Staying and feeling connected to others can be challenging at the best of times. This becomes particularly difficult during deployment. While technology has made a world of difference in our ability to (sometimes) stay connected to our deployed partners, feeling connected when miles apart might be a struggle.
When my husband was deployed, we were fortunate enough to talk almost every day using WhatsApp, which allowed us to video chat as well. Although we talked all the time and could see each other’s faces there was still a sense of disconnect. We were in drastically different time zones and different parts of the world. His day-to-day reality was something I couldn’t even comprehend. He missed home. And at times I was resentful that he was gone.
It would have been easy to ignore this sense of disconnection, but we didn’t. I brought it up and we tried to come up with ways to feel connected while so very far apart. One of the things we did was every time we talked, we would share what the highlight of the day was — even if, especially if, it was something so simple and mundane, like the cats zooming around the apartment. We watched some of the same shows on Netflix when possible and discussed them. I baked cookies, made jerky and sent packages with love. Once every three weeks, we did a group Zoom call with our good friends in Maryland and it felt almost as good as being together physically.
I also did things that did not involve my husband to foster memories and closeness such as talking to my husband’s parents more often. I’d look at pictures or watch movies we both liked. I wrote letters and journaled. I leaned on friends, including those in my military family. Staying connected to others, who we both cared for, helped to feel a sense of closeness and community.
Deployment is a challenge. Acknowledging that head on, asking for support, and being creative can help to get through it. More information about dealing with deployment can be found at https://www.militaryonesource.mil/military-deployment-support/.