During a first deployment, some spouses, partners and MilSOs are a little more worried than they like to admit. I personally was convinced that the Perfect Storm would flip a Navy cruiser like a Triscuit and turn it the whole deployment into The Poisedon Adventure.
I was sure that The Little Mermaid would pop out of the sea and steal my husband. I wasn't quite as terrified as my girlfriend whose husband was going to a school in Kansas and she was afraid The Wizard of Oz would sweep him away (true story). But I confess that just knew that political unrest would appear out of nowhere, the Yankee Army would eat every chicken I owned, and our entire relationship would be Gone With The Wind.
Clearly, I watch entirely too much TV.
Still, I feel for those who are feeling a little anxious about going through deployment for the first time. Here are the things every first timer ought to know that no one can really tell you:
1. You are going to be fine. Before a deployment begins, it stretches in front of you like a year of impossibilities. You cannot even think about Christmas without crying. That’s OK. Just because you can’t imagine it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Like countless generations of military spouses before you, you will get through this time apart. Those women and men who have gone before you had no particular abilities or strengths that you don’t already have. Go to your local commissary and look around. We military folks are normal people who do what we have to do -- just like you.
2. Your servicemember is going to be fine. Yes, I know people die during deployment. I know they get injured. I know some of them see and do things that change them forever. But I also know that there is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent any of that.
If you are going to have a long relationship with someone in the military, you cannot focus on the worst case scenario now. If you start worrying before anything (read: combat) really happens, you will never make it. Statistically, your servicemember is most likely to deploy, do the job they were trained to do, and then come home. Know it. Believe it. Keep moving forward. (If your servicemember really is going on a dangerous deployment read this)
3. No one can make you believe this but you. Remember how in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy has the ability to get back to Kansas the minute she straps into those ruby red slippers? When the Scarecrow wants to know why someone didn’t just mention that fact to D before she had all that biz with the flying monkeys and the witch melting, Glinda the Good says: Because she wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Deployment is just like that. You and your servicemember have to go through it yourselves before you know you can do it. We just want you to understand that the rest of us are here for you -- with our brains and hearts and courage -- rooting for you the whole way.