The truth is, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all that a deployment throws at us. So much so that we spend so much time, energy, and emotion just trying to keep things together that we forget to take care of the most important cog in this whole machine... ourselves. We think that we have to put everyone and everything before ourselves, and in so doing, we end up running ourselves ragged and feeling ever lower and less in control. Where this leads to is not a good place. It compounds the number of bad days that we experience. And while there's no escaping the fact that there are always going to be "deployment days" that undeniably suck, we can keep them from overwhelming us and becoming the norm.
I can't speak for you or decide what's best for you. I can, however, find my groove (as Melissa over at HerWar has often stated!). For each of us it is different. Let me describe what it is for me. First, I run. It is something I started back towards the end of the last deployment and just carried forward. I run with a goal in mind, specifically, a race. Next week I will be running in my second Army 10 Miler. One month later, I will be running my very first marathon. As you can imagine, this has required an enormous time commitment to get out there and train. But, hey, that's why God created babysitters! And, the truth is, I'm a sucker for some poor teenager who's trying to make a bit of spending money. I don't in any way, shape, or form feel guilty for spending the extra money each week. It is, after all, one of the few benefits of a deployment. Sadly, when I run my first marathon in early November, my wife won't be there to see me complete it. I'm not, however, doing it for her. I'm doing it for me.
I also pour a ton of energy into becoming a better bassist. As many of you who know me are aware, I am passionate about my instrument. I spend as much time each day as I can practicing and learning to be more proficient on the bass. Seeing that music is at the core of who I am as a person, this just flows out naturally. But I don't just stop there. I was promoted back around the beginning of the deployment in June to band leader/primary bassist at my church, Manna Church, in Fayetteville, NC. When I play on a Sunday, I play 3 services in front of a nearly 5000 people. I say all that not to brag, but to illustrate a point: all of this requires a huge commitment in time, just like the running.
What this all means, is this: I have no intention of just surviving while my wife is deployed. I want to live, to grow, to be active even though things are more complicated and difficult while she is gone. For me, surviving isn't enough. I want more. I want to grow, to improve myself. Just getting by doesn't do it for me.
How does all of this translate to you? Well, that's up to you. It is so easy to simply enter survival mode. With all of the challenges that face us as milspouses in a deployment, just surviving can look like a noble goal. And certainly, no one would blame us for that. After being there for a while, though, I decided I didn't want to stay there. I wanted more for my life. 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, a year plus... whatever the length of the deployment you're facing, it's a long time to simply tread water. Why not decide to start swimming and reach the beach. Once you're there, you can climb out of the water and get moving!