03 February 2011

Superhuman military wife

‘Superhuman’ military wife encounters her kryptonite

- Special to The Telegraph

You always hear about how much the military member changes during a deployment, and you will get no argument from me on that note. I have seen Justin change in different ways after each deployment. But I never heard that much about how a deployment can change those left behind.
Don’t get me wrong, we talk about how hard it is to adjust back into a family routine, but that isn’t exactly what I mean. I can honestly say I never noticed much of a change in me during other deployments. Then again, I could have just been in denial or so excited he was home that I was too busy enjoying the moment to realize I wasn’t the same person he left behind.
But this time I see and feel myself changing as if I am watching through the looking glass. I can see my fuse shorten with the boys, I can see the version of me that preferred sitting in the floor playing silly games with the boys over cleaning any day disappearing and I can see my love for the Air Force way of life fading away.
Up until recently, I would have never thought twice about the possibility of Justin ending his Air Force career before he had completed the 20 years necessary to retire. I was always the one encouraging him that we could handle all the separations, because in the long run it would be what was best for our family. However, with the possibility of Justin leaving again about six months after he returns from this deployment, my commitment to the Air Force life has started to wane.
It doesn’t help the matter that many people somehow think military wives should be “superhuman” when it comes to dealing with the military lifestyle. The “you married it and you knew what to expect” attitude some people direct toward military families is really getting under my skin lately. But can you really know what to expect? Can you know how being separated for months at a time will affect you, your spouse and your children? I don’t think anyone can truly know the affect of the lifestyle until you’ve lived it. And with each new leg of your Air Force journey comes new challenges -- meaning even when you think you’ve got the hang of it, there will be something around the corner to ensure you don’t.
It still bothers me that people somehow think it is fine for a non-military spouse to complain when their spouse is gone for a week on business, but if a military spouse complains about a seven-month deployment, they face the “it could be worse” response. This comment would be fine coming from another military spouse who just endured a one-year separation, but not from your everyday, never-been-there acquaintance. Don’t get me wrong, remembering it could always be worse is an important part of staying positive. But I don’t need everyone reminding me. I know. And I know several spouses who have it worse who act as a much more vivid reminder.
I spent much of my time as an Air Force wife apologizing -- for not wanting to be separated, for hating that my husband has to miss so many precious memories and for not being 100 percent excited about every day I spend as a military spouse, because that is what many people expected of me. I would even get aggravated with the spouses who had the nerve to complain out loud about the numerous deployments, the never-ending extra duty assignments and anything else that bugged them about being married to the military. And to all of those spouses, I now humbly apologize. I have finally been converted.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not ready to eject from the life we have chosen, but I am ready to admit it is hard to always keep a smile on your face. No matter how long or short the separation is the trails can be exhausting no matter how “super-powered” you are supposed to be.
Amanda Creel, who was a staff writer at the Robins Rev-Up newspaper on Robins Air Force Base, is married to Staff Sgt. Justin Creel, stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall in Suffolk, England. Contact her at acreel@macon.com.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for posting this.
    It's funny - just yesterday I got my feathers ruffled by an "ehow"video where a (I believe a non-military) life coach gave advice on how to keep a marriage together during deployment. Horrible. She had no clue.....strange, husband's been long back, but it's still with me....