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Mailbag: "When Does the Pain of Deployment Stop?"

Reader KA is experiencing her first deployment and she feels a little lost. She asks some good questions, but one of them really caught my eye and made me think:

When does the pain of deployment stop? I am a girlfriend of a wonderful soldier and I looked at deployment as a mini-vacation. I could loose weight, focus on the kids, learn new things, work and take time for me! I was even excited thinking the time apart would bring us closer. I was fine the first two weeks, and now I am a wreak. I have read all the comments and am very busy, but there is a hole inside of me. That is the best way I can describe it. I feel like someone has died, but there is was no funeral and no one to talk to about it. I have a battle buddy, but am so sad and cannot talk to her all the time. I feel panicky, anxious, sad, and have no desire to do anything other than make care packages, and write letters.

My question is (he is talking about marriage when he gets back) will I get used to this? Will the pain of deployment ever stop and I can function again? I don't know what to tell my kids. I go through the motions, but I know they can tell something is wrong. I don't know if I should say "Mommie is sad right now?" or pretend this isn't happening to me. Someone being in your life for almost a year and now they are gone is a death in many ways and the MISSING part is emotionally crushing me......HELP! SOS! Thanks for listening I know this is too long:(

[W]ill I get used to this?

That's an interesting question. My answer would be yes. And no. I've had the opportunity to go through three very different deployments. As Sarah says, deployments are like snowflakes, no two are alike. And that is true. Life circumstances play a role, too. It's never a good time to be separated from your partner, but some times are worse than others. However, I think with each deployment, we learn certain coping mechanisms and lessons which help us through any separation. As for the pain, I'm not sure it ever stops, I just think it becomes more manageable with time and experience. Make no mistake about it, all deployments are hard. But for me, I think going through it once helped prepare me for the next time, and the next time.

What say you - Are you "used" to it now? Was the first deployment or long separation more emotionally taxing than subsequent deployments? And you mommies and daddies out there - how do you display or explain your emotions to your children when your spouse is gone? Tips for KA on combating loneliness?

Other similar reads: New Husband, First Deployment. Advice? and When the Family Breaks Down and Nobody Understands.

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