So I forgot to post again last week. No excuses, but here’s the thing: the last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle for me. We all know that people only share the happiest and shiniest moments of their lives on the internet.
I now have a bit of a confession to make.
Four and a half months ago, the Fireman was deployed to the Middle East.
Sometimes deployments are portrayed as something of a romantic notion; the soldier goes away and those left behind pine for him until he makes his triumphant return. Great. Except that they always gloss over the every day life that we deal with by ourselves. Remembering to pay the bills. When was the last time I did laundry? Have I vacuumed at all this month?
I’m here to dispel the notions about deployments. Hollywood has lied to you. There is nothing romantic about watching your best friend walk away from you at the airport gate. Nothing about sleeping alone for 6 months. Nothing about coming home to a dark and empty house, night after night. There is nothing romantic about be able to talk to your loved ones sporadically, worrying everyday about their safety.
Grocery shopping can be done almost monthly. The laundry gets put off as long as possible. Sometimes dinner is a box of macaroni and cheese and the dishes stay in the sink for two days. Spiders are trapped under jars.
The novelty of being able to not worry about anyone other than yourself and stay up late and go out with your friends wears off. There’s nothing more that I want right now than to curl up on our couch with the Fireman and watch a movie.
There have been so many instances where I find myself wanting more than ever for him to be home: when his 9 month old nephew giggles; when it’s a lazy Sunday and I want someone to drive around with; when I have a bad day. He isn’t here to partake in my joys nor my sorrows.
Let me repeat: deployments are romanticized. The homecomings are amazing and worth the wait, but the leaving, the first day, the first week, the first month, they all suck. Don’t forget the middle. Don’t forget that you’ll only be able to see your loved one through pictures. You’ll find yourself hungry for snippets of their daily lives. You’ll worry daily about them. Your days will start to blend together, until one day, you realize that you’ve established a new routine that doesn’t involve anyone else.
And when they come home? It’s almost just as hard as when they leave. Suddenly, it’s not just about you anymore. You have someone else to consider. For the first few days, you tiptoe around each other and try not to get in each others way. I mean, we all say that it’s not going to be that way when our person comes home, but really? We’ll do a small dance around each other for the first two days until we can get adjusted to it.
They’re coming home from somewhere so structured that sometimes they’re lost when they’re set free. We’re at a place so unstructured that we can’t remember how long that milk has been in the back of the refrigerator.
It’s hard, but there are some sweet moments. Receiving a text that tells you how much they love and miss and appreciate you. Being asked to Skype because they miss seeing you. Talking; really talking about everything and nothing at the same time. These are the things that keep you going when you think that you can’t do it any longer.
You’ll learn things you never knew about yourself while you’re alone for so long. You’ll find that you really are incapable of killing spiders. You’ll learn you can reupholster a couch by yourself. You’ll find yourself driving around and finding small back roads that beg for exploring. You’ll learn how to be alone & do things by yourself. I’ve traveled by myself, gone on dates alone, & I even learned how to jump my car battery (I mean, I had him on the phone with me, but still).
Deployments suck. You’ll never find someone who enjoys them. I’ve struggled the last few months with a myriad of emotions that have thrown me around. This isn’t an excuse to why why I’ve been scatterbrained and forgetting to post, and blahbitty blah blah, but real life happens. Deployments happen. We can see the end of the tunnel now, but every step there feels like quicksand. Soon enough, he will be home and life will be back to normal, but until then, we’re a world apart.
And of course, a little tip: if you know someone who is dealing with a deployment, offer an ear. A free dinner. A movie night. Even letting them know that you’re around if needed is the biggest thing that you can do. Trust me on this one.
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