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December 2, 2012 / Jess

Losing the gift of shared pain

Dear Army,

I don’t feel particularly articulate today. I think that’s from all the crying. I feel drained, and my head hurts.

I hate that even something as joyous as a homecoming can make this deployment harder. You have been consistent with your inconsistency, Army, and your new and unusual ways of torture – ways that I can’t anticipate, but know will be far worse than anything I can prepare for.

I burst into tears when I got to the ending of the first Saw movie years ago. It took my sister by surprise. It was not the gore that bothered me, but the psychological torture. The twist ending was just too cruel for my sensitive heart to take.

The deployment is an exercise in psychological torture – for my boyfriend, and for myself.

There’s such a dramatic difference between those who have experienced a deployment and those who are in the midst of it. There’s a special kind of relationship that develops with women who are supporting soldiers abroad right this second – even though I know those who have been through it before and they treat me kindly, only those who are going through it right this second truly have the ability to comfort me.

I don’t know why this is. Perhaps it’s because their men are experiencing the exact same thing my boyfriend is; that everyone’s emotions are fresh and no one has the wisdom of hindsight. I don’t feel like I’m overreacting with them. I’m more honest with them, and less embarrassed about how much I struggle.

I know two women who are dating soldiers in my guy’s unit well; we’ve bonded through this experience after I Facebook stalked them and asked if we could get together. I know one woman who is married to an officer in my soldier’s brigade (battalion?); she attends my church.

I do not know anyone who is pursuing a Christian dating relationship through a deployment. This has been extremely difficult for me. I’m alone in that regard; I’m alone in a lot of ways.

That’s why the married woman from church has been so helpful – she can’t understand what it’s like to date during a deployment, but she helps me with my faith.  I help watch her children once a week while she takes a night class. In return, I learn about having a biblical marriage by hearing about her relationship when we talk about the deployment after she gets home and the kids are asleep.  It’s been a good arrangement.

We were even starting to go through a Christian book together. For the first time during this whole deployment, I truly felt like I was going to get something I really needed. That I was going to serve and be served and have fellowship and attention by someone who truly understands what’s going on in my life. It took months, but I now felt safe to be open and vulnerable with her – she knows my struggles are not a reflection of a problem in my relationship. I fear that if I talk openly about my pain, it reflects badly on my relationship. But the truth is, it’s all situation based. He’s great. We’re great. This just hurts.

The other day, the first day we started to go through the book, she looked at me and said “It’s like I’m holding a baby in front of you and you can’t get pregnant.”

What she meant by that was, her husband was coming home.

He came home two days later.

The soldiers are coming home in waves, her husband was in the first wave. I do not know what wave my boyfriend is in; I have no date. Probably 2013.

She said we’d keep in touch; I suspect she means it. But something shifted. It is no longer shared pain. I felt a guard go up that night, and I’m mourning the loss of a comfort that almost was.

I saw her reunion pictures on Facebook and burst into tears.

I feel cruel for being upset. She deserves this. Her kids deserve this.

Her husband got home late on November 30 – about an hour before his birthday began on December 1st. His children prayed so hard for him to be home for his birthday.

My boyfriend’s birthday was November 30. He didn’t celebrate. No prayers answered.

Why does God answer some prayers and not others? Did I not deserve this? Did he not deserve this?

Did I even pray for him to come home by his birthday? Is this my fault, because my brain said that was unrealistic and my heart sometimes thinks God can’t do extraordinary things?

This is exactly the type of faith-based question I would asked her. It’s foolish, and I know the answers but it would have been nice to talk about. Helpful to hear out loud. Comforting to hear it’s normal to question, soothing to be prayed for. I wish people prayed with me more.

My boyfriend makes me feel safest, she made me feel safer and now I just feel even more alone. I was so close to getting comfort and again, it’s been taken away.

God keeps isolating me. In bad moments, I feel it is punishment, in calm ones I feel God wants me to turn to him.

But I don’t, I can’t, I won’t, I don’t know how. Or something.

My head hurts.

My heart hurts.

I really hate this deployment.

(Not) love,



Leave a Comment
  1. Tracie / Jan 7 2013 8:28 pm

    Sounds like he’s home? Enjoy 🙂

  2. Jess / Jan 21 2013 8:03 pm

    He came home on Christmas Eve 🙂

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