Thursday, May 8, 2008

Staying Behind

This is something I wrote last November, just after my son deployed to Iraq:

My son, a Marine Corporal, just left for a deployment in Iraq. In 2003, my husband served in Baghdad, just before he retired from the Air Force. A friend asked me if it was harder sending my son or sending my husband.

Hard Question.

My husband and I have been married for 31 years. He is my partner and best friend. When he left for Iraq I felt like I went into hibernation. It was like someone hit the "pause" button on the DVD of my life. My kids were grown and out of the house. I'm not certain I suffered from "empty nest syndrome" when they went off to school; but my nest sure felt empty when my husband deployed. Don't get me wrong. When my husband deployed, I was still on active duty and had numerous responsibilities. That part of my life continued, and I think I was able to function well and get the job done (at least my performance report says so). But everything else shut down, to the point that I worried both my mom and my kids. I didn't want to talk to family or friends. Except for work, I was on "pause" until my husband came home. I don't know, maybe this emotional/life "pause" was my way of coping with the knowledge that he was in harm's way. But then, again, maybe I just needed a rest.

My reaction to my son's deployment has been different. I don't know why, but there hasn't been the same need to "pause" and wrap myself in emotional insulation to the point I don't even want to interact with anyone close to me. Maybe it's the different circumstances. When my husband deployed, the house was empty except for me. I had the luxury of using that "pause" button to distance myself from anxiety and stress (to the point I also distanced myself from everyone and everything). My circumstances are different now. I'm not alone. I have to interact with the family close to me; my husband, my daughters and thier families. I see them most days. I also recognize that my son's new wife needs support more than I do. She's a newlywed, left in a new town, without a support structure. I can't distance myself. I can't "pause." For some reason, I think they need me to be strong, to be available, to support them, and help them with their anxiety and stress. For some reason, being needed helps me deal with my own stress and anxiety.

Don't get me wrong, it was hard, extremely hard, to see my "little" boy get on that bus with his weapon and gear and head down the road that will ultimately take him into harm's way. But, I'm extremely proud of him. He's stepped forward and said, "I'll go" when our Nation is threatened. He serves because he knows this Country and our way of life is worth his service. He's a Patriot. But he's also my little boy. My beloved son. I birthed him, loved him, and raised him. Although he's now a man (and a big, strong one at that), I still have the instinct to protect him from anything harmful. So, there are more conflicting emotions inside me, seeing my son deploy. On one hand, there's pride in the man he's become, and there's joy in seeing him do something he believes is right. On the other hand, there's anxiety and a desire to protect. I know I can trust in his intelligence, and the training he's received to help keep him safe. But it's still tough.

It would be easier to go myself........

1 comment:

Andrea Shea King said...

"Except for work, I was on "pause" until my husband came home. I don't know, maybe this emotional/life "pause" was my way of coping with the knowledge that he was in harm's way. But then, again, maybe I just needed a rest."

I liken it to holding one's breath. Everything is in tight suspension. Coiled, almost. Until he calls or comes home. Then you exhale. At ease.

Welcome to the blogging community. Lots of nice friends here you haven't met yet!

Andrea Shea King
(friend of CJ Grisham)