My husband has been home for about four months now. I thought it was a good time to give you an encouraging update about the reintegration process. First let me say, it has been blissful and glorious and there have been a few very dark days. There were a few days sprinkled in where I was not sure our family would survive post-combat stress and other challenges. But we held it together and I came to realize that those scary moments would pass with a little space, or a good night's rest or a decent meal.
One thing I learned was to NOT exacerbate the stress situations for my husband. That meant don't do anything that added gasoline to the already burning fire. When he was upset, feeling frustrated and hopeless about his/our future the best thing I can do is let him know I love him and believe in him and our future and then leave the area and give him some space. If that isn't an option, I really have to wrangle all of my strength to not let myself get drawn into a fight and make things worse by saying things that only worsen the situation. As I went along I learned simple things I could say or do to help calm the situation down.
I also learned that there were a lot of things I could to to help my husband avoid getting to that stressed out point. These include helping make sure he eats regularly so his blood sugar doesn't get too low, getting as much sleep as possible, giving him massages to help relax muscles and making sure he gets time to work out. It also helps to make plans with friends and spend time together as a family. Sometimes it is better not to make plans and just give him some downtime and learning the difference in what he needs has been very important.
One of the harder but most beneficial things we have done as part of the reintegration process was attending the Returning Warrior Workshop. That brought up a lot of stress for my husband but I think he also realized that everyone else felt the same stresses as he did, just maybe in slightly different ways. But he found a community of people who could relate to what it feels like to return from a very abnormal situation (war) and try to reintegrate into the family and home environment. I think it was a great help for most of the attendees.
We have had some amazingly charming days as a family and together as a couple. Our reunion has been sweet. We have participated in the FOCUS program, designed to help families in reintegration build resiliency and learn to adjust to their new normal together. It has been wonderful. We have learned a lot as a family and about our individual roles in the family and how we can each bless our family. The people we have worked with have been amazingly gracious and insightful in addressing our family's unique and individual needs.
Reintegration is survivable and you can even come out of it thriving. There is a lot of help available and if you think it will help, by all means get involved in every program you can to help you through. That is my recommendation. I've have learned a lot about myself and how I think and how my upbringing has affected, for good or bad, the way I handle stress and deal with problems. That has helped me see how I can be better and do better. We've gone through that same process as a family, seeing what has worked, what doesn't work and how we can more effectively work together to have a happy, peaceful, successful family.
Don't survive all of deployment only to lose everything in reintegration. Help is available, professionally and within the ranks of all the others who have survived it. Don't suffer in silence. Reach out and see your bright, beautiful future. Four months into reintegration I am happy to see we are finding our new normal and it's better than what we had when he left for deployment.