Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I think deployments are like long-distance races. You prepare for them the best you can, mentally, emotionally, financially. Then race day comes and he leaves. And at first, you're feeling good (well, after the tearful goodbye, anyway). You're thinking to yourself, "I can do this! I am strong!" And other people cheer you on, saying "We will help you! We will be with you through this!" The first few months you settle into the new rhythm, and you think "I AM doing this! And I'm pretty badass at it! I can do a year standing on my head!" And other people tell you "I don't know how you do this...you're amazing!" And then, maybe halfway through, maybe two-thirds through, you hit that wall that runners face, when your legs start to feel numb and leaden, and your lungs are burning, and you're looking up at a long, upward stretch of road. That's where I'm at in this deployment. Nearly ten months into a thirteen month stretch, and still four weeks until he comes home on leave, and I've hit that wall. I'm so tired. And I feel anything but amazing. My patience is thin. I yell at my kids too much. I'm not sleeping well. My older son, who can't verbalize his stress, has begun beating himself in the face, despite my best efforts to calm and entertain him. What I want to do more than anything is run away, and be alone with no responsibilities, preferably somewhere warm, with a book (OK, a LOT of books). I know when people say that what they probably mean is, "I think it's amazing you haven't completely lost it and started eating paper!" Or something like that. I know that, between caring for a severely disabled child, helping out with my brother (wounded in Afghanistan), dealing with building a house 1500 miles away, and trying to get our house here ready to sell, by myself, it probably is a miracle that I'm not crouched in a corner, mumbling lines from Tarantino movies and eating my fingernails. That I'm surviving. But, I'll be honest with you...that sucks! Surviving is not living, and it's not fair to my kids. So here's where the hardest part of the race begins. The uphill climb before the finish line is even in sight. I can't give up, not just because I don't want to but because it is not an option. Although I have fantasized about calling someone and saying, "Hi, Army? Yeah, so this deployment is really sucking way more than the others and I'm just ready to punch out, so can you go ahead and send Hubby home now? Thanks!" (Don't worry. After fourteen years in, I know better than to try any version of that little scenario.) Instead, I will plant my burning legs one in front of the other and make it up the hill. No advice from onlookers is necessary, but a little cheering on would sure help.