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November 17, 2012 / Jess

I’m not counting down until my soldier gets home.

Dear Army,

This deployment is winding down for my guy. He’s been gone for almost a year. He is scheduled to be home in early 2013, which means, even though I don’t have a specific date, I could start counting down by weeks instead of months. Days, even.

I don’t.

I HATE COUNTDOWNS.

I know some people make paper chains and take a link off each day, countdown to Christmas style. I know some people survive deployments because of countdowns. To me, they make everything harder.

Time moves sooooo slowly for me. It has never changed pace. Some of that may be because this deployment has come with a huge side of insomnia for me, some of it may be because I have only ever been impatiently waiting. I love this man more than I’ve ever loved anyone – more than I ever even wanted to love someone, to be honest – and I want this reunion more than I can articulate.

So seeing the time that still stretches before me just makes me feel like I’ll never make it to the finish line.

And, honestly, Army, I can’t let myself believe he’s coming home. I can’t. First of all, they changed his departure time so many times. I said goodbye to him THREE TIMES IN TWO DAYS. So there’s that. I know the same thing could – and probably will – happen with his arrival. I don’t trust you, Army, with accuracy. And, there’s the bigger, more irrational fear that he won’t make it back. He has had an excruciatingly safe deployment. I know this. But I’ve long since feared that I’ll never see him again and to get excited feels foolish. I feel a sense of insecurity that I haven’t felt since the beginning. That horrible story about the veterans killed during a parade in their honor about sent me off the deep end.

I’m a Christian who spent the last year realizing that I don’t understand that God loves me – even though I’ve also spent it recognizing what a wonderful gift my soldier is, as he is a constant reminder that God must love me, to give me someone so wonderful. I’ve learned to rely on God in order to be gracious – being an Army girlfriend requires an amount of understanding that is beyond my capacity – but I’ve struggled to understand that God applies that grace to me every day. In fact, I’ve just gotten angrier and more bitter as time has gone on.

I’m waiting for God to punish me by taking away the gift I never deserved to begin with.

This relationship is too perfect. Flawed, of course. But perfect for me. I feel like I don’t deserve it under normal circumstances. I get it now, because it’s doused in misery but fear I’ll lose it if we have happier circumstances because I struggle to feel like God wants me to be happy. After all, the Bible doesn’t say we’ll be happy.

The depression I’ve sunk into feels all-consuming. It has changed me physically, and emotionally. What if it doesn’t fade? What if I’m always this sadder, angrier version of myself? What if I don’t love God enough? If a deployment could shake my faith, what type of Christian was I to begin with?

As I try to wrap my head around the fact that I feel permanently altered, the nearing homecoming just calls attention to the fact that I am not who he deserves me to be. Did I waste this year? Shouldn’t I be a more faithful Christian – why have my doubts increased so much? Why can’t I forgive you, Army, and all of those who hurt me along the way? How come I feel more and more like I made huge sacrifices? In the beginning, it didn’t feel like sacrificing. Now, it just feels like … “Please. I can’t handle this any more. Take care of me now.”

Perhaps my selflessness has been a misperception all along. I hate realizing how selfish I am; I truly felt like I was a better person than I am.

This reminder of my failings often comes from other people – the same people who dropped into silence when he needed them most. The fact that he’s nearing the end of this deployment means suddenly, everyone is interested again. They want to know when he’s coming home and when I say probably within the next two months or so, the response is “That’s so soon!” or “You must be so excited!” or “That’s gone by fast!”

No. It isn’t soon. No, I’m not so excited. NO IT HASN’T GONE BY FAST. I try to explain why I feel this way but honestly, it’s not worth the effort.  It’s a fairytale now, a romantic reunion that everyone wants to be a part of. And I’m still working on forgiving all the people who promised they’d be there for him but weren’t, who hurt me by not helping, who hurt me by making it worse, who hurt me by forgetting him, who hurt me by forgetting that I was struggling too. I watched them fail him. He may rationalize the silence away, but as he reintegrates into his social circle with me by his side, I fear I’ll be seething. The silence he received may be repairable because he didn’t watch it happen. Knowing I advocated for him and I wasn’t enough … it just hurts.

Above all, Army, I think I feel confused.

I feel confused about who I am, about who I will be without the confines of this deployment, about what my relationship will look like without this deployment, and about my faith.

And I feel confused about why countdowns are supposed to make me excited.

Am I doing this all wrong?

(Not) love,

Jess

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Lindsey Gambill / Nov 17 2012 10:18 pm

    Amen, sister. I don’t know you but I’ve stumbled across our blog. This is this the first entry I’ve read and you’ve verbalized every fear I have for the deployment that my soldier just begun. Thank you for your honesty. I look forward to reading more.

  2. Jessie Homemaker / Nov 18 2012 1:11 pm

    I love reading your posts. They take everything I’m afraid to express or afraid to think and put it right out there. I love my soldier (like you love yours) but things are obviously hard. It’s not easy, it doesn’t “go by fast”, and it sure as heck isn’t convenient. But no matter the circumstances, I know I’ll stick by my soldier, because I don’t feel like I deserve him a lot of the time. Not that he’s perfect, or I’m perfect, but we’re amazing together and he makes me happy, and I’ve never had that in my life.But anywho, I really enjoy reading your posts!

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