I woke up this morning with my jaw aching and so tight I was afraid it would lock up. I had been having some ridiculous dream about being in a courtroom, with my fictitious boss, while they litigated a case that had something to do with a blender. I have no idea what that is about except for two items that loom large in my life right now: courtrooms and a potential new boss. We are still working on child custody issues and I need to find a great job in the next few weeks.
I realized today that I am starting to see signs of stress similar to the first few weeks after we started deployment. I couldn't sleep, was having weird, exhausting dreams, had problems remembering things and sometimes my words got all jumbled up when I tried to talk. My neck and shoulders have been in knots the past few days.
For anyone who has been through the end of a deployment, I will sound incredibly naive when I say that stress is not what I was expecting to experience at this point in the game. I thought there would just be a lot of relief, celebrating, quiet time and recovery. I thought for sure there would be a nice week or two week long vacation and we would have the summer to figure out our life from here on and just enjoy some time together. I expected we would have that wedding celebration we had been planning in bits and pieces the past few years.
I read all the books, I knew on some level that there would be some stress, but honestly I thought that would just be little things like getting used to having him around the house, letting him rest and slowly getting back to a new routine, etc. I hope it is that way for other families, but our reality at this point could not be farther than my previous expectations. My little dream is crashing down around me in a big way and on so many levels it's amazingly difficult to swallow.
I have spent the entire deployment year having to go to court almost every month to protect my stepdaughter. That costs money and despite a good salary, the financial well has run dry - there is no more money all because of that. There is no nest egg we anticipated at the end of deployment. In fact at this point it is massively critical that I find a high-paying job immediately if we are to keep our heads above water. This means there will be no vacation, there will be no quiet time, there will be no time to spend together. There is no money for a wedding celebration, there is no time for it either. Trying to have a baby at this point seems foolish too. The clock is ticking and maybe that won't be able to be a reality.
My husband is coming home to a huge amount of stress and I am concerned about him. He's worried about money, military cuts, career possibilities, his health, and where our country is headed. This is going to make readjusting to life, post deployment even more difficult and stressful. I wanted this to be a time where I was healthy and strong, our home was in great shape and there were few worries. Then I could just take care of him for a bit when he got home, lots of TLC, good food, quiet time and love. If I'm working a high-powered, high-pressure job, that will not happen either. What I thought would be a wonderful time is in fact turning out to be the most stressful time we've had in the past several years. That is saying a lot considering what we've been through since we met.
I'm trying to remind myself that there will be moments of joy and peace and connection that we've missed so much this past year. In those little moments each day where I think of him and miss him like crazy and shed a couple of heartfelt tears, I know he'll be home and I won't have to worry about him being in such a dangerous place. I know the love my stepdaughter and I will shower him with will help heal the wounds of war. I know his presence will allow my sense of hyper-vigilance to rest a bit. I won't be responsible to hold down everything all the time anymore. I won't even have to take out the garbage. Yay! That's a great thing.
I will find my happiness and somehow we'll find a way to get through these new challenges. But I did not expect I would be experiencing the same signs of stress I felt in those traumatic first few weeks he was gone. I guess I am again adjusting to a new big thing, a daily life I can't see yet. I don't know what to expect and that, itself, is often one of our greatest sources of stress. But like the books all say, we'll figure it out. In the meantime I am saying my prayers, trying to make the best decisions I can for my life and our family and most importantly, trying to be patient as things unfold.