A Modern Woman’s (Non-FRG) Guide to Life + Love // Deployment

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Hello, everyone! Today installment of A Modern Woman’s (Non-FRG) Guide To Life + Love follows Isabella’s experiences as a military significant other. She talks about the “dark shadow hovering over everyone who is in a relationship with a service member. You know it exists, you know it will come but you still try to avoid every thought of it. Until the day your loved one comes home with those  news.” This brings us to our next topic: Deployment. If you haven’t been following along – check out the rest of the series here.

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Isabella from Paws and Bisous talks about dealing with her Soldiers never-ending deployments!
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Deployments. A dark shadow hovering over everyone who is in a relationship with a service member. You know it exists, you know it will come but you still try to avoid every thought of it. Until the day your loved one comes home with those news. You know, the news that make you want to crawl under a blanket and stay there, hoping everything deployment-revolved will go away by itself. The news that make your inner self fall in the deepest hole, yet you stand there, try to look all put together and nod. After all, you knew it would happen.

And it happens to all of us. Currently, my husband is away for his third tour: He was deployed once while we were dating and now twice since we’ve been married. His first two tours were to Iraq (to the exact same base as well – he was not thrilled at all), now he went to Afghanistan – by his own choice. Yes, he volunteered. So not only do you know that there will be a deployment that is unavoidable but also, there are some guys out there who turn the avoidable into the unavoidable by volunteering. We went through everything: Days and weeks without any contact, Skype sessions with alarm sirens in the background and him needing to rush to the bunker – leaving his Skype online so that I was pretty much witnessing everything that was going on, him getting extended for 6 more months with short notice… everything you can imagine. I was in Germany (my home country) for the first deployment, I was in a foreign country (the US) for the second one, now that we are stationed in Germany again, I am back on homeland for the third deployment. A deployment is what you make of it, they say. Is it really?

I won’t sugarcoat it: Deployments suck. Always. No matter how positively you try to battle it. There will be days where you have all the rage in the world because things at home don’t work out and your loved one won’t be there to give you a hug, while things on his side of the world go absolutely crazy because his bosses and co-workers are (in your eyes) incompetent and ruin everything. We all know, when things suck – a hug always helps. As soon as you get those news, maybe even along with the orders on paper, be prepared that you will have crappy days and that you most likely have to deal with them yourself.

 

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Isabella shares some tips she has picked up after surviving 3 deployments!!
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1. Be prepared! (**the most important thing**) And I don’t only mean mentally but prepare for everything that could go wrong. Get a Power Of Attorney (most bases give them to the guys already, so all they need is to fill them out and get it notarized by JAG) so that you can take care of important paperwork – or even just doing the tax return. Get the car “female-proof”. If you are like me, you don’t know anything about cars and that tends to get quite expensive when something goes wrong. My husband always makes sure that he does an oil change before he leaves, that the tires are rotated and that all fluids are filled up. He then lectures me about how the car functions but I rather stare at his good-looking self as long as I am still able to. Make sure that he and the FRG have your current address (in case you move or be away for a while) and that all your data in the databases is correct and up to date. The same goes for his life insurance.

2. Plan ahead: You will get lonely. And I don’t mean crazy-cat lady-lonely (or in my case: crazy dog-lady) but actually really, really lonely. That’s why I moved back to my hometown for this third deployment. And back in with my mom. I have my friends here, I found work within the first week of being here, I signed up for the gym (unfortunately, my motivation didn’t sign up) and I spend endless hours on Pinterest and other webpages to collect bits and pieces for our new place once I am moving back.

3. Keeping yourself busy is the key. If you don’t want to or can not move back home: Find friends in your town or on your base. Go work out together. If you have a dog, visit the dog park together. If you have a job – awesome! Make those overtime hours! Plan awesome care packages that will sweep your loved one off his feet. Travel – explore your country or continent or even just your town and close surroundings. Treat yourself with shopping or a spa day when things get too stressful. Which brings me to my next, important, point:

4. It is okay to be overwhelmed and stressed. You always read things like: “You can’t feel stressed, you are staying at home while he is in a war zone. You should be happy and not bother him with your problems, he needs to focus.” I say: No. Screw that. You are stressed, you are allowed to be whiney. If he is allowed to tell you when he is stressed and what is going wrong – so are you. And trust me, they will most likely appreciate it when you share your troubles instead of leaving them in the dark about things and make them worry because they don’t know what is going on or why are you acting different on certain days.

5. Have a personal “deployment thing”. My husband and I have “Combat Bunny”. Combat Bunny is a tiny stuffed animal and good luck charm that I sewed during his second deployment and sent him so he had something personal from home. He loves this little guy and from the day he received him, Combat Bunny is constantly with him. Everywhere. He lives in his jacket and at night under his pillow. He goes out with him to missions, he gets to see everything first hand. And my husband always sends me photos of him and Combat Bunny. That way, we have something positive to associate with the evil deployment. Something, that is fun for both of us – after all we want Combat Bunny to see the world and come home safe, just like I want my husband home safely.

6. Communication is key. While he will have internet at his base, that doesn’t mean you get to talk. Every time my husband is gone, his internet sucks. It is expensive and it absolutely does not work. And trust me, he will be just as irritated and frustrated about it as you. Sometimes the internet won’t be strong enough to support Skype. During this deployment, I have not “seen” or “heard” my husband at all. But our small messenger chats still mean the world to me. We talk about everything. And I really mean everything. Things that need to be taken care of, things that bother us, things that could be improved. A deployment is also a great time to improve your relationship. I think guys will be more open about their feelings when they can hide behind a screen. From personal experience, I can tell you that our marriage improves every time he is deployed because we talk about things that we might not talk about if we had to face each other (because I am the one who can’t talk about feeling from face to face). Also, he will enjoy when you tell him from home. Just little things from your daily life. That way, your loved one will still be up to date and a part of the life at home.

7. Do not believe rumors. Under any circumstances. As soon as the guys leave, rumours about their return will start. Do not believe them. You can start believing that he will be home once he sets foot on the plane. That is the earliest point where you can start believing it. As an example I present you: My husband’s second deployment. It was all over the news: The troops will be out of Iraq and home by Christmas 2011. How come that I still celebrated Christmas with my bunny and my dog only? My husband’s unit was the only unit to extended for six more months to be a “Quick Reaction Force” and stay behind in Kuwait, in case things go wrong in Iraq, or even Iran during that time.

This current deployment started 3 months ago and I already heard numerous redeployment rumours. But I have learned. My husband is on his way home when he boards the plane.

8. Deployments are awesome – for saving money. Last time, we saved over $6,000 while he was gone and used it to reward ourselves with a road trip from Texas to California (Disneyland!!!). This time our main goal is to save up a bunch for several trips to discover Europe and to buy new/better furniture.
He is gone. That means: Less groceries. A person less to waste electricity and water. You don’t have to buy Swiffer pads that often because there is no one making a mess every day. Even eating out costs less, after all you will be paying for just one person.

9. Always remember: Every deployment ends. They will come home. The day of the homecoming ceremony will ruin your psyche. You have every feeling known to mankind within 10 minutes. And then you drive on post, you wait at the field (or in the gym) and see the busses. Your heart stops beating. You see them walking up and stand in formation. You panic. Everyone looks exactly the same with their patrol cap and uniform. I always text my husband when he is on the bus where I am. I usually wait away from the crowd, close to the exit. Then you see him coming towards you. And you run. Faster than you ever imagined you’d be able to. You’d put Usain Bolt to shame. And then it’s there: The first hug, the first kiss after a year or several months. All the stress is forgotten. Now only one thing counts: He is home. He is safe. And he is finally yours again.

Deployments are scary but every year, women battle it with success. You will be strong enough, even if it doesn’t seem like it on some days. If you have any questions or if you feel extremely overwhelmed with a situation: eMail me. I will be more than happy to help you out or send some words of encouragement ♥

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If you’re just now joining us, read all about our series!

Are you beginning your journey into being a military significant other? Amber shared her experience with “the talk”! You or your significant other thinking about joining? Kayli shares all about her relationship with a Marine in the Reserves! In a Long Distance Relationship?! Read my tips on how i survived two years in one!

Military Life brings us to talk about the future pretty quickly, Crystal shares her engagement story and Britt talks about marriage! Did you just receive PCS orders? Casey gave us some basic tips she picked up after moving twice with the Air Force! Family plays a big role in military life. Chantal, the only mommy on board, shared with us her experiences.

Crystal will be closing this awesome series with some thoughts about that harsh decision to leave the military life behind.

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Hi! I'm Laura, the girl behind Little Island Takara. I am a military wife and American expat living in Okinawa, Japan! Most days you will find me reading books, wondering what cafe to go to next or daydreaming of my next adventure.

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