My latest Blue Star Families post: Support on the Home Front
When I first joined the silent ranks of military spouses, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Our first PSC move went smoothly, and we loved our duty station. My husband worked fairly regular hours and his travel was limited and short. Other than the trip that caused him to almost miss the premature birth of our first child, his military career wasn’t affecting my life a whole lot. Until he got deployed.
Within the first few weeks of the deployment, I got a taste of what being married to the military really meant. I felt I had finally earned my official initiation into the military spouse club. Unfortunately, instead of feeling like a member of a unified club, I felt alone. Besides my family, I had no support system whatsoever. I had no spouse support groups to turn to, and I had only a handful of military friends. My local civilian friends, who couldn’t empathize with what I was going through, gradually stopped calling. As a relatively new military spouse, I wasn’t aware of any organizations that could help me, and I was too overwhelmed and intimidated to seek them out. It was a lonesome, gloomy time for me, and I seriously questioned my ability to sustain this lifestyle for the long term.
Thankfully, this deployment is different. I’m older and more accustomed to military life. Most of my friends are fellow military spouses who can commiserate with my ups and downs and point me in the right direction for support services. I have a widespread support network in cyberspace through blogs and Facebook, as well as organizations like Blue Star Families and Military OneSource. And even though I haven’t attended any family support group outings, at least I know they’re available.
Although I’m more aware of where to seek assistance, my biggest obstacle is learning to use it. I don’t like asking for help. Sure I call my family and close friends when I need to air my grievances about the deployment. But what else am I doing to control my stress levels? I have to remind myself that I can’t wait for family to send in the reinforcements before I take time out for myself. I have reliable baby-sitters. I have free child care at the YMCA while I sweat out the stress. And now I have a magical massage therapist (whose fees I strongly believe should be covered under TRICARE as mental health treatment). There’s nothing wrong with pampering myself every now and then. After all, if I’m frustrated and tense, I can’t effectively do my job as a double duty parent.
As military spouses, we need all the help we can get, especially during deployments. While we’re on the home front supporting our service members, we need to make sure others are supporting us. My husband may be gone, but I know I’m not alone. I finally feel like a member of the elite military spouse club. Now who wants to volunteer to baby-sit so I can book my next massage?