Finding a way to connect with other military spouses can be a key piece in successfully navigating a stressful deployment. In this series of exploring the different emotions you might experience during deployment we are talking with several military spouse bloggers who are sharing their thoughts and insights. If you travel around the military spouse blogosphere long enough chances are you'll come across the popular blog, "Household 6 Diva". Army wife, Anne Marie's blog features highlights of her military life experience, including photos of her adventures of living in Germany and is home to one of the largest directories of military spouse blogs.
As we focused on last week, the first few weeks of a deployment can feel like we are on an emotional roller coaster. This emotional ride as we mentioned can leave us wondering if we are normal. A great MilitaryOneSource.com article on the "Managing Your Emotions When Your Spouse is Deployed" highlights, "Many family members go through a difficult adjustment period in the first weeks after their service member leaves. You may have feelings of sadness, disorientation, anxiety or anger. Fortunately, this feeling of being on an emotional roller coaster often gives way to a growing sense of self-confidence and independence."
Today we take time out to chat with Household 6 Diva for her perspective and thoughts on deployment emotions.
Wendy Poling: Once the deployment began what types of emotions did you feel?
Household 6 Diva: The first few weeks of any separation are a predictable balancing act between numbly going through the motions and bursts of energy and actions to make me feel like I'm in control of the situation. I find myself compulsively moving the microwave to clean kitchen counters, yet using paper plates to minimize the daily amount of dishwashing. Each separation is different and unique, but with each experience comes a level of confidence.
Wendy: When it comes to adjusting to your spouse being away, how are your routines different?
Household 6 Diva: Much of our family routine stays the same. Sunrise coffee with our early rising daughter, grocery shopping, household errands with three children and volunteering my time to benefit my community are positive ways to make time pass quickly. I do however miss my trash fairy who magically takes out the trash when it's full - and the car fairy who keeps the gas tank full and all of the maintenance up to date!
Wendy: Living overseas has its unique challenges, what is different about experiencing a deployment so far away from traditional family?
Household 6 Diva: I asked some friends this very question and I think there was a common feeling that deployments while stationed in a foreign country are more difficult. We are an ocean away from our extended family. Our particular base limits the hours of different amenities during deployment. Not to mention we live in a foreign country where traveling means trying to blend in and not draw attention to ourselves. We are also constantly aware of our military dependent status - one friend commented about feeling like she was stuck in military spouse mode 24/7. For many of us in Germany, there is the added stress of close quarters/stairwell living (6 families share a stairwell, 18 to a building).
There were some very positive points as well in that with these smaller communities, often we are on the same deployment rotation - so we are all experiencing the same things at the same time. And it is because of these shared experiences, that very close friendships are formed.
Wendy: How did you go about building a support system and was this difficult to do?
Household 6 Diva: During my husband's first deployment, I was in graduate school. All of our communications were by letters, which were three to four weeks old by the time I received them. Much of what I learned about military life and deployment was by reading message boards and websites.
After becoming a military spouse, I found that connecting with others through church and the family readiness group was a wonderful way to find mentors and encouragement. With each deployment I have learned to surround myself with women who are positive thinkers, dedicated to family, and willing to help others in need.
During each deployment, I have had the blessing of incredible friendships that will last a lifetime. In a sense, they are MY battle buddies. We celebrate the birth of each other's babies; attend Memorial Services together for the fallen soldiers of our community, and work together to improve our community by volunteering our talents and time. Through moments of adversity, incredibly strong relationships are formed - especially living overseas.
Wendy: What feedback have you received from your blog when talking about this subject?
Household 6 Diva: One of the wonderful things about social media and blogging is realizing that we are not unique in our experiences. By sharing our story, I have met families across branches and around the world who experience the same compulsive cleaning behavior during the first few days of separations.
I think some of the most surprising and insightful responses are from Coast Guard, Reserve, and National Guard families who are geographically separated from a physical military community. This is one of them main reasons I started the Military Spouse Blogging Community - a link list of blogs organized by military branch that are written by military families across the globe!
Wendy: What advice do you have for spouses currently going through the first few weeks/months of a deployment?
Household 6 Diva:
Join us next week as we introduce you to another military spouse blogger, talk about the middle part of deployment and the emotions we might experience.
Share your experience in our discussion forum.
Ann Marie Detavernier is a Military Spouse currently stationed in Baumholder, Germany. With her husband currently deployed to Afghanistan, she is a full time volunteer in her community, an award-winning photographer, and a trailblazer for military families living overseas. She writes with humor and refreshing honesty about daily life as an Army Wife and Busy Mom of three small children at www.household6diva.com.
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