So, most of you have seen or realized that J deployed this spring, and has been home for a few weeks now. Reintegration is… let’s just call it a learning experience. Every time I sit down to write that post, it get’s a little vent-y. So, that’s coming but maybe once we get on the other side of reintegrating.
In the meantime, I’ve been working on posts from while he was deployed, to post once he came home – a little MilSo ‘tradecraft’ if you will. Most of these were actually written – or at least fleshed out – while he was gone, so the tone is a little… Tense? Angry? Snarky?
J and I had a bit of heads up that he was going to leave. Not a ton, like my parents used to get when dad was going to deploy, but a ‘while,’ compared to some of my friends who have sent their husbands off with a few days notice. (Ladies who do that – you’re rockstars. Absolute freaking rockstars.) In that time before he left, we moved me 10 hours away on a PCS from good ol’ Fort Bragg, to the frigid north – in March. My favorite. Anyway – we had some time, so I thought I’d know what I would feel like, and how I’d react.
Oh, wow was I wrong. I thought for sure that I would have this superwoman strength, but that I’d just move forward with not much change in my emotional range or reactions. I mean, I’d have some moments where I cried over something small, or cursed the Army’s existence when the car inevitably broke down at the same time the dog was trying to eat rocks, and I shattered phone (all things that happened while J was gone, by the way). No. Just… no. I could not have been more wrong.
There’s this thing that my husband calls the ‘GAF Meter’. ‘GAF’ stands for ‘give a…freak’. Sorta. It’s the measure of what you’re willing to care about, and just how much you’re willing to give/push on something. Everyone has one. Mine is normally set on high – I’m continually high anxiety (J just laughed in agreement reading this) and am constantly worrying about something. And at first, that’s how I thought that I would react to a deployment. Worry a lot and make sure that everyone around me knew how to support J.
And then I dropped my husband off at the airport. J has walked away from me to head out on a school multiple times in the span of our relationship. We’ve been apart the majority of our relationship – together almost 4 years (!!!) and actually together for about twenty-five percent of that time. I thought I’d gotten fairly good at it, truthfully. But this time was completely different.
I gotta tell you – there is something about watching your husband walk away from you in an airport, with the possibility in the back of your mind that it may be for the last time, that will make you completely change how you look at pretty much everything. And it seriously makes you realize the things you care about, and the things you really don’t.
That friend who couldn’t just not say terrible things? I just chose not to hang out with them any more. The internet troll who constantly posted offensive nonsense in my Facebook feed – I just didn’t give him space in my head anymore. That time that someone called me out on being an army wife in church and lambasted my husband simply because of my job – I actually let him now how I feel about people who give opinions no one wants to hear. I got to pick what I cared about… which was essentially, only what I thought was important. If I wanted to just go to Detroit by myself to visit a friend, or if I needed a break from the insanity to go to stay by myself in an inn in WV, I did it.
In short – my GAF Meter was completely busted. And it felt great. What was crazy was when people started noticing. My two best friends said they were proud of me and impressed at how I was handling myself. And my husband told me from halfway around the world that he’d noticed how happy I was, and how well I had handled things back here. I may have felt like my whole little world was missing a huge piece, but there was definite proof that I was at least a little more pleasant to be around – for the people that mattered, anyway.
Handling a deployment – or even a school or TDY is something that can wreck your world. It’s hard. Exhausting, and painful. I’m clearly no expert – this hasn’t been happening that long with me in the ‘wife’ role. But I think I’m on to something – just stop freaking out about stuff that doesn’t matter. And really get into the things that do. The people that matter and care about you will be able to see how much better you’re handling yourself, and the people who don’t shouldn’t influence your life anyway!
I’m not saying you just pack all your things and ignore your responsibilities (but let’s be real, who hasn’t wanted to do that at some point?). I’m saying that there’s something to be said about allowing yourself to not care about some things. And, that pretty much no one gets to tell you what you’re supposed to feel, or how you’re supposed to handle things. You’re a bad ass for getting through this – and it’s about time you recognize it.