Thirteen years ago I married my soul mate. In today's day and age that sounds like flimsy fiction...but for me, it's the truth. He is my love and my life, my partner in crime and my comforter in chaos. And believe me, there's been lots of chaos. You see, my husband is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. And he left 18 days ago for a 6 month deployment. Left me, 3 kids, a cat, a dog, and all of the issues, problems, and WORK that goes along with our day to day family life. For six months. That's a long time.
I HATE it.
According to the 'Family Deployment Package' we were sort of given (sort of, because I actually picked it up for myself, thinking it may hold some piece of useful information, and having found out about the workshop they were having about 2 hours before it was held) I should currently be in the 'Emotional Disorganization Phase' of the Emotional Cycle of Deployment (their caps).
So get this--right now I should be feeling: relief, guilt, anger, numbness, depression, confusion, disorganization, indecision, loneliness, vulnerability, irritability, and believing the impossible or unlikely. In other words, I have full license to be a complete nutter, and just blame it on the deployment. Although I don't deny feeling some of those emotions, what I really feel is tired. Where there once were two of us doing household work, now there is one. When a problem pops up, there's only me to deal with it. And still I must do my own job (I'm a physiotherapist--physical therapist for my friends south of the border), and somehow find time to look after myself. My house looks like a disaster zone. My fridge has more science experiments than a tenth grade biology class. And the laundry pile that fell over this week contributed to the earthquake felt across Eastern Canada and the US.
There are moments, thankfully brief ones, where I panic. I get the feeling I got when I was in labour, having my second child, listening to an aquaintance screaming in the room next to me, and remembering just what it felt like to actually give birth. I KNEW it was going to hurt. I KNEW I was going to suffer. I KNEW that there were a whole lot of things that could go wrong in the next few hours. And there was not a damned thing I could do about it. Pure panic. Again, these moments are brief, because in thirteen years of marriage I have learned that I am NOT a helpless damsel in distress. I can sit on my butt and feel sorry for myself, but that won't get the kids fed, nor will it make the time go any faster. So I get up, put my head down and push through the relief, guilt, anger, depression, blah-bity blah, blah, blah, and move on. I make the supper. I mow the lawn. I walk the dog. I hook the trailer to the truck and move it. I wield power tools.
And I bandage knees. I sing lullabies. I hold a child that misses his father so much that he's lost in himself. I help a little girl become a woman. I challenge a little boy to become a man. And I pray for each member of our family. Every night.
There are many, many women (and men) who have gone before me in the 'Emotional Cycle of Deployment'. I salute them whole-heartedly. It is their groundwork that has made things so much easier for people like me. I have a renewed respect for single parents. My extended family are always there for me when I need them. And I am HUGEly blessed to have such amazing friends and neighbours.
It still sucks. But I'll be okay.