Sunday, April 25, 2010

Words of Encouragement and Not So Supportive Comments

Although my husband does not deploy for months, I have been thinking about it a lot so that is the direction my posts have been going in lately. Today I wanted to share the BEST thing that was said to me concerning my husband's first deployment and the worst. Although this was almost 4 years ago it still affects me. I should really let go of the negative one, but if anyone can learn from the experience I will keep talking about it.

I will start with the worst. Compared to what people couldhave said(meaning there is A LOT worse things that could have been said) it does not seem so bad, but for me it did have an effect.

Okay, so I am not sure what month it was exactly, but it was in that 2 month frame between when I got here and when TJ deployed. I was sitting in the foyer at church and another wife was sitting in the chair near me. She knew my husband and mentioned she heard he was deploying soon. I said yes he was and that I was worried(or scared -- something to that effect). She then proceeded to say to me that I would be fine, her husband was deployed and she had 4 kids. She may have said more or not, but the message came across as I shouldn't be worried because I did not have kids. Or that I was stupid for worrying. Or that it wouldn't be as hard for me because I didn't have kids. Or because she could do it with 4 kids everyone could do it.

You can imagine how I felt at this point. I felt like I shouldn't be worried. That it was selfish of me for worrying. That there was something wrong with me. With those few careless words she diminished my feelings on the subject. I know I shouldn't have allowed her to make me feel that way, but at the time I was in an emotionally fragile state and really took it to heart.

It does not matter if you have kids or not. Deployment is hard and you are going to feel scared and you are going to be worried. It is okay to feel these things. Or, maybe, you are perfectly fine and looking forward to a year-long break away from your spouse -- that is okay too!! Whatever you are feeling is okay. Because it is different for everybody. Kids or not.

I also came to find out later that this woman's husband, in his deployment, never even left the FOB(forward operating base). Which means the danger he was in on a daily basis was minimal. Yes, there was still danger, yes it was still hard for her to be home raising her 4 kds on her own with him gone, but for her to tell me, whose husband was continually going "outside the wire"(off the FOB) and putting his life in danger, that I should not worry or be scared because I did not have kids while her husband is sitting over there in minimal danger was not only out of line, but completely ridiculous.

I do not know if it is harder with kids or not. Sometimes I think it would be easier because you have someone there in your home to talk to and focus on besides yourself, but other times I think about how hard it is on me some days and do not know how I would ever handle it having to be responsible for someone else as well. Of course, it is different for everybody as well. Maybe it would be harder for me, but easier for someone else or vice versa. The point is you should never diminish someone else's experience by saying (directly or indirectly) that yours is harder. Even if it is, it doesn;t make theirs any less harder or their feelings less valid.

Now, for the good advice. This was told to me by another church member a couple weeks later, after she found out my husband was deploying and this would be my first experience with it. She told me that it was okay to worry and be scared. That since this was my first time I did not know what to expect and that could make it scarier. That whatever I was feeling was okay and that my church family would be there to support me. You can probably imagine how much better that made me feel.

The point of this post is -- be sympathetic to a military spouse, especially if you are one too. Don't diminish their experience or make their feelings seem invalid because you think you have it worse. Maybe you do, but that doesn't mean their feelings mean any less. You can share your experience and let them see for themselves that maybe you are worse off, but to tell them they shouldn't worry or feel what they are feeling because you have it worse is not okay.

My next post will discuss my unique coping strategies for getting through deployment :)

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