In our first conversation, Coming Home: Veterans Readjusting to Civilian Life, our contributors — including veterans, family members of veterans and members of organizations that support veterans — share their own stories, offer insights on the challenges facing returning veterans, and provide tips and resources on the kinds of support that families, friends and communities can offer veterans.
I have been struggling for two weeks to complete this post. In an email exchange to all of the Coming Home bloggers, Some Soldiers Mom asked a simple question, "What's next?" The funny thing is: as she sent that email, I was actually sitting on my bathroom floor with a towel on my head, asking myself the same question.
What's next? It's been about one month now since my husband has come home from Afghanistan. I've held so many thoughts inside my head that it's taken all this time to finally start breathing and relaxing enough so that things can happen on their own time. By "things," I really just mean the tons of conversations that we never had the chance to have because he was deployed. I have to admit, the desire to "catch up" and be on the same page as him has kind of consumed me — and it's been a challenge.
My husband and I have had so many strained conversations and interactions and adjustments and apologies this last month... Either I say the right thing in the wrong words, or at the wrong time, or I completely shut down in silence. When I shut down and we are silent, I sometimes almost wish that we weren't talking because he was in Afghanistan, instead of because it's so hard for us to talk right now.
I wanted to write about some of the silver linings that I've discovered in the last couple of weeks, but every day when I had time to write, there was some kind of issue with him, with me, or with our son at school. I know that even if our lives were otherwise perfect, this reintegration thing would still be hard. And since life is never perfect, reintegration — on top of our imperfect lives — has been a real struggle this time.
At least I know I am not the only woman sitting on her bathroom floor, staring at her computer screen. There are a number of other spouses I know from a military spouse message board who are on their second, third, fourth or fifth deployment, and who also seem to be having a tough time this go around. The truth is that you get used to being alone; you get used to your military spouse being gone, and making decisions by yourself. As much as you want them back, something in you has a tough time when the routine changes. As much as you want to communicate and talk to them about everything, you might be like me, and find that you are at a loss for the right words (I can't tell you how many times I have typed and erased this post).
We went on a retreat sponsored by his unit that was helpful, and had several good days when we came back. I am trying to get back to that positive space, and I think he is too. It is a little like spinning your tires in wet snow though — you move a little, but you don't have traction to go forward. Sometimes you stay in one place and spit snow out, and other times your wheels slide; all you want to do is go forward, but you're still spinning in place.
What's next? I don't really know. But I don't intend to stay stuck in the snow, and I know he doesn't either. We just have to keep trying.
Blogger and military spouse. Fifteen Months. On the challenges of a military marriage.
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