I woke up in the early hours this morning for no reason that I can figure out except that I felt like my lungs were being crushed in some sort of vice because you are gone and I was filled with the overwhelming feeling that you being gone isn’t going to get better. I know that anxiety is a physical reaction to stress and overwhelming emotions, and I talked myself through the release of those physical symptoms and eventually even got a few more minutes of sleep. I learnt how to do that and I know I can talk myself through it, anxiety doesn’t grip me and take over like it did once upon a time. But here’s the thing. I haven’t felt this iron grip for a long time. Actual years.
Yes, the anxiety was conquered, but the emotions that gave it free reign to choke me out of sleep are still very raw and in charge right now. And I don’t know how knock them out of the Captain’s chair. Everything I’ve been doing isn’t even nudging them. Not very optimistic, huh? Sorry.
I know while I write this that I’m not going to send it to you. Maybe in a few days or weeks I’ll know more of what’s going on with you, but I’m not going to add to your stress.
I know why I’m feeling hopeless even though I really was feeling all that positive energy in my last email. I’ve been sitting in war room briefings straight out of a 1980s Matthew Broderick Cold War doomsday movie, shaking my head at just how real these ‘games’ could actually become on the whim of egos. And then, from inside a whole different kind of war, you send me texts saying how much you didn’t enjoy flying there. You love flying. You said it was ‘spooky’ flying over there. I could hear your relief in the text that you’d actually managed to make all your dust landings. I am worried. You never ever say anything less than that you got this. And its not like its first time nerves over there. For you to tell me that you are doing anything less than being in absolute control is practically screaming to me that shit is not good.
Two days later and I almost wish that you didn’t have wifi, that you couldn’t flick a three word flippant morning greeting, or a ‘lol’ to some light hearted article I send just to try and keep it light, optimistic. Cos now I’m just wanting to talk, now every text is feeling so superficial. I’m stressed you’re having to cope, and you’re going to cope by pulling away. I know that’s your fall back, from your time with me but also you told me that’s how you were the last two deployments. You told me you’d be different this time. You were so open about it – bloody fighter jets taking off in the background while you were saying you want to keep talking this time, not cut me off and isolate yourself. I’m still trying to hold onto that. But ‘Good morning, have a great day!’ is pissing me off. And in the anxiety, in that crushing fist, I was pissed at you as well as worried. Really worried. I fell back asleep telling myself I’d back off, not engage and let you actually communicate with me when you can do it. I hate playing these stupid games – you know I do. That was one of the first things I told you about me. But it works with you, which also pisses me off. Pull back and play cold, and you make the effort. I can tell this is a learned pattern with you from past times, and I’m angry that your distance is making me adopt that same stupid behaviour. I do grown-up relationships, you know that. But ‘Have a great day!’ from the Afghani mountains and the iron fist crushing me in the dark made me decide to play games to make you communicate.
Then I woke up and London was in lock down. I’m texting [Sensible BFF] and she’s ok, thank god, and we’re having a text conversation from war games in Korea to terror attacks in London, very calmly assessing that it could have been a lot worse. God. You know what? Screw games. I don’t know what’s going on that’s making you pull back right now, but I will tell myself its just temporary while you sort out whatever is going on. I’m not going to stop making sure you know how much I care about you, how much I think about you and us. Life is just too precarious. No holding back.