We’ve survived one deployment. It was my first winter ever and I survived with four small kids. He deployed to Kandahar in Afghanistan and it a rough time was had by all.
First deployments are really hard. There are so many unknowns.
Our middle daughter had the hardest time then. We’re all pretty adjusted now, I think.
We’re experiencing our second deployment, beginning in August. We’re older, more mature, better prepared. It’s in a safer area so we’re not as worried this time.
As an introvert married to an extrovert, military life (and regular married life) can sometimes present challenges.
I can play the game and play it well. I can smile and go to the functions and perform, but it exhausts me and I resent it and I prefer not to…so I seldom do it anymore.
We’ve lived on base once and that was enough closeness and lack of privacy for me. I prefer to live as far away from base as he can handle the commute.
Moving every few years is stressful and I tend to close myself up long before we actually leave. It takes me a good while to open up again in our new location. Then it’s time to leave again.
I’m not shy. I don’t have social anxiety. I’m a chameleon. I’m usually quiet but I’m loud in certain circumstances. I am often thoughtful and measure my words and tone.
I notice everything.
I’m an INTJ. Sometimes, life is just really hard.
Most people get married and try to change each other. We were no different. We’ve grown used to our differences and we compromise often. I prefer to stay home or socialize with just a few people, less seldom. I’ve never been into parties or large crowds. I don’t like festivals. I like smaller, quieter celebrations. I like to be alone.
“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” – Aldous Huxley
We don’t have the luxury of playing games.
If someone goes above and beyond for us, we appreciate it and we try to let you know. Expressing gratitude is important to us. Family is far away and we make family everywhere we go.
I appreciate people who have welcomed us, loved us, fed us, befriended us, and helped us at our various homes over the years. Some we have lost touch with, others have passed, and some we are still friends with, if only virtually.
We talk about your impact on our family. We remember.
Grandma Sharon from our church in San Antonio, Texas. She and Liz had a special relationship.
“Big Tori” is still our friend from Hawaii.
Pastor Neal, his wife, Christine, and their son, David, helped shape our faith in Utah. Mr. McMillan from across the street was a surrogate grandpa.
Jenn in Germany – we miss you! Alex still remembers the kindness of Coach Bacon in teeball.
Dale and Ruthann in Ohio. We love y’all.
We have friends all over the world. We are global citizens.
How does an introvert spouse survive deployment?
I’m not one to talk much to others about deployment. I’m pretty private.
Life goes on and if it had been up to me, I wouldn’t have even mentioned the deployment to anyone at all.
I don’t want to ask for help. I don’t want pity. I don’t want small talk.
I don’t want the commander or a key spouse calling me on the phone or stopping by to check on me. That happened during our first deployment and it was so awkward and uncomfortable.
And yes, I’m tired all the time from being “on” constantly. I don’t get any breaks. I go to bed a lot earlier now.
“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.” ~Paul Tillich
Weeks, even months, before the actual deployment, it seems like he’s already left.
Training sessions out of state, late nights of paperwork, medical appointments…it’s a hot mess gearing up for the actual event. He’s stressed about leaving his post and he’s stressed about his new assignment. He’s stressed about traveling there.
We get our paperwork in order. All those legal forms granting me access to everything. Just in case.
He got the cars serviced. He paid for the car tag taxes for two years so I don’t have to deal with that.
His stuff is everywhere. I stub my toe on his bag that’s in my office.
I’m almost anticipating the leaving so I can have some peace and quiet. We pick fights with each in frustration.
I stock up on vitamins, conveniences, and other items he’ll need to pack to take with him. We still forget stuff and I pack up a box the day after he leaves.
Of course he waits until the last minute to get things he needs, like PT pants and contact eye solution.
I got food poisoning from a restaurant two nights before he left. That was a great start to a hard week.
Saying goodbyes are hard. You kinda want to hurry up and get it over with, but it’s like getting kicked in the gut when the gate door closes behind him.
I only get to say goodbye once, but he travels on 4 airplanes, for almost 48 hours. He texts me when he arrives at each layover and when he’s about to board again. He’s stressed, tired, and unable to eat due to nerves. I drop everything to reply to his messages and comfort him, informing on what we’re doing: normal things like eating or cleaning or reading or watching Netflix.
When I got up at 0300 to see him off at the airport gate, my skin hurt by lunchtime. My stomach was in knots by dinnertime – from being so exhausted. I drank lots of tea and took a bath, but I couldn’t hold off any longer and fell asleep by 8:30 PM. I had that luxury of resting when I needed to, but he couldn’t rest well until he arrived at his deployment destination.
The first day of deployment:
I almost forget he’s not at work, a phone call, just 20 miles away.
I spent most of the day planning.
Inventoried the food and made a menu plan for the next two and a half months.
Budgeted for the next year. I plan to pay off the credit card during the deployment. Dang cat surgery and braces for two kids.
Wrote out a homeschool plan for the first month. Ordered some history books – from the library and Amazon.
Organized my book basket. I plan to read them all soon. I have way too many journals.
Gathered old school items to sell and clothing to donate.
Ordered the kids’ Halloween costumes – in August.
The first day alone is surreal. The cats are comforters, lying beside me and in my lap every time I sit down. They know. I drink his Assam tea with lots of sugar in my yellow Aiea, Hawaii, library cup and remember.
I made breakfast and lunch and did dishes and laundry. I look at the time and wonder how early I can start dinner?
“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.” – Paul Tillich
Deployments can be lonely, even for an introvert.
During good times, I think to myself that I won’t trip over his shoes that he leaves all over the house instead of in the shoe racks.
I can be efficient and clean and not have to worry about going back to tidy up his messes.
*There’s so much less laundry.*
I can budget better and easier. I will have fewer utilities, simpler meal planning, efficient errands using less gas.
I’ve given up alcohol. I don’t feel comfortable having a drink when I’m the only adult in the house. No more beer or wine for me. It’s not even in the house. I’ve lost 15+ pounds this month so far. I only have another 5-10 to go before I feel great. I weighed 170 a year ago when we moved to Ohio from Germany, which is the heaviest I’ve ever been – even after I had my C-Section in 2007. Read some of my weight loss methods here.
I don’t have to keep the air conditioner so low since I have the bed all to myself…and the cats.
There are no arguments. I kinda miss having someone to pick at.
I don’t have anyone to open jars.
I don’t use the charcoal grill. Alex is 8 and is in charge of the gas grill. I’m his assistant. I don’t tell him that I know how.
I have no one to rely on for help. All decisions fall to me. I am responsible for everything.
He can’t grab that ingredient I need on his way home from work.
If something goes wrong, it’s all my fault.
How I spend my time each season:
This is probably the busiest time of year. It’s easier when we’re busy.
Chauffeuring the kids to soccer and fall baseball, back to school (even homeschoolers) events, art classes, and other fun field trips to take up those Sunday afternoons that drag on and on…
I’m taking my teen daughter to college classes until she gets her drivers license.
I’m spending most mornings writing. I take walks in the evenings after dinner.
He left on our January anniversary for that first deployment. Thanks, universe.
Have I mentioned that I hate snow? I hate the driveway and sidewalk shoveling…and driving in it. We like being outdoors, but I don’t like the cold.
The holidays are always kinda a drag for me. We don’t have family nearby. The special days don’t feel special. I used to get really anxious about making them perfect, but now they’re rather boring. The kids being older and realizing the commercialism of it all deflates it a bit. Holiday meals will be simpler. I think we’ll celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah the first week of December this year.
Classes are on break and it can get really boring.
He should return before all the spring birthdays next year.
Spring is always my favorite time of year. Rebirth and growing green things and all that. It’s like stretching in the sun after a cold winter.
Baseball season gets us a little busier again.
College courses start up again for my teen daughter. Hopefully, she’ll have her license sometime in winter.
During that first deployment, he returned in July. So summers aren’t really something we have to deal with during deployment.
Summers are usually fun, easy times with late nights and late mornings. We spend a lot of time outdoors.
We do our homeschool work during the days, but we can’t quite get in the swing of things.
We read aloud together in the mornings and evenings.
We take morning and/or evening walks if the weather is nice enough. I’ve been walking 3 miles during my daughter’s soccer practice twice a week. I often walk 1 mile other days, with my cats in their stroller.
It feels like my days revolve around meals more than ever. So much cooking and cleaning. So many dishes. The kids are great and old enough to help out a lot.Having a meal schedule keeps everyone happy right now. My daughters can help out lots in the kitchen now and prep or finish a meal. If you have any delicious slow cooker meals that don’t look like dog food, let me know. I’ve almost exhausted my repertoire.
Soccer practice and slow cooker dinners.
This is our only free day until November, so we cram in as much book work as we can during the day and have nicer dinners.
Baseball practice and slow cooker dinners.
Soccer practice and slow cooker dinners.
Homemade pizza for dinners.
Soccer games and afternoon free play time.
Hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner.
We’ve decided to take a little break from attending church services. We don’t want the pity from people who think they understand. We frequently do a spiritual fast when life gets very hard. We read a lot from the church fathers and modern authors, pray, and sing together.
Baseball games and afternoon free play time.
Chicken nuggets for dinner.
Sickness and Emergency
I do have some anxiety about injury. I’m saying, “Be careful!” to my kids a lot more than I usually do.
I really don’t want an ER visit during deployment so we’re taking vitamins and drinking lots of water and eating well and washing our hands lots.
My almost one-year-old son had some respiratory distress that first winter in Utah, but other than one visit when his lips turned blue, we were all healthy and safe. He didn’t have RSV, by the way.
I’m constantly praying: Be careful. Stay safe. Don’t get hurt. Don’t get sick.
If I get really sick, I know the kids can handle a lot of things. And other than a tummy bug, I can usually push on through.
I kinda loathe the expectation of the homecoming. We don’t make posters. We don’t really want a lot of fuss. The heartwarming surprise videos that go viral on social media give me hives.
Reintegration is hard for me. I don’t want to relinquish control. I like doing things my way.
The kids eventually adjust to the dynamic of having Dad home again.
We just want to get back to normal as quickly as possible.
It will be nice to have a big steak on the charcoal grill again.
You might also like:
- 10 Gifts for a Military Family
- How Deployment Affects Marriage
- How Deployment Affects Kids
- Navigating Motherhood During Deployment
- Homeschooling During Deployment