My best friend asked me recently how I did this MilSpouse thing, I’ve had a few other people tell me they don’t know how I do it and I know that other MilSpouses get the same comments and questions, too. It’s a tough gig, I’ll tell you that. The responses are many and varied and each of us does it differently. Yet we all have the same basic tools that we use and build on.
If you spend anytime at all trying to understand it for yourself, you’ll see that most articles and bloggers, other writers and advice columnists start off by telling you to “keep busy“. And at the core of dealing with military life, keeping busy is the single most important tool you have.
Some of us have jobs that keep us extremely busy and occupied, some have kids that keep them busy (and tired!) – others have their causes and hobbies, and still others have artistic ventures. There’s so many different ways to keep busy that it’s hard to pin point any one way.
For me … I have tons of interests and hobbies. For the year while he was down-range in Afghanistan, I had my job, I had my reading, my cats, I picked some TV show addictions. I had projects that I started – and most of them never finished. And I had sleep, lovely sleep. I learned a lot in that year; I read almost incessantly. And when I wasn’t reading or working, I was watching mindless TV or sleeping. I kept busy alright.
Oh don’t get me wrong!
You have moments when you feel you really, absolutely cannot go on. Those moments when the shit hits the fan and a big piece hits you in the face. You realize cleaning up would be so much easier if your other half was here. It’s a moment or two (or hundred) when you break and you fall on your ass on the floor and sob and blubber because at that moment, you are as alone as you have ever felt. And every time that moment happens, it’s worse than the last one. You literally break in half and settle into a puddle on the bedroom/bathroom/living room/kitchen floor. Pick one or all – it happens enough times for each floor to get it’s own special time with your face buried in it.
If you want to live, though … and you do because you know at some point your DH will be home and finding you on the floor in a puddle of unwashed, tearful misery is not the kind of image you want him (or her) to see … if you want to live, you will realize that food must be eaten, baths must be taken, bills must be paid, and work must be done. So you eventually pull yourself up from the puddle and wipe your face.
Then when you do that, you realize how positively septic you smell, and how ravenous you are and suddenly, the shit that hit the fan and how difficult it is going to be clean it up, is of far less importance than having a bath and eating some food. And in the eating of the food or the taking of the bath, you realize that the soap is almost done, or the towels need to be washed, but you’re out of laundry detergent… or curses! … you’re out of ice cream!
In short, you get past those moments of utter and complete despair and since life goes on whether you want it to or not, there are reminders that bring you back to the present and keep you busy again until the next break.
It’s a cycle. A long-time friend of mine once said to me that he savoured the emotional lows because they allowed him to really appreciate the highs. He wasn’t wrong… when you can survive through the lows, while you scrape the bottom and eat ice cream … then the highs are so much brighter and enjoyable.
It is being able to survive those lows that gives me my strength. I’ve survived some lows in my life. Oh boy! Some lows I thought I would never dig myself out of. Some lows where not even the brightness of the high was visible from that far down. Some lows where I didn’t know if I was going to make it through the next 5 minutes much less another few months. But I survived and I am here to tell you that the one thing that kept me going through a year of separation from DH … was the thought that one day he would hold me in his arms again.
And when he finally did …. it was absolutely the best thing in the whole world!
And oh yea – now that he’s here, I take every single opportunity to hug him … over and over and over again … because since the war isn’t over yet, I don’t know when he’ll be gone again and I want to make sure to store up as many of those hugs as I can for the days when I won’t be able to just take one.
You ask me how I do this? I do it because the alternative is inconceivable … now that I have found him, there is no way I am letting go of him. And when the army takes him away from me, I just think forward to when I get him back. And when he’s here, I make sure to maximise as many of the moments we have together as I can so that I have tons of memories and reminders to keep me going when he’s gone… and something to look forward to when he comes back.
And that is how I do it… because I can’t not. Simple – no?