The Unspoken Fear from a Military Spouse

Alternate title: The Elephant in the Room. Also, I wrote this post over the course of the deployment, but I wrote the majority on September 11, 2019. I wasn’t sure if it would ever see the light of day…because there are some things you just don’t even want to say out loud. But I think it’s important to share a glimpse of what and how we (military spouses) feel during a deployment. There’s this stigma that we’re strong and brave, but deep down we all have the same unspoken fear.

And, In case you’re reading this and not familiar with our story, my husband returned home safely from his year+ deployment in May 2020.

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There’s an Elephant in the room, and it’s been around since the “D” word first escaped from my husband’s lips.

Sometimes the Elephant is actually in another room. Out of sight, out of mind.

I obviously prefer it that way.

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Because sometimes the Elephant isn’t just in the same room with me; it’s in my face and sitting on my chest, crushing the ability to catch my breath; making it impossible to breathe, and even harder to even think straight.

Right now my kids are playing outside without a care in the world. They have no idea what today is.

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It’s September 11th, and they can’t even fathom or grasp what 9/11 means, and how it, 18 years ago today, actually shaped our life, where we’re at, and where their dad is currently deployed.

They’re in a happy little bubble, and I plan on keeping it that way. They can learn about 9/11 later…definitely not this year.

Today the world is remembering and “never forgetting,” but I never seem to forget.

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I’m reminded what my husband is doing for our country every single day.

I’m reminded every time my daughters get sad and I can’t comfort them, because I’m not their dad. Every tear shed, every angry outburst, and every night I go to bed alone, I’m reminded.

I’m reminded of why he’s there every time he tells me there’s been a rocket launch, or a bomb near him, and that he was just in lockdown and in a bunker.

I thank God for those bunkers.

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Which brings me back to the Elephant in the room

When I pray for him—day in and day out, morning and night; at a stoplight, while scrolling through facebook, or when I’m making a peanut butter sandwich and I suddenly get an overwhelming feeling that things aren’t okay—my prayer is always the same: that he’ll actually come home.

I’m not supposed to say that out loud.

I think it’s an unspoken rule amongst military wives (or maybe just a superstition I’ve put upon myself), but we keep mum on that topic.

Typing it out doesn’t count, by the way (I’m telling myself that, too).

But still.

Every single night I pray for his safety, and every single morning I wake up and pray I hear from him.

No news is good news they say, but silence can be deafening and suffocating

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That Damn Elephant is there, creeping back into my space and invading my precious family.

When there are internet hiccups on his end, or he’s traveling and I don’t hear from him I have to distract myself and sometimes physically push that Damn Elephant away…but yet…

The longer I don’t hear from him the more realistic the vision of a chaplain and uniformed troops knocking on my door becomes. Sometimes it takes hold of me so much so that I can actually visualize it, and I pray that the kids won’t be around, or that my mom will be there with me if someone were to meet me at the door.

It’s horrible and can easily consume my thoughts if I’m not careful.

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Not to mention the news is always so nonchalant and blunt with everything.

Bombs exploding…troops are dead…waiting to contact next of kin before more details are released. It’s why I don’t watch the news at all during a deployment; I can’t handle a heard of Elephants knocking on my door.

So I just wait, and wait, and wait. That Damn Elephant sits in the room, waiting with me.

It’s here, in every corner of my mind, and it takes every single ounce of effort to intentionally push the “what if,” and “please God, no” thoughts aside so I can focus on the now.

That Damn Elephant won’t leave us alone until my husband is back home and with us. And until that day comes—until I can breathe again—I have to learn to live with it.

I focus on my kids. I focus on our life here, I focus on our time spent together, and I try to leave the Elephant out of it. Because that’s all I can do.

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In case you’re reading this and not familiar with our story, my husband returned home safely from his year+ deployment in May 2020.

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9 Comments

  1. Whew, I felt EVERY emotion while reading that! I’m so glad your husband made it home safely. Please thank him for his service to our country AND thank you for keeping his home and children safe and sound while he was away.

  2. I can’t talk right now because I have a big lump in my throat! Love you both (and the kids) very much. Thank you, Kenny, for all you do. God be with you.

  3. I remember those days! Quite clearly. Concerned the next call is one on route to a hospital because you heard something on the news in a coffee shop or an unexpected knock on the door at odd hour makes your heart sink. You’re right, it’s someone we never talk about even among spouses but it’s there. It’s something you can’t prepare for or understand until that elephant is staring you in the face. Hugs! It never gets easier but you do find better ways to distract yourself.

  4. Wow! You really put into words how hard it is for the spouse and family during a deployment. I have also noticed how matter-of-fact the news is with statistics and reports of military member deaths. I always think of their families, of their spouse, and what it must be like to get that knock on the door. I can see why you don’t talk about it; some things are better left unsaid. To put words to our fears makes them more real, I think. When I say, “Thank you for your service,” I say it not only to your husband and to all military members, but also to their spouse and family because you are all doing service in one way or another. It is appreciated and valued.

  5. Hi! I’m new here. I’m a New Mexican native and military spouse for 17 years. Because of the pandemic we decided not to travel the three day drive home to NM so instead my hubby said he wanted my mom’s biscochos…so I started here and found your recipe. This was a great blog- yes the damn elephant does exist. Anyway, glad I found your blog. Where from NM are you from? Red Chile pods are hard to come by in Virginia lol!!

    1. So glad you stopped by and “stayed” for a bit! I hope you managed to get some lard for the biscochitos…we couldn’t find any out here, and Amazon would’ve taken too long, so we tried using butter and they definitely didn’t turn out the same. Also hope you’ll get to visit home sooner than later! You probably already do this, but we always do a Costco run when we’re home and stock up on the 505 giant jar of green chile, the Sadie’s salsa, and the Cervantes red chile! (Of course, if you’re in NM you can get your favorites from any restaurant, too)! Oh! And i’m from Albuquerque and went to NMSU 🙂

      1. We did find lard! I had to send Jack to Hispanic market out here. They came out great. I also went to NMSU!! That’s where I met my husband. I was there from ‘98-‘03. You sure do look familiar. I’m from La Mesa, NM just south of Cruces. I saw you also spent some time at Hood. That’s been our longest duty station where he did back to back Iraq tours.

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