Several people have asked me why I don’t update my blog frequently anymore. The short answer is, after Spike’s career course, I have rarely found Army life to be amusing. And I try to keep the bitter/angry/frustrated posts to a minimum.
The longer answer also includes the fact that I’m writing a lot more for work than I used to (I work as a copywriter/ghostwriter, and create material ranging from whole books to press releases to blog posts for my firm’s clients). Usually, the last thing I want to do after work is stare at the computer screen and keep typing. That’s also why my former plans to write a trashy romance novel during deployment fell by the wayside! For now, I prefer to focus on the writing that contributes to my paycheck.
To update those who are curious, Spike ended up deploying in mid-May after a few false starts. At the beginning of June, I packed up my Mini Cooper with enough luggage to see me through the summer, shoehorned the dog in too, and drove to my ancestral home of North Carolina. I’ll be staying with family here through the end of August (probably).
The upsides: I’m not in Kansas, of which I am not a fan. I can go into my actual office every day instead of telecommuting (read: my days now include forced social interaction and I am not a hermit). I can drive an hour or so on the weekends and visit good friends who live nearby. I’m mostly enjoying the time with my parents and grandmother. But I know that I’ll be ready to go back to Kansas and live “my” life by the end of the summer. It kind of feels like I have gone back in time to my pre-marriage self right now—except I am married, which means I don’t quite “fit” into that prior life, and it’s not as comfortable as it used to be.
Of course, changing my geographical location hasn’t changed the facts that:
- Deployment SUCKS
- I miss Spike A LOT
- Time is moving at a glacial pace and needs to speed up
I’ve heard a lot of good metaphors for deployment, and now I’ll add mine to the pile:
You know that feeling you have when you wake up from a wonderful, awesome, transcendentally great dream? For a little while after you get out of bed, before the dream fades, you feel a mixture of sadness, frustration, and dread because you just want to be back in that fantastic dream, and you know that whatever your day holds can’t be as good as what you just experienced. For me, that’s deployment. A constant sinking feeling because reality is just lacking. Sometimes the feeling is overwhelming; mostly it just lurks on the fringes of whatever I’m doing to some degree.
I really am trying to live my life while Spike is gone. I go to work and spend time with my family in the evenings. On the weekends, I go visiting and crash friends’ guest beds (highlight so far was attending a Wing-Fest and eating lots of buffalo wings). I’ve completed a few art projects, including crafts for Spike’s care packages and a portrait of my friend’s in-laws that she’s giving her FIL as a birthday gift. And I’m looking into the possibility of taking a few fiddle lessons over the summer—currently making inquiries from a few local instructors.
All in all, I think I’ve done a pretty decent job of establishing a routine. But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not my “old self.” (Is anyone with a deployed spouse?) I’m never quite as happy as I used to be. I’m not unfailingly positive. Sometimes it’s a struggle to go through the motions. I feel “blue” and hollow a lot. And I do have bad days during which I’m grouchy, negative, and just can’t summon up a smile.
That said, I don’t wallow. I do my utmost to shed any tears in private. I don’t blabber on about how much I miss my husband to everyone in earshot. (I get the feeling that nobody really wants to hear it.) And yet—here’s my rant!—anytime I am feeling down, a shocking number of people tell me to “try harder.” To “get over it.” To remember that “this is about Spike, not about me.” Even to “be less dependent on Spike for my happiness.”
Maybe this is because I’m not currently living in a military community? I guess many of the people around me genuinely don’t get it? Still, it’s frustrating. I want to shake them and scream, Hey! My husband is in a war zone for almost a year! How long have you been apart from your spouse?!? This IS a big deal, for both of us! How could I NOT be affected? I love that man so, so much, and OF COURSE he is now an integral part of my happiness! I can’t just conveniently forget about him and the role he plays in my life, nor would I ever want to!
Women (and men) who have been there, am I overreacting? Do I need to just suck it up and bury any evidence that life has lost its shine while my husband is in Afghanistan? Or is this normal and okay? I’m asking honestly here, as this is my first deployment as a spouse. Thanks!
I'll end on a positive note. Spike is on a larger base, and for $65 a month, has Internet in his room. So usually, we get to FaceTime or Skype for a few minutes before he goes to bed. I know how fortunate that makes me as the spouse of a deployed servicemember. And believe me, our talks are the highlight of every day. Wherever in the world he happens to be, whether it's in Afghanistan or next to me on the couch, I am such a lucky woman to be Spike's wife.