The Other Side of Early Redeployment

Sometimes our fantasy scenarios aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

A few weeks ago my husband returned from his fifth overseas deployment … three months early. This is the first time this has ever happened to our family. Usually, we are the ones whose deployment gets extended.

For most military families, this scenario is a dream come true. We spend hours during a deployment fantasizing that our spouse will get sent home early. Well, at least I do. So when I received an email from my husband stating that he would be on his way home sooner rather than later, I was overjoyed!

But, as it turned out, this was only one of many emotions I had about his early homecoming. And while I am loving having him back with us, these complex emotions continue.

First, I felt un-prepared. I had spent the previous few months getting in the groove of single parenting our girls, and making a sudden transition from single parenting back to our family of four seemed daunting.

Then, there’s the guilt. I liken this to survivor’s guilt. I feel like I left my “battle buddies” in the dust. My neighbor’s husband was on the same deployment, and he still has months to go. I feel bad that my family is whole again, while her family is still missing their husband/father.

There’s also loneliness. This seems like an odd concept considering that the loneliness is supposed to end once your spouse returns. But my loneliness comes from feeling alienated from my girlfriends.

I feel like I have to keep my feelings to myself. I don’t dare talk to my friends about when my husband annoys me, for fear of sounding ungrateful. Believe me, the last thing your friends with deployed spouses want to hear about is how hard it is to have your husband home.

I also feel like I am missing out on my girl time. While he was gone I had Friday night movie dates with my Mom and weekend potlucks with my girlfriends. While I hate deployments, I cherish the extra girl time I get.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change this scenario for the world and I know how fortunate we are. But, the emotions of redeployment and reintegration are always complex regardless of the circumstances.

If you’ve had one, what were your experiences like with early redeployment?

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