I saw Paragon to Pieces post "Belated Memorial Day Thoughts" today and it almost made me cry. I hope that she lets blogger create individual web pages for each of her posts so that I can link to them directly in the future.
The reason I was so touched is because I could relate to what she was saying. On top of this, my husband is on Active Duty until the 18th of June for training. I am having all of the typical paranoid thoughts of what could happen, etc. The problem with this particular training is that he won't have any phone access. He gave me a call when he got to the Seattle airport, but I probably won't hear from him again until he gets back. Also, in typical Army fashion, they refuse to communicate with the spouses, so I don't even know what his itinerary is. I'll basically know when he's home when he calls me to pick him up. This doesn't make sense to me since they are flying on commercial flights. I really hate it when he's gone, not only because I worry about him, but he's also not just my spouse, but he's my best friend. I don't really have any girlfriends yet where we live, so when he's gone I'm basically alone.
Like Paragon, I and many other military wives/girlfriends/husbands/boyfriends/etc. go through many stages in our emotional state. She mentioned: denial, anger, bargaining and depression. To these I would add numbness and pride. I tend to just ignore world events when he's off doing Army stuff. When September 11th happened I knew that I would upset myself if I watched the news, so for literally 3 months I didn't turn on the TV except to watch TLC or other non-news cable channels. To this day I have not seen a single clip of that day. If I think that someone is going to replay a clip of anything more than smoking towers, I switch the channel. I have a sort of emotional detachment to that day. I did not see any of the news coverage because I didn't want to feel anything, I did not want to upset myself. My husband, or at that time my fiance, had just signed away the next 10 years of his life the month before September 11th happened. 2 years while in school, 6 years active reserves and 2 years of inactive reserves.
The pride feeling comes and goes. I know why he joined the reserves, in fact there was a time that I considered it myself. Believe it or not, I did two years of ROTC myself. We joined the ROTC program together, but because he was closer to graduation he was eligible for a 2 year scholarship and had to contract himself earlier in order to get the scholarship. I had 3 years left before graduation so I didn't want to contract unless I was getting a scholarship and decided to wait a year. In the meantime, we got engaged and 9/11 happened. The idea of being dual-military, even if it was reserves, wasn't appealing to us, so we decided that only he would join. When he signed up, there was almost 0% chance he would be deployed. His unit's job was to go to Korea in the event anything happened over there. We were also told that the IRR (inactive ready reserves) were the reserve for the reserve and would never be deployed. Then 9/11 happened and everything changed. The whole reserve has probably been deployed at least once and its actually easily to get deployed as an IRR soldier than as an active reservist because they can individually deploy you whenever they need somebody that has your MOS, rather than deploying your unit as a whole.
Also, he was always way more into it than I was. I was constantly frustrated with the culture of "hurry up and wait" and having to accept stupid or inefficient leadership solely based on rank. I'm also a pretty outgoing person and that didn't settle well with the leadership of our ROTC program. My husband has natural leadership skills and he can also work with a wide variety of people. I am not the most tolerant person when it comes to dealing with silly people, he's always been better at that. Unfortunately, in the Army, you have to work with people no matter what. It's a volunteer force and you can't always pick who you want to work with. His quiet leadership and non-stressed demeanor works well with others. I'm proud of him...most of the time.
Unfortunately, the pride only is there when I'm being logical. When I'm being emotional I'll blurt out things like "I hate the Army! You need to get out!," even though I know that he can't. He takes a real sense of pride in what he does, and even if he doesn't agree with the politics of our nation's leaders 100%, or even ...% (better not speak for him), he really enjoys being an officer and taking care of his soldiers. He takes a real sense of pride in working with his soldiers and I have seen him develop some really great leadership skills as a result of his service.
I try to be logical and supportive, but more often than not I jump to the worst case scenario. I know that he's going to end up being deployed and I selfishly bounce from, "What if you die? Do you really support what they're doing in Iraq? How could you live with yourself if you kill somebody who is innocent?" to "What will I do while you're gone for a year? You know I have no friends, how could you leave me? There better not be any females in your unit!" I know, I know, I sound illogical and silly, but I still try to negotiate with him to see things my way. More often than not I end up stressing us both out about something we really can't do anything about except to accept it and get through it as best we can.
I don't know why I am posting this. The process of typing it out makes me feel better to express myself. At the same time it makes me feel selfish and unpatriotic. Is it wrong of me to wish that he won't get deployed, that he'll never have to be in harms way, or as he says never do what he's training for? And of course Lifetime is introducing its new series Army Wives tomorrow night which I have every suspicion will be a soap opera-esque military version of Desperate Housewives with all of the spouses absent most of the time. After watching two ROTC cadets with active duty spouses and children, divorce their spouses and marry each other creating 4 active duty parents of two sets of kids, two divorces and two cases of infidelity while their spouses were deployed and all sorts of other situations, sometimes I just want to shake military spouses. I know what it's hard on all of us, but it really angers me the way that some spouses act. We're often young, our marriages and relationships are often fresh and the military is a MAJOR relationship stressor, but you don't have to turn a military base into the Springer show! The whole rank thing also bothers me when it comes to spouses. I don't care if your husband is a Lt. Colonel, you aren't and I don't think its right for me to treat you any differently because your spouse can make life hard for my spouse. I really hope that Army Wives does not go into that, but I'm sure they will.
On the other side, I know that there are a lot of great military spouses who support their spouses, take care of themselves and their families and do it all with amazing grace. To those spouses I say Hurrah, you amaze me and I wish I was more like you. I'm still having a really hard time dealing with this. The idea that he's probably going to Iraq next October is paralyzing sometimes and I don't know if I'll ever be ok with it.