The Storm

Today has been exceptionally rough for me so I figured I would take to writing again. My husband deploys for work (not military, but military support) I cannot go into detail about exactly what he does, but that’s all you need to know. He is gone for a very large portion of the year, usually 4-6 months at a time.

People ask me consistently how I do it, I don’t know how to answer this question. It’s like asking you how you handle your significant other going to work every day, you just do. When I respond with “I don’t know” (because honestly how do you even answer that question?) I always get the retort “I could never do it.” Which again how does one respond to that? So, I give a slight smile and move along with the conversation.

No one will ever begin to understand what it is like to be without the person you chose to spend the rest of your life with. It’s constantly having to answer questions of “how long is he gone for?” and “when will he be home?” promptly followed by “oh that sucks”

Yes, we are aware it sucks. We don’t need reminded.

If you honestly want to know what it’s like, let me enlighten you.

Having an absent spouse is like having a part of your soul gone for an extended period of time. Your entire life pauses but keeps going all at the same time. There are things you don’t or won’t do without your spouse (pause) but life never really pauses so you go into this kind of purgatory that is composed of routines and schedules.

Then there’s the worst of all, the what if’s and the how’s. What if something happened to him? What if he never comes home? What if the last thing I said to him wasn’t “I love you”? How am I going to spend the rest of my life without him? How will I raise our daughter? How will we survive without our pillar of strength? The worry of where your spouse is, what they’re doing, and if they’re safe. There will be days that you can speak to them non-stop all day, then there will be days like today…

No one understands that these questions run through my mind every single day. These questions that are legitimate because they are real, they are questions that no one ever wants to ask themselves and that no one ever wants to imagine having to answer.

I understand that anything can happen to anyone at any given moment of any day. However, when your spouse is home these questions just don’t seem to cross your mind nearly as much as they do when your spouse is in a particularly dangerous location.

If you’re lucky you get to talk to your spouse every day. Most of us are lucky, lucky for the technology that is around today thanks to Skype and the internet we can stay in touch like never before.

Can you imagine what it was like before those things existed? NO THANK YOU.

There are days that feel like you are just glued to your phone because that is your only way of communication to the love of your life, it’s your lifeline. Then there are days when you don’t hear from them at all.

Like today…

Your mind, body, and emotions go into overdrive and never stop until you hear from them. Checking news outlets to make sure there’s no bad news from the location they are, checking your phone about a hundred times even though it has not gone off at all.

When your phone does go off your heart skips a beat hoping that it’s them only to find out it’s someone else and you get angry. You get angry that they haven’t contacted you. You get angry at yourself for getting angry with them because let’s face it, they’re working. Then you get angry all over again because someone asked you when they’re coming home, AGAIN.

The best thing you can do is to keep busy during this time. There is no time in my life where my house is as spotless as the day I don’t hear from my husband. If I don’t keep busy my mind will go into this dark rabbit hole and I’ll never get out of it. I must remain strong for my sanity, for our daughter, for the life that we have built. While I rely on him for his support, he also relies on me for my strength while he’s gone.

There are so many emotions that go along with having a spouse that deploys, there’s no way I could possibly describe them all. Just know that we all have our ways of dealing with it, just let us handle it the best way we know how.

You don’t have to understand why we do what we do when our spouses are gone, but you do need to support it and realize we are doing the best we can without our soul mate.

“She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” — Elizabeth Edwards

 

Strength in the weakness

When I think about talking to people about my issues I immediately get that feeling like I’d rather crawl out of my skin than tell this person what is wrong with me.

That being said, I have severe anxiety.

If you could see me right now you would see a pale face and maybe a little bit of sweat beads popping out of my forehead. You might think “that’s irrational for her to be upset because she can’t even see the people on the other end reading this article.” You wouldn’t be wrong, it is irrational. That’s what anxiety is, it’s worrying about worst case scenarios, and my worst-case scenario is you knowing about my personal ailments.

I have never claimed to be normal by any means, I love being a child at heart and a free spirit. I have however, claimed that I do not have a disorder. Why? Because people see it as a weakness. It is a weakness don’t get me wrong, but what makes a weakness a bad thing?

I have had anxiety since I can remember, I wasn’t always treated for it because I didn’t know what it was when I was a child, but it was there looming in the background keeping me from talking to this person and doing basically anything by myself. Here’s where the positive weakness comes in.

Because getting through life by avoiding everything and never talking to anyone isn’t an option for someone who wants to do arts and crafts with people and travel the world, I had to figure out something. I was still avoiding that my anxiety was in fact a disorder, I just figured I was just being weak. So, I forced myself to fight through it, I fought through the awkward interactions with strangers and I forced myself to do things without the company of another human. Slowly, but surely, I became more comfortable. I didn’t WANT to do any of it, talk to another human? NO THANKS, but I did it and it became easier every time.

When I started dating my wonderful husband, I was so turned around I didn’t know which way was up and what was going on because I had one part of my brain telling me to run away and hide and the other part of my brain telling me to take a risk and leap! Thankfully he knew me previously from our 4-year friendship, so he already knew I was a little… unhinged, to say the least. Thankfully he grounded me, he supported my thirst for adventure while understanding that I needed to work through my anxiety moments slowly.

Because of my husband and my ability to talk myself through situations (he became the tiny positive voice in my head), I can happily say that I can manage my severe anxiety without help from doctors or medications, until I got pregnant…

Curveball… Did you know a symptom of pregnancy is unholy rage and manic anxiety? Yeah me neither. Found that one out about 7 weeks into my pregnancy and realized there was NO WAY I was going to manage this without some sort of help. So, I went to the doctor, I told her that I had an uncontrollable rage that was causing massive problems with my marriage. She asked me if I felt safe at home… apparently when I said “I have an uncontrollable rage” she assumed it was my husband? Anyways she put me on medication and happily ever after we have our beautiful baby girl and mom didn’t kill anyone during her pregnancy. Win, win! Except…

I have had to continue the medication well after my pregnancy because when I stop taking it I basically must start all the way back at the beginning of this story, the part where I was a hot mess and up was down and right was left, before the hubs came along and helped me. So, I keep taking the medicine, cool whatever works that helps me be the best mom I can be for our little cutie.

THEN out of nowhere I start to feel the anxiety creeping up on me like a thunderstorm off in the distance. I can see it and I can sense something is there and I need to prepare before it gets here. Only thing is, I thought I was preparing? So why is that anxiety thunderstorm over there heading directly for me??? Apparently, unbeknownst to me (aka the doctor never told me and neither did that stupid side effect pamphlet) your anxiety can get used to the dosage you are taking for the anxiety management.

SO, I HAVE TO CHANGE MY ROUTINE YET AGAIN.

Joy

I have contemplated not changing it, just letting myself manage it like I have in the past. My husband deploys for work (no he’s not military anymore please don’t thank him for his service, he really doesn’t like that, I guess it’s awkward or something) and is currently gone so I am single momming it with our 8-month-old trying to manage this anxiety beast without him. Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and make that doctors appointment to get this figured out the medication way.

The reason behind this post is mainly because I’m having a rough night and I need someone to talk to without response. I don’t need the “omg I’m so sorry” or “yeah that sucks” responses because people generally don’t know how to respond when someone tells them things like this. It’s also because I know there is someone out there reading this completely relating to everything I’ve said. Yes, I’m talking to you, the one that is probably sitting on your couch right now just mindlessly scrolling through whatever website to keep your mind off whatever is worrying you. Yeah you, it’s going to be okay, you’re doing great and whether you have to take pills to make yourself better, if you have a certain person in your life that helps you, or if you’re a straight beast and can do it all by yourself that is amazing!

YOU ARE AMAZING. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t just because you have a weakness.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”

-Thomas Edison