Sunday, January 1
December flew by, full of work, shopping and wrapping, family and friends. I didn’t have time to be too lonely. I missed Dan when I thought too much about things beside the task at hand, but there were enough tasks at hand I managed mostly to avoid that.
I spent Christmas Eve with my immediate family. The day began badly when I missed a phone call from Dan—there are few things that make me feel worse faster than missing his calls; it leaves me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach—but he was able to call again around ten o’clock that night, just as we were finishing opening presents. Christmas Day I spent with Dan’s family. It has sometimes been hard, since he’s been gone, to spend time with his family by myself—I think perhaps because when he was here, I rarely spent time with his family without him, and they remind me more forcefully of his abscence. But Christmas Day was a good day, a comfortable day.
Monday, January 17
My post-Christmas depression seems to have hit late this year, and with a vengeance. I spent the weekend in one of those I-might-as-well-not-have-struggled-out-of-bed-because-all-I-can-do-is-lay-on-the-couch states of being, without the presence of mind to talk, or even to read. I could see it coming from afar as early as the middle of last week, but the foreknowledge doesn’t seem to have done me any good. You wouldn’t think that a person’s temporary absence could have such an effect on things, but this deployment seems to ratchet up the difficulty level of everything else in my life by several points. I guess, by its very nature, emotion doesn’t pay any attention to what’s rational, but just plows along doing its own thing.
Tuesday, January 25
Subjective reality report: It’s getting harder as we go.
I spent the first six months being sort of surprised by how easy this deployment was, so far. Not, you understand, that I was enjoying it, but it wasn’t as hard as I’d expected it to be. And I foolishly thought it was because I was better able to handle it than I’d expected. Now, it seems that’s not the case. I don’t know why it seems to be getting harder—maybe I’ve forgotten how difficult the beginning was, and so this seems harder because it’s now; maybe the length of time under stress is starting to get to me; maybe the newness has worn off, leaving me no insulating layer between me and the discomfort. Maybe I’m just not as good at being a grown-up as I thought I was.
If my emotions would listen to my rational mind, they’d know that, if anything, the situation itself is less scary than it was at the beginning. When he left we had no clear picture of where he would be, or what he would be doing; now I know that he’s inside the wire, and that he’ll probably stay there until he leaves to come home. He’s safe, compared to many of our friends who are there with him. (Though that brings its own set of problems for me—the Army wife’s version of bourgeois guilt. I wonder if other people struggle with this ambivalence, or if I’m alone in this.) Not only that, but we’re nearing the end. At the outside, we have two and a half months left; that’s a fifth of the time he’s already been in Iraq, a seventh of the time he’s been gone so far, a mere pittance. And he could even be home in as little as seven weeks. The date-rumor mill is warming up.
My emotions, though, being by definition emotional rather than rational, don’t listen to my mind much. Right now I’m doing pretty well as long as I don’t have to think about how I am—if I’m working on other people’s writing rather than on my own, if I’m watching a movie or reading a book, if I’m cleaning the house or wrestling with overgrown shrubbery in the yard. But when something makes me think—when someone asks me how I am, when I sit down and write in this journal, when I talk to Dan on the phone—I realize that I’m kind of a mess inside. Tense, irritable, sad, angry, and hyper-sensitive, all rolled up in a ball, kind of like a cranky, depressed porcupine. Whether Dan is also more easily irritated than normal, or whether it’s a figment of my over-sensitive imagination, I feel like we’re one step shy of an argument a good deal of the time when he calls. I’ve gotten mad at him every time I’ve talked to him for the last three weeks.
It’s something of a comfort to discover, when I talk to other military wives and girlfriends, that Dan and I aren’t the only ones who are finding it harder to get along lately, and that I’m not the only one who’s finding life difficult—it’s good to know we’re normal. It’s also something of a complication, because just when we need each other most, we seem least able to provide emotional support for one another—we’re all tired and tense, and it’s as much as we can do to struggle through our own day.