A Zone of Upwelling
The most productive fisheries in the world are usually associated with coastal upwelling zones where deep, cold, nutrient rich waters move upward. These nutrient rich waters are utilized by phytoplankton which form the base of the food chain for many fish. Yeah, so what does this have to do with being a military spouse? Good Question. Every time the hubster leaves, I take all that emotion, bundle it, compress it and shove it deep down inside me in order to be able to function, to screw on my smile and pretend to be functional enough to be socially acceptable to the outside world. This leaves me, in many respects, a hollow but functional shell of a human being. I feel, but I cannot let myself feel too deeply. It causes distance in my marriage, but to allow myself to feel the fullness of my emotion for my husband would cause me to feel every ounce of the ache and honestly, I did that only for a month during his first deployment and I realized very quickly it could destroy me. Homecomings of any variety cause the reemergence of all these emotionally rich feelings. It is an upwelling of sorts. The thing about this upwelling is that it doesn’t suddenly begin the second I actually see his face. It begins far earlier, weeks in advance, putting me in the uncomfortable position of having to function at full capacity (which I am only good at when no upwelling is occurring) while dealing with the whole range of all of these emotions I haven’t dealt with for 6 mos. It is overwhelming and it throws me off my game. And being off my game is what my non-military friends notice and comment on. They ask what’s up, and I am honest…Hubster is coming home. “Oh that’s great; you must be so happy?” And I am. I am really happy. I am also stressed. There is so much that has happened, so much of our feelings and thoughts and experiences that have gone unsaid by necessity. I don’t tell him everything when he’s gone because 1) what can he do about it but worry? and 2) I don’t want him focusing on the BS here when it will get handled and he needs to focus on what he has to do there. Just because those things have gone unsaid doesn’t mean they are any less important or painful or happy or any number of other things. They are just sitting there, waiting, reacting with all the other things I’ve shoved down there, waiting to upwell. The brief times we are together are intense and rich with a level of emotion that most people cannot comprehend. This is because of all of these emotions on both sides that have been waiting to react. Just as zones of upwelling in the ocean are nutrient rich and full of life.
Of course when those brief moments of togetherness are over, we hit the zone of downwelling. Downwelling occurs where ocean water becomes colder or more saline (salty). This causes it to become more dense and sink to the ocean floor. Every time hubster leaves, I hit a downwelling zone full of salty tears as I box up every feeling, every bit of our lives and shove it deep down inside me. I worry that burying these emotions will cause them to get consumed or lost. I worry that this time will be one too many heart breaks, but I have to do it, because feeling all of those emotions every day of our separation is too much. It’s too overwhelming. I cannot function if I admit everything I am giving up each day in order for us to live this life.
Downwelling isn’t instantaneous. My emotions aren’t a spigot I simply shut off. All the boxing of my emotions and shoving them down takes time, time where I am raw, fragile, emotional and overwhelmed. Once it’s boxed up and put away, the unfortunate side effect is that I am not particularly warm and fuzzy. People think I am callous and unfeeling because I cannot let myself feel everything. On top of that, they aren’t really interested in how I feel. They have made this quite plain to me. And so I remain, a hollow shell of my emotion potential, existing but not really feeling until the next time he comes home. Then, ever so briefly, I am whole once more.