This year my husband and I finally faced the reality of deployments, which for my husband means 6-7 months away with little to no communication between ports. Sometimes I can receive emails every few days, sometimes it goes quiet for a month, with no way to know if my emails are reaching him at all. I just write daily, little things to keep him connected to our world out here, and hope he receives them and that they help him deal with the stress of his daily life under the sea. That part of the military wife package I was completely expecting, though of course I hate it, it comes as no surprise. The part I was not expecting is the strange sort of starvation my body seems to be going through, the one form of sustenance that I never counted in my daily diet but now that it’s completely taken out I find myself feeling inconsolably empty. That part is simply the hug. Of course, people always jump to sex when thinking of the difficulties of marrying someone who deploys for months at a time, but even at our best, we still hug 200% more than we are intimate. We are a very touchy feely couple, not in a gross 15 year-old way, but rather in that when we are in the same room we are generally touching, even if it’s just my foot on his lap while he plays video games and I read a book. Even then, in a quiet moment he will squeeze my foot, hugging the closest part of me. At the end of the night before sleep there is always a moment of quiet hugging, forehead to forehead, just as there is every time he comes home from work. The longer he’s been away the longer we will lie or stand like this, almost recharging. It is such a part of our marital language that I never thought what it would be like to go without it for so long.
Some days, especially now, when we aren’t even halfway through, it is more noticeable that I’m losing battery, limping along until the next port when I can hopefully fly out and see him for a few days, even if it does mean spending more time flying than actually being with him. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to fly out a couple times already, but honestly, I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been able to. I would probably just be a little miserable ball of pain, so stressed out that the fibro runs rampant. Nothing permanent, nothing I couldn’t survive, but definitely nothing I’m looking forward to going through. Also nothing that would make me very pleasant to be around; as my pain goes up my pleasantness tends to be affected inversely. So I’m very appreciative for the people in my life who have made it possible for me to fly out on a moment’s notice, because without all of them it wouldn’t be possible and I’d be in the middle of fibro hell right now. Instead, though I’m fighting a losing battle, at least I’m still fighting, not yet in little ball of pain form. And each little trip means another little top up which gets me through to the next little trip and the next little top up until finally he’s home and we, (hopefully), get a couple weeks of leave to just be together and actually recharge fully. As I always say, it’ll all be all right in the end, this just isn’t the end.
While we go through this deployment there are a few things I can do to feel a bit better, to distract myself from what is missing, to keep myself so busy I don’t have time to miss him, (even as I write that I am shaking my head, because it’s crap, no amount of busy keeps him from popping into my mind constantly), but absolutely nothing that can replace that need for his hugs. Put quite simply: it sucks. I don’t want sympathy, though, I don’t want pity. I only write this in the hopes that by acknowledging it I somehow gain some control over it. Because there’s nothing to be done, no amount of distractions and hugs from other friends or family will ever add up to what I’m missing. There is only patience and sheer stubbornness, an unwillingness to let some stupid deployment be stronger than me. For the most part that means I become a hermit, which has proven the easiest way for me to deal with this time. I get a lot of work done and I follow my own weird internal schedule, and if some days pass without me saying a word to another person, that’s not to say I don’t have very lively discussions both alone and with my ever chatty cat, Bubs. Luckily, we’re both fabulous conversationalists, he especially can continuously discuss things til all hours of the morning, whether or not I’m even conscious. So my days are full and that way they pass as quickly as can be expected.
At the end of the day, suck though it may, he’s worth it. And one day we’ll be so far past these years we’ll have forgotten how it felt to lose charge, life will be 100% again. I just have to