Wednesday, August 23, 2006

 

Seasons

The upcoming publication of the MILBLOG Anthology The Blogs of War, published by Simon & Schuster, edited by Blackfive, and inclusive of a post of mine, has created some interesting opportunities, of which I hope to share news soon.

But as a consequence of these unfolding events, Mrs. Dadmanly and I have done a lot of soul searching. We are in a particular place and time, emotionally and spiritually. We confront the consequences of my deployment to Iraq, our 18 month separation, and changes. My changes, her changes, Little Manly’s changes. “There is a season,” the writer of the Old Testament Book Ecclesiates, “and to everything a purpose under heaven.” A most strange and passing wondrous season in our lives.

I’ve been struggling to capture a mess of feelings and impressions, most recently with this post. Mrs. Dadmanly experienced what she describes as revelatory – for those who don’t share our religious beliefs, call it inspired awareness – and she writes, as follows.

***

Mrs. Dadmanly:

It has been nine months since my soldier came “home.” I counted the hours, days, sometimes minutes, while he was deployed. What day is it today? It is a blessing to count months again.

I remember last summer 2005 when friends/family/co-workers would express “how quickly the summer is going by.” For me, it was the longest summer I could remember, and I prayed it snowed “tomorrow,” which would mean summer was over and my soldier would be home soon.

This summer is so much different then last. I look at the tree in the front yard, the same tree to which I tied the yellow ribbon and American flags, the tree that every time I would come in or out of the driveway, tears would flow. I sit at the kitchen table looking out the window, and remember wondering if my soldier was going to come home to me. I look across the table, and he is sitting there smiling at me, drinking coffee, the coffee I longed to share again.

I thank God for having him return to me, to our family. With all the joy and happiness that the end of deployment brings, it also brings a sharp reality, almost a contrast of sorts of what I had thought life would be like “after deployment.”

Many areas have gone amazingly back to normal or I should say normal for us. Some have not. My soldier and I are different, changed. That does not necessarily mean in a negative way, but some ways feel very “uncomfortable” for lack of a better word.

A reality has “hit” me in the past week. In the same breath that I speak of joy, happiness, gratefulness of the return of my soldier, I am experiencing sadness, grief, fear, anxiousness, anger. I can be looking directly at him and will begin to cry for fear that he will not be coming home. Odd, I think, he is standing right in front of me. I cannot speak or think the words of the past deployment without tears welling up in my eyes.

The reality that “hit” me this past week is this. During the deployment, I really thought I was dealing with the separation and all the emotions, thoughts, feelings, fears, anger, that would try to overpower me. I did not. “I’m a mess,” like one of our soldier friends likes to say.

What is wrong with me? My soldier is home, he is safe, and why can’t I get a grip? Why can’t I control the overflowing outpouring of emotions? It “should” be over now that my soldier is home again.

I have come to realize that it is just beginning, that is, me dealing with, working through, allowing all that I “thought” I dealt with, apparently suppressed, to be heard, to come out, to let happen.

In the past nine months I truly never thought, it was because of the deployment that I was experiencing all these issues. I pride myself on being “in touch” most of the time with “why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling,” but not this time. I tried all my old “fixes” to rid myself of these uncomfortable emotions and feelings.

Eating obsessively…did not work this time. Exercising…did not work this time. Losing weight…not working. Praying… not working. Taking trips…nope. Even trying all kinds of vitamins that say, “they will help me stop feeling this way.”

As much as I heard the counselors from the Vet Center, read articles, read peoples stories, even other soldiers wives sharing, I NEVER made the connection that I needed to finally experience, acknowledge, accept, work through, all that I had pushed down and inward while my soldier was away. It went off like a light bulb, it all makes sense.

I even remember telling myself in my head, “Boy, I’m glad I’m not feeling like they are,” or reading something and saying “that is not happening to me.” YES IT IS!!!!!! The one word, emotion that seems to overpower the rest is “sadness.”

I want to share this example, because the experience I had is part of the reason I am able to go forward, and work through all that I’m experiencing.

As I walked to the store I looked across the parking lot, and saw an elderly couple getting out of a car. The man had put the lady’s wheel chair as close as he could to her car door, and now had a walker with her balancing on it, to go from seat of car to seat of wheel chair. I watched as he carefully helped her, continuing to hold her and the wheel chair to keep it from moving.

My first thought was sadness that they had to go through this, getting old, not being able to just jump out of the car and walk swiftly into the store. I believe at that moment God spoke to my heart.

What came over me was this. Stop always looking for the sadness, and do something about it, pray for them, pray that they will have an easier time today, getting in and out of that chair, that they enjoy their day, that if she is in pain it is gone for today, pray for joy for them.

I did it, I prayed and “I felt good.” Then I prayed, Lord let me see this in all situations, remind me, convict me, prick my spirit in all areas to help when I can. Wow! I thought, Life is not over, it is just beginning.

Life is without a doubt different since deployment, changed, I need to deal with the separation that occurred, I need to let it out, I need to share it, and I need to let me be me. There is not a time frame on when I’m supposed to “be over it,” but to realize I am not, right now. It is O.K. I can be where I am. IT IS GOING TO BE O.K. but for today, even though the emotions are overwhelming, they are mine, I’m going to work through it. Life really is good! I made it through deployment, I will make it through now and God is taking care of me, carrying me, whispering in my ear that “all is well.”

I look at the tree as I drive in and out of the driveway and the emotion wells up, I cry, for past, for present, for future, sadness, happiness, uncertainties, reality. As the tree sheds its leaves in the fall, and regrowth occurs every spring, I too will lose some layers, add some new ones and keep some of the old. Everything in our lives is affected by a season, one ends, another begins, and sometimes they intermingle for a short while.

***

Dadmanly concurs, and wants to add, but to all, there is a purpose, unto heaven.



UPDATE: Some Soldiers' Mom echoes many of the themes Mrs. Dadmanly covers here, but with an experience I know the Mrs. praises God she never had to go through...

Linked over at Thunder Run



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