During my husband’s 15 month deployment in 2005-2006, I experienced the usual separation pains. I’ve admitted them to other military families since then, but feel better able to articulate some of my thinking now, thanks to the life coach training that I’m currently enrolled in. I hated the thought of returning after work to an empty house (well, God bless the cats, I meant empty of people). Maybe my limiting belief was “I shouldn’t be alone on a Friday night.”
Cats always help with scrapbooking; nearby is yellow deployment support scarf (gift from friend).
I kept myself so busy that eventually I realized that it wasn’t sustainable. I had no clean clothes, no food in the fridge, and no peace and quiet. Of course, I was avoiding the peace and quiet in the first place, because then my fears could be heard: “he’s going to die.” Now, I am pretty sure that some of you are saying, “don’t worry so much”. Others, however, are probably agreeing, “well, the Green Zone (Baghdad, Iraq) isn’t the safest place on the planet”. I’ve recently learned from Martha Beck and Byron Katie that our inner lizards love to holler “the sky is falling!” even if it isn’t, and our thoughts may or may not be true.
He didn’t die, and the sky didn’t fall on our home. I feel survivor guilt for those who experienced a different outcome. During the deployment, I had to learn how to be by myself. At first, I cried a lot and had a hard time falling asleep. Our clergy-person at the time, Tim Rogers at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Salem, MA taught me a faith-based mantra to help calm my thoughts: breathe in while thinking one or two words, breathe out with another word or two. For example, “Come, Holy Spirit”. It could be any words that comfort you, from “help me, Jesus” to other meditative phrases.
I worked, volunteered, and eventually figured out that I could have time with friends and also evenings at home alone. It’s NOT true that “only pathetic people are home alone.” Sometimes friends visited with scrapbooking supplies, while other days found me scrapbooking with help only from cats! My neighbors were good to me, bringing me a big bowl of corn chowder and helping with snow removal. I prayed, assembled care packages, planned our mid-tour leave, and eventually cried a bit less and was able to sleep a bit better. My life coaching business can help others who are seeking to balance alone time and together time with others.
P.S. I've kept a personal blog for a couple of years (hence the photo labels) at www.througthespicerack.blogspot.com