Deployment: 70% Down

Less than 1/3rd remaining in this deployment! Huzzah!

Would you think that I sound like a broken record if I told you that it’s going by slowly? (I just re-read all of my previous deployment updates, and in every single one, I complain about how slow time is moving! I guess I am a broken record!) For some reason, I keep thinking of this deployment as being exactly like the El Paso Marathon. When I got to mile 17 of that race, I was hurting and I was over it. It really sucks to be “over it” when you still have 9 miles to go. Likewise, 30% is not much left, but it’s too far to go to be falling to pieces now. That race was a long hot slog of alternating between coaxing myself to run, quitting on myself, fighting for another step, wanting to sit down, and having no choice but to keep moving. Yeah, that’s me right now. I can’t quit, I can’t stop, but I’m just ready for it to be done. I need to buck up, dig deep, give it my all, yadda yadda yadd, etc. etc. etc. I want it to be easier though. I want my husband home.

counting day

The key here is “want.” Although it’s hard, I feel a marked difference from the last deployment. Toward the end of that one, I needed Stephen to be home. I managed to hold myself together for a long time until eventually I was running on emotional empty. I don’t feel that way this time. Even with the scary IED situation, I don’t feel broken. I may not be happy about the distance between us, but I am managing and making the best of things.

Reintegration

With the end starting to appear (albeit far in the distance), my thoughts have turned to reintegration. I’ve made no secret of the fact that we struggled following the first deployment. It’s not as if Stephen had night terrors and I turned to alcohol or anything salacious like that. It was more along the lines of, we were living in a new place, with new jobs, and a year+ of different life experiences. We were re-learning how to be us and to be us together.

This time around things will be different.

1. We are prepared. I had no clue what I was in for that first time. I figured that reintegration was like a week or two. Ummm, no.  I didn’t even know how much I was floundering until I looked back months later and realized that all the stress and frustration I had been feeling was reintegration. This recent post also hit the nail on the head in terms of my expectations. My husband hadn’t been in any sort of Full Metal Jacket experience, so I figured things would be pretty easy. The truth is that going to war changes things; how could it not? If I had known that some of the little niggling things I was dealing with were reintegration-related and that they’d only grow as I ignored them, I would have handled them differently. Now I have the gift of hindsight to help me.

Obligatory deployment photo.

Obligatory deployment photo.

2. I know that I’m not really prepared. Just as every deployment is different, I think it’s safe to assume that reintegration will be different, too. It’s not necessarily going to be so much easier just because we’ve done it once before. Knock on wood – the biggest challenges we faced last time (living apart, moving, family illness) aren’t part of the equation, so that *should* help. I’m starting to realize that I know what I don’t know, and I’m bracing myself.

3. I’m setting my expectations low. The last five-ish times that Stephen and I have talked, it’s been so effing amazing. We are laughing and silly and serious and sweet. I get giddy, and sometimes it’s like high school or college and things are just easy. But when I find those talks leading me to think, “it’s going to be so great when he comes home! It’s going to be just like this!” I try to stop myself. It won’t be like that. I have no idea what it will be like. I shouldn’t put that pressure on myself for us to be a certain way. I’m going to work hard to prioritize myself (something I struggled with before) and to communicate better and to let go of some of my controlling ways. But I’m not expecting anything, from Stephen or from our relationship. I think that will set us up to be happier so much more than expecting a perfect reunion complete with rainbows, unicorns, and floating hearts.

 To recap: the deployment is mostly over, I wish it was completely over, but I’m doing okay. Reintegration is scary, but I’m going in with my eyes open this time. Hmmm, I guess I could have saved myself the trouble of writing 700 words and just said that. But then I wouldn’t be me. :)

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21 thoughts on “Deployment: 70% Down

  1. Can’t wait for the circle to be completely green!!! The bulk of the deployment is done but I’m sure for the remainder time will go slowly. I know I will be VERY happy once its over as I know you will be too. This time has been different with the ability to communicate so much more which I think has helped. Amy I think you’ve done great especially being far away from family and friends. Keep it up its almost done.

    • Thanks! I feel like the deployment part of this deployment has been easier: better communication, shorter, safer (to an extent). I had kind of forgotten about the being away from family part – that is very hard for me. So I guess I should be prouder of myself for hold it together.

  2. Look how much you’ve grown! Wow. You have an amazing attitude/approach here.

    Stephen is a great husband and partner and is pretty aware/considerate of you and how you feel (and vice versa, of course). At least, that’s what I pick up on. So even if there are normal struggles, you still know that you guys are on the same page in terms of where you want to be (together) and making your relationship a priority. That’s so important! I can’t wait for you two to be back together again!

    You can do this! HUGS!

  3. Lol! Pithy ain’t you. Good sentence, eh? I actually thought of you the other day when Caroline brought home her 7th grade English class syllabus and the first paragraph was so horribly constructed that I nearly cried. I was like, ‘um, this woman, who doesn’t know how to proof read and use a semi colon is going to be your English teacher?’ So, is that a thing? English teachers with poor grammar? I hope she was just off her game that day because I cannot home school Caroline; we’d kill each other.

    ANYWAY, hooray for 70% done! That’s a good number. I think knowing what to expect (within reason, of course, every situation is different) is helpful, because you know what to expect and can fix past mistakes, but also harmful because you know what to expect. :) Thankfully you don’t have to throw in a post deployment PCS this time, because that really does add a special layer of crazy to the whole process.

    For me and Craig, the back to back deployments followed by his advanced course followed by the worst clearing process ever at Ft. Hood followed by our PCS to Hawaii into a job he HATES (yeah, that’s fun) really did a number on us. I spent the majority of our first year here wishing he’d deploy again. It’s gotten better, but, dude, it takes time.

    The end is near! Yay!

    • She’s in 7th grade?! What?! When did that happen?! And yes, sadly, some English teachers aren’t that English-y. I don’t get it either.

      You summed it up nicely with, “it takes time.” Truth! Sometimes it just feels good to hear that truth from someone else. See, I’m not crazy!

      • Well, that just makes me sad. Last night at Open House, the teacher had the same syllabus up on the white board and I felt embarrassed for her. Like, don’t you think she would have caught the mistakes? Bummer.

        Yeah, you’re not crazy. I think after a while you figure out that wild emotion isn’t going to help you at all; it really is important to approach things with a more logical brain. I suppose the same people who assume life will be a fairy tale after marriage (bwahahahahahaha!) are the same folks who think that reintegration will be a piece of cake. I’m generalizing a ton here, but I think you just wise up after a while. Or you get jaded? That’s probably it. Whatevs. ;)

  4. I probably think about you and Stephen more than is normal, but living in a military town I’m often reminded of my friends who have loved ones serving far away from home. I can’t even begin to imagine what each day is like for you, but I hope you know that you and Stephen are always in my prayers. I hope that unicorns and rainbows fall from the sky when he returns and everything is perfect.

    • It’s totally okay by me that you think of us more than normal. (I feel like that’s pretty much relationship with Linzi. She and Micah are never far from my thoughts even though I only met the girl once. I think they are the greatest and just want good things for them.)

      Thanks for praying for us. I hope the unicorns and rainbows part comes true. :)

  5. I love these posts and not only because I relate SO. MUCH. Our reintegration process was three months followed by more separation and really we only truly reintegrated last year! Reintegration is so effing hard but I love your attitude and know you guys will get through it. I’m sure you both are looking forward to your big trip :D You’re doing great lady!

  6. I am so darn excited for you all! I was talking to Trish yesterday and she was just so excited that it’s getting so close for everyone. :)

    • Yep, we’re getting there. I know that some of the other companies (the ones that left earlier) are reallllly close. I feel like I’m more in the “so close but so far” phase right now.

  7. I think you are handling everything fabulously! I’m so proud of you. Is that cheesy to say? Oh well. :)

    • Not cheesy at all! Is it cheesy if I say I couldn’t have done it without you? Haha! It’s true. Having someone who “gets it” around to listen to me vent has been invaluable!

  8. That’s fantastic. We all have reintegration issues, us, them, the kids, it’s adjusting all over again. You will do great :) I am t-minus a few days til he’s home… Ready but not ready :)

    • I’m way late catching up on comments, but I wanted to say that I’m sending y’all good vibes! Homecomings can be fraught, but they are, at the core, such happy, happy times.

  9. You’re just so awesome, and I’m betting he is too. I love the idea that this time around you “know what you don’t know.” I now know that I don’t know a hell of a lot, and it’s weirdly liberating.

  10. I know this was written 9 days ago but I’m finally catching up on my reader. YAY for 70% down!

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