I know. It sounds awful. What cold-hearted b*#$% doesn’t miss her husband while he is deployed overseas?!
I definitely miss my husband! I think of him everyday, pray for his safety and the safety of his men, and can’t wait for him to come home. But let me explain…
I volunteer with my husband’s unit, and last night I sat on a panel of spouses for a large group of spouses and family members who are new to the unit and the Special Operations community. At some point I said, “This deployment feels so different from the previous one, almost like I don’t miss him that much.”
I immediately cringed inside. I beat myself up on the car ride home, and while I laid alone in bed sadly more aware than ever of my husband’s absence.
Of course I miss my husband, why did I say that? That sounded so awful. That’s not at all how I feel!
The way I “missed him” in the past was dependent, insecure and dysfunctional. Unfortunately, when I said “…I don’t miss him that much,” I chose an oversimplified way of explaining that I am not anxiously attached to my husband as I once was. If I had said that no one in that room would have known what I meant. Chances are you don’t know what I mean either, so let me explain.
We all have an attachment style that we developed in childhood. Known as attachment theory, it explains the strategies we developed as babies and children in getting our needs met as a result of the emotional environment and type of care available to us.
I developed an insecure attachment due to my caregivers lack of attention to me and my needs. I didn’t have a secure or consistent foundation as a child, and I became insecure and mistrusting. The very people I needed to love me were also the people that I couldn’t trust. But typical of an anxious attachment, I learned that the best way to get my needs met was to cling to my attachment figures. It never worked. What a confusing place to be as a little kid!
And so I carried my anxious attachment with me into my adult relationships (all of them) including the relationship with my husband, completely unaware. As a veteran myself, I thought I had an advantage as a spouse, understanding life as a service member. But my unidentified anxious attachment became even more tenacious. I literally felt out of control of my emotions and my life. I clung to a man whose job requires he be gone … a lot. I wasn’t happy and in my mind it was his fault; how I felt was his responsibility.
I spiraled out of control. I needed help. Almost exactly one year ago I began speaking weekly with our unit psychologist (the Special Operations community provides us with so many resources to strengthen the Operators and their families). She was the driving force in me becoming aware of, and overcoming, my anxious attachment.
Now things are different. Man, this year has been such a journey! Full of challenges but all which led me to a much better place and out of the anxious attachment. I love and miss my husband dearly, but I’m not anxiously attached to him and I don’t need (or expect) him to make me feel OK. That’s my responsibility.
Because I feel secure in myself, I don’t fear how, or if, my emotional needs will be met. I know how to take care of them myself. Through a combination of meditation/prayer, breathing exercises, yoga and journaling, I have learned to become attuned to myself and look inward first when seeking emotional comfort (because I can’t expect others to satisfy my needs if I don’t even know how I’m feel and what I’m needing).
Because of this I am much stronger, emotionally independent and better equipped to handle this deployment. And I’m also super excited for this moment…
If you can relate to this (whether you are a military spouse or not) my heart goes out to you. I know how painful it is. But I’m also excited for you to experience what it feels like to be free from anxious attachment. Please reach out to me with any questions and I will help you on the path to feeling emotionally secure.
Tiffany is a writer, fitness trainer, yoga and meditation practitioner, veteran of the US Army Special Operations, and a former NFL Cheerleader. She is an advocate for using movement and mindfulness as a means of connecting to, and transforming, how we feel so we can elevate the relationship with ourselves and those around us. She teaches her signature mindful movement method, FlowX, and provides free classes to vets and military spouses. She shares her writings and FlowX method on her blog www.tiffpelton.comSubscribe to Millspouse: This Week