Thursday, November 3, 2011

Five Stages of Deployment-- Acceptance

This is the fifth and last in a series of blogs based on Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief. These, however, are the Five Stages of a Deployment, or extended TDY, or any time our Soldier is “away”.

The time frame for these may vary depending on the spouse and on the individual couple. For example, when we first got married and I had moved halfway across the country, our first CQ involved all five stages because it happened the first day in our new home. Now, I don’t really do many of these until about the third week, or they pass so quickly it’s a mere bad mood.


I am purposefully not doing the stages in the usual order, because even Kubler-Ross says these stages aren’t necessarily complete or chronological. Each person is unique.


I've taken the longest to write this particular stage, because I wasn't exactly sure what this looked like.  Is it the "hooah-hooah Army wives rock" kind of feeling?  Is it the "I'm so proud of my Soldier and my country that this is worth it" spirit?

Acceptance is the most difficult stage for me, honestly.  While I try very hard to roll with the changes and the upheaval, and while I remind myself (and others) that this too, shall pass-- it's still very hard for me not to fight against it.  I had a former coworker tell me that I was "contentious" and I think he was right.  I certainly don't like to "settle" when there are things that can be done to improve upon or change a situation. 

So, anyway, reaching acceptance is a hard one for me, especially before a deployment gets started.  I find myself bracing against the changes that I know are coming, and tensing up against the waves of deployment "stuff".   I sort of grit my teeth and grumble, thinking "here we go again".

Then, I remember what the nurses told me when I was pregnant with the girls and was having contractions.  If you think about something else, if you relax the best you can and just let the wave take you, it doesn't hurt so much.  Fighting it, tensing against it, makes it hurt more.

That focus, that ability to accept the wave and just ride with it, is what acceptance is during a deployment.  The pain doesn't go away.  The upheaval is just as intense.  It just means that we are able to go on, despite it.  

We find a new way to be, for that time.  We find our ways to cope and our ways to breathe in, breathe out...  Not the shallow, tight, omigod-this-hurts breathing that comes when we fear something or when it seems unbearable.  That comes when the bus pulls away with our Soldier in it.  It comes occasionally when the doorbell rings and we fear the worst.  That painful breathing comes when the phone doesn't ring when we expected and hoped it would.

But we find a way to relax our hearts.  We find a way to ease our minds and focus on brighter times.  THAT is acceptance.

Sometimes acceptance comes with yellow ribbons and hooah t-shirts.  Sometimes it comes when we finally get around to making that list of things to do "before he goes".   Either way, acceptance is a tremendously difficult, yet sweet, stage of deployment.

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