The hidden impact of deployment

I’m now a month into a 6 month deployment, and also only a month into living in a new location after moving hundreds of miles from the mountainous Scottish Highlands to a much flatter Shrivenham. We had plenty of notice for this deployment, around 5 months or so, and our relationship started at a distance. I used to work in humanitarian response and for a while lived in various location across central and west Africa at the time when my boyfriend (now husband) was posted to Afghanistan.We married two years ago, but our story is a long one. After meeting at university when I was 19 and my husband 20 we dated for a few years and travelled Europe together. At that time I was dead set on working for the UN and my husband, a guitar wielding long haired hippy of sorts started a career in publishing. Despite our close relationship at this age it felt important to ensure we were making decisions based on what we wanted to do in life, so when I was around 23 we broke up. At that point we thought we’d broken up for good. Fast forward to my late 20’s and we met again at a leaving do before he went on tour. We wrote to each other for months whilst based in various locations across the globe and rekindled a relationship.I never imagined I’d marry someone in the army, and in other relationships my fiercely independent streak led to relationships to break down. I was worried about becoming an army wife, people would tell me they ‘couldn’t imagine me as one’ which was relatively unhelpful. I felt the lifestyle might be restrictive and the lack of certainty around pretty much anything constantly stressful.Our marriage began in the best way possible, a 2 year posting to the Scottish Highlands. At the time of course I worried that I would be giving up a lot, my career, my friendships, my house which I’d just done up in Bath. But in reality I look back and realise I gained a lot instead. We fell in love with the wilderness the Highlands offers, exploring every weekend and the luxury of daily trips to the beach with our new member of the family, our fox red Labrador Ziggy. This move provided the timely opportunity to launch my own business in partnership with a good friend and colleague, an initiative which keeps growing and continues to inspire me. Most of all we had the luxury of building strong foundations to our marriage, learning how to live together, how to communicate lovingly and navigate the army life, and life in general, as a team.So the build up to this deployment was overwhelmingly positive. Positive because it’s what my husband wants in terms of a step in his career, I understand that having experienced the same during my humanitarian days and taking diverse opportunities now to enable my business to thrive. Before he went away I put lots of things in place to give me energy and momentum going into the tour – lots of weekend plans, lots of projects I never get round to doing, reconnecting with friends we didn’t see much during our time in Scotland.This preparation has been worthwhile, but what I didn’t expect is the hidden impact. The sudden drop in confidence which began with little niggles like:Is my dog barking waking up all the neighbours – what if they don’t tell me but talk about it to othersWill I make any friends since everyone else seems to have children and I’m not sure I’ll have anything interesting to shareWill I be ok going onto base for the first time on my own, it’s so big and I have no idea where I’m going surely someone is going to shout at me!This inner monologue surprised me, I wasn’t expecting it to rear it’s head so quickly. Thankfully some coaching I had a year or so ago has been so powerful in giving me tools to use to avoid repetitive negativity. So straight away I’m putting in place some positive steps, and so far so good. My general attitude is not to worry too much or wish away the days, even if I’d prefer my husband to be here with me. But I’m also slowly realising the importance of telling people how you really feel, too often we show a veneer that everything is ok only confiding to our husband or closest friends the reality. But when you can’t confide in your confidant then you need another outlet, otherwise the negative voice gets louder and louder eventually getting in the way – and getting you down.

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