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How to Emotionally Survive the “Dreaded D-Word”

D word with dog tags

No, not that D-word, the other one…DEPLOYMENT. As a new spouse, you may be a little nervous when it comes to that word. That’s alright, we all are. It’s easy to get lost in all of the feelings and fears that this word invokes. I mean, how could you not feel a small sense of doom when thinking about a deployment and what all it entails? I know I did! And, while I found no shortage of fun crafty countdown ideas or instructions on how to make a stellar care package, I could have used some information on how to protect my heart. I should have had a Pinterest board for that, what was I thinking? Here are some things that I learned on our deployment journey.

KEEP BUSY. As much as you want to throw the covers over your head and hide out for the next X amount of months, resist the urge! Maintaining a routine or schedule is a great way to keep yourself sane (especially if you have kids). Now, I’m not saying it will always be easy, but it will be worth it. It’s ok to have days that seem out of whack, that’s life, but at least try to have something to shoot for. This is a great time to maybe try out that new hobby you’ve been thinking about or hit the gym. Whatever it is that you choose, make sure it makes your heart smile. The goal is to not run yourself ragged, but to keep your mind in its “happy place”. A busy bee is a happy bee!

SURRENDER. Even though we want to stay in a “happy place” the whole time, it’s important to know that it’s fine to wander off sometimes. Give yourself permission to ride the emotional roller coaster that accompanies deployments. You’ll l have some bad days. Don’t be too critical of yourself for letting your emotions take over, it’s not a weakness, you’re just making room for more courage. We can’t expect ourselves to be strong all of the time, that’s just too tall of an order. Sometimes we just have let it out and move on. Tomorrow will be a better day! My suggestion to help curb some of the emotional challenges is to steer clear of watching the news. That can send you off into some deep, dark places that are hard to get out of. It’s important for friends and family to know that they also don’t need to report what they see or hear to you.

LEAN ON ME. All together now…you know you were singing it as you read it! But, really this is crucial. Recognize when you need your support system. Just like the song suggests, swallow your pride and borrow some faith from your friends. That’s what they are there for, right? In a perfect world we would all have lives full of amazing people willing to be there when we need them. Unfortunately, that just isn’t a reality for everyone. If you find yourself in that situation, it’s important that you know as a military spouse you also have a built in support system. Make sure before your spouse deploys that you have a point of contact within your spouse’s chain of command, information on your installations family center and a phone number for your Key Spouse or Ombudsman. You have a whole team of people to lean on! Feeling alone can be one of the most challenging aspects of a deployment, so reach for help when you need it.

Spouses are an invaluable part of the military and together we are one!

Dana Bretz

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