By Lindsay Alano
SpouseLink Guest Blogger
A week after my husband (Jay) and I wed, he received orders that he was to deploy to Qatar in six months. At the time, my husband was a Senior Airman, stationed in Hawaii. When we received the news about his deployment, my heart shattered. I started asking the questions like, “Why now? We just got married.” or “How could they do this do us?” But then I quickly remembered that the military doesn’t work around feelings. When there is a job to be done and your husband is the one for the job, they will place him there, regardless of your recent wedding or feelings.
Those six months leading up to his deployment were bittersweet. Being newlyweds, we were enjoying getting our house together, learning about each other and creating memories as a family. We even added a dog to our clan. But no matter how many wonderful memories we created within those six months, I always had deployment in the back of my mind, and before we knew it, I was dropping him off at the airport, with tears streaming down both our faces.
About two weeks into the deployment, it really hit me that he would not be home for 200+ more days. It was when I was on a jog and I was turning the corner, into our condo complex, and there I saw Jay’s car. I thought that I was about to walk into our house and see him. Then I remember he was deployed. My heart sank. This deployment was real and it was not going away anytime soon.
With months and days ahead, I started finding ways to grow as a woman while he was gone and it first started with not solely focusing on the fact that he was gone. When I look back on those seven months, I realized that my growth was due to my resiliency as a military wife and the actions that I took to fill my life with meaning while he was gone.
For any military spouse who is about to face their first deployment, here are four ways I was able to grow as a woman, while my husband was away, fighting for our freedom:
My Fur Companion
I really don’t think I could have made it through deployment without my dog. When I would come home from a long day, I knew I wasn’t walking into an empty house. I had my dog, who was always happy to see me. He would greet me with such joy and I felt needed. The nights weren’t as lonely. He was my buddy throughout the seven months.
Before my husband left, I started to research various non-profits that I wanted to be involved with. When I decided on a non-profit, I made sure to start the process of becoming a volunteer right away. Once they processed my paperwork, I made sure they knew I was available and what area I was interested in volunteering for. I was fortunate enough that the non-profit I was volunteering for was creating an education component from the ground up. I was able to be a part of that team, where we met regularly. I felt valued and needed. I was pouring my energy into something positive.
Make Plans to Look Forward to
When my husband deployed, I decided to stay in Hawaii and not go back home to California. However, since I had a lot of time, I planned a couple trips home. Once the trips were planned, I had something to look forward to. It gave me something to be excited for. And I was counting down to something that was MUCH sooner than his return. I also made it a point, to create plans with my friends. I reached out to my friends a lot and filled my weekends with hikes, brunches, etc.
Make New Friends
I am a very social person and I thrive when I am around people and cultivating relationships. I began to be more bold in asking new friends to hang out. I was fortunate enough to find two military wives that lived in my condo complex and both of the wives had dogs. We made many trips to the dog park and started to cultivate a friendship. And because of this, my fur companion now has a best friend too.
If you are about to embark on your first deployment as a military spouse, know that the whole experience doesn’t have to be a dark cloud for a seven month period. I encourage you to find joyful moments in the hard times. I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and grow during the time that your spouse is deployed. And before you know it, you will be reunited!
About Lindsay Alano
Lindsay is an adventure seeker, healthy food enthusiast, goal-oriented, California native, currently living in Hawaii. Although she has a congenital heart defect, she still lives a life full of purpose alongside her husband.