I struggle… I struggle with what to even write sometimes. Being in a war zone is of minor significance when you consider the number of good days versus bad days you have here. You just don't care that there is danger outside those walls anymore. I also realize that the “bad days” tend to seem somewhat amplified because of our circumstances, but those days – good or bad – are ubiquitous, and can’t be escaped - No matter how many times you’ve been through this, no matter how many lessons you swear you’ve learned from past deployments, no matter…… just….. no matter. Period. We have all reached the stage of this deployment where we can officially declare that “the honeymoon is over.” No more silent anxiety from the rookies worried about traveling to a war-torn country, no more pumped up bravado from men wanting to kick the enemy’s tail, no more patriotic propaganda and pep rallies urging us to “Be all we can be!”…. just hard, cold reality setting in. …those realities that finally catch up to you when you just can’t push past the pain of how much you miss your kids… or how much you miss your girlfriend or wife… and other realities, such as realizing how frustrating even some of your fellow comrades are and how damaging they can be to everyone’s morale here.
That’s where I’m at today. I suppose there should be a “blogging prerequisite” or S.O.P. that states you shouldn’t write when you’re tired and frustrated, but I can’t help it. When I was in Iraq five years ago I kept a daily journal. In it I would write the events of the day along with my most personal feelings. It was filled with my most private experiences and only one person has ever been allowed to even read it. In this blog, however, I’ve come to realize that I can’t really do that here. This is not a diary. Quite frankly, you don’t WANT to know what I’m thinking sometimes…. But allow me this rare moment to speak about the “other” side of war that most don’t get to see.
I miss my kids. As a divorced father, I already came here prewired with guilt about my failures as a father and husband, but traveling halfway around the world just exacerbates those feelings. I worry about them. I wonder how they’re doing. I wonder how they’ll cope if somehow I don’t make it home. I wonder if they begin to forget about me – if their mother even includes me in their lives by mentioning my name. Moreover, do my “kids” even talk about me much? I’m painfully aware that they read this blog, so I hope that they also understand that their Daddy is a human being with feelings….. and with flaws….. who thinks about them every minute of every day! To my kids: I love you!
Shortly before deploying, my visitation with my kids, while much too short, was filled with lots of fun-filled days and new memories. I still see vividly in my mind us all dancing around and lip-synching to the music of High School Musical 2. We even had wigs and a play microphone. My youngest son loves to play his mini-electric guitar and jam to the music playing in the background. I can still see him rocking out to “Rockstar” by Nickelback and running and sliding on his knees while never missing a riff! *lol* I miss finding my older son lying on the floor next to Ellie, our black lab, and quietly stroking her belly. He claims – and I believe him! – to be able to talk to all animals in their language. He is such an encyclopedia of animal facts and trivia, he just amazes me! I miss cooking with my daughter - my oldest child. It doesn’t matter HOW little time my kids have at my house sometimes – even just an hour and a half on Wednesdays! - she always wants to whip something up. At my house she has her own separate “nook” in the kitchen with her own cooking utensils, cookbooks, ingredients, and apron and she uses it like there is no tomorrow. Hmmm. Ironic.
I miss my best friend… the one who has since evolved into an inseparable part of my life… the other half of my once-broken heart. All of the difficulties of the past few years have always been met with her encouraging words and unconditional love and support. She has reminded me more times than I care to admit that it’s not the end of the world, and that while God may close a door, He also opens a window - if we just look. She was so right. I miss her encouragement….. I miss her smile…. I just…. MISS her!
UPDATE: …As I typed this last sentence I just received an email from her and learned of the passing of her grandpa. This is yet another side of deployments that is heart-breaking. The passing of loved ones… the births of children…. significant events in your life that you can’t be there for. I want so badly to be there to comfort her in this difficult time but have to sit here and wonder how she is doing. Is she holding up? Is she struggling like I am?
The pressures here are great. But while we’re human, replete with our many anxieties and flaws, we don’t have the luxury of letting those feelings consume us and detract us from our mission at hand. We are so pent-up at times fighting our true feelings – often stoic – that it’s no wonder so many soldiers suffer from PTSD when they return home and have trouble adjusting to a “normal” life again. You find that PTSD has really very little to do with “the fog of war” or actual combat, but rather “the fog of life.” At least the “life” we know while serving overseas as we await the return of our “normal” life back home. Until then….. I think I will continue to struggle.
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