In the military world, it’s an up-and-down, throw-you-around, rollercoaster ride — and not just for the service member. Each family pays the price. So let’s talk about that.
It’s so often said that we know what we signed up for, and I believe that’s true to an extent. I believe we know what we don’t know. I will admit when I married into the military, I had no idea what my future was going to consist of. All I knew was my husband was a loadmaster and we were moving across the world. I had no idea how that was going to affect our lives. Ten years later, I can give you a better picture. Our lives are woven together by long-distance phone calls, weeks and sometimes months spent apart, missed holidays, birthdays, and vacations, tears, and a lot of unexpected “stuff” that just has to be accepted (and love, obviously a whole lot of love or else I would have called it quits years ago!)
But what hitches a ride with all of that is the mental side effects. Let’s call it the mental load of being a military spouse. This is the part where we didn’t necessarily know what we signed up for. We knew it probably wouldn’t be easy and we quickly learned that deployments and TDYs are par for the course. We even get a whiff of the politics and bullshit that comes with this life and affects our service member’s career. However, it’s the fine print that we seemed to miss.
So often the spouses and families are left in the dust, left to just deal with and accept the situation. Our husbands and our children’s fathers are not our own, the military owns them, pulls their strings, and plays them like puppets as their loved ones get a front-row seat to the show. It sounds harsh but that’s the reality of this life. All the while we have to understand that it’s the mission first and foremost and it’s our job to hold down the home front.
But what about our mental health? More often than not, we can mentally and emotionally prepare for a deployment or TDY; we usually have ample amount of time to get affairs in order and we can paint a picture of what the next few weeks or months are going to look like. Resiliency leads preparation, right? However, there are many situations where there’s no time to prepare, we get no warning. There’s just enough time to get their boots tied, bags thrown in the car, and short goodbyes said. Or there are the instances where they may be going and then they’re not, they’re definitely going, and then they’re not. The emotional whiplash of these situations can be traumatic.
The mental aftermath of these intense and short-notice situations is immensely overlooked. The mental health of spouses and dependents, overall, is massively underrated and overlooked.
Don’t get me wrong there are resources available and people to talk to so most definitely utilize what you’ve got, but if you’re struggling, it’s OK. Odds are we are all struggling. Hang in there.Read comments