Finally a little over halfway through second deployment! While the actual deployment was the same as last time for him, it has been far different for me.
First deployment, was of course different because it was new to the both of us. Neither of us knew what to expect. I stayed in Hawaii the whole deployment, and I worked 40+ hours a week. I heard from him every couple days, with a communication dry spell of about 3-4 weeks towards the middle. I stayed very busy, working, running 5K's, getting my Hawaii state fire warden certificate, buying patio furniture and putting it together by myself, learning to change tires, getting clogs out of the shower, etc. The first couple weeks of that deployment went slow, and then it was over before I knew it!
This deployment, I have been home in Kansas the whole time. Being his last deployment, it made more sense for me to come home so we could make some extra cash before he leaves the military. I used to envy the women that went home, and now I'm realizing how much I miss being on base sometimes.
Staying at your duty station during a deployment can suck if you're like me because you don't have kids. I think that having children can really make a difference because they keep you driven to go on to the next day, and they are FAMILY. Since I have no children, I was there, doing the deployment on my own, which is an incredibly lonely feat for 6-7 months. I didn't have the ability to just hop in a car and drive home to see my family. I didn't feel as though I had a lot of friends on base, but it really helps to know that most of the wives you know, are probably in the "SS Husband-less" boat too. (It's a really big boat when you live on a military base.) While you may not be buddy buddy with these women, you quickly learn to find solace knowing that you are not the only one going through it.
Being home for deployment has some serious pros and cons. My biggest con is not living in a military community anymore, where people understand deployment. That being said, it has been a huge struggle to not punch all the people that have been talking behind my back. Since no one understands why I am here while my husband is gone, I have run into various rumors:
"Oh yeah, Emma and Brandon aren't doing good."
"He kicked her out and made her come back."
"They're getting a divorce"
For the record, these are all completely untrue, and I am so so sick of hearing about my life through my community. When we decided to save money by having me live off base this deployment, I had not mentally prepared myself to deal with such negativity from a community that I respected and loved. It's hard to not be overwhelmed with frustration when people message you and say, "hey I heard a rumor…" Halfway through the deployment and it still really really bothers me. It is also hard to be around a civilian lifestyle. For weeks I was so confused when I didn't hear colors playing in the morning, or taps at night. I had to figure out 12-hour time again too, (although my phone remains on military time) It was weird to have people check my ID, and not know how to read it because I had instinctively handed them my military ID. It's been hard to readjust, and learn how to explain common military acronyms and lingo to people at home who don't understand, or don't really care to try.
Being around family however, has been great. I really missed them over the course of two and a half years, and it feels like such a relief knowing that they are easily accessible to me now. I don't feel as though I'm missing out on all the fun stuff. It can be hard being away from home and checking Facebook only to see your whole family minus you went on vacation.
So while I have been home, I started working, because really, I can't not work. I will go crazy if I don't. I am also back in school! Which feels so good. I am so happy to be older and have a little bit more life experience because it has really shaped my career path.
All in all, I have really learned a lot about myself between the two deployments. I have had a lot of unexpected twists during both, but when it boils down to it, deployments suck, no matter where you choose to be. There are pros and cons of both, and they need to be expected upon making a decision. I went home with the attitude that this deployment would be so much easier, only to learn that emotionally it has been a lot tougher. Be realistic in your choice, and don't expect either way to be easy. Deployments are all hard in their own ways, and it's all about the way you cope!