We only really feel alone when we’re left with our thoughts and insecurities. It’s hard to forget our sorrows and go on with life while our Marines are away. None of us are made of stone, brick or are superhuman. We are not born equipped to deal with everything that the Marine Corps will throw at us. The key to emotionally dealing with deployments is developing survival, social and coping skills to weather the tough times .
As Marine wives we stand on the tarmacs, in airports, piers and in parking lots waving goodbye to our Marines with a heavy heart. Have you ever had the moment where it feels like time has stopped and we’re just waving and waving until they’ve gone out of sight or can’t see us anymore?
Reality hits home the second he gets orders for a deployment, then again when he leaves for the bus, dock or air station. You can and will feel alone. Not all of us have biological immediate family members close or even in the same state as your duty station. It is completely normal and can be a little more than overwhelming but try not to feel too down about the situation. This is when our friends and Marine Corps family comes in handy during those first few days when you can’t get out of bed, off the couch or out of the fridge. When you are so sad and depressed that you’re heart is literally breaking for fear of the unknown, lack of control and the many dangerous possibilities out there. We wait for our men not because we want to or have to. We wait for our men because we are mentally strong enough for this job. Not every lady is and that’s okay this is truly a hard pill to swallow but they love their jobs and us; so we shouldn’t be the ones to come in between the two passions in their life. And so we support and love them. We do so because in the pit of our stomachs there’s a strong and unbreakable love, appreciation and affection for these amazingly masculine yet soft hearted individuals. There is just an overwhelmingly powerful and soul warming flow which is the strength that helps us get through those sometimes hollow days and lonely nights. The dark, cold and lonesome nights at times seem to never end and are enough to make wives forgo their own beds and sleep on loveseats, futons or with the kids. Irregular communication wherever they are does not aid in the sad and lonely days at all.
Unless you intend to go back to your home state during his deployments which a lot of wives do we have to rely on each other for support. Moving back home can be a good idea to save the BAH money but you run the risk of being far away from your duty station and possibly having pay issues you can’t deal with, possibly not getting vital deployment information as well as not participating in events the command holds during the deployment.
One of the many misconceptions about deployments a lot of wives, girlfriends, mothers, and family members have is that your husband will call, email or write everyday or even every other day. Some have been known to try & contact the command, the hotel the men are staying at port in or try and guilt trip their husbands into calling them often. These women get upset whenever the Marines do not get to call, email or Skype as much as they believe he should. Ladies I know this is 2010 but as I was told by my senior peers many times before they are working and will call you the second they get a free moment to do so. Meu’s (ships) are a little more consistent but there is always going to be times when they can’t. Like during Rivercity. It’s not a location it is what the military considers times whenever there is an issue during the deployment and for everyone’s safety they cut off all communication outgoing until the issue has been resolved. There are hundreds if not thousands of people on any one deployment so a 5 minute phone call for every one of them is a strategic undertaking for the command.
Hopefully you will get to have dozens of phone calls, emails, video teleconferences set up by the command team, and even possibly Skype with your Marine. I hope you learn any tricks of the trade (each ship, crew and command is different) very quickly and not at the very end of the deployment. I had Anthony email my text message service on my phone so it was more like texting and I’d get it almost immediately versus an email. After I realized how inconvenient it was to do this I ended up upgrading my phone to a blackberry so that I could get emails and phone calls without delay. Typically what we would do is I’d have to be quick but if I was awake we’d email back and forth. I once found out almost half way through a deployment that through Yahoo there is a video web chat option where the Marines could see us but we couldn’t see them. As weird as it feels to look at a black screen they felt comforted and a little closer to home.
The strong productive wives learn to busy themselves and keep their positive fellow Marine Corps wives around to buy time. Deployments are full of emotional highs and lows and in the family readiness classes you will learn quite a bit about this. Even for seasoned wives at first you will feel inconsolable, rotten and just want to be glued to the floor. Find a source of strength to vent and relate to whether it’s another Marine wife, your dogs, MarineParents.com, Facebook Marine Corps pages or other Marine Corps wives websites. The main trick is after the initial shock and sadness set a goal (re-decorate your house, learn to sew, learn a new language, take a college course, dancing class, cooking/baking class or teach yourself, make a new margarita every night or taste a new wine, learn the different city parks or beaches in the area) but whatever you do just have fun and take everything one day at a time!
(Cheesecake making for the first time & My new flower garden during a deployment!!! :P)
After a little while your strength will increase and you’ll be able to function outside of the home without succumbing to tears at the first patriotic song that comes on the radio, overly exaggerated newscast, or phone call where someone mentions your Marine’s name. You’ll eventually find yourself in a groove and routine of cleaning, exercising, planning, shopping, kids, dog walking, gardening, wine tasting, cooking and learning new recipes, ect. About a month before he comes home you’re in high spirits and in homecoming mode of banner/sign making, flag buying, fridge stocking and deep cleaning. He gets here and you’re on top of the world in another honeymoon phase and so in love. You realize quickly he can’t load a dishwasher to save his life, he puts the ketchup in the pantry and not the refrigerator, makes insanely huge messes everywhere and doesn’t remember to put the laundry in the dryer but he is back home and ALL YOURS!! So now to create a whole new routine and schedule! And once again the emotional cycle begins again but it is all worth it because you have your man home and have survived this deployment!