I am not going to lie. This was a tough blog for me to write. I kept asking myself “Why is it important to have an emotional support system?” The only answer I could initially come up with was, “Cause, it is!” Since that would do no one any good, I had to dig a little deeper. This is why I feel it is important to have an emotional support system in place when your spouse deploys, and several places you can go to start building that system.
My husband deployed shortly after we got married. Since we did not live together before we got married (old-fashioned, right?) I continued to live with my mom (go ahead and laugh…WE think it’s funny) and continued working at the job where I had been working for 18 months. Luckily I wasn’t in a new location without family and friends there to support me, but still I had my moments.
What would I have done without that emotional support? What would I have done when (yep, I’ll admit it) I would break down emotionally during the deployment, tears and all, for no apparent reason? Would I have been as strong for him as I needed to be?
Luckily my wonderful friends and family were there to support me whenever I needed them, regardless of whether I asked for help or not. My support system helped save my sanity. Friends encouraged me to start my CrossFit journey and I got in shape during the deployment. During the Workout of the Day you could see sweat (or tears) pouring down my face. Working out and having friends and family there helped me overcome the emotional struggles I was battling on those particular days.
As a new military spouse, what I really didn’t understand at the time was that I wasn’t alone during deployment. I have learned how other spouses coped with being away from their spouse for long periods of time, like Leslie’s story that she shared here on InDependent, or Jenni’s story that I heard when I interviewed her during deployment. Talking to spouses like Leslie, Jenni, and many others, has broadened my perspective on why an emotional support system is crucial. You need activities to keep you distracted and give you something to look forward to. You need people to provide a listening ear, an understanding hug, or a helpful hand. You don’t have to go through it alone.
So before your spouse leaves for the next deployment or for a long period of time in the field, here are some great tools to help build your emotional toolbox.
Family Readiness Group – These spouses are going to be in the same boat as you and it is a great place to start if you are looking for emotional support during your spouse’s deployment. Even if there are only one or two people you can talk to about your day, then do it! But make sure you return the favor and are there for them when they need you.
Installation Community Centers – Find your local Airmen & Family Readiness Center, Army Community Center, or the place on your military installation that can provide you with the contacts you need for emotional support. These community centers offer a wealth of information that you can use to help you get the help you need and may even provide a place where you can meet others who are in the same boat.
Morale, Welfare and Recreation – Get out and put yourself out there. Easier said than done right? Well it doesn’t have to be. MWR offers different events throughout the year on your local installation. Not to mention it also provides daily classes to challenge you physically. Also, see if your local MWR is holding any trips that you can sign up for during the deployment. This will not only give you something to look forward to, but it gets you out of the house and there is always the possibility of meeting new people (which doesn’t hurt).
InDependent Communities – Last, but certainly not least is our InDependent Communities. Here you can find the emotional support you need while also challenging yourself to be healthier. Who hasn’t wanted to get fit and feel better when your spouse is away? The InDependent team will also be there for you if you need someone to talk to. We are always willing to lend an ear. (Note: We are revamping our communities platform, with a big launch coming soon. We think you’re really going to like what’s coming. Meanwhile, you can email Evie, our community and operations manager, to see if there are any InDependent meetups in your area.)
Why do you think having an emotional support system is important? Share how you overcame emotional issues during your spouse’s last deployment in the comments below.