26 January 2010

The new me?

As I sit here at my desk (still on Swiss' PC) 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 (see my last post if you want evidence of that!). 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?


USMCWIFE said...

I think f more spouses approached this the way you have they would be better off. You learned, you grew and you matured into this deployment. None of us start off warriors in this life, it is a cycle and change is neccessary to survive. I have really enjoyed reading your journey through all of this, and I have to tell you, I have learned from you as well.
Thanks for sharing.

Tucker said...

Thank you USMCWife! That means a lot coming from you!!!

Post Tenebras Lux said...

Tucker, this post makes me smile. I'm glad you've been able to see growth and positive change in yourself through all the @#$%^&* that the Army has sent you through.

Kayla said...

I sincerely hope that I am you in a year. Truly. But I guess only time will tell...

EngineerChica said...

I have to say that I cry when leaving EngineerGuy for the week. We live 4 hours apart and it sucks to say goodbye. That's what I'm dealing with right now, that's a 'big thing' in my life. I know it's going to get harder once he goes to TBS, flight school, etc. and I stay at my job, but I'll face it when the time comes.

I'm glad to see you've noticed changes- I hope I can change and adapt just as well because NOT coping, to me, makes it harder to enjoy the relationship and what I have with EngineerGuy. While I'm still an emotional mess every so often (and I hate it!) I think I've come a long way since he went to OCS and I will go a long way as our lives continue to change.

Reading your post makes me smile and gives me hope that I can adjust, too. "I can relate!" is what I thought while reading it.

rachel said...

i know my husband is only gone for six(ish) months, but i genuinely hope i come out of this with at least a sliver of the perspective you've gained. you're amazing.

Tucker said...

WOW- thank you all for the awesome comments and support and kind words. Then mean the world to me.

I wish I could say HOW I did this... I can't. I guess I just got tired of spending the emotional energy on the things I had no control over. I think the house selling mess helped that a lot. But at the end of the day, I just chose to focus on me and Swiss and the things that I could change, and I chose to come to terms with the things I couldn't, rather than fight them and lament them and let them consume me. It was more about survival than a conscious choice, but we all deal in different ways, I am sure you all will do great and grow and learn from your own experiences!

Meghan said...

I would also like to say thanks for sharing your journey! i am almost to the mid point of the deployment and I am starting to see changes in myself too (positive ones :) and that makes me feel really good. It has been so awesome hearing about your experience right before I went through my own! Can't wait to hear about the redeployment phase :)

liberal army wife said...

seeing changes was for my first, and then the second deployment. Whether or not I am changed by the third, I'm not sure yet. I don't think I'm doing too great right now.... but that's besides the point.

Thanks for posting this. but hey (pssssss, come closer....) next time... put it on LF as well!


Callsign Sherpa said...


Congratulations on weathering your deployment! I know you've probably heard it all before, but a lot of people who haven't lived the military lifestyle don't realize that it's not only the soldier who deploys, it's the whole fam-damily.

It's also a rule-of-thumb that a deployment seems to make the strong parts of a relationship stronger, while also exposing the things people might need to work on. In the coming months, remember that your soldier may have changed a little, too. Remember to give yourselves permission to figure those changes out together. (One of my favorite Khalil Gibran quotes: "Let there be spaces in your togetherness ...")

Post-deployment is often a second honeymoon, but, to borrow a phrase from my Navy buddies, it's also another "shake-down cruise" to make sure that everything in your relationship is tied down and shipshape.

I can't wait to hear about your continued successes and insights, post-deployment. Thank you for your service, and for your soldier's service.

My family and I are ramping up for our second deployment, by the way. By coincidence, on the same day you wrote this, I posted a few less-sanguine (panicked?) thoughts about facing a year apart over at: www.redbullrising.com


liberal army wife said...

Hooah, Red Bulls!!! never thought I'd miss them... but hey, ya never know till you leave.