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I Hate Motivational Posters: The Emotions of Extended Deployments

Nothing irks me more than those silly “You can do it!” posters. Sometimes nothing but negativity spews out of my mouth, and I feel like I can’t hang in there like the cat in the poster. I wish I could pretend that extensions don’t hurt, we all feel like that. I feel like I’m fed these motivational memes to help, but mental health can’t be ignored by a silly photo of an animal with some quote such as, “Don’t worry, you’ve got this.”

In all honesty, I don’t feel like I’ve got this. I miss my brother on the daily, I’m told it won’t be much longer, that the deployment will end shortly. But that only makes the monster named extension grow, feasting on disappointment and frustration. When you talk about the military, you hear about bravery, but nobody talks about the emotions that are thrown at you while your loved one is thousands of miles away.

Occasionally these emotions are caught with a letter or a phone call, but nothing more. To me it’s so agonizing, the entire event, knowing that there are thirty days left then being told it’s another two months. Then that monster grows, laughing as you hear “It’ll be alright!” That’s how it feels to me. I don’t need a baby eating sand, or a porcupine to feel alright here. I hate every minute of it.

I hate the word hate; it’s such a strong and overused word. But there is nothing mild about feeling that bubble of disappointment in your throat, a feeling so strong it’s hard to even speak. There isn’t anything remotely mild about deployment. It’s like a natural disaster. It's stressful and inevitable, nearly inescapable. I feel like I can’t talk about it, like I ought to muster up a laugh as I’m shown another meme about being strong.

It’s hard to feel okay, and it’s even harder to accept that. But I don’t need eleven inspirational dog memes, I need my brother. I certainly don’t feel strong, I feel vulnerable. So, I hate motivational posters because it doesn’t help. Sometimes there aren't ten ways to alleviate stress during deployments and that’s okay! It’s like the end of the movie where the main character realizes something so large it conquers the climax and fixes the conflict, it’s the resolution.

People forget that it’s okay to feel emotions, that it’s okay to be angry, that it’s okay to not be okay, and that if you never find your resolution, don’t fret. It’s okay to let your bucket overflow, and it’s alright to let it fill and watch as it lets loose. Even if your bucket is filled with fuss, sorrow, fear, ANYTHING! It is perfectly fine.

Because there might not be an exact set date, at least not an accessible one. But you aren’t alone; that frustration and disappointment is not forever, it is certainly not unique. But it is valid. It may not be an "angry cat or a guinea pig in a costume" solution, but it isn't unfixable. Even if fixing it is waiting it out or doing some silly craft. You aren’t alone in feeling grief. It isn’t selfish, or distasteful, it is human. As dependents we are expected to just roll with the punches, then we have to get over it since what’s done is done. But it's perfectly fine to feel upset, even if it seems wrong. Deployments don’t last forever.


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