In my own words: A military spouse part two

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Leah Murray
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
I remember that first night. Usually with my husband being a firefighter I'm used to sleeping alone every other day, but this night was different. He would be gone for six months.

The first couple nights I was numb. I didn't talk to anyone, and I didn't go out. I would sit and stare at my phone waiting for it to ring. Being new to the military and deployments, I wasn't sure how long it took for my husband to transit. So I continued to worry. Nighttime became dreadful. I'd wake up and search the bed for him before remembering he's not there. I kept asking myself, "Am I this pathetic? Get over it, he's gone." I would finally get to sleep, and in no time my alarm buzzed. Then another obstacle surfaced, and it was time for work.

As a new Airman, work wasn't always my favorite place to be. I was at a point where I didn't want to be bothered with anything. Anxiety made itself right at home in my work place. It didn't matter what I was doing, at any moment one word, one memory, would trigger a fear, a thought. Instant tears, how was I going to fight this? My mind kept racing, mocking me, "This is your new life, full of loneliness, full of sadness." I was so worked up that I was making myself sick. Doctors gave me quarters, and I began missing work. Yet, even if I was at work, I wasn't really there. I did my time and then went home. I was bitter with the civilian spouses of deployed service members. They had the choice to pack up and go home to family and loved ones, a place where they were comfortable. I didn't get that option- I had a duty here. And my bitterness was showing. I became selfish in thinking I had it worse than anyone else, but that was never the case.

A month went by, and not much had changed. I'd lost weight and missed work, basically secluding myself from everything. I had friends. Most of them are wives of other firefighters and the firemen themselves. They all are like family to me, but being with other couples, especially couples who lived the lives my husband and I did, it was too painful and too hard to handle. But I did have another friend- a friend I never thought would become anyone more than an acquaintance, and she soon became the person that was going to pull me out of my funk. She didn't let me sit in my house or stay home on the weekends. Every day we were doing something, which gave me things to look forward to.

With my friends, time started to go by. I started a routine, and every day I had a plan. I started planning trips home, girls' only weekends and a continuous workout plan. Family and friends are what pulled me away from anxiety. I had started a countdown from the day my husband left, beginning at 180 days until his return. Days soon hit 100, 80, 60. I also had a routine with my husband. I spoke with him twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. We could talk and Skype, and sometimes for hours, and sometimes for just a few minutes. I learned how to handle everything from cars to finances. I had friends and had my own life. Of course, there were bumps along the way, but I was finally learning to be independent for the first time in my life. I was in awe of how far I'd come from that first month to these last few months.

I kept telling myself, "Get to October- that's the home stretch." I even started preparing by planning outfits, getting my hair and nails done, continued eating properly and working out. All things girls think about when you want to impress that certain someone, especially if that certain someone was gone for half a year. I thought I had this whole experience under control and planned, but before I could blink, the deployment changed.

Just as I was getting comfortable, I received a message from my husband saying he had to talk to me and he would be calling soon. In my head I thought, this is not going to be good news. My stomach dropped, and I stared at my phone again waiting for it to ring. I got that call, and just like I had thought, it wasn't good news. He asked me to not ask any questions as he told me, "I'm getting relocated. I don't know where I'm going and I don't know how long I'll be there. All I know is that I'll be gone no later than two days from now, an extension is possible, and I'm not sure if there will be any internet to communicate anymore." All I could keep saying was ok, ok, ok. He finished and asked me if I was ok. I explained to him that I wasn't while crying that I was ready for this to be over. We spoke a little longer, then he headed to bed. I got off the phone, and my mind started to race again, I was so excited it was already August, but now the excitement was gone. I didn't know if he was returning on time anymore.

So he relocated, and communication was no longer through text, now all emails. It also wasn't twice a day anymore. One email, once a day and usually early in the mornings. Sometimes we went days with little or no communication at all. It was not what I was used to. It gave me a newfound respect for the women who go without speaking, even women back in the day who sent their husbands off and waited on letters, or nothing at all. But just like at the beginning of the deployment, I adjusted. I'm stronger now. I know he has a duty, and I will continue to wait.

I've reflected on these past five months and honestly don't understand why I've reacted the ways I did. I caused unneeded stress upon myself, and my husband, but everything is a learning experience. I know now that through this deployment I am stronger, more independent and smarter. I can't wait to see what unfolds when he's finally home. I just have to make it through one more month.

Missing him is an understatement to describe what I'm currently feeling. It's something I've never felt before in my life. Some days are harder than others. There are some days I'm content, but there are others where I still shed tears. Certain situations make things harder, like missing his birthday or not having him home for holidays. I never thought I'd have to worry about being the third wheel again. The smallest things remind me of us. Then I remember, the big day is soon approaching, and the reunion will be fantastic.