Tag Archives: separation

Taking Time to Make the Time

28 Oct

We have resigned the Army.  We broke away and came (what feels in some ways like) full-circle.  In some ways it feels like completely uncharted territory — full-circle isn’t supposed to feel so unknown, is it?

When HD returned from Afghanistan I was overwhelmed with how similar the Army is to being in an abusive relationship, and like a bad boyfriend the Army made itself tough to leave.  My HD and I are practical planners, so as we searched the world for a new home and work, the Army kept whispering in our ear he’d make things so much easier if we’d just stay.  We wouldn’t have to try to figure out so many answers; the answers would all be given to us.  We wouldn’t have to figure out anything! Just relax and let him take care of it. ::insert creepy shoulder massage from behind so only an onlooker can see the wicked grin on his face::

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Determining Worth

23 May

A year was too long.  Six months were tough, but after that point the mind and heart begin to go places from which they cannot easily return.  This past weekend was Memorial Day, and I remember with great respect all those who have surrendered their life for the liberties we cherish.  The risking of one’s life is noble, but the year-long prison-camp lifestyle risks one’s soul, and I’m not sure that’s worth it.

I understood my husband’s desire to deploy. It was a mixture of duty and pride stemming from his military upbringing, military college, and being the only man in his family without a combat patch. I knew he’d never live with himself if he didn’t go, and I’d live the rest of my life with a self-emasculated man (which is arguably no man at all). Regardless, I dreaded the separation. He owed a debt of gratitude to the legacy that had raised him, and a true debt of service to the Army who funded his dental school, but it wasn’t worth his life (to me). I need him, for me, by my side, in my life, for my benefit. So every day I sighed with relief that he had made it one day closer to coming home.

Before my HD returned I decided I would force myself to accept that his deployment was worth it. I would convince myself to believe it. My route to this end was to say his sense of duty and honor were part of what made him the man Young G and I depended on. His love for us was inseparable from his integrity as a soldier. And so on.

A friend helped me realize that may e my HD needed to hear me say, “it’s worth it,” because maybe he doubted that. My friend said this would only be effective, though, if I believed it. My husband felt regret as he watched Young G grow from a nursing baby to an iPad-wielding toddler, and had missed the transition. My friend helped me plan a memory book detailing month-by-month of the year-long deployment, and in it I tracked the changes of our son. In one sitting he could absorb his boy’s development and see how positive his life was. This gift came from my heart and with it I convinced myself that my husband’s deployment was nothing to regret.

Then he returned and was altered. We had made it through sniper bullets and bomb blasts and were left in marriage counseling. On the very Father’s Day night I presented him with the memory book with my letter telling him “thank you; it was worth it,”he became viciously angry with me, shouting profanity and calling names. The next month he explained to a therapist that he wanted to be alone, because he couldn’t feel love, compassion, or even sympathy for me.

The night of the argument I paced the yard, cigarette in hand, planning my future with the possibility that my husband no longer loved me. Could I stay married to someone with such disdain for me? Then, as he blankly spoke to the counselor — with as much emotion as if he were reading an eye-chart — I wept. I wept because my perfectly good marriage was collapsing for no good reason. My crying didn’t even annoy him.

I had sacrificed my love, life, and future because of pride? Fuck that! I wept with disbelief and felt abandoned. He wasn’t dead. He was just gone. Like shattered crystal, my belief that any of this could be worth it was irreparably destroyed. For the life of me, Young G, and then the Littlest One I’d just conceived, the answer was “hell no! It’s not worth it”. What would I say, “at least our family was destroyed by him defending the country we love!”?

We don’t speak of these things now, though. That was merely my personal horror, terror, and nightmare. He didn’t leave me, he didn’t die, our family is happy and bigger and stronger now. He loves his memory book and we speak with pride about his service. But I’ll never forget looking that demon in the eye and the destruction it promised. I get a cold chill remembering that sense of abandonment, and in that moment I would have paid back every dime to have my husband love me.

All’s well that ends well, they say.

More to Come

20 Nov

My husband’s deployment was the hardest year of my life — outranking two divorces in my childhood, the murder of a friend, and the cumulative effects of post-graduate depression — and yet it’s the hardest for me to write about because I don’t feel unique.  My husband blogs from his perspective, books have been written, wives military-wide have experienced this for over a decade, every previous generation has war-stories, and even a young teenage girl has published a memoir of her painful fourteen-months without her mother.  I don’t know how my experiences stand out amongst them all, especially when so many war-wives (even most of the ones I know) had it “worse”: their husbands engaged in combat, or divorced them afterwards, leaving them as true single-moms.  

My year of loneliness, single-motherhood, cynicism, and grief seems sometimes to only be unique (and interesting) to me.  

Regardless, I can’t shake the desire to write. 

He deployed from our military home in Hawaii in April of 2011, and was gone for 355 days. Our son was 15 months when he left, and two years, three months when he returned.  We packed up our home ourselves and put it all into storage, shipped my Volkswagen back east, and with only as much as I could fly with my son and I traveled the East coast from family to family for the entire year.  My son has been on 19 planes and 11 of those he and I flew solo! Lots of ladies go home during a deployment, though.  

It’s hard to know where to start, because the beginning seems to keep reaching further and further back.  Did it begin the day he left?  The day we found out he’d go?  Or perhaps the story begins when we fell in love?  More than likely the story begins with his own childhood as an Army brat.  Our whole story matters, though, because it wouldn’t have ended as well as it did if we didn’t have the foundation we find ourselves on.  Truthfully, without this deployment we would have never known just how strong a foundation that is.  Stress and anxiety threatened us (the unit “Us”) to a breaking point, but grace and humility healed us.

We both are forever changed, but thanks be to God we have changed together and not apart. Some of this I’ve already written about, but there is more to come.

Addressing Anxiety

10 Feb

It’s been so long since I’ve written, but I miss coming to this journal. I’m certain that in a few years from now I will wish I had chronicled more of this deployment year, too. Perhaps I’ll write more as I begin to put it all into perspective.

Young G was looking at laminated photos of his father a couple of nights ago. In his broken-sentence style at twenty-five months old he said, “It’s fun… daddy home. He is workin.” The photos were of when my HD was home for two weeks in late September, and each depicted Young G with his father. Clearly my son remembered playing together, and the fun they had. Then he repeated to himself my answer for every “where’s daddy?” I hear: “He’s workin.”

We are at a friend’s house right now, and have come to the end of our stay with family. For the duration of this deployment – ten months so far – Young G and I have lived with family (mostly my mother’s and in-law’s home). It’s been a huge relief, obviously, to have had so much help. These grandparents have eagerly taken care of my son for me. The draining side is that it has made Parenting difficult, because I’m constantly under the scrutiny of a been-there-done-that (BTDT) mom. Not only that, but there were there and did that with either me or my husband. It gets fierce when I disagree with their methods, too.

The tension between gratitude and frustration creates anxiety.

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10 Sep

I like to view this year as an experiment.  I’m doing trials on separation, travel, motherhood, single-motherhood, long-distance love, living with family, packing a car, and lonesomeness.  Most of these were predictable from the first time I learned we would face this deployment (Valentine’s day, 2010).  I was even able to anticipate some of the side-effects.  For instance, I realized that I would learn to live “normally” without my husband; I would get used to him being gone, essentially.  I knew I would become homesick for my own territory.  I knew Young G would develop cognitively with an awareness that we travel often and live without Daddy.

One of the side effects of this year has begun to intrigue me, because I never expected it: paranoia. Continue reading

Livin Without You

17 Aug

I was telling a story to my hairdresser today, talking about my husband.  As the facts unfolded in the form of answers to his questions, his eyes popped with intrigue hearing the tale.  It made me think about how revealing facts linearly is so different from giving pieces of picture one at a time and letting the listener put the puzzle together.  I actually think the hairdresser might have gotten a better image of who the HD really is because of the piece-by-piece story, rather than if I had started at the beginning.

Maybe that’s why I need to do with writing.  Just give a piece at a time, and let the picture come together.  It’s very organic that way.

I never know where a post is going to go when I sit down to write.  I just begin.  The ending comes naturally.

Saturday a friend of my brother’s told me I needed to write a book.  If I had a nickel…

This year might be worth writing about.  So might last year.  Or 2002.  They all added pieces.  Sometimes I feel like the only way I could tell my story would be to write it out like Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” and give the entire background of my life, and my husband’s, for three generations so that our story made sense.  Had context.

So much is out of context.  Even context itself, though, is dependent on perspective.  None of it is objective.  I guess the story only exists the way I tell it.  The way someone else would tell it is a completely different story.

Yesterday I had a fabulous day with my boy.  Young G and I went to a park, ate at Chick-fil-A, played outside, played in the bath, and had a lot of good laughs and toddler-conversation.  All day I thought, “I should get a furnished apartment for the next six months.  Forget living with family; let’s just hunker down together.” I decided we’d go to Charleston, where the HD and I lived before the Army.  There’s a wonderful church there that I missed, and it felt good to be near it.  I actually searched Craigslist.

Then night fell, and the quiet made it hard for me to rest.  I stayed up much too late waiting for sleep to overtake me.  I got up out of bed three times.  I forgot to lock one of the doors.  My father and his wife are gone for the week for work, and will be back tomorrow, so the last two nights Young G has been dependent only on me.  Not a problem, except that I just don’t do well alone.  In grad-school I lived alone and never slept well until I could hear my neighbor start his shower every morning.  I’m scared of defending myself alone in a house overnight, and terrified with a little one.

So it remains that I shall be rambling along from house to house. Never the Queen, always the subordinate.  But at least I’m at ease when I’m at rest.

In seven months my maniacal protector will return.  I never feel more safe than when I’m with my HD, because he’s psycho.  He doesn’t just swat flies, you know, he lures them in and suffocates them.  Any intruder in our home would be tortured — psychologically — by the experience.  I love this about my husband.  If you knew his story it would make sense.


Wait till Your Father Gets Home

2 Aug

I’m not mad at *him*. I really never am. He’s just a child and wants so dearly for me to approve with smiles. When he refuses to walk away after I tell him “no”, it doesn’t make me mad at him.

I’m mad that I’m the only one who is here. The only consistent disciplinarian in Young G’s life. The only rule maker. Also the only comforter.

He’s very strong-willed, and he hates for us to not be “cool”, so when he insists on his way, usually a look of disappointment on my face will turn him around. Other times he laughs maniacally and deliberately disobeys me. When I pick him up to remove him from the situation, he slaps me. So I just put him down, walk away, and let my heart break.

I’m the tender one; the HD is the disciplinarian. I can not wait to have his support in parenting again! Young G doesnt disregard HD (or other men for that matter) like he does me. HD will have to do little more than use stern-voice to be effective. G hasn’t touched a particular drawer since my brother told him not to.

It doesn’t make me mad that I’m not taken seriously. I’m mad I don’t have anyone else to fall back on right now. I’m mad HD is deployed.