I admit I had those thoughts: I hate you Army. You are stealing my memories. You are robbing me of my first year of marriage.
I didn’t think I would be like that. When my husband and I wed and moved to Fort Bliss, we knew that the unit he was currently in had no chance of deployment for a couple of years. So we settled in as newlyweds. Made friends. Set out to enjoy life in El Paso.
Then my husband was transferred to a different unit in order to deploy to Afghanistan with them. I was devastated and scared. As a newlywed, I found myself staring face-to-face with the real world and adulthood entirely on my own. I didn’t even know anyone in the new unit.
I also found myself in complete denial. JRTC felt like my husband was at camp. He wasn’t really going anywhere. He would be home for a few weeks, the Army would change its mind (as it so often does), and I’d have my sweet hubby home forever.
Until the point he actually got on the bus and I actually drove home without him, I still thought he would be walking through our front door at 5:30 that evening. It took me a few weeks to finally realize, Kkay, he is in a war zone, and it won’t be until spring of next year that you will see him again.
The months that he has been gone thus far has been an emotional rollercoaster. I have good days and bad days, as I am sure everyone does. Oftentimes, I find myself having to remember exactly where he is, what environment and living conditions he is surrounded by, but other days I try not to remember, because I fear how anxious and scared it will make me.
What I have found a month in to our first deployment, though, is that I have become so much more extroverted, something I never dreamed would happen to me. You see, I am a very shy, quiet person, a big home-body who keeps to herself. But while GI Joe has been away, I have put myself out there, joined groups I never would have before, had dates with new friends at local restaurants and events. I am trying to be productive and to stay busy.
I am using this deployment not as a time to dwell on what could have been with my husband around, but rather, to focus on how I will better myself and grow as a person, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a wife. It is a unique opportunity given to military spouses: the chance to self-reflect, internally focus, and work on personal growth as an individual. And it is an opportunity we must not take for granted.
I absolutely cannot wait until my partner in crime returns home, don’t get me wrong. But I am also excited at the personal goals I can achieve while he is away. When he gets home, I know his sacrifices—and mine—will be well worth it.
Rebecca Grennon is a twenty-something Army wife living in Fort Bliss,TX. She and her husband are currently experiencing their first deployment as newlyweds.
Why Didn’t You Tell Me is a weekly feature that gives our readers a space to tell their own story. If you have a story for us, please submit using the contact button above. All stories must be original and unpublished.