We are a military family. It is fairly new to us. Even though many of our family members have been in the military, Matt just joined about three (or four? is it bad I can’t remember?) years ago. So it’s new to us on the level where it affects our every day life.
The longest Matt has been away is for six weeks for Officer Training School. I was so relieved that he could skip the eight week basic training and go straight into Officer School. Those two weeks seemed to make it so much shorter, although, it’s just two weeks, right? Here’s the thing…I cried every single day of those six weeks. Every. Single. Day. I missed him. I was never so aware of how much I needed him. I hated it. He has left for many small trainings and trips since then. A week here and there. And I cry every time he leaves.
Now here we are staring down the face of a six month deployment. While I realize that a six month tour is super short by military terms, it is our first deployment and it sounds like six years to my heart.
And I have already been told that I should not complain about six months because it’s nothing and other husbands are gone way longer but I find that to be totally rude and I can be upset if I want to, so there.
I am heading up the Family Readiness Group for Matt’s squadron so I had a meeting with the commanders the other day. One of them says, “We still have __ (amount of months removed for privacy purposes) months until the deployment so the families are not really thinking about it yet.” And I just about started crying right there. (But I didn’t because I had my super professional no crying hat on.) No one was thinking about it yet? I am thinking about it every day and totally freaking out. Why are other people not?! Am I that much of a disaster/failure of a military wife? Now, to be fair, this is a man talking and generally speaking they don’t get how our minds work. So he could have been totally thinking like a man. Maybe the other wives are thinking about it. I’m sure I’ll find out soon.
When I discuss these OMG feelings with others, I am told things like:
“You are stronger than you think you are.”
“You have been through so much, you can handle this!”
And so on.
But I don’t always believe those statements about myself. You didn’t see me curled up crying every day of those six weeks. You didn’t see me cry on the side of the road on the way to getting the car fixed last week because what will I do when the car needs work and I don’t know if the mechanics are telling me the truth and I can’t just pick up on the phone and call him next time. You didn’t see me cry at the end of the driveway yesterday because the garbage can was super heavy and what will I do when he is gone and things are heavy?
I know what I will do when those things happen while he is gone. I will call the male friends we have that know about cars. I will summon my supermom powers and lift the heavy things. Or buy a crane. I know I will just do it. Because I won’t have a choice.
My husband reminds me that our sacrifices matter. It’s bigger than us. And I totally agree. I do not regret that we decided to be a military family. I take a deep breath and remind myself of that in those OMG moments. I remind myself that women do this every day. They do it well. They do it for many, many more months than I will have to. And I can do it too. I just need to trust in myself and the people around me who will be my support. I need to remember that I am not alone. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I will not be alone.
But without him by my side…physically…by my side. My heart doesn’t believe you when you tell me that I am strong. My heart screams, “NO I AM NOT! SHUT UP AND LET ME CRY LILE THE BIG WHINEY BABY THAT I AM.” (Yes, my heart talks in all caps.)
So I am left thinking. Am I really strong? Is the me you see in regular life, smiling and carrying on as if nothing is wrong, the strong me? Or is the me crying by the side of the road, admitting that I am weak, the strong me? Is it both? Is it that I can admit all of this to the internet, is that the strong me? What makes you think that I am so strong? What makes me think that I am not?
You think I’m strong but I’m not so sure. I suppose we are all about to find out. I hope I prove you right. For my sake. For my kids’ sake. I sure hope you are right about me. For once in my life, I sure hope I am wrong.