The new me?
This is cross-posted from my personal blog… I’e been urged by my cowriters here to post it, so, without further adeiu… here it is:
As I sit here at my desk contemplating the weeks and days ahead, the unknowing, the questions, the constant state of “I don’t know” in our lives… I am struck by the general calm I have about all of it. Do I get annoyed? Sure (who doesn’t?). Do I get frustrated at times or angry? Yep. But it is almost always fleeting. It comes and it goes and that is it. The emotional outbursts are few and far between, there have been few, if any, tears shed over the uncertainty of Swiss’s return. I just put my head down and keep going, only halting to bitch on occasion, then the head goes back down and I keep on trucking. This, in a nutshell, has been the majority of the deployment.
I certainly don’t contend that I am special or different from any other MilSpouse for the way I’ve gotten through this. Not a chance. I know what I’m doing is just par for the course. But what I do contend is that this deployment, this Army life, this war has changed me. It has made me different. I cope differently, I react differently, I move on more quickly, I respond to situations differently, I sigh and regroup and keep going because I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have little to no say in all of this.
Now, I wouldn’t call myself high-maintenance or anything pre-deployment. But I was the sort of weepy kind, the one who tended to mentally obsess over every detail, the kind that would get at least a knot in my stomach with every new curve ball the Army sent out way. I cried every time Swiss left (he lived in another state while we were dating). I cried even thinking about the deployment or the PCS or well, anything (part of which is normal pre-deployment-anticipatory-grief stuff). But suffice it to say, I let the Army’s changes to our life highly dictate my mood, emotions, outlook. I couldn’t figure out how to avoid it. The prospect of extra days away from Swiss left me a blubbering mess. Just thinking about the deployment, the possible changes that could come, the Army jerking us around, the uncertainty of it all resulted in me constantly dancing around the edges of full on tears and anguish and nearly consuming frustration. Gaw, that does make me sound high maintenance. (I will say that only a few people actually had to deal with this, so maybe that helps?)
The point is that this deployment, this 12+ months of suck that is slowly drawing to a close, this THING that took over our life… it has changed me. It has changed how I deal and cope and I sort of find this fascinating. At 30/31 you would think that these things, how you ‘deal’, are set in stone… that things like this only further cement your way of dealing with it all. I guess I thought that this experience would only hone my skill set, not give me a new one. I was wrong. Which is refreshing. I’m glad that I learned something in all of this, that I got better at things, that something good came out of this. Though I suppose your definition of “good” would have a lot to do with it.
I remember when Swiss and I were dating, and I would cry every time he had to leave and he wouldn’t. He told me he didn’t really get it, because we both knew he was coming back eventually. He said that he’d just had to say so many bigger, worse goodbyes… that I would understand after the deployment. And boy, was he right. I look back on some of those times and feel positively silly. But at the time, that was the worst thing I’d experienced. Now? I’ve dealt with so much worse, I feel like if I were to go back and relive those moments, I would have handled them SO differently.
Now I feel like I approach these dramas and uncertainties and fears with a new found toughness and determination. I’m wiser and have much, much better perspective (something I will admit I was greatly lacking). I am more rational and matter-of-fact… I’ve truly learned how to deal with the things I can’t change (this is a skill I thought I had years ago, but never really grasped). I have new found tenacity and calmness, two things that when paired together render you practically fearless. I know that whatever it is, it could be worse. I know that I really can handle all the crap life throws at us. With strength and grace and poise. And that is pretty awesome. So thank you Army, for making me stronger (Army Strong?! *groan*) and tougher and for the one good thing that has come out of this deployment.
But we don’t have to do it again, mmmkay?