One of the hardest things about deployment and homecoming for me is the pre-emptive disappointment.
How in the world do I go about explaining what I mean by that?
When we think of a homecoming…. We think of the banners and the flags. We think of the first kisses and our service member running into our arms and the tears and the “THANK GOD YOU ARE SAFE. THANK GOD YOU CAME BACK TO ME.”
I will be grateful, so grateful that he has come back to me. I will not take that for granted.
All of that is real and true and it is a glorious moment each and every time.
Much has already been written about how there is so much more than that moment…. Much has been written about reintegration and the difficulty families can find coming together again after so many months apart. This is a little different than that… For me, this goes a little further than the difficulty of renegotiating roles….
When I consider that homecoming, I know it will be glorious and I can taste the salty tears that will stream down my face. I can almost feel my body relaxing finally into him.
But I can also feel the disappointment of that moment 2 weeks later when the honeymoon phase ends and we have our first fight.
I can feel the fatigue of 2 months from that when he still can’t sleep…. And he is trying everything he can think of to find the elusive relief of rest.
I can feel the tension in the moment I know is coming when he feels out of control and throws a plate and it shatters against the wall in front of me.
I can feel the distance, the horrible chasm of distance that I sometimes feel from this person that I want to feel the most connected to.
In the middle of a deployment I want to believe that it will be better this time. I want to prop him up in the saddle of that white horse and see my prince charming riding back to me. I want to assure the kids that of course Daddy WILL make it all better… their nightmares, the unfairness of schoolwork, the tears they’ve cried for so many things he has missed.
I want to believe that so desperately and part of me falls into the trap of that every single time
But I have wised up. Less and less of me is falling there. And that is actually what scares me.
5 deployments in and I find myself slipping more into cynicism than idealism.
Cynicism and fatigue—knowing that we are at 5 deployments and have several more to go before retirement.
My heart feels colder and the exhaustion is set deep in my bones. I don’t rebound from the deployments like I used to because I am just so tired from the accumulation of time we have spent apart. I am so worried that the pressure will continue to put hairline fractures into all of us until eventually we shatter and disperse into dust.
My hope dwindles because I know the reality—even if it WAS possible to shore our marriage and family up in the precious few months that we have before the next deployment, we will still have the next deployment, and the one after that, and the one after that will strike new blows of their own for us to recover from.
So you see I find myself living in this world of preemptive disappointment—and as a person who wants to hang on to light and hope even in the thickest darkness, to find my heart sinking into this cynicism scares me and sours my stomach.
And it makes me sad…. Because I don’t even get the fleeting moments of hoping for the happily ever after to come after each deployment anymore…
Instead I live in the land of pre-emptive disappointment, never quite sure of how, when, or if we might have the time and space to be pieced back together again… and wondering if we will ever be able to get to a place where we might begin to feel whole and complete once more.