My Love’s first deployment was a first for both of us. It was the first time I actually felt like a MilSO – He was actually gone, and I was The Girl Back Home.
Looking back, here are a few things I learned:
I can Achieve my Goals: In order to keep my mind occupied and avoid constant worry, I set a few personal goals. One of those goals was to write to my love every day. I wrote at least one entry per day to tell him about anything fun that happened, and remind him of my love (I also included Chinese fortunes, pictures, movie tickets, etc.). Then, upon his return, I gave my Love a notebook full of all the experiences I had while he was gone. By reading it he was able to experience those things with me in a way. By accomplishing this goal, I learned that I can do whatever I set my mind to. I also learned that just because my Love is gone, doesn’t mean my life completely stops; it continues at a daily pace, just like it had while he was here. Meanwhile, I can still advance, thrive, and succeed. Ultimately, becoming a better me while he’s away.
An Email can Mean the World: I’ve never looked forward to an email as much as I did while he was deployed. Typically, I received an email once a day and it honestly was the highlight of my day! However, there were also days when the Ship’s internet was out of service, so I didn’t hear from my Love at all. On those days, I still sent my Love a “daily update” because I know he was looking forward to emails just as much as I was. Side Note: You cannot send photos via email… I tried, my Love couldn’t open any attachments. I learned that during deployment it really is the small things (like a simple email) that matter most.
Trust the Process: With the US Postal System, something I have always valued about their service was the ability to track my packages. However, when sending a package to the Ship, it takes time, and you can only track things up until they go into the hands of the Military. After that point, tracking isn’t an option (for obvious safety reasons). I sent my Love a 4th of July care package, and it made it to him a little late (despite me sending it early), but I was happy it made it to him at all. (He did tell me about one of their mail bags going overboard so I was a little concerned). Just relax and trust the system. It all works out in the end.
I will Wait as Long as I have to: For Him. I can’t say that I would do this for anyone else. But for my Love, I would wait a hundred years as long as I knew that he would return to me safely. About halfway through his Deployment, my Love shared some disheartening news. He told me he probably wouldn’t be able to come home until around Christmas time due to some delays. Although this was sad news for both of us, I tried to stay as positive as possible. I reminded him that I would wait as long as I had to in order to see him again. In the end, it came down to a total of 195 days that I had waited… Just over half a year. I was very grateful to be able to see him in October instead of having to wait until December (although it was also bummed to spend the holidays without him). Regardless, I learned that the waiting game is best played one day at a time.
I am Strong: In the end, my Love’s first deployment strengthened me. It showed me that I am capable of what this lifestyle demands. Being a MilSO involves many challenges, this was just one of them. I realize that many more will arise as I continue on this journey with my Love. But I also realize that I am capable of facing those challenges head on and making the best of this lifestyle.
As a Couple, we can make it through Anything: His first deployment also strengthened our relationship. Of course it was difficult at times, but we made it through. Because of our determination and resilience, (as well as our commitment to each other) we will be able to succeed in any other challenges that come our way.
Have you experienced a deployment yet?
What did you learn from the experience?