Keeping Families in Mind

Support for military families in South Yorkshire

My husband is Sponsored Reserve in the Army. He is away from home most weeks, traveling back and forth from Yorkshire to Wiltshire. As he can be working any of the 7 days during the week and anywhere in the country it is difficult to make plans. If we are arranging to meet friends or thinking of a day out, it might only be a few days until we can 100% confirm. At the beginning I felt very lonely and isolated when he went away. Weekends can be the worse, as it can feel like everyone else is busy with their families and social lives.  Family and friends don’t understand how I am feeling as they don’t have a military background or have partners that are away from home so much. I got a sense from them that they thought it was our decision to have this lifestyle, so I should just get on with it.

Another huge worry is when he is away from home for length of time, how would I cope if anything went wrong with the house or if I got ill. Last year he was out of the country for three months. We kept in touch by phone calls or WhatsApp, but I would never know what time of day he could call.  Before he left we had time to check I had access to all the household information such as utility companies, insurance, important numbers, and practical things such as where the stop tap is.  While he was away I kept busy with decorating. When he came home I had to show him around our home to look at he changes and where everything was. I did keep him updated with lots of photos and videos on WhatsApp.  There is always the unspoken worry of another 3 or 6 month deployment over the next couple of years.

We have had many birthdays and anniversaries apart.  Its not so bad as we can celebrate once he is home.  One birthday I knew I would be on my own so treated myself to a new DVD to watch, a box of chocolates and my favourite tipple.

Things changed for me when we moved to Salisbury for a year. There is such a huge military community in the area that I felt like I belonged.  There were other Army wives where I worked and there was a mutual understanding what life is like.  It felt like I could finally talk to people that understand and wouldn’t judge how I am feeling. We have now all moved to different parts of the country, but I have made lasting friendships.

For us lockdown hasn’t felt much different to how life was before.  Being home alone and not being able to make plans for days out or book holidays is normal.  The positive side has been that I have seen more of my family and friends on video chats and there are plenty of Zoom groups and activities to look forward to. 

Now back in Yorkshire I have found a military community with MCVC and the Zoom activity groups with Sheffield Mind.  Just having relaxed chats and even banter makes the world of difference as I feel that there is someone there that understands, and I am not doing this alone.