced with these feelings. We have all been in this situation, some of us, more times than others. Even if we put up a good front, we have all been an emotional mess more than once during a deployment. Remember that. No one is perfect. We all feel the same.

You have to take it day by day, do not ignore your feelings. Take time to miss your spouse , to cry, to get angry and then wake up looking forward to tomorrow. Because by getting to tomorrow, you are one day closer to this being over and getting them back home and out of harms way!

We are the “silent ranks” and we should not be silent any longer! Please speak up, reach out, ask for help! Do not think that you are alone.

Kathy