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Deployments are tough—there is no way to sugar coat it. Being the spouse of a National Guard member, deployments are something that I never really thought about. I always assumed that they were something that happened to other people—people who were much better equipped to handle them.

But sure enough, I was wrong.

I feel like I blinked and found myself fist deep in a tub of cookie dough, crying, because my husband was being deployed. I read countless books and articles, and I played out thousands of scenarios in my head as to what it would be like. I thought about things, like missing out on celebrating holidays and special events, and the fact that I now would have to take out the trash and take the dog out late at night (my two least favorite chores).

I worried so much about all of the challenges that I was going to have to face, and it wasn’t until now that I can reflect back on this time and realize that there are so many positives that have come from this experience.

When I think about myself pre-deployment, I can’t believe some of the things that I complained about.

I complained I was tired from spending too much time with family and friends.

I complained that my husband left his dirty dishes in the sink.

I complained that I didn’t know what I wanted to eat at night.

I complained when plans got cancelled.

I am embarrassed now at these complaints. I am so thankful that my husband’s deployment acted as a reset. A reset of my mind, my attitude, and my priorities.

Now, I’d give anything to have him next to me to watch a movie with, even if it wasn’t the movie I wanted to watch.

I’d give anything to have a sink full of dirty dishes, because that meant that we were able to share a meal together.

It’s funny how complacent we can become and take things for granted.

I also underestimated how well we would learn to communicate during his deployment.

I envisioned our phone calls to be the same as when he was home. I didn’t realize that when he is home, all of the important conversations we have are in person, where we can comfort each other, read each other’s expressions and body language, and dedicate 100% of our attention to the topic at hand. It never crossed my mind how different this would be when he was away.

Trying to talk about important things while losing service every five minutes and one of us is at work and the other has been up for 18 hours and is exhausted is a whole new way to communicate.

Not being able to read the other person’s body language or facial expressions force you learn to choose your words carefully and with purpose. This is not something that is easily taught, but I really think that, over time, having to do this has made our communication nearly bulletproof. This would not have happened if we weren’t put in this situation.

The last major realization I had during my husband’s deployment is that sometimes I have to learn to lose control.

I have to learn to be able to live my life without micromanaging every aspect.

I learned to be able to function during the workday if I have a sick patient, while simultaneously being worried if I haven’t heard from my husband that day.

I have learned to sleep at night without being able to say goodnight to my husband.

I have learned to have faith and let go things that are out of my control. This was one of the hardest parts of the deployment by far, but I know this will benefit me in every aspect of my life in the future.

I am proud and thankful that our marriage will have endured a deployment. I am so thankful for the lessons that I learned and the ways that we have grown while being apart. And I am so proud of my husband for everything he does and continues to do.

But most of all, I am proud that my husband’s military career will positively impact the way we raise our children. Looking at this deployment through a brighter lens has made me so grateful for the journey.

Like this topic? You may be interested in Military Spouses are Uniquely Equipped to Handle a Pandemic and The Emotional Toll.

Author

  • Sarah Darnall

    Sarah Darnall is a born and raised South Jersey girl from a big family. She moved to upstate New York after finishing her graduate degree to pursue her dream job as a surgical Physician Assistant. It wasn’t long after her move that she met her better half, Manny, who proudly serves in the Army National Guard. Together they have a lab/Australian shepherd mix named Buck. Sarah still works as a surgical PA, and in her spare time she loves exercising and traveling. But above all else, Manny and Sarah love spending time with family and hope one day to have a big family of their own.

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Supporting Our Military Children

Supporting Our Military Children

One thing that has been most important to me, as a military spouse, is figuring out how to best do this life while supporting our children with the changes and difficulties. When my children were very small, there were many times that my husband was away, and I had to parent my children alone.

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