Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kind Of Mad At Myself, Part I

I'm mad at myself. I promised myself in this experience that I would not, would not give in to the fear which so often has run me in the past, and what did I do? Totally every day give in to it. Every day, let it come in and boss me around and mess up what in retrospect was a perfectly good day.

It is only as they round the last turn in this period that I am finally able to think for real with pleasure about what Zach’s day might be like today, and be happy, for him, and just happy in life, carefree. That’s so stupid. I’ve wasted all this time being worried, like so many other times, and I promised myself I wouldn’t, but I did. Any comments of reassurance aside that we’re all human, I genuinely wish I had done better.

I don’t have a handle on how my particular variety of fear works. I intend to think about it and study it from my own perspective until I understand more about it operates for me, so I can help other people who get in the grip of it like I do.

I imagine as the folks on deployment go through their day, this is the priority list of how their awareness is focused:

1. Lots of doing their work, whatever it is. Thinking about and paying attention to the job at hand

2. Social interactions, both while working and on the bus and during meetings, while eating, showering, sleeping, relaxing. Lots of laughing and joking, plenty of regular conversation mixed with work conversation, some annoyance and bitching

3. The deprivations of camp life, which they probably got used to in the first couple of months and don’t think about so much unless the weather is seriously crappy

4. Thoughts of home and wanting to be home

5. Fear and worry

For people who have a loved one on deployment, depending on the nature of the work that person is doing, I’d recommend that we have the same basic sequence of awareness. If who you have there is stationed on a base, just relax. Although you miss them being there, they are really very safe. Maybe treat the separation as a time of discipline for us at home too, to get stronger and more effective. Calm discipline can be such a great thing!

For people who have a loved one on deployment who is not regularly on a base and may be exposed to danger, I’d still recommend the same thing. It gets you through faster and helps to keep item number 5 at bay. And statistically, as I said in the very beginning of this blog, they’re really pretty darned safe, so don’t spend the time making yourself sick over something that’s not likely to happen.

Great advice. I wish I’d taken it.

Instead, my awareness sequence is kind of in reverse. I worried so damn much. Too many scary thoughts. I fought off the scary imaginings by deliberately picturing him laughing, talking, joking, working on work. And when I wasn’t fighting fear, when I was enjoying my hot bath or my air conditioning or the refrigerator right there when I was hungry or having the bathroom a quick dry walk from my bed when I woke up in the middle of the night…when I was enjoying those luxuries, I kind of anquished about the deprivations, about what they didn’t have.

That was stupid. They didn’t worry about that stuff even a fraction as much. And nothing will faze them now. They survived basic training, and they’ll be so much tougher from taking this in stride.

We knew our fears and tears and worries can make them focus on that stuff more. They shouldn’t have to shoulder any more burdens than they already are, so we bucked up and didn’t discuss it, but boy, I have discussed it here ad nauseam, I’m sure. I apologize.

I’ve learned this: fear loses some of its grip on us when the end is in sight. Is it that hope gets stronger, and that encourages faith that all will be well? Or is it that the diminishing of days left to worry, we get a little brassier, a little more confident, and we win more rounds just because we fight fear harder?

I don’t know.

In the meantime, happily, all is well. Kudos to them once again for the work they are doing.

Thanks for checking in,


  1. I am very happy to read all is well with your son now. All you can do is pray for him and leave him in God's hands. I remember well that worry for all 3 of my children at different times. They are adults, they desire to live as much as I desire them to live..they are not stupid. Therefore, they will take precautions to be safe, to protect those around them....and the most important knowledge, THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT THEIR SITUATION EXCEPT PRAY and then go to sleep in the knowledge God is watching over all.I also remember that my son who was a tank commander in Iraq was grabbing a good night's sleep whenever he could, so I should do likewise. Go ahead, enjoy the comforts of your home and life, get a good night's sleep and rejoice every day you know your son is safe~ he would appreciate knowing this about you.

  2. No one knows unless they are in similar situations. My nephew is in Afghanistan and a cousin in Iraq; I send monthly boxes and pray. I also throw it up to God and He's faithful. I only need to throw it once, right after the fear or anger or sadness or ___ emotion comes. It is hard but God is always, always faithful.

  3. Katie, My son returned from Iraq 19 months ago. When he called to say he was on American soil I put my head down and cried like you would not believe. RELIEF pure relief. He said Mom, the air smells so good.
    Thank your son for all of us!
    My son is in LA on his way to Afghanistan. We said goodbye Jan 6th. I understand how you feel. May your boy be safe and never have to go back. God Bless.