He was gone again. I couldn’t believe it. I had just dropped my husband off for his 4th deployment. Another deployment, but this time, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through.
Sure, I had done this before. And really, this deployment was only supposed to be six months long, that is less than half of how long some of our deployments had been. Why was I falling apart this time?
I took my then 8, 6 and 2-year-old boys home after saying goodbye. I got them interested in something and then sat on my bed. How was I going to do this? How was I going to get through?
That deployment broke me. Even before it started. My anxiety went through the roof. I wasn’t sure how we would get from where I was at the moment to homecoming.
I ended up getting some extra help, which was needed. I was able to take that deployment one day at a time. And then, right before Christmas, my husband came home, and the deployment was over.
But I will never forget those six months. I will never forget how hard some of the nights were. I will never forget how broken I felt.
During that deployment, I started to feel like I was not strong enough to be a military spouse. I would look at my friends and other spouses, and I saw strength. A strength I didn’t think I had.
At times I wanted to tell my husband that I was sorry, that I couldn’t do it anymore. That we had given up too much and that I was done.
I was done with deployments, I was done being the only parent in the house when my kids needed two, I was done with goodbyes, I was done with the hurt, I was done with the pain of being away from my husband.
I hit a wall, and I didn’t want to do military life anymore. I felt like I didn’t have it in me. I felt like everything was too much.
So to the military spouse who can’t do military life anymore, I get it. I have been there, and this is what I can tell you.
Some parts of military life as so frustratingly hard that it will feel like you can’t make it through, but you can.
There will be days you will have to ask for help, even if you don’t want to. The help might be asking a friend to watch your kids so you can get your grocery shopping done. The help might be asking your doctor if you should start to see a counselor. The help might be asking your MOPS friends to pray extra hard for you as you are going through something tough at the moment.
Some parts of military life as exciting. That post-deployment block leave where you get to spend weeks together? I love it. Moving to Hawaii or Germany, or even back to your hometown? Exciting. Making a new friend when you walk into an FRG meeting, a friend who will always now be a part of your life, that’s the best.
There will be times during your life as a military spouse that you will want to throw in the towel. That you will spend hours online looking at houses in your hometown because there is no way your husband can continue to do this. You will think that once that ETS day comes, everything will be better.
But then you watch your spouse see how much he loves being a soldier.
How that it is in his blood. How his dream of joining the military has come true. That finally, after five years of marriage, she has found a career she loves, and you know you have to stand by her.
You see, not everyone is in the military for 20+ years. For some, military life is merely a season. For others, it is a lifetime commitment. You and your spouse will need to talk about what the plan is. You will need to share your worries and struggles.
But military spouse, know this, if the person you married feels they need to be in the military, you will be able to handle whatever comes your way.
I know it might not always seem like it. I know that some days will be a lot harder than others. But trust me, you will be able to do what you need to do.
We get frustrated when people tell us “I could never do it” when it comes to military life, but the truth is, we do it because we love and support our spouse. We do it because we love our country and want the best for it.
We do it because we know that we are meant to be with this person, and this person is meant to be in the military.
So to the military spouse who can’t do military life anymore, know that you genuinely can. Maybe for you, military life will be over in a few years. Maybe military life will be over when you are in your 50s. Either way, you can do this.
Take this military life one day at a time, one hour if you need to. Look for military spouse support, at your duty station, through your friends, and online. Find a way to make it through because you have to, because you want to, because it is how you will figure out how to make being a military spouse work.
Have you ever felt like you couldn’t do military life anymore? What did you do to break out of feeling that way?