About Me

Fort Bragg, NC, United States
I'm a stay at home dad raising four beautiful children. I am the proud spouse of an Army Lieutenant Colonel. I do my best to keep up with the kids and all of their activities. I enjoy playing the bass and the occasional bass guitar building project. You can follow me on twitter if you so desire...@ArmySpouse007.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Redeployment and Reintegration Part 7: The Inevitable Look Ahead

As a military spouse, it is such an amazing feeling to have my wife/soldier back home. Those of you who've been through a deployment know what I'm talking about. A year of missed holidays, events, birthdays, etc. is now just a memory. While reintegration is definitely a challenge, there is a sense that things are finally settling down, that life is returning to normal (or a new kind of normal, as I talked about in my last post...). I can't tell you how awesome it is to already be thinking about both Thanksgiving and Christmas plans and NOT BE DREADING THEM! The holidays this year will be so completely different.

That said, it is inevitable that those thoughts of the next deployment begin creeping in. We've worked so hard to make our family whole again, to repair the divide caused by a year apart. And yet, in the back of my mind, I can't help but think about the next time. There's a small section in the back of my mind that warns against getting too comfortable, too used to having her home. That small part warns, "keep some barriers up or you'll be sorry! Don't get to used to her being here because she's going to leave again soon!" Maybe you've felt those feelings and thoughts as well. As military spouses I think it is inevitable (hence the title of this post).

The thing about the way the Army handles things these days (and to some extent the other services as well) is that we all have a general idea of when our spouse is going to deploy again. The general rule has been this: gone for a year (or a year +), home for a year (or perhaps not quite a year...). So we know that even while we are trying to get settled into life together the fact is it's only temporary. Our soldier-spouse will be leaving again. That knowledge can absolutely eat at you and make you want to put the walls in place around your heart while you are in the process of trying to tear down those very same walls. How can we put our family back together when it's just going to get pulled apart again in 10-12 months (or sooner for some of us...)? There's no question that this is a difficult situation. It is a part of reintegration that few people, if anyone, has considered. As spouses, we are expected to welcome our soldier home with open arms (easily said, even easier done!) and get our lives back to normal again (again, easily said... but not so easily done!). But this whole process seems to contradict itself. How I can I make my house whole and normal when she's just going to be leaving again less than a year from now? And so we try our best to enjoy having our spouse home, knowing it won't last.

What are we to do? Well, we are left with two choices. Either we can protect ourselves in anticipation of this joyous reunion not lasting, or we can tear down the walls and embrace all that there is to this life as a family made whole and deal with the deployment and it's pains and fears when they arrive. Like the picture, one path is bright and sunny, the other dark and gloomy. You see, if you and I choose to wall off part of ourselves, then our time spent as a family will bring us only a very superficial enjoyment with nothing that goes any deeper than "hi, how was your day?" Sure, we'll protect ourselves from the pain that lies ahead, but we'll be wasting the days and weeks and months that we have together. And, put simply, there will be no joy in our house, just a gloomy anticipation of what is to come.

But if we choose to embrace these days with all that is in us, then the time we have with our spouse will become more meaningful and deeper than we could have imagined. Yes, our soldier-spouse will have to leave again, but the time spent together will be time a joy, love and fulfillment. We can embrace TODAY and let tomorrow come when it does. New memories can be formed and the bond of marriage will be further strengthened.

Thoughts of the next deployment, even after they have just gotten home, are inevitable. But they don't have to rule your world, and they certainly don't have to take away from what you have here now. Remember, he/she is right here in front of you, right now. Make the most of it. Tomorrow will bring what it brings. Today is mine!

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You can follow me on Twitter if you so choose... @Armyspouse007

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