Avoiding alcoholism while surviving pre-deployment

Jul 16, 2015 by

Avoiding alcoholism while surviving pre-deployment

Just googled “How to not strangle your husband in the weeks leading up to deployment”. No results.

We’ve been here before, in this limbo before leaving, and it makes us both a bit crazy. One would imagine that you’d start to get used to it, when you’re preparing for trip #4 in a three year time frame, but it doesn’t get any easier even when you know what to expect. It usually begins right when your brain realizes that your spouse is getting ready to leave in 11 weeks, 10 weeks, 9, 8, 7…..the mental countdown that you can’t admit out loud you are already hearing in your heart. Then, you realize you only have so many more weekends, so many more nights in the same bed, so many more date nights and walks with the dog and you want each and every one of those moments to be as perfect and love-filled as possible.  (Spoiler Alert: That perfect and love filled part doesn’t happen.)

Emotions can be unpredictable during this time. I don’t know what it is about preparing for deployment that makes my brain explode, but at the moment, every time I see my soldier I want to sock him square in the face with my fist…or something harder. Everything he does right now is the definition of annoying. (I know what you’re thinking: “How can she be like that with her husband about to leave to risk his life for American freedoms and she thinks he’s annoying!? What is wrong with her!?) The truth of the matter is, that counting down to the inevitable separation is horrible. His things are tossed all over the house in various stages of packing, lists are being made of the way too many things left to do before he’s gone, the stress is immeasurable. So yes, sometimes I do have the strong desire to high-five my hubby, in the face….. but other times I just want to hold on to him and never let him go. Pre-deployment angst is making me nuts.

The short version is: knowing that the love of your life is about to leave for the other side of the world is really, incredibly, emotionally difficult. No matter how many times you’ve endured it before. And he’s no ray of golden sunshine either. The emotions he faces as he gets ready to leave are equally daunting and cause some serious behavioral and personality changes in him as well.

I spoke to a few of my milspouse friends recently about it, just briefly mentioning that we were a tiny bit stressed at our house, to which they all replied “it’s normal”,  and “just hang in there”…well, it may be normal, but it still sucks, ok?

But I remember the last time, and I do know that if I “just hang in there” this phase will pass. Because it seems to come and go in phases.

Phase 1: Imaginary Normal

This is where we pretend that there is no trip looming on the horizon. We may know the approximate dates and maybe even have a quick conversation about how we really ought to get the deck stained before he leaves, but we go on pretending that nothing has changed. Sometimes, in the back of my mind, I even pretend that there was a little mistake and someone ELSE was supposed to get those orders…imaginary. This is the easy part. The part where you brain can go on believing that life isn’t about to change again.

Phase 2: Anxiety, Angst, and Homicidal Feelings

This is where we are now. When there is no more pretending. There’s stupid arguments and stress. There’s an empty tuff box in the living room waiting to be filled, and the idea of the impending loneliness is constantly in the back of our minds. We fight a little more than we are used to, and spend quiet alone time, maybe preparing ourselves for the alone time that we know is about to come. I can’t help the thoughts that creep into my head at all hours of the night, keeping me awake: “How is this happening again so soon? I don’t want to do this.”

Phase 3: List Making

This comes next and often much closer to the actual leaving day. (Maybe we should start it now though because it really does help us both to manage some of the anxiety).  We both start to make separate lists. I usually have two: Things that need to get done or be purchased before he leaves, and Things that I will do after he has gone. He generally makes packing lists. We dive head first into these lists with single-minded determination, believing that as long as every item gets checked off the list then everything else is going to be fine.

Phase 4: The Guilt Ridden Horrible Wife Days

You know what I’m going to say here, I know you do. “The sooner he’s gone the sooner he can come back”…. “I wish he’d just get out of here so I can get on with my life.”….”If he would just leave already then I could figure out how to cope with this.”  I get to the point where the endless waiting gets the best of me and I truly just want him to leave. (NO OF COURSE I DON’T ACTUALLY WANT HIM TO LEAVE!) (Ok, maybe sometimes I do.) I can create a good and solid routine for my life when he’s deployed, but these long days waiting for him to deploy are painful and crazy and once he’s gone life will get back to normal. And then, I catch myself thinking those things and I am overcome with guilt.  And I feel so guilty that I cook him his favorite meals and I dig out the sexy night gowns and I try really hard to be positive and happy… and I know he feels guilty too, because he secretly wants to get on with his mission as well. I know this because he buys the super sized bags of dog food and carries them in for me so that I won’t have to while he’s gone.

7 Phases of PreDeployment   www.lovetheeveryday.com

 

Phase 5: The Honeymoon

Somewhere in there, in the last few days before he leaves we always have one really awesome day. I call it the last best day, I think I read that in a book somewhere. (You never know when the last best day is going to be so you don’t get to admire this day until after he’s left).  We remind each other that we are on the same team and that we can do this. We hold hands and kiss a lot. And it’s nice. I like to look back on this day when I’m feeling particularly self-piteous in the next phase.

Phase 6: Wallowing

This phase comes after. After the goodbyes and the hugs and the dropping off. This starts for me the moment I turn the door knob into my now eerily empty home. This is important, because if I’m not careful I will start to wallow before he even leaves. I’ll find myself feeling bad for myself about his leaving, and he’ll still be sitting there on the couch with me. (Don’t do this). I give myself a week to wallow, to drink too much and to eat ice cream right out of the carton for dinner, or breakfast, or whatever. I let myself wear his t-shirts to bed and I cry. Then, it’s game one.

Phase 7: Rock it

I realize that this is not technically pre-deployment but as we struggle through these pre-deployment weeks it is important for me to remember that this phase is on the horizon. This is the phase where I become a superhero, rock star and kick Deployment’s butt. My super-hero-ness isn’t polished like some of the amazing milspouses I know, but it’s pretty damn good. This is the part where you suddenly are able to do everything that needs to be done, which used to take two people, but now can be done (awesomely) by one. This is where I learn how to balance life again, make it to Ladies Night, attend church on a regular schedule, head to the gym, kick butt at work and remember to pay the mortgage on time. (Of course there will be those moments when you forget to take out the trash on trash day that reduce you to tears, but that’s for another post, this one is about being a rock star).

 

Because it is hard to deal with the snapping at each other, which seems to get worse with every passing day...but I am an Army Wife, and I can do this. (And so can you.) Click To Tweet

I have faith that God will see us through this trying time, as well as guide us through the impending deployment…but that doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with it. I’m imperfect. I struggle to be a good wife and to be an encouragement to my husband during this time. This is a learning process, no matter how many times we’ve been through it before.

 


You can find this post linked up here and here. Check out the links for access to some really excellent bloggers. <3

 

7 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Good Morning Mondays. You are amazing and I am in awe of how you handle your husband going away to fight for his country. I hear your pain but also your humour. May God bless you as you both work your way through this. Blessings

  2. Brye Steeves

    Hi Molly, Great blog. I have a question for you (I am also a military wife!). How can I contact you? Thanks, Brye Steeves

  3. Brye Steeves

    Hi Molly,

    I am also a military wife and I wanted to contact you to see if I can mail you a free copy of a children’s book I wrote for you to review on your site/ social media.

    Here is the link to my book on Amazon (I’m legit!):
    http://www.amazon.com/Daddy-Flies-Brye-Butler-Steeves/dp/1515014061/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1442458268&sr=8-2&keywords=daddy+flies

    “Daddy Flies” is a children’s book for 2-5 year olds about a smart girl named Katie, who uses her little-kid logic to figure out what her dad does at work every day. Her predicament is believable for children and amusing for parents. It’s

    pages with full color illustrations and rhyming prose.

    Please let me know where I can mail you a copy.

    Looking forward to hearing from you!
    Brye Steeves

    daddyfliesbook@gmail.com

    • Hey Brye,
      I love that you have a book to review! However, you must understand that I don’t feel comfortable just sending my mailing address out to strangers. Do you have a digital copy I could read?

  4. Thank you for sharing your story with us! It is so inspiring

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