Counting Down…

final-countdown1About 16 weeks, give or take a couple. Nothing is written in stone, nor will it be. Dates can always change, and probably will a few times. That’s ok. I refuse to count months. I’m counting weeks. Work helps time to go faster but I have the feeling that as I get closer to his return date, time will seem to grind to a halt.

One of my friends told me she’s going back home to TN with her kids by August. Another friend – she’s like a sister to me – is having marital troubles, too. I absolutely hate what these deployments do to marriages. I want to fix everything for them, but I can’t. I want to shake their husbands and yell, “SNAP OUT OF IT!” but I can’t. My GA-to-TN pal, her marriage was already strained by more than a deployment, but the deployment was the last straw.

Thinking back to how Tony said that he changes over there, that they all change over there, I wish there was some way to prevent the crazy mindset that tears marriages apart. Financial stress is amplified so much – I know that first hand. This isn’t the best job market area in the state, and Savannah isn’t a big market in the first place.  They get bored, they get depressed, they feel a definite lack of control over things back here. We get depressed, we worry, we try to keep up a smiling face when they call or get onto Skype so that they don’t worry. We minimize things that have us wringing our hands – like finances, the inability to find a job, the really bad sound the truck is making but can’t be fixed until payday. We find ourselves fighting with one another, they withdraw into themselves and we cry or get angry and fed up. They insist nothing is wrong with them, that we read too much into things or we somehow manage to start the arguments. We withdraw into ourselves because we’re too emotionally worn down to fight. Anger flares up – nasty words are exchanged – nothing resolves. Will things get better with reintegration? Who knows? For my friend going home to TN later this summer, that answer is no. I pray things work out for my other gal pal…I’m praying hard for that.

I pray that Tony stays safe. I pray that all of our guys come home safely. I pray that Tony and I can keep things the way they are until I see him on Cottrell Field in a few weeks. I pray that we reconnect during reintegration and that I get my husband back, leaving SGT Goodwin at work and having Tony at home. He can be SGT Goodwin Mon-Fri, 0530-1800, but I want my husband back, asking what’s for dinner and joking about me getting into the kitchen to make the food that won’t cook itself.

I’ll heave a huge sigh of relief when I know his plane is on the ground in Savannah, his bus in on the way back to Fort Stewart, and I see his face on Cottrell Field while I wait impatiently for him to be released from formation so I can run across the field to him. I can only hope that my sis, and the other wives that I’ve bonded with over this past year, get to experience the same thing rather than tears of hurt and anger while their marriages struggle to survive.

Tony, I’ll tell you now what I told you the night I watched you board that bus that took you away from me for a year:

I love you so much. Never forget that, not once, and never doubt it ever. Come home to me. That’s all I ask of you. Come home to me. See you later.

R&R Has Come and Gone

RRI’ve decided that I hate R&R, but more about that in a bit. I drove up to Atlanta on 12/26 to pick him up rather than have him spend overnight in a hotel because his connecting flight wouldn’t be until the following afternoon. Upon arrival, I found that his flight got cancelled and he was in Germany. Talk about deflating my happy balloon! I found a hotel room and spent the night, planning on being back at the airport by 1100 the next morning. We traded emails  to keep each other updated, and I resigned myself to having to wait one more day for him to arrive.

My phone rang the next morning at 0715. His plane had arrived and he was in the USO lounge. So much for me getting to meet him at the head of the Transportation Mall to greet him. So far, nothing was going as planned. Omen, perhaps? I told him I’d have to pack up, wash up, and get dressed. I think all he heard was, “My hotel is about 10 minutes from the airport”. I got to the USO lounge about an hour later, so excited to see him. All I wanted to do was hug him. He looked at me, looked pointedly at the clock, then took his time packing up his laptop and other stuff he had out. After shouldering his bags, he just walked past me out of the lounge towards the escalator. I will say that he looked awfully hot – all that PT paid off nicely. 😉

I seriously considered driving him to Camden, SC at that point and telling him to find a ride back to Atlanta when it was time for him to return to Iraq. No “hello”, no hug, nothing. I might as well have picked up a stranger. Fine. I can play the game. The drive back was strained with polite questions. “Do you need to stop?” “Are you hungry?” “I have to stop for gas. Can I bring you anything from the store?” One word answers usually were given back. We stopped in Macon to get him some lunch and so I could put gas in the truck. When I got back in, he tossed – yes, tossed – a package into my lap and mumbled, “Happy Anniversary”. He bought me a necklace while he was in Germany and it is lovely! I was surprised that he got anything at all, and while I was touched at his choice of a gift, I felt a pang of disappointment that it was literally tossed to me. Oh well. Since I wasn’t expecting anything at all, it was a nice surprise.

After he had a couple of days to decompress, I suggested we go down to Jekyll Island and sit on the beach. I took my “Journal of Tears”, intending to write in it while he did whatever he felt like doing, even if that meant sitting in the truck sleeping. We walked the beach for a bit, then sat down to listen to the sound of the ocean. On a whim, I handed him the journal and suggested he read it carefully. After about 20 minutes, he said, “I had no idea. I never meant for things to get this bad between us.” For the first time since he got home, he wrapped his arms around me and let me cry. We talked about everything, and while it’ll take awhile for us to get back to where we were before October and November, at least he had a better understanding of my side of things. Things were more relaxed after that day. We visited his cousins in SC. We did a whole lot of nothing at home, and I went on job interviews. He was happy to hear that I got hired and would start work shortly after he returned to work.

All too soon, it was time to take him back to Atlanta. The drive, which normally feels like forever on the way to the airport, went much too fast. I felt like I couldn’t let go of his hand, and I think that was irritating him a bit ’cause it was time for his head to get back in the Iraq game. The USO said I could go with him to check in for his flight, and that I could get a pass to go to his gate. When it came time to check in for his flight, the USO volunteer had me line up next to Tony. As we walked with the rest of the soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen, I was moved to tears by the response of the folks in the airport. Not only did they applaud us as we walked past, they wished the guys and gals Godspeed and good luck, admonished them to come home safely, and a few women walked next to me saying that they were thankful for men like my husband. That was probably the most emotional walk through an airport that I’ve ever had.

We got to his gate and I found myself hoping that his flight would be cancelled. No such luck, but he was delayed by a few hours. Because Atlanta had had a bad snow and ice storm the day before he was due to leave,  he was worried about me driving home after dark on the sure-to-be-icy roads.  He walked me back to the concourse food court, hugged me for what seemed like too short of a time, even though it wasn’t, and told me to drive safely. I watched him walk off to get something to eat. I knew he wouldn’t look back…he never looks back, says it’s easier to say goodbye that way. But I watched him until I couldn’t see him in the crowd any longer, then made my way back to the main terminal and out to the truck.

Why do I hate R&R? Because it’s like sending him off on a deployment all over again. I know he – and the rest of our military – need the time away from theater, need the time home. But for me, and for other wives I’ve talked with, it’s incredibly hard. I was used to having him home, sleeping beside and waking up next to him…having him reach for my hand or slide his arm around me as we walked through the mall, the Commissary, or while out with his cousins. I got used to his laugh, to doing his laundry, to making – and serving – him dinner again. By the time I was used to him being home, I had to take him back. Nothing in the world sucks more than that…not even sending him off in July, and trust me, that sucked!

I’ve started my job today, so that distracts me somewhat. I still come home to an empty house (sorry, kitties, but you’re not Tony). I make dinner for myself. I wait for him to email me or call and let me know he arrived back at Camp Ramadi safely.

I wait for him to come home to me, only this time, I won’t have to send him back after 15 days.

Ambivalence

ambivalentTeeDecember. Five months gone, almost 6. I should be happy, but I’m too busy crying. Our disputes over finances have gotten worse…to the point where he no longer calls me. Facebook messages consist of messages like, “Would you care to explain this transaction now?” or reminders about how much money I cost him that he could be saving instead. I asked him if he was going to ask for a divorce and he seemed shocked. I asked him if we should go to see the Chaplains for counseling when he came home for R&R and he didn’t know how to answer. He still says he’s “deeply hurt” and “won’t resolve anything over the 2 weeks (he’s) home”.

Wonderful.

I was so excited to have R&R coming so that he would be home…He’s reduced me to tears so often that I forget what it’s like to hear him laugh, to get a compliment from him, to hear him say he loves me. I’m to the point that I feel like he should make plans to spend his vacation with his family in SC because if all we’re going to do is argue – or worse, if all he’ll do is ignore or avoid me – then he need not bother coming here.

I want my husband back. I know he’s been working hard on his promotion boards, and on his Soldier of the Quarter and related competitions. He’s assured me that I’ve already added to his stress. Gee, thanks for that, ’cause it wasn’t my intention….maybe you should thank your “friends” who suggested to you that I was cheating on you instead of remaining faithful to my marriage vows. Yeah, go thank them for putting that shit into your head ’cause I sure didn’t.

I’m exhausted.

I’m lost….nothing I do is right in his eyes.

I hate this.

Four Months Down

November.  Not even half-way through this deployment. Thanksgiving came and went without any acknowledgement on my part. He warned me that he would change “somewhat” while he was deployed, but I had no idea just how much.

We’ve been arguing almost daily. Facebook messages are terse if not outright angry on both sides. He says he “doesn’t waste energy” getting angry but he sure could fool me. He’s angry that I’m not working yet. He’s angry that 80% of his paycheck goes to me every month. He’s angry that he’s not been able to save money or achieve his savings goal for this deployment. The more he interrogates me, the more upset, angry, and hurt I get. He’s never tried to find a job in a small, tight job market. The Army is his full-time job. This area isn’t Atlanta and it sure isn’t Dallas. He doesn’t want me to drive more than an hour to work; he doesn’t want me working at Walmart. He’s not keen on me taking a waitress job. Well, he can’t be upset with me for not working and then try to tell me where I can and can’t work.

I hurt. I knew we’d eventually have an argument about something, but I honestly feel like he doesn’t trust me. He maintains he’s not comparing me to his first wife, but again, he could’ve fooled me in that regard. I have to justify almost every purchase in our joint account. I feel like a burden. He – or his “friends”, whatever they are – decided to insinuate that I was stepping out on him and he chewed me out royally on the phone on Thanksgiving Day. Gee, Happy Thanksgiving. He says he’s hurt and that nothing will be resolved any time soon. Does he have a clue how much he’s hurt me? He claims he has no idea where my anger is coming from. Really!? He’s never wrong, but I always am.

I’m tired of crying. I’m tired of feeling like it’s just not worth getting out of bed in the morning. I’m tired of being treated like his first wife – and he’s talked about her enough that I know how little he trusts anyone with his money.  I’m tired of him talking to me like I’m some slacker soldier under his command.

I’m tired of feeling like a bad decision instead of his wife.

depression2

 

 

I’m just so very tired.

My BS-o-Meter is off the scale

I had to walk away from this for awhile because I was going to have one hell of a rant. I might still rant, but we’ll see. Suffice it to say that over the past couple of months, I’ve cut a lot of whining, needy little Army wives and girlfriends out of my online and real-time lives. Nope, no one in my husband’s Battalion or my Family Readiness Group (FRG). They were simply stragglers that I picked up along the way as I investigated various military wife/Army wife pages on Facebook (FB) or through various social meet-ups held here on post.

If you look like these pix, you are probably a trashy Army spouse/child. Common sense…any

I don’t mean to sound too terribly rude or as if I’m not supportive but let’s face a fact of military life: If you are only a girlfriend, you mean nothing to the military – any branch. You get no benefits, you’re not entitled to be named as legal next-of-kin or even an official point of contact, and please do not try to tell me that you know how I feel while my husband is gone. As my FRG leader once said to me, “There are girlfriends and then there are place-holders”. Girlfriends usually go on to be fiancées who then go on to be wives. Place-holders do not. Most of these girls are still in their last year of high school or newly graduated, and they think that military life is all white picket fences at on-post housing, traveling to see the world, and living high. Surprise! They also can’t understand why their boyfriends go on a deployment and come home “just not the same as before he left”. Let me tell ya why: They’ve been in a war zone. They grew up while you remained a high school sweetie. They might have watched friends die. They might have heard of friends in other units who were killed. They may even have killed the enemy themselves. Yeah, they’re not the same high school boy you got involved with who was swaggering around town after Basic Training and then shipped out to Iraq or A-stan. The swagger is gone. They aged about 10 years in that 1 year they were gone. That is something most girlfriends and all place-holders will not ever understand. That is why not every girlfriend and absolutely zero place-holders go on to be fiancées.  So, girls, stow it when you tell me that you understand what I’m going through. No, you do not. When you become a military wife, then you can tell me that you understand – not before. Don’t even get me started on the girlfriends who pretend that they’re wives, passing themselves off as military wives when they don’t even have so much as a promise ring that was bought for them by their alleged sweethearts.

I do belong to some military wife pages on Facebook and lately, I’ve left a good many of them. I cannot stand classless Army wives. What other branches of the military pass off as classy wives is their business, but a trashy Army wife – no thanks. I can’t stand that at all! Pst’ng on FB lk u r txting & ur not pst’ng frm a cell …. that only makes them look ignorant. Wait, no, what was it Steve Harvey once said? Oh yes, “ig’nant…not ignorant. Ig’nant!” Honestly, do these women not know how to spell or construct a sentence? Are they that ig’nant?! Here’s the 411 on that kind of stuff: On Facebook, we can actually see if someone is  posting from a cell phone or not ’cause there’s a little sentence under the post that will say if a person is posting with a Blackberry, a Droid, or an iPhone. So really, if you can’t even spell a word, don’t try to have a conversation with me because it’s obvious that your level of intelligence is so far below mine that I’ll suspect your IQ might be in the negative range. Trashy is also bragging about your latest drunken spree with your girlfriends. Really? Imagine how your husband feels when he – half a world away – gets to read that. Maybe he doesn’t care, but mine sure would, and he’d be hella embarrassed to read that on my FB wall! Trashy is also whining about how the Army doesn’t pay your husband enough to keep you in the latest fashion rages, your false nails, your hair extensions or expensive hair cuts, or your horrid choice of hair color (magenta, anyone?) along with making sure there’s enough money to put food in your kids’ mouths. Guess what? You married into the Army! The Army – and the military in general – is notorious for not paying well. Why do you think so many get out after their first enlistment and go into civilian jobs? Because civilian jobs pay more! Trashy is also dressing like you just finished a night working on the nearest civilian street corner and then complaining about the Garrison dress code policy when you get kicked out of the PX, the Commissary, the Shopettes, or the post library. Really? Your husband might think you look like a hot little number, but guess what? The ARMY expects you to have a little bit of decorum and comport yourself more like a lady and less like a 5-cent street whore.

And while I’m on the subject of Army wives… I realize we don’t wear our husband’s rank. I really don’t have time for the ones that try to do so. I will give the wives of NCOs or senior NCOs the respect that I would give to their husbands, but if they try to play the rank game with me, they’ll find out exactly what the definition of the word “bitch” is and why my picture is next to it in the dictionary. I don’t seem to have that problem in my husband’s Battalion, however, because the senior wives and the officer’s wives that I have met are the classy ladies that I expect to see. Like it or not, ladies, we do represent our husbands. Those of you who fit the definition of “trashy Army wife” need to learn that fact and learn it well. You trashy little girlfriends might want to remember that fact, also, even though you’re not an Army wife.

For anyone who cares, I’m 47 years of age. Therefore, I get more than a bit testy when 18-22-year-old wives try to tell me how life works, how the world works, or that I shouldn’t “be so hard” on them when they’re acting ig’nant. I may have only married my soldier 10 months ago but I learn fast, I can find my own information when I need to do so, and I know where to go and who to ask when I can’t find an answer. I do not need some snooty little girl preaching to me as if I’m some stupid child. You want to see my sarcasm come out? Be one of those 18-year-old trashy loud-mouthed wives on a FB page trying to “set (me) straight” about an issue upon which we may not agree. I’ll show you how it feels to be made a fool of quicksmart. You do not know how life – or the world – works. None of us do, but those of use who’ve been around a few decades more than you have most of it figured out, thanks.

Another pet peeve: Getting bashed by some snooty lil girl who feels that those of us who do not have children should be ostracized for wanting to have meet-n-greets with other wives who do not have children (or who can leave their kids with a babysitter and come out for coffee)’. How dare we! Grow the fuck up, “ladies”. Those of us without children, whether by choice or by the inability to conceive, don’t always want to talk about your kids, ya know? We, too, have lives. Ours just don’t revolve around the latest school project, ear ache, upset stomach, well-baby visit, or how tired we are because our kids ran us ragged. Some military wives have even gone as far as to state that those of us without children are not and should never be considered a military family. Why? Because we don’t have kids. We’re “couples”, not “families”. That extends to any offer that’s available for military families. How dare we be so “selfish” (yes, that comes straight off of one particular trashy-sounding military wife page) to enroll in a program meant for families. We “have enough money” that we don’t need to be “taking away from those of us with kids”! Seriously?!? Are these women that petty? There’s a good many things that I would love to be able to send to my husband while he’s away, but on one income, frivolous doesn’t cut it; therefore, he goes without the things with which I would love to spoil him. How dare these women diminish the fact that my husband and I are not a family simply because we don’t have children.

When I was single, I willingly worked Christmas Eve and Christmas Day because I did not have family at home with whom I could share the holiday. I have not been home to see my family in NJ over the holidays for the past 5-6 years because I was always working so those with kids could have the Christmas holidays at home. However, I got to where I started resenting being counseled at work for excessive absences when I would come down with pneumonia or I would have such a bad asthma attack that walking and breathing were totally incompatible. Yet those mommies who called out sick because their kid had a tummy ache, or who were running a fever got all kinds of sympathy from supervisors because…OMG!…a KID is sick! The world comes to an end, we work short-staffed, and everyone feels sorry for MOMMY – yet single folks who call out sick are endlessly asked if we were really sick, or did we just not feel like coming to work *wink wink*. Now that I am married, I should be able to spend holidays with my husband regardless of the fact that we don’t have children. If he’s sick enough that he needs to call out from work (actually, he’d have to go to sick call, but you get the point), and sick enough that I feel I may need to take him to the ER at some point in the day, then I should not be questioned for calling out to take care of my husband simply because he’s not a child. I should not be told (and yes, in a recent job I held in TX, I had this said to me) that “holidays don’t really mean as much to you…I mean, it’s not like you have a family or anything,” simply because I don’t have children. I should be entitled to asking for my wedding anniversary off just as much as any other staff member with kids who gets that night off because “they have kids, it’s not like they get to go out by themselves much”. Wait.  My anniversary is somehow not as important because my husband and I don’t have kids and “can have lots of date nights”?! No, I’m not a kid-hater. I have a Battle Buddy who has two kids that I absolutely adore. I adore my niece, who is now in college. I have two neighbors whose children I like as well – I’d adore them, but I don’t know them all that well as to call them Battle Buddies. I simply chose to not have children, and I should not be punished for that choice by all those Mommies out there who feel that I’m somehow less of a woman for my choice.

Being an Army wife has been an eye-opener, and not always a good eye-opener. Being a wife without children is turning out to be an eye-opener, too, and not in a good way. I guess this just means that I’ll start being more and more selective in choosing those with whom I choose to associate.

/end rant

At a loss for a catchy title

This week seemed to drag on forever…but then again, maybe because I’m still sleeping at odd hours and in odd intervals. I think my body is trying to revert back to its usual night-shift schedule since I worked nights for the past 7 or so years. I try to sleep at night so I can do things during the day, but so far I’ve been losing that battle.

I heard from Tony on Facebook earlier this week and then brief phone call about Wednesday to let me know that he was at his post in Iraq. Apparently, after leaving Ireland, they were grounded in Romania for 24 hours due to mechanical issues with their plane. He said that was not a pleasant experience and he was glad when they left. He sounds tired and frustrated, but at least he’s where he’s supposed to be now and hopefully he can get some rest.

I’ve been trying to get back to work and that has been a rather interesting experience. I’ve never worked at a federal hospital before – I’m trying to get agency work at Winn Army Community Hospital here on post (can’t beat the commute!) – and I feel like it’s one huge paper chase. By the time I get to work, all of my annual stuff will have expired and I’ll have to chase after those renewals, too – like my TB test, an MDs release that says yeah, I can do the work of an ICU RN. I used to live here in GA and I don’t remember things being so difficult just to get a job. Maybe I was spoiled in TX…but then again, maybe because I’ve never been out of work for a solid 7 months before. That is one thing that I’m so thankful Tony has allowed me to do: Not work until I wanted to go back, despite the financial hardship these past 3 or so months. I don’t want us to be struggling any longer and since he’s not here, I might as well get back to work and back into school. I only have about a year left on my BSN so I might as well get that over with, too.

I’m trying to not sit at home staring at the PC and the phones. Some days I win the battle, some days I lose the battle.