I’m not entirely sure what I expected to experience in my husband’s first deployment. The unknown for me has always held equals parts of fear and intrigue. It’s like I can’t wait to experience something new but at the same time I don’t want to.
I figured deployment would be tough and boy was I right. But in my naïveté I thought it would be harder at first and then get easier. I thought I would really only experience one main emotion during the process. I figured the worst part would be missing my husband on a daily basis and seeing my kids miss him. I don’t think I was prepared for the emotional rollercoaster that I am on.
The best analogy I can think of is that it’s like standing on a series of wobble boards. Those are the boards that have a single point of contact in the middle and you stand on them and try to keep your balance. In the beginning you are really wobbly and you may fall off a time or two. As time progresses you get more stable and adjust to the new normal. Then, BAM, the wobble board gets pulled out from under you and now you are on a whole new one with a new center of gravity. It’s hard, you fall down repeatedly. Eventually you learn a few tricks and you are able to keep your balance better and better with each passing day. Then WHACK, here’s another new wobble board. Get used to it.
This process repeats, ad nauseum. Some wobble boards are easier to adjust to and some just keep throwing you off of them time and time again.
Distractions help because if you are focusing on them, you can adjust easier. But as soon as your focus returns you stumble again. And again. And again.
I am currently adjusting to yet another new normal. This one is extra wobbly. I will think I am doing fine and then in the middle of a conference call for work all of the breath will get sucked from my body as I think about what’s going on in other parts of the world. I might be playing a game with my son when a news story comes on that pertains to my husband’s location. I pause. Freeze. There is nothing in the room but that TV and me. I begin furiously googling all of the places they mention to see where they are on the map only to realize that it’s meaningless. How can I know where they are in relation to my husband when I don’t even know exactly where he is? Maybe I’m having a conversation with a friend – smiling, laughing, talking – but just barely contained under the surface are tears and the ever-present, vomit inducing fear.
There is a lot of uncertainty in my new normal. A lot of fear. A lot of anxiety. So I continue trying my best to regain my balance in desperate hopes that the next wobble board will be a little more stable and easier to adjust to. Or maybe I’ll just get more used to this one. Or maybe my tumultuous insides will eventually match my stoic outside. Or maybe it will all fall apart and have to be put back together.
I don’t like this ride. Can I get off now?