CONTRIBUTED BY STACI HAWLEY
Deployments are difficult. There is no other way to put it. I don’t think one quite knows how they are going to handle it until they face it- dead on. Sometimes it’s the lonely Sundays. Other times it’s seeing a family together hanging out that gets to you. Or if you or your family gets sick- and it’s all on you. Not fun. So, sometimes my mind forgets details. Especially this deployment.
Case in point: just ordered our Christmas photo cards and spelled my son’s name wrong. Forgot to put oil in my car (the smell alerted me). Lost my sapphire engagement ring. It just happens when you have too many things on your plate.
Our lovely Meredith chronicled all of the emotions surrounding deployments. The waiting to leave (usually arguing), the absence (sad) and the ever-anticipated and sometimes awkward adjustment when they come home (sometimes I get a little cocky here…I’ve managed quite well on my own- don’t need your 2 cents thank you-attitude). It’s all confusing. I can see the skeptical emotion (above) on my son’s face. While excited, he is a little bewildered and confused at the return of Daddy.
But then I come across someone who has it far more difficult than I, and they inspire me. Friends who have spouses in war zones. Spouses gone for six months at a time. Or newbies to the island, who are suddenly left to forage for themselves in a new land and a new lifestyle. So for those of us here who might be struggling (especially facing the holidays)- lend some heartfelt advice.
If I was a “normal human”, phone calls to the states and the community of a church would keep me grounded. But here’s what works for me:
1. Plastic cutlery/plates (why not?)
2. Eating popcorn for dinner
3. Buying senseless clutter at the Marine thrift shop
4. Renting Danielle Steele movies on Netflix- they always wrap up nicely at the end
5. Leaving my car a pig-sty
But you are a resourceful, intelligent group. Far more insightful than any AFN commercial, and my mere one year experience with deployment life. What helps you keep afloat when times get rough? (silly or serious)
* How do you cope?
* When things get rough, what do you do to take care of yourself?
* What advice do you have to those who face long deployments?
* How is the expectation different from the reality?
* Any special things you do to help your kids cope? (my son loved touring the ship- thought the prison-like bed was COOL…which made me sad for some reason??)