Lessons Learned From A Newlywed [Part Two]
The Deployment — The Beginning
Now that you know a little about my background and my husbands background, I want to talk about what our first deployment was like, because boy, was it a doozy.
For the most part, we had everything stacked against us when we went into this deployment. I had moved across the country to be with him, only to be forced back into an involuntary long-distance relationship. We were a new couple, in a still new relationship, living in a new town, sharing finances for the first time ever, and all of a sudden I was living the life of two people while he went off to do his job. I had no job, no friends, no family, and the one person that I came here for left for his first ever deployment. Not by choice, but still … I was all alone facing an experience that neither of us had ever gone through before.
When he deployed however, I made the decision to stay here. It was a tough decision to make, because it would have been so much easier to turn around and go back home during the time that he was gone. But, I looked at it like, we were going to be here when he got back, I might as well stay here, find a job, make some friends, and get on with life. Plus, as much as I love my family, there is something about being around people who are going through the same thing as you are. My family and my friends love us to death, but their sympathy was not the same as those who were also living this life.
So, I stayed. I found a really crappy job that I hated, but it kept me out of the house. I made a handful of friends, which kept me busy on the weekend. We did really well as a couple the first few months of the deployment, but being separated is hard. Being separated after BEING SEPERATED is even harder. We didn’t have a huge foundation in our relationship, and so building something from thousands of miles apart began to take its toll on us. I also ran into some problems with family and words were being twisted. But, we figured things out and moved on. When you talk for four or five times a day, like we did at the time, eventually you run out of things to talk about. So, there were times of bickering because when you can’t talk, what else is there to do? FIGHT! But for the most part we worked through our differences and pushed through.
R&R and The People You Meet
R&R quickly came [ok, not really quickly ... I thought that six month mark would NEVER get here!] and we had a great time! We spent a week of it here, and then a week of it back on the West Coast seeing his family and my family. Lesson learned #1: No more vacations back to see family. It was way too stressful, and way too complicated. We couldn’t please anyone, and it made the time fly by because we were so busy. By the time we got back for his last few days home, we were so exhausted. But we still had a great time with each other. It truly was an awesome two weeks!
Not long after he went back, I found out that they were being extended by three months, thanks to a now famous news conference. Trust me, it was not fun having to be the person who delivered that news to my husband. “Guess what? You’re staying an extra three months. Oh, they haven’t told you? Well it’s all over the news here!” I could hear his heart sink over the DSN line after I told him that he wasn’t coming home when he thought he was.
And it was at that point that I think the bitterness of the deployment really set in for him. Our fights seemed to escalate no matter how much we tried to talk to each other, and a lot of it was because he was stuck in limbo, while I was out living my life.
I had gotten lucky and made friends quickly. The group that I was hanging out with at the time liked to go out on weekends and live it up. So, I followed suit because, well … what else was I going to do? I was happy to finally have a group of friends that I really enjoyed and that enjoyed having me around as well. They are great girls, even to this day [even though I don't see them as much as I like!] and I am grateful to them for being there for me through my first deployment experience.
But ladies, the bar scene in a military town can be a nasty place.
I hate to bring this up, but I feel like a warning is due to those who are new to the military lifestyle. Army Wives have a bad name. So do Soldiers. And while it is entirely unfair to classify all of us in the same group of morons, that bad name is out there for a reason, because there are a handful of bad eggs that give the rest of us good ones a bad name. Sadly, there are wives out there who spend all the deployment money as quick as it comes in, cheat on their spouses/husbands/boyfriends/fiance’s/significant others while they are away on deployments. I think our Company last time had four or five divorces over the course of that fifteen months. I personally saw wives cheating on their husbands during the deployment. And don’t think that all of this information doesn’t get back to them. Because it does.
And once it happens to one, they become worried that it will happen to them. The bar hopping with the girls stopped shortly after I had my first experience of being accused of cheating [a rumor started by people that I thought *ahem* were my friends]. But it’s out there, sadly, and sometimes it’s not all rumor.
But don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of great women out there who do great things. I am lucky to have some wonderful people in my life who I never would have gotten close to had I not had all the time in the world to myself, or stayed here during the deployment, and those girls know who they are. The bad times with the bad people don’t even come close to the good times with the good ones. So my first piece of advice: choose your friends wisely. It’s very important, for your sanity, and for the sanity of your spouse!
The End Is Near
The last part of the deployment was the hardest. The day he came home, it had been 9 months since he had been home on R&R. That’s a very long time to go without being with someone, especially in a new relationship. Our temperaments had both worn thin, despite how much we truly loved each other, and we were ready for this to be over, but not quite ready for what was to come. How would he take being home? Would he still want to be with me after all that time? We would have to re-learn how to live with each other, something that we had never really had the chance to do to begin with. The routine that I was so set in would now have to change — again. Oh, did I mention that we bought a house halfway through the deployment? One that he had never physically set foot in, and only seen pictures of, but yet was expected to come into like he had lived there all along … yikes.
Tomorrow: Life Post-Deployment