The deployment is almost over. Colin is back in the United States, almost three weeks early. I’ve flown back up to Pennsylvania to pick him up. It’s over. He’s almost home.

This blog has honestly never progressed the way that I though that it would. Turns out, I adapted and I really didn’t feel the need to use writing as an outlet for what I was going through. Moving to my parents’ house, back in July, made this so much easier, and the end of the deployment usually did  fly by. It became the day-to-day fact of my life, and it became a “the sun comes up in the morning” kind of thing. Of course I missed him, but it became… normal, which really isn’t a good thing. We’ve been seeing one another for a year. We’ve been physically togther for about forty days of it. I honestly don’t know what it’s like to have him home, and, at this point, it’s kind of scary.

There’s also the fact that I’m sad to leave my parents’ home. I’ve loved living with them, and I’m so glad I did it. When I left home at eighteen, it was under awful circumstances, and they’ve had to watch me spend the past nine years trying to get my life right. I’m finally there. Nothing’s perfect, but at least I’m not running from anything this time. I’ve loved having them right there to talk to, and they’ve been unconditionally supportive. I’ll miss having coffee after dinner with my mom, and watching documentaries with my dad. I’ll miss having my own room, a space that is 100% my own. I’ll miss their Senseo. =) It’s been incredible getting to know them again, and I’m very, very glad that I did it.

I feel guilty for my reluctances. I love Colin, more than I really know how to handle. Somewhere, in my mind, I know that I would marry this man in a heartbeat. I don’t need to physically be in his presence to love him, or to feel that I was loved; Throughout it all, we had the best of each other, despite the distance. I never really felt alone. It was frustrating, not being able to pick up the phone and tell him that I needed him, but I knew that he would call, and I knew that he would never minimize my problems in light of his own. He never expressed any doubt in me, and he never made me feel that I was burdening his mind in any way. If his attitude had been any different, I don’t know if I could have done my part in this.

I’m aware that I have a bit of hero-worship going on here. It took certain, isolated incidents for me to really think that he might die, and it usually passed once the shock did. I really didn’t doubt that he would come home safe. I’m not ignorant of the conditions over there — I just believed that he couldn’t die. In my mind, and in my heart, this man is better than damn near everyone on this planet. Period. He’s only topped out by my daddy, and that’s just the way that it should be. I hope I haven’t set him up for a long fall.

He’s not the same man who left; I’ve already seen that, just from our conversations. I’m not the same person, either. We’re going to have to figure out how to live together, and we’re going to have to do it fast, because, once we’re down there, we’re all we’ve got, when it comes to friends. I haven’t been working yet, and all the people that I know are my parents’ friends. Our social scene is a bit limited. If we can’t live together, we’re a little fucked. I’m actually optimistic about it, though. I think we’ll be fine. We fight a little, but it’s usually constructive, and we apologize when we’re wrong. I’m happy with the way that we handle conflict and I like our dynamic in dealing with problems.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. Everything is so overwhelming and confusing. The mental theme, though, tends towards excitement — We did it. We made it. This deployment actually ended. We are finally back on the same continent, in the same country, and even living in the same time zone. In less than seventy-two hours, I get to go to the airport and pick him up. Then, he’s all mine, and I don’t have to watch the clock this time. I know that I can talk to him about my anxieties regarding his homecoming, and he will face what I feel, without flinching, and help me think through it all. I’m blessed with that, and I know it. We will be fine. I think I found my forever, and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep it.

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A Fresh Start

19Sep08

1226

It’s been quite a while since I wrote here. Changes in my life have kept me from keeping up with this, a sad, but true, consequence of the changes I have made.

At the end of R&R, a situation came up, and I relocated to Florida’s Gulf Coast, following in the footsteps of my parents, who came down here back in 2001. Clyde decided that he will follow me, so I have spent the past few months finding us a home, jobs, and getting things ready for his return. In the meantime, I’ve been staying with my parents, something that I had hoped to never do, but it has turned out to be a good experience for all of us. I’ve always been close with my mother, but this stay has helped to deepen the roots of that relationship, and allowed me to reconnect with my dad. All in all, I’m glad for the choices I’ve made.


A Single Page

07Jul08
Not to Keep

Not to Keep


R&R: Part I

20Jun08

06:48

Getting through this deployment has been a matter of living in, and appreciating, the small moments — An extra five minutes on a phone call, or a week where I know Clyde won’t be going outside the wire. Now that he’s come home on leave, those small moments are making up every second of my days.

We’ve spent most of the past week traveling, meeting friends of mine, and visiting with his family. It’s been amazing, but not without it’s share of drama from back home, unfortunately. Today, we head back and, tomorrow, I go back to work. While I want nothing more than to spend every second I can with him, I still have to protect my job (which, considering all of the bullshit they have, and are, putting me through, is sad). Still, there’s something to the fact that he will be there, waiting for me, when I get home — a turning of tables, so to speak.

I’m mourning, though. The day for him to go back is coming up fast, and we’re not even halfway through this deployment yet. When I think of it, I can hardly bear it. It’s so unfair somehow, and my understanding of what he is doing, and why he is doing it, doesn’t help right now. I’m breaking SR protocol by saying this, but I really don’t give a damn about the people Over There. I don’t see how their lives and happiness could possibly be more important than ours. After centuries of killing one another, you’d think they would learn, but they don’t, and now I, and countless other Americans, Italians, Britons, etc., sleep alone. All the lectures on the importance of a stable Middle East don’t mean jackshit to me right now. I’m a child again, selfish and demanding, wanting what I want right now, not in December. I respect Clyde’s integrity, and I appreciate what he has chosen to do but, in this moment, as he sleeps, safe in the bed right behind me, none of it matters. All I can see are the months without him, and I am angry at the people who give cause for him to have to go back. It’s wrong, but so be it. No one should have to be satisfied with just two weeks beside the person that they love.


16:02

The days have clicked down and, after a lot of back-and-forth changes to the schedule, I now know what time I have to be at the airport to pick Clyde up. I’ve been in a flurry of activity, trying to fill hours that seem days long. I had my hair cut and dyed, my outfit for the airport is hanging on my closet door, and, after I finish this post, the house will be scrubbed from top to bottom. My baby is coming home.

My supervisor talked with the other dispatchers, and my shifts are covered for the first week that Clyde will be here. I really can’t afford to do that, but I’m doing it anyway — They’ll help me make it up when I go back, I’m sure. 😉 Clyde wants to drive down for a visit with his mother, and we’ll be stopping along the way to see some of my friends and family, so I’ll actually be getting something that looks like a vacation for the first time in my life (literally). After that, I have to go back to work, but I’ll still have off for the last three days he’ll be here. Clyde will have his 25th birthday while he is here, so I figure on losing him to a hangover for at least a day or two.  Still, all in all, I’ll be able to spend most of his leave with him, and he’ll have time to go off and do his own thing without me. Of course, while he’s here, I have to move to the apartment he and I rented with one of our friends, and moving always sucks, but it’s ok by me. He’ll be here, so I don’t care.

My donut tells me that, by the time he leaves, we’ll be about halfway through this deployment. It’s hard to believe the months have passed the way they have so far. After four months, I had hit a stride. I can’t say I’ve been happy, but I was functioning and getting things back in order after that whole emo-sobbing, lying-in-bed-eating-chocolate-all-day thing.  It’s been rough, but it’s over, and I think I’ll be able to bounce back a bit faster this time (ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseGodplease).

II can barely sit still. My need to see Clyde again has overpowered my embarrassment, and I’m just a girl excited to see her Soldier again. It’s a good feeling, but nothing I want to get used to. I’m still unfailingly anxious for December and the end of this deployment. I still hope, constantly, that there won’t be another one (and bemoan my inner knowledge that it most likely will). For all the moments brought about by the situation, moments that my friends call “sweet” and “romantic”, I would trade them all for a day with him that isn’t borrowed from Uncle Sam.


18:47

I have been fighting a lot of battles over the past three months. It’s been seven months since my divorce, and I’m still trying to deal with the debt I was left with, as well as the additional debt that accumulated while I was stuck on part-time at work. I do absolutely nothing besides work and sleep, but it isn’t enough, and I just can’t work any harder. Despite that, it’s taking me forever to get out of this hole, a situation which, of course, affects my demeanor and interpersonal relationships. I’m hiding a lot of things, faking a lot of smiles, and it’s worn thin. Frankly, I’m amazed that I have any friends left.

To top it off, Clyde comes in on leave in less than a month. I should be excited and, in many ways, I am, but there’s also some dread in there. I’ve been able to hide a lot so far. Once he’s right here, I won’t be able to anymore. He knew I was in trouble for a while, but I eventually let him develop the impression that things were ok again, even though they aren’t. The truth is, I’m so ashamed of the mess that I’m in, and I’m embarrassed that I can’t seem to get myself out of it. Because of that shame, I’m swallowing all of this stress and it’s killing me slowly.

I don’t want to talk to Clyde about all of this. I don’t want him to know what’s going on, and I don’t want him to think less of me because of it. As my dreams of independence have crumbled in front of my eyes, I’m become less and less secure about myself. A great deal of my self-image is based upon how little I need to look to others for help or support. Self-sufficiency has always been my goal, not only when it came to paying the bills, but to dealing with everything that I encounter. I realize that, to many, that’s insane, and I’ve heard every variation on “No one can make it alone” that you can imagine, but it was no matter to me. I was determined.

Throughout my life, no matter how many mistakes I made, I did my best to be sure that no one else had to pay for them. I’ve always felt that it was important to confine the consequences to myself and my own life, since I was the one making the decisions. For the most part, I’ve succeeded and, when it didn’t quite work out that way, I did my best to make amends. This time, however, I’m hurting a lot of people — My roommates, because I can’t live up to my responsibilities (although, in my defense, when I was cut to part-time at work, I said I wanted to move out because I was afraid this would happen, but that was met with vehement rejection of the idea and the insistence that they understood and it would all be ok. Yeeeah. Right.). My parents have to deal with the fact that  I’m behind on my rent, as well as the knowledge that their daughter is a fuck-up. The friends I have left rarely see or hear from me anymore because I’m just too worn out for socializing. My support group might as well just forget about me, because I’m just not up to helping anyone right now. And then there’s Clyde.

I’m hiding from him. I was so pissed when he did this to me, yet I’m doing it now, and I’m using the fact that he’s deployed as an excuse. Every website about deployments tells those of us who wait to keep the stress to ourselves. I’ve told Clyde about this, and he disagreed, yet I’m disregarding that for my own convenience. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t want him to bail me out of this but, God, I need to feel like someone cares that I’m watching my childhood dream die.

I have to choose between my pride and my sanity, and I’m not sure I can live without either one.


MSAD

09May08

Today marks the first Military Spouse Appreciation Day. While it’s certainly wonderful that there is finally some recognition for those who wait back home, it’s sad that they’ve confined it to those who are married.

What about the girlfriends and boyfriends who wait at home with no real expectations of commitment, who do not have years behind them to help anchor their hearts?

What about the fiancees who plan their weddings alone, hoping that what they are doing is what their Soldier wants them to do?

What about the mothers who sleep each night knowing that the beautiful child she gave birth to is oceans away, fighting battles that she cannot help him in?

What about the fathers? The friends? The siblings? What about those without rings? We matter no less to those we wait for. Why are we ignored?

Let’s not forget each other, no matter who else fails to remember us.


Grains of Sand

07May08

We have leave dates!

This was very unexpected. Because Clyde’s deployment was for less then twelve months, we were not expecting that he would get leave. It’s a welcome surprise.


Little Moments

21Apr08

Things have been hectic lately, and I’ve been terribly busy managing a hundred things. I’m willing to bet that fact is the reason that I was shocked today when I realized that almost two months of the deployment have gone by. Although I still faithfully cross the days off of my calendar, and my countdown ticker to Clyde’s return is always running on my laptop, I’ve stopped moping, and that’s actually enough for me. It was really annoying. 😉


And A Grrrr!

09Apr08

10:53

The Internet is out on Cylde’s FOB. After weeks of conversations on AIM that lasted for hours, I had gotten used to getting to talk with him every day. Now, I’m realizing just how critical that connection has been for getting myself through all of this. Without the phones, I wouldn’t be hearing from him at all, and I’m not sure that I could stand that.

I wonder how my mother managed when her boyfriend was in Vietnam, waiting at the mailbox for letters written from foxholes. She didn’t have a date to count down to; Those boys never knew when they would be going home, just that they would get to go when the war was over. She waited for two years for her Marine to come back. Two years of relying on the USPS to know if he was alive, of watching the news and praying for the war to be over. I can’t imagine going through that, and I’m immensely grateful that I don’t have to.


20:16

I’ve never cared to play “Who Has It Worse?” with anyone. When it comes to Clyde, I don’t even try. Despite the fact that we are two halves of the same situation, the experiences and perceptions we have are highly disparate. Neither one of us has it any better than the other, no matter what we may think sometimes.

I have the advantage of familiarity, choice, and stability: I am in my own home, surrounded by the friends and family I have always had. I have the same job, sitting at a desk, answering phones and typing. I have the freedom to come and go as I please. If I decide that I don’t want to be wherever anymore, I can just leave. If I decide I don’t want to keep my job, I can quit. If I don’t want to deal with someone anymore, I stop dealing with them. If I decide that I’m hungry or tired, I don’t have to take into account the actions or opinions of anyone else. I can have my wine with dinner. I wear clothing that I chose and that I am comfortable in. I have a very stable Internet connection. I can talk on the phone whenever I want, for as long as I want, as often as I’d like. Seeing my family and friends is as simple as taking a walk, calling a taxi or buying a plane ticket. If I hear a loud “boom”, it means my drunk roommates fell down the stairs and I can just continue on with whatever I’m doing, no investigation needed (Well, it may be needed, but it’s not happening). No one shoots at me. The people who want me dead don’t want to go to jail, so I’m pretty safe, provided I don’t go wandering the wrong streets at night. Oh, and can you say “No sand in sight”?

Then again, he has the upper ground when it comes to knowledge, support, and simplicity. He knows what’s going on over there, and can adjust his worries accordingly. He is surrounded by people that know what he is going through, and can relate to his reactions. He controls almost all of our contact. The details of daily life have been left behind – His grandfather is handling his finances, and his mother and I are managing his legal matters. Someone does his laundry, cooks his meals, makes his coffee. Someone else is paying for his electricity, his water, his food. Someone else makes his decisions. Here at home, I try to make sure he has enough toothpaste, and send him movies, books, and computer games. I try to keep as much stress from him as possible, and, at the same time, try to freeze myself and my life in time, so that he doesn’t feel left behind.

But, we are both lonely. We are both basically dating our computers, since IM is our most-used form of contact. We are words on a laptop screen, fuzzy pictures from digital cameras, and vague memories of what it was like to physically be in one another’s presence. We are both living on faith, faith in each other, faith in us, and, most importantly, faith in the Army and his training. While he is living in a desolate place without his friends and family, just as his country has ordered him to, I remain in that country, surround by people who are screaming their opinions on wars and politics, without any real knowledge of what is going on or concern for those they have deemed “murderers” and “government-issued terrorists”. We are both afraid – Will our faith be enough? Will we stand by our commitments to one another? Will we continue to grow as friends, despite the distance? We are outside of our lives — Clyde, because he is deployed, and me, because my thoughts and concerns are of things that those around me don’t even notice. We are isolated by our positions, and we know that there are very few who truly understand.

I don’t want to be in Clyde’s shoes, and he doesn’t want to be in mine. Neither one of us has it any better than the other, when you look at the whole picture. We are going through the same thing, but living it differently. We feel the same things, but for different reasons, and we want the same things, but because of different opinions born of different perspectives. I am not a Guardsman, and he is not in “The Silent Ranks”. But, we are both deployed, he in body and I in heart. Neither of us has won anything, not until the day he comes home, and we are no longer living with the ticking of the clock constantly in the background, counting down to something that we dread. We have never had that, not for a moment. There has always been a deadline, a time limit, or no time at all. We are both in situations we don’t want to be in, and we are both doing what we can to get through them. Neither of us is luckier than the other in this. We live distinctly separate, but equally difficult, lives.


21:36

I’ve never changed my mind so many times about one single thing, as much as I have changed my mind about this damn deployment. Some days, I’m fine. I mean, I miss Clyde, but I’m not tearing up during Hallmark commercials or anything. I look at the countdown I keep running on my computer and think, “Well, that’s not so bad”. Days when the IMs are more than enough, when I feel capable. Then, there’s the days when each hour drags, and nothing I do distracts my attention from the clock. Heaven forbid I should leave my music playlist on random because, Lord knows, something is going to set me to bawling. Those days are hell, from start to finish, and not worth the coffee it takes to get through them.

I’ve always been an emotionally independent person. I’ve never been one to look to other people for praise or encouragement, and I’m not one to seek company simply for the sake of company. I’ve never been lonely in a way that meant I wanted to be around just anyone for the sake of not being alone. I can entertain myself for hours with nothing more than my own thoughts. This knowledge of myself is one of the reasons that I can say to Clyde, with complete confidence, that I can handle this, and I’ll be fine. So, why do I find myself having days when the very thought of the months without him here that are yet ahead brings me to tears?


Moving Through

10Mar08

17:15

Clyde is now in Afghanistan. After almost two weeks of travel, he is finally at his theater. We’ve been able to maintain fairly regular contact, albeit for fifteen minutes at a time, with a two- to three-second delay, but at least we’re still in touch. That may change, now that he’s where he’s supposed to be, but hope is all that I have these days.

I’m finally learning to cope with everything that is going on in my heart and mind over this deployment. It’s been difficult, and I’m had a hard time coping with the insecurities that the situation brings up for me. Coupled with difficulties at work and here at home, I’ve had a rough time these past weeks but it is certainly getting better.

Now that the deployment has actually begun, I feel a strong sense of relief. The final countdown begins — The countdown to his return. Remarkably, I’ve been able to stop thinking that December is so terribly far away. Considering how young both Clyde and I are, it’s really just a tiny fraction of the time we can choose to share.

That’s another thing that has changed: My view of this relationship. I’ve begun seeing it as something that truly has a potential to be a “forever” thing. Just the potential, though. I’m not banking on anything.

~Betty


21:19

Clyde left to report back to Ft. Bragg this morning. We spent three-and-a-half days together, days that, I’m afraid, I didn’t take full advantage of. I was so emotional in so many ways that I started quite a few moments of drama that I know both of us could have done without. I wish I could sit here and explain why I acted that way, but I really don’t know. I do know that I wish I hadn’t, but it’s too late to do anything about that now.

I was sitting in the living room when Clyde arrived at my house in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. When I heard him call “hello” from the foyer, I went in to see him. It was a movie moment; We saw one another, he dropped his bags and we were in one another’s arms. We exchanged gifts — a teddy bear for me, and some books for him — before settling into bed for a few hours of sleep. I woke up shortly after he did, and we shared our morning coffee, as we always do when he’s here. That time is the time that I miss the most while he’s gone, so I tried to linger in it, but Clyde has become accustomed to a more rapidly-moving morning, and he was off to the shower before my coffee even had time to cool in the cup. The day itself brought no production, although we did stop at the office so that he could say hello to some of his old co-workers. It was a lazy day, without a doubt, but that’s fine by me. We ordered Chinese, because Clyde has a thing for people bringing him food, and my stove isn’t working properly. I was sorry that I couldn’t cook for him, as I had promised, but there wasn’t anything that I could do about it at the time.

The second day was mostly the same — We sat around and watched movies. Again, that was the way he wanted to spend our time and I don’t pressure him to do any differently. I’m a quiet person by nature, and although I rarely engage in passive activities like watching television or movies without doing something else at the same time, I’m more than happy to indulge Clyde when he’s on passes.

Yesterday was spent with his family. There were some affairs that he had to manage before he left, and most of that time was going over paperwork. We went to dinner with his mother and had a good time. After, his mom let him borrow her car, and we stopped by Wal-Mart so that Clyde could buy a laptop and webcam to use during the deployment. While in line, Clyde was talking with the checkout clerk and he mentioned his upcoming deployment. While he and the clerk were talking, a woman in line behind Clyde looked at me, standing off to the side in Clyde’s Army shirt with tears in my eyes, and says to her friend, “Look at her. She ain’t happy. She don’t look so proud”. I almost clocked her, but I try to remain aware that my actions in situations like that reflect directly on Clyde, so I just shut my mouth. It had been an emotional day for me as it was, and a fight wasn’t going to help that at all. We came back to my house and hung out with my roommate. I have to say, in the beginning, I wasn’t sure how well Clyde and Justin would get along, but it turns out that Justin likes Clyde quite a bit, although he doesn’t take our relationship all that seriously because we haven’t been together long. Still, Justin can’t deny that Clyde cares for me, and that’s really all that he wants to see. I do have some wonderful, wonderful friends. ❤

I was up all night last night. Clyde tried to stay up with me, but he needed some sleep, and I was so emotional that I was picking fights, so I took that time to go downstairs for a shower and a good cry. I thought, foolishly, that having a fit then would keep me from falling apart later. I was wrong. From then on, I was in tears on-and-off (mostly on). Once Clyde was up, it was nothing but preparing for his departure. I was doing fairly well with keeping it together until I went up to the bedroom to make the bed. I broke down, and I am not one of those people that sits and simply sniffles quietly. I was sobbing, and Clyde heard me, so he came upstairs. As it was during Exodus, so it was again that we ended up sitting on my bed, crying together. I realize that, to some people, Clyde’s tears can be seen as a sign of weakness, and I agree, but that’s part of the point of them. He feels safe enough to cry with me, and he hurts when I hurt. Unfortunately, I made things much, much worse.

I had kept my personal opinions on the politics of the mission to myself up until that point. No matter what I think of the situation, I understand that he has to go, and that what he has to do over there comes first. I understand that he is following orders, as he swore to do, and I don’t ever want him to feel that he doesn’t have my full support. However, going through this situation has led to a great deal of emotion regarding the situation in Afghanistan. As this is a post about Clyde’s leave and not my personal politics, I won’t go into this here but, suffice it to say, I said things that I’m afraid may have made Clyde feel even more guilty about leaving me. That was never my intention, but that was what I did.

Too soon, he had to go. I was not anywhere near as strong as I was the last time. I was clingy, and I’m so very disgusted with myself for it. I walked him out the door, and watched as he crossed my walkway to the car. It was an impulse that I couldn’t control that drove me to call his name and run out into the snow in my socks. After a few minutes, we let go and said our see-you-soons (never good-bye). I went and stood up on the porch, watching him clean the snow from the windshield. He turned and started walking toward me. I thought he had forgotten something. He opened the door, and he gently pulled my arm until I was standing inside of the house; I guess he just couldn’t stand seeing me standing in the cold, crying. That fact doesn’t make it hurt any less, though. I wanted, needed, those last seconds of seeing him. I stood at the screen door instead. He was probably still able to see me, but it was a compromise.

I came back into my house and cried until my eyes swelled shut. I kept walking to the window, watching the snow fill in the space where his car had sat overnight. It filled quickly, too quickly, just another piece of proof that he was here that was disappearing. I couldn’t stop crying. Like the lucky girl I am, I called my mom and asked her to talk to me. Even though she was at work, she took the time to hear me cry, to remind me that I am so much stronger than I have ever thought I am, and that I am lucky enough to finally be in love with someone who deserves it. This is the first relationship I’ve ever had that holds no basis in dependence. I’ve had this time with him. What’s nine months out of a lifetime? While he is gone, I will have the opportunity to get my life to where I want it, so that, when he is finally home, I can focus on him as much as I want to without feeling that I am somehow indebted to him for my successes (not that he would ever try to make me feel that way). Yes, I am hurting, but I am also blessed. I would not trade this pain away for a lifetime without it, because that would mean I never got to know him. I will gladly trade these tears for his smile.
~Betty

My New Bedmate

18:23

Clyde is finally home on his 96. He got in around 4 o’clock this morning.

It’s no small feat to turn a few days into enough to carry myself through the upcoming months, but I’ll figure it out.

~Betty