Dealing With The Fear of Deployment
Regardless of how many deployments you have under your belt, they never get easier. Military Spouse, Lindsay Swoboda from Uplifting Spouses, gives us a personal narrative about Dealing with the Fear of Deployment and how she’s chosen to find the positive in it all.
Our apartment is quiet with the morning light pooling on the floor. The sun is rising up to greet the day and I am snuggled in my favorite chair, sipping coffee before my daughter wakes up. My husband breezes through filling his travel mug. His cologne wafts through the air and soon his footsteps click behind me, lips on my hair- securely planting a kiss on my head. Blanketed in the comfort of his presence, we walk to the door and I see him out to the elevator.
“Have the day you have babe,” we grin cheekily at each other. Our trademark phrase captures in six words the good and hard times equally; we have decided to have whatever day comes our way with acceptance. We know we will get through it one way or another.
But I’ll admit our days are easier lately then they have been in the past. There is a key in the lock each night, daddy walks in with a tired smile on his face, and I witness the parade of my daughter’s excited feet racing to meet him. Even though he is gone at work for usually twelve hours out of our day, the two hours and fifteen minutes in which he is getting coffee in the morning or coming home at night have made a difference. When he is not home, his dirty socks are in the hamper, the pillows on the couch indented from where he was sitting last night. A lone plate rests on the countertop with crumbs from an after-dinner snack.
These signs of life brighten the recent memories we have made together, all of them gathering in a golden pile. They showcase a non-deployable chapter, a transition from going to staying. There is glory in the mundane. Family dinners, laundry, work, laughter, empty coffee cups, books before bedtime, it is beautifully predictable.
I find myself down on my knees every day thanking God for this time to rest in each other. But in my gratitude there is constant darkness edging at the corners. It is a silent worry that saunters by in a wispy black cloak, always threatening to haunt these moments together. The fear whispers that I should not just notice these moments with him home, but admit that they will end.
Getting too Comfortable
Our family has weathered five deployments through the gamut of life chapters: deployment and dating, deployment and just married, deployment and pregnant, deployment and with a newborn! Most of our significant memories as a family are also marked by a separation. It is hard for me to acknowledge and accept the truth: there are more deployments to come. I feel weary just thinking about it. I feel like my heart is finally healed from our past challenges. It no longer has a tiny, flimsy band aid perched precariously on it. I am dangerously comfortable for the first time in a long time; I am able to rely on my spouse differently because he is home each day. Some days I worry I am growing weak from having him home- that if I do not brace myself for the inevitable next deployment I might fall harder than I ever have before.
When people ask me how we made it through all the past deployments any words I form to capture our trials and errors over those chapters feel like they fall short. One thing I no longer do is sugar coat it. I am honest in saying how hard it was. I am also learning to be honest in sharing the beautiful moments that occurred too. Digging down through the years of deployments reveals not just pain, but stories of strength, triumph, learning hard lessons and deepening friendships. It helps me combat fear with hope.
Finding A Silver Lining
I remember that life went on without our puzzle piece of “daddy and husband” and blossomed into more than only hardship and tragedy. There were multiple moments of comedy- like when a best friend and I went to a restaurant in Honolulu after the zoo. We challenged our luck at a romantic dinner reserved for honeymooners with sticky faced toddlers in the place of missing husbands. The palm trees swayed as we raised our glasses and watched the sun set on another day without our spouses. We laughed at the crumbs flying through the air between us from our rambunctious kids, and we decided to make that day a joy for ourselves.
A friend helped me decorate for Christmas when my pregnant belly brushed the tree. My parents opened up their home for me to stay in for a month when the loneliness became too much. I started writing, I set and accomplished new goals, and my husband and I sent old fashioned love letters via snail mail. Those are just the surface of the many wonderful memories that stemmed from a tough time; it gives me courage to know that we will always find a way.
You Are Never Alone…
There are days on deployments that feel more like surviving than thriving, and while I have fear for what lies ahead for us, my memories of the good times are working to fuel me past the nagging worries. Recently I spoke my fears aloud to my mom and she gave me another shimmering ticket of hope: “we’ll be there. We will figure it out. We always do.” We.
I am not alone in deployments. I never have been and I never will be. I have warriors all around me, and one inside myself that will rise back to the surface with fury. We will figure out each day as it comes.
Until our family receives the word deployment again, I am learning to rest in our ordinary days and delight in them.
Lindsay is a military spouse, mom, and writer. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses. As a former professional dancer you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen whilst also flipping pancakes. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. She’s lived and traveled all over the world but believes there is always more to experience.
Uplifting Anchor: http://www.upliftinganchor.com/