Diary of a Deployment 4: Feeding My Soul

My name is Jackie and I am an Army wife. My husband has served for five years and has been fortunate enough (in my eyes, not so much his), to be assigned to non-deploying units. Everything changed the day he informed me that he had to deploy. I invite you to join us as I chronicle our journey.

Initial Shock

Camo, camo everywhere!

The week my husband left was filled with stress, anxiety, distraction and worry. Oh, and camo — I’m talking camo everywhere! Truth be told, I didn’t even mind the mess. I was busy holding it together for myself, my husband and my children.

The day he left was difficult. We tried to savor every moment as a family, but instead, we merely counted the hours to his departure.

We took a group photo with two silly children who didn’t fully understand the situation. Then it happened. A car pulled up and we knew it was time. We all hugged and said our “I’ll miss yous” and we watched and waved as he drove away.

I was a bit numb at first. All of the preparation was finally over and my body just wanted to crash. I am one to keep pushing myself, but decided that I needed to just let go. To give you an idea, my dinner that night was red wine and a bag of Doritos.

Friends and family members messaged to see how I was doing. I began to reply with a single photo that painted the picture very well. This was day one.

Handle It

Friends: “Hey Jackie, how are you?” Me: “See photo.”

The next morning, as I scrolled my Instagram feed, I saw a t-shirt that read “Make some coffee, put on gangsta rap and handle it.” For some reason, this spoke to my soul and I did exactly that.

I perked up after a sad night and was ready to face this deployment with new strength and positivity. I felt elated by the fact that I could pull this off and felt like Wonder Woman in the process. Sure, I expected bad days and tough times ahead, but I got in a positive mindset and that is exactly what I needed.

I handled my children with a loving kindness but also with a consistency so they knew exactly what to expect from mom as the single parent. They tried to test me, but saw that every time, I meant what I said. “If you do that again, the toy is gone.” I meant what I said. “I love you, boys.” I meant what I said. Throughout the confusion of dad leaving, they knew that I was their rock and that they could count on me.

What’s In It For Me

Come at me, deployment! I’m strong and my kids are watching.

I fully believe that I can’t pour from an empty cup and understand that I need to give myself more TLC than usual. As a good friend said, “Remember, this is a tortoise race.” I needed to hear those words because I typically operate at a hare’s pace.

I found a babysitter on post whom my children adore. And luckily, I have wonderfully supportive parents and in-laws who have been more than willing to help. The grandparents have provided support when I needed them to tap in with the kids — they have babysat, cooked, cleaned, done dishes and (my personal favorites) handled homework and bedtime!

I made new friends, took long walks, listened to my favorite music, burned scented candles, took hot baths, watched girly movies and began working out and eating right. I started feeling like ME again, but as a more rejuvenated version. In recent weeks I have had a spa day (future article coming), massages and gel nails! What treats!

The Payoff

Since feeding my soul, I’ve been happier, slept better, and it has rubbed off on my children. When my husband asks how we’re doing, we have a positive report nine times out of 10. We are all in a very good place and it feels amazing.

I have learned the value of not pushing myself until I break, and will plan to continue finding little ways to be good to myself throughout this deployment and post-homecoming.

I encourage you to get in touch with you, go easy on yourself from time to time, and treat yourself like the amazing person that you are. You and those around you will reap the benefits.

Stay tuned for upcoming installments of my Diary of a Deployment Series. 

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