Saturday, September 18, 2010

Emotional Stages of Deployment

A workshop that my friend, who is married to a marine, works at discusses the emotional stages of deployment. I highly recommend this workshop if you are stationed on a marine base. They have classes for spouses, Navy wives, parents and kids. The list is taken straight from their textbook and is just a generalized list of emotions that may be experienced.

1. Anticipation of Loss
- Ignore or deny that deployment will actually happen.
- Fantasize that something will happen so your spouse does not have to leave.
- Difficulty accepting the reality of leaving.
- Crying at unexpected things.
- Increased tensions that could causes arguments.
- Need to get all the "projects" done.
- Difficulty with intimacy.
- Feelings of anger, frustration and emotional distance between couples.

2. Detachment and Withdrawal
- Sense of despair.
- Feeling that the marriage is out of control.
- Making decisions is difficult.
- Withdraw into yourself by not sharing emotions.

3. Emotional Disorganization
- Relief that the "goodbye" part is over, but feeling guilty for the relief.
- New routines develop, but overwhelmed by all the new responsibilities.
- Sleeping is difficult due to loss of security and the spouse.
- Anger towards your spouse for not staying and made at the military for making them go.

4. Recovery and Stabilization
- Comfortable and capable of all your new roles.
- Able to reach out for support.
- Feeling of self confidence and independence.
- Going through the "my" syndrome.

5. Anticipation of Homecoming
- Compile a list of things to do before your spouse comes home.
- Excitement and anticipation of the return.
- Questions of "Does he/she still love me?"
- Changing the house to reflect an "our" house feeling.
- Start changing patterns back to the way they were before your spouse left.

6. Renegotiation of the Marriage Contract
- May feel a loss of independence.
- Start being a "married" spouse again.
- Share roles, responsibilities, and decisions.
- A feeling of too much togetherness.
- Hesitation towards intimate relations.
- Falling in love again!!

Sounds like a roller coaster! I think I'm going through Stage 1 right now because I recognize two emotions. There are so many things I want to do and get done before he leaves. I have to remember that we will have plenty of time when he gets back. I just passed the part where I start to cry at unexpected things. Glad that's over! I was starting to think I was pregnant for a minute there. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Lesson

          My Husband and I have just had our first lesson together about deployment. It is called "Life Doesn't Stop Just Because Your Preparing For and Enduring One of the Most Challenging Trials of a Military Marriage." 
          We had just finished our pre deployment leave, visited family and friends while enjoying some much need time off. The Sunday night before he had to return to work, we were lying in bed about to go to sleep talking about how strange it felt that things were about to be back to normal. Our everyday routine was about to start again and it felt good. We were about to go to sleep in our own bed, at an acceptable time, wake up early and start the day with our jobs and daily chores. Returning to our average, normal, everyday life felt strangely relaxing. Don't get me wrong, we love the time we had to spend with our family and friends, the days where we could just do whatever we wanted at whatever time we wanted. The endless hours we had together during his time off was just what we needed. 
         We woke up the next morning feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to go. Husband had been at work for about 30 minutes and I was getting dressed and ready when he received a phone call from the hospital where his father was recovering from surgery. They were preforming CPR and it didn't look good. They called him back about thirty minutes later and told him the devastating news. I ran out of the house mid-shower and rushed over to his office. I expected that as soon as I showed up I would whisk him away back to the comfort of our house. But when I got there he said he needed to stay and finish up some business. 
*Reality Check* 
          He still had a job to do. He hadn't been to work in three weeks and before that he was at a career course for two months. He hadn't been in his office for more than three days in almost 3 months. He couldn't just drop what he was doing and go crawl back in the bed with me no matter how bad he felt. He had to make sure his job got done and got done right for the sake of the mission. He finally came home around 1500 (3:00). The next morning we drove 12 hours to his home. The next two weeks after that were spent taking care of his father's final arrangements and tying up loose ends. If you have ever been in this situation you know that two weeks is hardly enough time, but we did the best we could and it worked out. 
         Since his dad's passing we have tried to focus on things that we are grateful for in this situation. There aren't many but the few there are have kept us going. First we are beyond grateful for the understanding of his command. This has probably provided the most comfort for us, because of the support he has in his unit. They told him to take the time he needed and while he was gone, he received maybe one phone call from work. The other thing we are grateful for is the timing. Though there is never a good time, we are glad that it wasn't while he was deployed. This situation could have been much harder and much more complicated to deal with if he was on the other side of the world, with limited leave (if any at all). Another thing we are grateful for, though strange maybe, is the people we met during this process. Everyone we dealt with, from the funeral home, to the Probate court (big surprise there) was more than accommodating and helpful. We also met people in his dad's life that Brent had only heard of and some had never heard of. People he used to work with, family who even lived in the same town, friends who he spent time with their children, taking them to see the air show when it came to town. As a person who comparatively did not really know his father ( I only knew him for about 3 years and in that time only saw him 7 times, but we did talk on the phone.) meeting all of the people that walked into the funeral home and looking at all of the faces in the pews during his service was like a small peek into his life. It is always amazing to think about the amount of people one person can have an impact on. I was grateful that I was able to get this glimpse and meet his family and friends who we hope to keep in contact with as time goes on.