16 December 2010
Life After Deployment
[Note: I've had this post written for almost a month now. I just wasn't sure if I was ready to share it, since it's quite personal and hard for me to write. But after a fellow mil•spouse blogger posted a similar post, I've decided to share mine as well.]
Since this blog began as a deployment blog to help me share and connect with others while my fiancé was in Afghanistan, I think it's only fair to do a follow-up post on how life really is after deployment. One thing I learned after his first deployment to Iraq was that things don't go completely back to normal when they first return... it's never the fairy tale romance we expect.
First off, let me say that life after deployment has been FABULOUS. I love it— I love having him here with me, safe in our home every night, up early to work every morning. I love being together— we have so much fun! We go places together, we work out together, we eat together, we stay in together.
But we also both have our own lives. And we balance each other out. He's here for me to bounce ideas off, to show my latest projects to, to ask his opinion or advice about my work or my latest endeavor. I'm here for him to talk about his day at work, the people, the PT, the scheduling, routines and online classes.
When Joshua first got home from Afghanistan, I think I had a harder time adjusting than he did. Weird, right? Well, from day one, Joshua has always taught me to prepare for the worst. Prepare for the absolute worst case scenario in every situation, because that way if something better happens, you won't be disappointed and you won't be overly hopeful in the process.
When we first found out that Joshua would be deploying to Afghanistan, he told me that he probably wouldn't be coming home. Of course I had the appropriate freak-out session and cry-fest, followed by the obligatory anger and resentment and impending fear. He apologized, said not to think of it like that, told me he'd do what he could to come home and that he truly wanted to come home. I set it all aside so no more arguments or tears would ensue, but it stayed with me every day thereafter and throughout the entire time he was deployed.
I really believed he wasn't coming home. When I did get the sporadic phone call from him, I always answered and said goodbye as if it was the last time I'd ever speak to him. So many days, there were more and more stories from the news and the wives in the battalion of Marines getting injured, blown up, or killed. So many days, I stood in my family room stalking the front window, nervously staring up and down my street looking for the black car with the suited ones telling me my beloved was not coming home.
Even the day of homecoming, when I heard he'd landed in the U.S., I was afraid the plane would crash on its way to North Carolina. Even after he landed in North Carolina, I feared the bus on its way to base would be overtaken by the floods and awful rainfall we experienced.
And then, he was home. For the first week, I was afraid I was dreaming and I would suddenly wake up and it wouldn't be real. That was hard! What was also hard was adjusting to living together. This is the first time we've lived together, and as most of you know that alone takes a whole lot of getting used to!
So there have been lots of times when I needed "my space," because sometimes it's hard to be on my game/happy/supportive all the time. There have been nights where I haven't wanted to cook, and days where I haven't wanted to clean up the house. When he first got home, I felt like I was striving to be perfect at everything, to show him that I will be a good wife. Perfect at cooking, cleaning, working, entertaining, loving, relaxing, etc.
It's honestly taken a few months for me to finally feel normal, and like I could let my hair down for a bit. It took me awhile to realize I don't have to be perfect for him, and he doesn't expect that (thank goodness). If I don't feel like making dinner a few nights a week, we order take out or go out to eat. If I've had a busy day freelancing and didn't clean up the house, we wait until the weekend and clean up together. We visit with friends when we want to and we like to, not because we have to. And it's fun!
Joshua is a perfectionist too. He hasn't really cooked at all since he's been home... which is fine, but I think it's because he's afraid of messing up in the kitchen or making a meal that doesn't taste good. He came back from Afghanistan with a really positive attitude... much different from the one he left with! He's optimistic a lot and happy more... he says it's because he has a new appreciation for everything after what he experienced on deployment. This is good. :-)
We have our good days, we have our bad days. We have days when we fight, and days when we can't get enough of each other. But always, the good days outweigh the bad, and he really is the love of my life. He makes me feel like I'm the love of his, too, and we couldn't be happier together. It's been a long road to get here and I'm sure it will be much longer into the future, but things feel right. They feel balanced.
To those of you going through a deployment or whose loved ones have just gotten home... be patient. Stay true to yourself. Be open. Make compromises.
And be sure to give him a helluva lot of lovin'. ;-)