Its been a tough week. I’m trying to keep my head straight and remember how I told myself I would just grit my teeth through the tough times I know I’ll have while you’re there and I’m here. But this week I think I lost sight of those sensible ‘notes-to-self’ I told myself before you left.
He’ll withdraw for a while, its his coping mechanism – he told you that.
The communication will be tough, he’s so busy and the time difference sucks.
Your life will seem unreal to him, because he’ll be living in god knows what sort of conditions, with uncertainty and threat every day.
I know all of this. I’m not needy or uninformed. But when those excuses whittled down to something less than the worst combination I’ve been worrying over when you finally called, it made it really really hard to accept the withdrawing and just superficial texting. It makes me angry at you. We talked about your withdrawing. You said you’d do it differently this time. God, I was so angry that I’d been wasting all this care and literal heartache in missing you, sending a continuous stream of positive at you even with silence (or the far worse – ‘Have a great day!’) coming back at me. But then you told me about all the ridiculous unnecessary stresses the stupid US Army is putting on you. And then what had seemed to me like flailing, self absorbed ‘future combat hunting’ didn’t seem so hurtful. It didn’t seem so much like you trying to find a future that would definitely exclude me. What you are chasing now no longer seems like an indoctrinated soldier who can’t look forward to a future that lets him have a full human experience. It seems more like someone desperately trying to find some direction to hook his identity to. Some way to feel complete when this organisation is trying to strip away everything you have done – done so well and made your family and me so proud of who you are. You may not be living that worst case stress load over there, but the stresses are still real. Still life threatening and exhausting. So of course your reactions are to chase what you know, the only future you’ve been told can be held up as success – since you were literally a teenager. Even though you know that it won’t make you happy in the long run and you won’t get to be the complete, wonderful, rounded human being you’ve shown me in the last nine months that you can be. That you’ve already been in flashes with me, your family, your friends. What did you tell me your commander said to you when you got into it all over there? “There’s more to us than this shit”. I know you get it – when you’re not under all these other stresses and you can have that wider perspective of life and what’s important. But you are in the thick of all these stresses and you are exhausted and the US Army is doing its best to kick you while you’re down.
So I’m not angry.
I’m reminding myself of my last ‘note-to-self’ – and I’m going to actually write it out and stick it on a wall. Give it time. We are only a handful of weeks into this, you. We’ve got a long way to go. The unknown is a little less now. This latest stress will pass. I know you.
And I’m not ready to give up. Not by a long shot. I’ll give it time.
And I’ll keep sending that positive your way.
It certainly can’t hurt.