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Deployment anxiety is the hardest part of military life as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know a single spouse who doesn’t suffer from it at some point. For some it’s worrisome, for others it can be down right crippling. Sometimes anxiety about another issue is exacerbated by the deployment. Over all, deployments suck.
My First Run in with Deployment Anxiety
My husband proposed to me over Thanksgiving. We’d been together for 4 years and living together for 3… It wasn’t really a surprise to anyone. That same weekend I purchased my wedding gown and my parents put down a deposit on our venue for the following July. I had 8 months to plan my wedding. So I had a little stress to begin with.
In February, my then fiance told me that he’d applied to join an elite unit. While he thought he may be a good candidate, he stressed to me that it was a highly selective process and they may only accept a handful of officers out of hundreds of applicants. As far as Army life goes, you don’t worry about something until it happens. So I didn’t waste another thought on it, I had a reception menu to plan after all!
Then Came March
Mr. CrazyMilspouse came home with the most sheepish look on his face. When I asked him what was up he broke out into a huge grin. He got selected for the elite unit and after a 3 week evaluation, he’d get to don that coveted tan beret. I was over the moon for him! Oh but there was a catch… He left for that 3 week evaluation in 2 days. At the end of the 3 weeks we’d have to move to Fort Lewis… And he’d deploy the first week of June.
So no wedding in July. I now had to move our entire wedding to the last weekend in April. 3 weeks. That’s all I had. We married in a courthouse so that I could be on his PCS orders and deployment orders that had to be cut before our actual wedding. I cried on the phone with the design house that made my couture gown. I agreed to an outdoor cocktail hour with no rain contingency in order to get the date I needed. The job got done, but it was stressful.
That’s When the Nightmares Started
I woke up with sweating palms and a racing heart. I kept telling myself that I was overwhelmed. In a matter of 3 weeks we purchased a flatbed trailer, a car, had 2 weddings, packed everything we owned and we drove from Watertown, NY to Tacoma, WA.
The stress didn’t end once we got to Fort Lewis. I had the first of my many miscarriages while we waited for housing the week before the deployment.
The Doorbell Made Me Want to Throw Up
Once he left, the most banal item in our home became terrifying. I didn’t know anyone yet and I wasn’t working so there wasn’t a valid reason for my doorbell to ring. It crippled me when it rang. Counting to 3 before standing up. I tried to glance out the window to see if I could see a Tahoe or a Crown Vic parked out front. I said a little prayer before turning the doorknob.
You see, my worst fear was a casualty notification delivered by 2 soldiers in their dress uniforms driving a government vehicle. My worries had grown from anxiety to full on paranoia.
Deployment Anxiety Changes but Never Disappears
Mr. CrazyMilspouse deployed many times since then. My pre open the door ritual is still the same. I just do it while quietly asking the kids to play in their room. When I gave birth to my son, Robert, the hubs was away. The doorbell ringing then became about him never getting the chance to meet his father.
I’ve learned that in some ways deployment anxiety is my way of funneling a whole mess of emotions into one definable issue. I’ve planned a wedding, been pregnant twice, delivered a baby, planned a move, purchased homes, and sold cars… all while my husband was overseas. I always have a lot on my plate. My psyche protects itself by focusing on one humongous emotion instead of allowing myself to feel like all the walls cave in. It’s my own crazy coping mechanism.
So cheers to all the spouses out there with their phone in the shower with them, who cry during all the wrong parts of a Cheerios commercial and have way too much on their plates. Homecoming is just around the corner!