We are the unsupported support. We provide support services to those deployed in far away places. We are the keepers of their secrets; at times, they are the keepers of ours as well. We become part of the “far away family” that only those familiar with long term deployments can relate to. We celebrate their successes, share in their sadness, and stand side by side with them in places others would dare not go. We create sacred and safe places within which they disclose the deepest secrets and fears. We maintain the integrity of the moment and when they introduce to us their demons, we welcome them with open arms. We provide normalcy in places where abnormal becomes the norm. We normalize the experience of disbelief and despair. We walk with them through the battlefields that remain active within them. We mourn their losses. We deactivate the demons that fuel rages, OCD like behaviors, and drinking binges that only a select few understand. We are the unsupported support. We reap the reward of beneficial part of their breakthroughs. When we can, we see them safely thru to other side of the images that, before us, they could not escape. We provide the peace of mind that acceptance provides. With us they are not judged. With us they nothing more than individuals who did what what they had to do in less than optimum conditions. We support them in their darkest hours and become the light by which they find their way home.
“You feel like a shadow on the front porch of what used to be your life; looking in, very present, but only on the periphery.”
Traversing the world is wonderful, but missing out on time with your family, is not. So, when the opportunity to take an assignment in my home state arose, I couldn’t have been happier. If only I had known….
As difficult as being deployed is for the loved ones of those serving in the various branches in the military, it is that much harder on the service member. This is a “different kind of deployment” because although the service member hasn’t gone, their training schedules can keep them away for weeks at time and, in many ways, being just far away enough not to go home every day is much more difficult that not being able to go home at all.
You’re doing what you have to do to support them. They are doing what they have to do as well – but it takes its toll on all involved. There is distance – where before there was none. You feel like a shadow on the front porch of what used to be your life; looking in, very present, but only on the periphery.
The back and forth takes its toll. Now you see them, now you don’t. You look forward to being with them when you can, but even more than that, you dread having to “readjust” when you return to your life without them. You wonder if they really understand and/or appreciate the sacrifices that you are making on their behalf. You don’t tell them how hard it really is and they don’t tell you. Your conversations consist of things you will do and how great it will be. It’s easier that way…but not really. Things will never really be the same again. You dare not tell them…but it’s okay… because they probably already know.