Deployment: 10% Down

My deployment donut of doom has some good news: this deployment is 10% dunzo! 10% done feels pretty good, but I’m also daunted by how much of that damn donut is still red.

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Deployment? There’s an app for that.

They say that every deployment experience is different, that just because you’ve done it before doesn’t make it easier, that experience doesn’t mean you’ll know what to expect. Although we are only 10% in to deployment #2, so far, I’d say that’s pretty accurate. I find myself left and right saying sentences that start with, “last time…” “during the last deployment…” “deployment number one…” and every other incarnation of the phrase. I can’t help but compare my experience with the first deployment to this one.

Last time, the deployment was 11 months+. This time, the deployment will only be 9 months.

Last time he went straight from Basic to deployment. Out of 18 months from January 2011 – July 2012, we only spent 8 weeks together, not consecutive. You’d think a shorter deployment would mean an easier deployment, at least on my end. I don’t think that’s going to be the case, though. I can’t help thinking that 9 months doesn’t sound that long. Eventually, I will realize just how long 9 months is, and I anticipate a rude awakening.

Last time Stephen spent the first half in the TOC before joining a line company on a COP (a more remote, dangerous location). This time he’s on a big FOB (aka safe) but regularly making trips outside the wire (less safe).

When Stephen finally got off the FOB and into the fray, he was so excited. It was his dream, it was why he enlisted. I, on the other hand, freaked out. At one point, I hadn’t heard from him in far longer than usual, and I was convinced something had happened. I was paralyzed by fear. I had put together a care package for him that I refused to send because I had convinced myself that he had been killed and it would just get returned to me. A tad mellow dramatic perhaps, but when your spouse is being shot at, that’s a real possibility. I spent the entire second half of that deployment feeling very fragile.

This time around, the danger is still there, but it seems to ebb and flow with his work schedule. Of course, something could happen to him even in the safest of locations, but for the most part, I don’t worry as much. I finally realized how much is out of my control and my internal worry spigot shut off.

At the sendoff. I didn't cry this time - that was definitely different.

At the sendoff. I didn’t cry this time – that was definitely different.

Last time I got phone calls. This time we talk online.

This is an improvement. I loved it when Stephen would call me. Hearing his voice unexpectedly was always like the sun shined a little brighter just for me. But it wasn’t really convenient. If he called, I wanted to answer and talk to him, but if I was busy, he didn’t want to talk. A few times he called me while I was teaching and while I was running (even during a race once), and I answered. I think it left us both frustrated.

This time around we message each other online or talk via Skype. It also helps that he has internet in his room, which he didn’t have last time. I don’t have internet on my phone, but that’s probably better. No more trying to talk when really we can’t but we want to try to anyway, as was the case last time.

Last time I had a full time job and my family nearby. This time I’m working part-time and my family is a day’s drive away.

As busy as I’ve been, I wish I was busier. I’m already thinking about finding a volunteer gig or a seasonal job to work during the summer. There won’t be any student teachers to monitor, and I’ll have too much time on my hands.

I also wish my mom and I could just randomly get together like we did before. She (and my mother-in-law and my friends) really kept my spirits lifted last time. It wasn’t even always deployment related; it just felt nice to be able to talk to people who knew me so well. I’m making strides at building more friendships here, but nothing replaces having your family close.

Last time I was an Army wife in a sea of civilians. This time I’m living near an Army post.

I felt really alone last time. I was surrounded by people who had no idea what my experience was like, or (in some cases) my experience was completely invisible to them. Like the coworker who told me, “oh, it’s going by so fast,” when I updated her on how much of the deployment was already done. It sure didn’t feel fast to me.

I thought living near Fort Bliss would make all the difference, but it hasn’t. I’m certainly enjoying the perks of Army life with weekly visits to the library and free yoga classes at the gym. Otherwise, it’s not that different. We haven’t had an FRG meeting since the guys left, I still don’t know any of the wives in our company (Stephen swapped companies 10 days prior to leaving), and most of my friends here have their men home. But, it is nice being able to talk with people who really get it. Julie has been a life saver in this respect. Even when we don’t talk about it, it’s nice to know that I’m not so alone.

Reunited in July 2012. This time I'll be present for the full Army she-bang. I'm very excited about that part!

Reunited in July 2012. Last time I couldn’t be there when Stephen’s unit returned from Afghanistan (since they returned to Germany). Our reunion was at a Dallas airport baggage claim. I’m very excited about being present for the whole hooah Army welcome home ceremony this time.

In the end, it’s a lot of trade-offs. Some things were better before (like having my family close) and some things are better now (our communication). What’s really better this time is my handle on my emotions. I still miss him (duh) and feel sad at times, but I feel like I do a better job of not letting those emotions run me into the ground. Maybe it’s because I’m so mature (sarcasm).

10% done, 90% (boo) to go.

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13 thoughts on “Deployment: 10% Down

  1. Well, hooray for some progress in turning that red donut green. It’s funny how being separated frequently will skew your idea of how long a long time is. Nine months is way better than twelve, yet many non military wives I know confess they fall apart if their husbands are gone for a week. Knowing that your husband is safe makes deployment much easier to handle; Craig has always been in relatively safe situations, but during the last deployment he started having to take airplane flights several times a week and he made the mistake of telling me the airplanes were really old. Ugh. As long as I got an email from him each day, I was ok, but the whole flying thing caused a lot of anxiety. It’s funny you mention the taking via the internet vs the phone; we found email and messaging much easier with the time difference and if and when Craig did call (which was infrequently) we’d have nothing to say because I had just told him EVERYTHING in our many emails. So, anyway…..here’s to the next 90% flying by.

    • Old airplanes are definitely no bueno. I’m a little skiddish myself when it comes to flying. (Note to self: don’t watch the movie Flight right before a really long flight. Scarred for life.)

      9 feels so much more manageable. I think we got lucky too in that he won’t miss many holidays. I remember that last time Thanksgiving was super hard to do alone. I imagine it’d be worse this time since I’m not near my family. I’m really glad we dodged that bullet.

      • One of those old airplanes crashed in Afghanistan not too long ago. Airplanes are cool when they’re on the ground, and when I’m not in them. Otherwise? No bueno. I do not watch airplane movies because they freak me out. Planes fly over us all day long (commercial and military) and sometimes I wonder if one will just fall out of the sky.

        The holidays are extra hard, so it’s so wonderful that you won’t be apart for any of the big ones. Since Caroline was around for all three deployments (I was pregnant on 9/11 so before that, Craig was never gone) it was better because I was never alone for holidays….BUT….parenting through deployments adds an extra layer of stress in other areas, so I don’t know what is better.

        You’re earning your tough chick stripes, that’s for sure!

  2. It is kind of scary sometimes how similar our lives are…

  3. I can’t believe it’s 10% done. That’s a good start!

    Dangerous situations definitely up the ante. I’ll be praying for Stephen’s safety and your sanity! :)

    Are you wearing your pin every day like you did last time?

    Why hasn’t the FRG gotten together? What’s up with that?!?

    • They had an FRG function on Valentine’s Day, but it wasn’t a meeting. I’m one of the rare few who enjoy going to meetings. I want the info, ya know. Maybe there just hasn’t been much to say?

      I still wear the pin everyday. Not when I go to the gym, but everywhere else. Gotta represent!

  4. ugh that really sucks! I get anxious when Eric is on his 24-hour shifts that alternate one day on, one day off for ten days. It can get rough sometimes so I’m sure a 9 month deployment is no fun AT ALL, but i really can’t even begin to imagine

    • Your situation sounds pretty tough, too. At least with deployment, I can get in a groove and a rhythm while he’s gone. I don’t do change well, so the on/off would drive me bonkers.

  5. Yay for 10% down!!! You’re rocking this so far. I think I used the same app, and it gave me the option to change the colors.. so I made it purple and teal, haha. Like I told you, we spent 2 years living apart with several visits, but it didn’t make this deployment any easier. I think every separation has its own characteristics like you talked about. I hope it goes by fast for you!! I know it’s cliche, but I sincerely mean it.

    • I’m fairly certain that at one point, our donuts of doom must have been the same but flip-flopped. It might be cliché, but I never get tired of people wishing me a fast deployment! I will say that the first 10% flew by. I think having the race helped big time. Talk about a major distraction, right. My next goal is to make it to 25% feeling good.

      And I know I said it on facebook already, but a huge welcome home to your husband! I hope you are spending all your free time running, and snuggling, and catching up!

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