Everyone experiences a little something different in the military. There’s the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful things. Today, I realized that we have a little less than 5 months until Jeremy gets home (BEAUTIFUL!). So, I thought it would be a good time to talk out what I’ve learned and realized in our year long journey thus far.
From the day our orders came down to come to Ft. Lewis, WA (though really we knew when he joined) we knew Jeremy would be deployed to either Iraq or somewhere else. It was just something that was always floating “out there” for us. I vividly remember lying in bed at night trying to fall asleep (while Jeremy was long since passed out) and attempting to stop my mind from racing about the future. Deployment was never far from my thoughts.
Usually I pushed it away and said to myself several things:
1. I can’t do anything to stop what is coming
2. It’s a long way off and it will do me no good to drain my emotional strength on something I have no control over
3. God is with us and will be then too
That stuff really worked for me right up until oh….April of 2009. I’m actually really grateful that we were pregnant in 2008 so that our attentions were focused on something else. Chase’s birth in February was a great distraction emotionally, mentally, etc.
But then, when we got back from St. Louis (which was our time to say “see-ya-later” to everyone back home), it really started hitting. I was so stressed but even more so I was incredibly anxious. Jeremy was trying so hard not to be distant, but his mind was elsewhere if for no other reason then trying to prepare for being gone for so long. There is a lot of work that goes into a deployment!
We spent lots of time on the phone with people, double checking and triple checking that all our ducks were in a row administratively speaking. It was a busy time for us as we gathered everything we needed, not to mention all the stuff we had to buy. I’m still bitter about the $$ a soldier spends to go over there…. We did drink in every moment we were getting together as a family. We had a chance to build some great and special memories.
By the time July rolled around, I think Jeremy and I were just sick with the anxiety of it all. So much so that when the big day finally rolled around, I was surprised that the emotions I experienced were things like relief and peace. I didn’t expect that stuff. Sorrow and sadness were of course there too, and it may sound crazy, but there was even some excitement mixed in with that. I had a lot of things I was trying to set my mind toward so that I would be distracted and busy and that got me excited.
I feel like I sailed through the end of July and then August. The brigade hit some serious bumps the end of August though-and we experienced the first deep and heart wrenching sorrows that come with death. September and October were bumpier, but I was still busy and enjoying all the visitors who came into town those first few months. November hit and we went to St. Louis for a fun visit to celebrate Thanksgiving. I knew that I was coming home to WA to Christmas and even better, Jeremy’s R&R!
It was actually a really fun time for me. I think my rough days were much fewer and farther between then. Having Jeremy home on R&R was total magic. I know we both tried not to have any expectations of one another and the end result was a fun time of reconnecting as a family and as husband and wife. We had a blast celebrating Christmas with special friends. We really did drink in every moment.
Then it was time for Jeremy to go back. BLAH! I knew it would be hard, I knew it would be bumpy, but boy…it was that and so much more. I think reality smacked me in the face after R&R. I was overwhelmed with my emotional state and had so many bad days. It was rough!
The stream of life picked back up at the same pace, but I just wasn’t available emotionally to get back into the current. January and February have been bumpy times, and not just for me either. Jeremy hit some deep struggles too. I think we were both surprised over the shift of things for the both of us.
Post R&R, I would say that we are finally back into a better groove and keeping with the pace of the stream. I am surprised that it took 8 weeks to get there, but then again, I know it isn’t over yet!
It seems my experience has been a bit backwards from what others have experienced during deployments. I just went through lots and lots of anger and frustration and maybe even a little rage for the first time this past month. I think that usually, that is something felt much earlier on. But like I said, I’m learning that everyone has a different experience.
I wrote this today so that when the time comes for me to look back at how things went, I can get a good mental picture of where I was in this journey we are on. I know that one of my goals was to have as few personal regrets as possible during this time.
I have prayed so much that I would be a fun mom to the boys (and not a jerk mom) and that I would be available to them and mentally and emotionally present with them. I’ve had to reorder my priorities a lot and thus, I’ve had to forgive myself for what has fallen to the wayside. I think that in times of high stress you just have to do what you can and understand where your limitations lie.
I do have regrets, but mostly it is just the stuff I wish I would have done better. I couldn’t always give it my all, but I did what I could. I think of all the things I’ve been reminded of is my own responsiblity I must take for myself. I have to care for myself and love myself so that I can be there for others. Because if I am drained and emotionally stuck, then I can’t be available to anyone else! And that isn’t the kind of person I want to be.
Too deep for today? Mmm….hope not. Which reminds me, I also have been reminded how important it is to laugh and to seek out things that will make you laugh. Laughter is just good medicine.
I hope that as the next 5+/- months finish out that I can start living out Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.”