If your boyfriend has recently been deployed, you may be experiencing a range of emotions -- from anger, to sadness, to resentment. It's common to feel stress during a loved one's deployment -- after all, a person you care for deeply is away from you for months on end and is possibly in harm's way. Even though this is likely one of your more difficult life experiences, remember that there are coping strategies you can try that can help to get you through this time.
Keep in Contact
It will help both you and your boyfriend if you have a plan for communicating that you both stick to. Getting into a regular routine of writing frequent, short letters will help lift both of your spirits and give you something to look forward to. Care packages are fun to compile, too. Take pictures of what you've been doing on a typical day and put them in a photo book with captions, gather silly toys and interesting newspaper articles and bake his favorite cookies. He'll be thrilled to get a piece of "home" in the mail -- and you'll benefit from having a consistent activity to keep your mind off his being away.
Join a Support Group
Becoming involved in a support group can help to ease feelings of loneliness and isolation. The Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force have groups to support the families of those deployed, and many of these welcome girlfriends, too. For example, the Army's Family Readiness Group (FRG) often includes soldiers, volunteers, civilian employees, spouses, children, boyfriends and girlfriends. Becoming active in a support group will give you a sense of belonging and an opportunity to develop friendships with those experiencing similar challenges. This group also will help you keep up to date with any important news and stay busy planning activities centered on supporting soldiers and their loved ones.
Accept Your Feelings
You might be surprised at how your emotions may be running the gamut these days -- one minute, you may be enjoying your freedom, and moments later, you feel crushed by an overwhelming sadness. Experiencing a range of emotions is normal when a loved one is deployed. Confusion, resentment, depression and anger are common, especially when your boyfriend first deploys. You may even feel detached or withdrawn. It can be frightening to experience such a roller coaster of emotions. Know that you're not alone.
Take Care of Yourself
To cope with feelings of anxiety and sadness, try out a new hobby, write in a journal or seek support from your faith community, if you have one. Exercise to get your endorphins ("feel-good" hormones) going, said clinical psychologist Barbara Schochet on "A Place of Our Own," a website that supports military families. She also suggested making a friend who has a deployed loved one (because those without military connections may not understand what you are going through) and thinking back to other times in your life that were tough -- but remembering that you got through them.
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