TDY/Deployed Paradox

When your spouse leaves for work, it's difficult.  That's just a fact.  In the military life, it seems to happen more often or for greater periods of time.  One of the reasons to make at least a few military spouse friends, is so that you have someone to talk to.  Someone who can empathize.  Our families and friends outside this life are wonderful people, who are compassionate to our struggles.  But most of them don't actually understand exactly how it feels.

[Yes, I recognize there are lots of non-military jobs that require travel/time away from family. This is not exclusive of those things, I just know I cannot possibly list all the people who understand. Consider yourself counted.]

So you have a need sometimes to reach out to another person.  A we're-in-the-same-boat kinship.  Most people who don't experience this are great cheerleaders throwing out 'hang in there!'; 'stay strong!'; and 'you can do this!'.  Which is great.  But we know those things.  Sometimes you need someone you can call/text saying "I made the effort with the kids to stop and get a fountain diet coke for myself while we were out today and H just knocked it off the table spilling it everywhere and now my day is RUINED!!!"  And mean it.  Because they won't look at you and think 'gosh you're being dramatic'.  They will know that you've been struggling and holding it together and yes that little thing has the completely reasonable potential to explode and ruin a day. 
It's not the actual coke that's the problem - although maybe a little bit because fountain pop is the best and you can agree or gtfo.  It's that everything is more difficult when you  have child(ren) in tow.  And that your support is not coming home in a few hours where (s)he could stop and get you a new one.  One with pellet ice from the one particular gas station because the nearest Sonic is like 10 miles away and (s)he knows just how much the ice type makes a difference to you.  And then you realize you're all alone.  Sure you have friends and activities and you get through.  But you are alone managing tantrums, baths, fights over food, etc.  You are missing your partner. 

But there's the other side of it.  The 'I have it worse'/'others have it worse' part of the human condition.  The very first night of the very first TDY in this series of them I had dinner with two others who were spouseless.  One for a term of 2 months, the other 4.  I had been at it for one day and was scared out of my mind -- this was the first time he'd left since having both kids.  But I found myself scared to talk about my feelings.  If there was real or perceived side-eyeing I don't know, but I felt strongly of WHO THE HELL AM I TO COMPLAIN ABOUT TWO WEEKS???  So the very people who were likely to get it, who were going through the same thing at the same time, intimidated me to talk to.  How can I say anything other than, "well at least it's such a short time, I'm sure it's so much harder for you"?

There it is.  The very people you want to complain to are the exact same who you feel you have no right to complain to.

But the thing is, someone always has it worse.  As Holly & I like to say "at least we're not on shit ship".  Perspective and staying positive are good things.  But if you're constantly thinking about who has it worse than you, you're not taking time to recognize and acknowledge your feelings.  Which are valid.  Sometimes, it doesn't matter that people are starving and the earth is dying.  Whether your spouse is just on a crappy shift or gone for months, it sucks.  And you can say it sucks.  Cry, yell, complain, get your emotions sorted through somehow.  And then, by instinct or learned behavior, you do what every one of us knows how to do -- keep plugging along. 


  1. I think having people around who will just let you complain is super important - without any judgment that your problem isn't a "real problem," without saying that they/someone else has it worse, and without telling you to just suck it up. Also, I would always agree that someone knocking over my fountain diet coke is a total day ruiner.


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