I’m sure we’ve all been there: going through a period of separation and counting down the days until it’s all over. I’m sure many of you, like me, have also been in the position where that end date is suddenly pushed back and you fall into that stressful, dark place where you can’t figure out how to process this new piece of information. Whether it’s deployment, training or whatever else that has your soldier away from you, it’s very comforting to know that it’s not forever; that it will end. Even more comforting is that end date. That day when you know you will finally be able to say “it’s over! I survived!” But what happens when you can’t get excited about the end? When you’re too nervous that his homecoming date will be pushed back yet again, and you think, “Why bother. It won’t happen anyway.”
In the interest of full disclosure I will admit that I’ve been in this mindset for a while. My husband is on what should have been a 14 week course out of province. It has since turned into more than six months due to a broken foot mid-way through. For the past few weeks, since he was finally returned to a course, I have known when his graduation date should be. I say should because I’m nervous that something will happen to delay him further. I haven’t marked it on the calendar, I refuse to say out loud that it is happening favoring instead to say that it should be happening, and I haven’t bought him a graduation gift yet. I’m filled with trepidation that if I begin to make preparations I will somehow jinx it; that if I circle the day on the calendar, or plan my exact outfit that something will happen and I will be crushed. People cannot live like this. Well okay, we are military wives, we can live in stressful circumstances, but we should really try to alleviate the pressure. I have decided to make a change in my attitude and if any of you are in the same situation as I am, I think you should try changing too.
Here’s what you do:
• Mark it on the calendar. This is the first big step – this will make it seem official. I have my red marker in hand ready to circle that date.
• Get ready! I’m sure there are a million things you want to do before your soldier comes home. Cleaning, organizing, and maybe getting into a little better shape. Whatever it is make a list and start tackling it one thing at time.
• Start packing. If you are traveling for a ceremony or homecoming start packing early. Most of us will probably change our minds a hundred times about what we want to take and what we want to wear, so if you start packing early you have plenty of opportunities to change your mind until you get it just right.
• Realize that whether you expect it or not a delay will probably suck. If you think to yourself, “I can handle it if there is a setback because I’m not expecting this to end on time anyway”, you are wrong. I have been thinking that for a while and I’ve come to realize that whether I count down the days or not, my husband being separated from me for a longer period of time will hurt.
• Be excited! This is the one that I’m struggling with the most, but it’s crucial. Don’t think of yourself as being lost in an endless separation. See the light at the end of the tunnel and hold onto it! Even if something pushes that light a little further away it’s still there and you’re still hanging on.
So let’s all start the countdown, mark it on the calendar and get excited! Sure, military life is full of uncertainties, but that is no reason to keep yourself from being excited about the good things in your future!