Friday, August 06, 2004

twilight of the deployment

I'm so close to coming home that I can almost taste it. My trip out here has been both good and bad, miss my loved ones back home but on the other hand I like the peace of not worrying about some of the drudgeries of everyday life (commuting, fast pace world, making decisions, etc). Coming home is going to be a good thing but it's going to take a little adjustment just to fit back in to society once more.

I'm in the twilight of my deployment this is one of the most dangerous times for a unit like ours. We lose focus and get distracted by the thoughts of home coming. There is definite increase in assorted mishaps, people get complacent and forget to take all the necessary steps. This is also the time where we get the most Dear John letters, relationships that were going great throughout the whole deployment suddenly fell apart or relationships that have been going sour for years seem to like to end at about this time to save having to do it face to face. I hear of the horror stories too, bank accounts cleaned out, checks written to the limit of the overdraft protection and all the service members possessions taken or busted up, sometimes all of this is topped off with a restraining order. I wish these types of things were urban legends but they seem to happen more often then I would believe possible and of course creeps me out to no end. It hasn't happened to any of my guys yet this time around with my unit (as far as I know, but it has happened to some of them before) and I hope it doesn't. We were doing great till a couple of weeks ago and the first wave of Dear John letters (or emails) was passed out. Suddenly there were people walking around looking like their dog was ran over, even the normally good relationship with my girlfriend is having some turbulence. My case I think it was mostly a case of some of the worse luck I've seen, it's still piling up for her and I hope some of it gets fixed before I get home. But it's looking bleak and I'm reassessing what I'm looking for in a relationship. We have more communication then most couples except for the phone hog guy (you know who you are if you read this!) who spends at least 3 hours at the phone daily but all the communication in the world won't replace love.

I belong to a spouse military message board, made up of mostly girlfriends and wives of service members (yes I'm an outsider and it is sort of odd because I'm the only active duty guy on there). It's a different window on my world. The big thing to making a relationship work from long distance is communication. It's hard to be supportive to someone that only writes home twice in 6 months, hardly ever calls and never emails (I'm a horrid letter writer, thank god for email). Yes there are those sort of people out here and they wonder why they get Dear John Letters, write dumbass! Support from back home is strong for the first couple of months then fades with the rigors of day to day life. The person left behind or the person out here sometimes ends up being a different person then they were at the beginning of the deployment. They like the life they've slipped into, for some of the younger spouses this is the first time they've been on their own, others are lonely and have turned to others for comfort or realized being a military spouse is all that it's cracked up to be and now seems like the perfect time to break it off. This strikes them like a bolt from the blue when they realize that they're not happy and might have to go through all of this again. The person that is being broken up with doesn't have a clue because the other has been hiding it from them hoping all of this time that maybe they would recover some of the love that they felt or would stop feeling the way that they're feeling. Then it's only a month to go and it hasn't stopped so it's time to spill the beans.

My advice to the service member who gets one of these D.J. letters, emails or phone calls is first off is stop and think about what you're about to say to your significant other before you scream it out. As long whatever mean words you want to say stay in your head they can be called back. It's hard to take back harsh words that have exploded out of your mouth in anger. Before those words are spoken there is a higher chance to make things right down the line. You might be able to cuss and scream and yell and make her feel really bad or scared for the twenty minutes you have at the phone center. Just remember, this person that you've yelled into submission and that is now pissed off and wants to damage something, has all of your prized worldly possessions sitting right there to let their anger out on and likely a direct line to your bank account, remember my horror story earlier?

To the spouse back home my advice is to wait. You could be talking to one of the highest strung stressed out people in the world. Being it a war is no joke and this is a stressful time for both of you. All this does is wind that stress to a snapping point. You might think it's easier this way but have you though about how many suicides are caused in direct response to a receiving a Dear John Letter? Wait till they get home and talk it though like adults and not sending a break up notes like you did in junior high school. It's no fun for the rest of us either having to deal with this person either, he's like a plague of depression that goes around and is catching. He's stressed and wanting to damage something or somebody which is bad considering we walk around with a weapon and ammo at all times. So please wait till you get home!

Something that sometimes rears it's head prior to the Dear John is the green eyed monster, jealousy. This doesn't do anybody one bit of good, period. If there was a way to get rid of one emotion this is the one I would get rid of first. You need to get your mind off of your home problems while you're out here, stressing on your undeserving coworkers isn't the way to go or getting depressed and wanting to knock yourself off. Killing yourself because you think you wife is sleeping around is a dumb way to die no matter how good it sounds at the time. Yeah, it seems like the end of the world but it's not worth ending it all because the psychological pain you're in. Ever have vertigo? It's when you're standing on a high object and feel like it's sucking you off the edge. This kind of pain is like that, depression is the big wall you're standing on and you feel yourself being sucked off the edge and a part of you wants that because it will end that feeling, don't give in. You need to find your way off this pedestal of pain that you've placed yourself on. People go through this kind of crap all the time and you're probably working with some of the best resources of being dumped long distance in the world. I know my unit has a bunch of them, they made it, talk to them and they can help you find safe ground to stand on. Yes even us medical folk are willing to lend a hand (or have been there). Don't turn this speed bump of life into head on collision with a Mac truck. Just move on, at least for now, let time sand off the edges, acting crazy eventually makes you crazy, get off the band wagon. Remember there's no honor in ending your life over a girl.

Only weeks to go, keep it together!

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