An Honest Discussion on Re-Integration
So, I have probably started this blog out about ten different ways today. Not kidding. I’ve typed something, started over, deleted, cut and paste, and then started all over again. What I would really like is for me to just talk or write. I would love to have a stream of consciousness pop into my brain, for my brain to put the thoughts together, and then for me to type out these thoughts. That’s sort of happened, but I have found most of the thoughts to be mediocre at best. How disappointing. I’m actually frowning right now.
So here goes my last attempt. This is an honest discussion about re-integration and why it’s the WORST THING on the planet, I’m not sure if the plague was actually worse.
Tell Me A Little About The Deployment Cycle.
Well, the deployment cycle consists of three stages and they are pre-deployment, deployment, and reunion/re-integration. Typical behavior in the pre-deployment phase can be withdrawing from the family, anger, sadness, anticipation of loss, stress levels increase, and I know for me, I couldn’t stop trying to prepare for life without Jeremy. I felt myself hyper-organizing and hyper-focusing.
I tried so hard to make sure I had everything in order before Jeremy left so it would not be such a mess around the house after he was gone. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. Having a house in order is easier than having your heart in order. My heart was not prepared, even though this was not my first deployment.
What Was The Most Difficult Part of the Deployment?
My three year old son was difficult to watch. Jeremy left right before Ian’s third birthday. Jeremy has missed all of Ian’s birthdays, and I was not ready to face another one alone. I wasn’t prepared for us to say goodbye at the airport and for Ian to start experiencing night terrors immediately. Ian’s nightmares started the night Jeremy deployed and lasted for weeks. After Ian got over his nightmares, he then started wandering the house looking for me and needing reassurances that I wasn’t going to leave him.
Since Ian wasn’t sleeping well, it meant that I wasn’t sleeping well. The lack of sleep was hard on both of us. I feel that his age is the entire reason why he struggled. I saw a confident, happy child become anxious and worried. Ian couldn’t convey his emotions and thoughts very well. When he would, it was heartbreaking.
What Did You Do For Your Son?
I actively pursued family therapy because we needed it. I was not enough in Ian’s life, and I was running out ways to provide comfort. I, too, was just as sad and lonely, but I could rationalize my feelings; a three year old can’t. Little did I know getting help wouldn’t be as smooth as I had anticipated. I called Military OneSource and had the virtual door slammed in my virtual face (that’s another blog, another story). I was told to “just call TRICARE.” TRICARE amazed me, and they were incredibly helpful. Even as I cried to the customer service person, her compassion reassured me that I was doing right by my son.
So What Is It about Re-Integration That You Don’t Like?
For me, it’s a loss of control. I run a tight ship when Jeremy is gone. I struggled to establish a routine, but Ian and I figured it out. Well, now here comes change again. It’s not the change that bothers me, it’s something else. I see my son struggling again. He’s nervous around his own father. Ian doesn’t take Jeremy seriously as a parent and runs to me for everything.
I think military spouses can find odd positives about a deployment. I love running the house my way. And I mean all aspects of running a home. I love it. I work/write from home, so keeping my home orderly is necessary. My husband isn’t as orderly as I am.
It’s getting used to each other’s habits again. It’s worth it, but it’s hard at the same time. The last thing any family wants is for those habits to be the distraction, but they can be. Couples have to get used to each other again. For example, I’ve decided to start a business and I’m on that path of doing so. I wasn’t sure about my career path when my husband deployed and now I am.
The family changes when the spouse is deployed. Our lives kept on moving forward, our children grew, our home learned to function without Jeremy. As mean or awful these words seem this is a raw truth.
Do You Feel Your Family Will Get Through This?
Yes, I do. I really love and like my husband. He’s one of the funniest people I know, and laughing is fun. Jeremy has the ability to make me laugh like no one else. Hearing Ian exclaim with absolute joy, “I love you Daddy” warms my heart and soul. Seeing Jeremy smile as I tell him my hopes and dreams just sends me flying. I love being around the person that really gets who I am and what I am all about. It’s my hope to give him that love and support as well.
A thought keeps repeating in my head: just as you think “I can breathe again because my spouse is home” there’s a new battle. This really is a battle; it’s a battle for my family. We aren’t a family in crisis, but we could be. I’ve decided to be pre-emptive. I’m not going to let the military come between the man I love, the son we love, and the family that means the world to me.
Some things in life are worth fighting for, and as I was telling my best friend one night, I will fight to the death for the person that accepts my “brand of crazy”. However, I still think re-integration is the worst.