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Just call me “Everlast”

November 15, 2009

punching-bagSigh. The past couple weeks have been really tough for the FH and I. They’ve been filled with happy moments, laughter, tears of joy, and frustration. Sounds kinda normal right? Most of life seems to be a roller coaster, military involvement or not.

We’re coming down to the final days of deployment. I reflect back now to some of the words of advisory I had gotten from a seasoned Army Wife back when I was training at Walter Reed. It was slightly different then as I was preparing for his R&R and given our story, we wouldn’t have had the same stresses as most normal R&R’s. There were no children to get adjusted and there was no routine that he needed to adjust to. There was no change. We had started dating while he was deployed, so it was just different. Now that he’s coming home for good, I’m starting to notice things and have a few worries.

I know I will never understand what it’s like to be a soldier. I’ll never understand the life he has lead for the past year. The things he’s seen. The things he’s had to do. The close calls. I’ll never know what it’s like. I can try to read all I can, prepare myself, and educate myself but I’ll just never know. Every service members experience is different. Some have engaged the enemy, some have not. Some have experienced IED blasts, some have not. One thing I do know is that war changes you. You never come back the same person as you were before you left. FH even admits this.

I feel blessed to have started our relationship when we did. Yes, I’ve known him for 10 years and knew him prior to entering the military, but we weren’t in a romantic relationship then. I have nothing to compare his behavior now to how it was before. I think I’m pretty blessed in that aspect. However, we still have one more deployment ahead so that doesn’t mean I’ll never experience it. Every deployment is different and they often say they get harder and harder on the service member and families as time goes on. I pray it never becomes troublesome for us, but you have to at least go into it with the knowledge and understanding of what could happen.

My FH is a good man. I could go on and on about his love for me, how he cares for me, and how he really values me as a woman. I have never felt so cared for and highly regarded in my life. I know that there is nothing in this world he would not do for me. When we are together, all is truly right in the world. I’m not saying it’s perfection or fantasy land, but it feels really great. I have the love of my Lord & Savior who has made me complete, but it’s a different type of complete when I am with him. And when he is absent, part of me is absent. Sure, I carry on with life as usual and make the most of it…but still something is lacking when we are apart.

Recently plans have changed. Shocker right? You TRULY can’t make any plans when you love a military man. These changes have put an enormous amount of stress on our relationship at a time when it’s really not needed. I want to focus on him coming home and all that comes with that. This is his first deployment and he nor I know how it’s going to affect him. He’s been really resilient but one just can never tell. I don’t want to have wedding stressors on top of that. I really don’t. I’ve tried to throw things out to make it easier on him. I’ve given up virtually every notion of what is deemed “normal” in an engagement and wedding. I can hear you all now…get over it. That’s what life is like in the military. No. REALLY. Every single element you can think of when you think of a proposal, engagement, and wedding. I do it willingly because I love him and want to start a life with this man. I’m not here to complain about my sacrifices. But last night was just my breaking point.

I really don’t want to get into specifics. Although this is my venting resource and my personal blog, some things are better left personal. My good friends know and that’s what really counts. I am appreciative for those who have graciously listened and given me their words of wisdom.

It’s scary when you know their heart, you know what they are capable of, and they randomly turn into someone you don’t know. This is why I think it’s SO important to try to prepare yourself for this life. It’s serious. It’s not a joke. It’s not about chasing a guy in uniform. If that’s what it’s about for you, you’re either going to be very miserable or very disappointed. There are so many changes and issues that come with a deployment and an impending return back to “normal” life. My FH loves me, but at times you feel like a punching bag. They say or do or react to something funny and you kinda have to learn to just take it. They are going through things you can’t imagine and all you can do is be there for them, not give up on them, and do what you can to make it easier for them. It’s one thing if it’s a constant or an abusive situation. That’s not the case with the FH & I. He’s only had these changes twice. One was after getting back to Iraq from leaving me for R&R. It’s hard. It makes me nervous for those who who don’t realize how serious it is dating someone in uniform. I’m not saying I know anyone that way, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know it exists. Makes me wonder how they would be if they truly came back a different person, either mentally or physically. I haven’t had to experience that, but I feel like I would remember, just as I am trying to now…that underneath there is a man who truly loves me and truly cares. This 2% of him that sometimes makes no sense and can be hurtful, is worth the 98% when he’s himself.

I guess my reasoning for this post is to vent for myself and to get my emotions “on paper” but to also let other girls know sometimes this happens. I’ve had great chats with other wives who have opened my eyes to this and through the time I’ve taken to educate myself on re-integration…I’m aware. It’s good to understand and try to remember that they will come back a different person. Sometimes you won’t notice it for a while, other times you’ll notice it right away. It’s our jobs as Army wives, girlfriends, family members, and friends to support them, love them, and encourage them. I have to re-state that if it becomes a matter of violence, abuse, or anything of the like…it’s unacceptable and you should remove yourself from the situation and seek help for both you and your soldier. Coming home is a beautiful thing. Something we have waited for for a very long time and they also. It tends to be thought of as romance and candles and long walks in the park…but it can be tough also.

I’ll keep hanging on because I love him and this bump in the road shall pass. I love a soldier. Not for the uniform he wears, but for the man he is inside. If his job causes him setbacks, I’ll be there to see him through. No matter how small. No matter how huge.

UPDATE: Found this really great link from “Faith Deployed” about re-integration and homecoming: http://jocelyngreen.wordpress.com/faith-deployed/excerpts-from-faith-deployed/happily-ever-after/

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