My Battle Call | Transition. What really happens after military deployment homecoming
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Transition. What really happens after military deployment homecoming

The post-deployment story I have yet to tell. because…

If you rip the band-aid off you will find it is still raw underneath.

Even though I know how the game is played, being on the roster for over two decades, I am left feeling in shock and awe by it all. Every. Time.

Because the very nature of IT is hard and humbling. You try to forget. And to admit this seems sacrilegious; shouldn’t everyone simply feel grateful to have the boots back on the ground, after all?

But the truth is, that fact is not the whole story. It is not the reality of how this game plays out.

I have been home doing all things and being all the things to everyone. He’s been there. Being everything to everyone. Then, in the blink of an eye… we are back under one roof and the shift happens instantaneously. Only, it doesn’t.

No one in the family is buying it. Because the little people test all the boundaries. They push back, proving a point. Once they have your attention, they make it clear the absence comes with a price.

As the Mama Bear, I instinctually protect them because I can’t forget the times I soothed their broken hearts to sleep. Night. After. Night. I have witnessed firsthand. The wreckage.

Yet, the result is the Marine’s heart hurts.

“I’ve been gone for…”

This is the aftermath of all the absence for all the days. Weeks. Months. Every last one of them.

The home team had to march on and now we have to figure out how to include the entire unit again.

It takes

Time.
Patience.
Grace.
Forgiveness.

All things hard to give because of the dream of a Hollywood ending. We made the video, took the photos, didn’t we? People around us think it is just that. But, it is

NOT.

I call bullshit. On all of the misconceptions. Perpetuated by people like us.

Truth is, we pay the price for months to come. The missed moments you can’t get back lead to the resentment, hitting like a MACK truck. Then we find ourselves fighting battles about the dishes in the sink. His version. And mine.

Me: “You have no idea what this did to me! You should understand by now that I am breaking.” 
Him: “When am I allowed to be a parent again? It is hard for me too. You criticise too much.”

And the game goes on…

All we can do is move through it. Own it. Peel back the veil of shame and accept it was (and still is) damn hard.

This doesn’t mean I would wish he was not here; it isn’t saying I don’t want him to serve. It does not erase the fact that I am proud of him. But, this kind of service has left gaping wounds. Over time, the tiny scars solidifying into fractures and holes.

Pieces of us are broken and need to be glued back together. Bit by bit. The children have to trust this is not a temporary scenario. Believe he is here. To stay. I have to count on him. Again. Give up control, release the tight grip I have kept to survive.

Power struggles will continue to come and go. Contradictions. Debates about parenting will ensue. There will be wars over hogging the covers, and dirty boots are back on the floor.

It is all part of it.

THE TRANSITION.

And we will survive, wading through the muck, coming out on the other side. We always have. Always do. This is a promise we made to one another, many years ago as we passed through that sword arch on our wedding day.

I wave the white flag and admit it was (and is) hard as hell. I’ve been brought to my knees. So lonely, I wept.

And I will cry. Still. Mostly when the floodgates burst open in the moments when there is time to breathe. It’ll creep back, bubble up, and gush. It’s the cumulative effects of a life full of loneliness and missed moments; being left behind and asked to be strong and hold it together.

It’s all part of it.

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9 Comments
  • Andrea
    Posted at 03:27h, 14 March Reply

    This was beautiful! Thank your husband for serving and thank you mama for supporting him and being a pillar of strength for your children so he could go serve. Our country will forever be indebted to families like yours!

    • valligideons
      Posted at 05:56h, 03 April Reply

      Thanks so much!

  • JamieD
    Posted at 04:21h, 14 March Reply

    Thank you for calling bullshit on the “everything goes back to normal” story! Not a military spouse, but I was a cop wife for 11yrs so I get the service to everyone else first part. My ex started traveling a lot due to a special assignment position-up to 40% of the year. It messes with the routine of being a partnership-how can we be partners when we’re apart so much? Unfortunately, when I asked for the travel to be adjusted, which was a luxury available to my ex that I know isn’t available for your husband, mine didn’t choose me as the priority. I felt all the travel, the time apart, pulling US apart. I felt it in the resentment, and the dam dishes (what is it about the dishes?!) I felt it in the moments i was alone when i needed him, when he was home and i couldn’t just get happy.
    My hats off to the couples that keep choosing each other, despite the travel or deployments or time apart. That’s all it takes to make it thru-to keep choosing each other thru every storm and rainbow, holding fast to the promise to stay in it.

  • Cynthia Cheizoo
    Posted at 04:21h, 03 April Reply

    I can’t imagine. Everything you said had me shaking my head and wondering how you do it. Thank you for being transparent…real. Your poignant descriptions enlightened me and gave me so many more reasons to be grateful not only for your husbands service and sacrifice but for your kiddos yours too. I respect you. Thanks again. #grateful

    • valligideons
      Posted at 05:55h, 03 April Reply

      Thank you so much!

  • Nicole Van Pelt
    Posted at 02:26h, 07 April Reply

    Thank you! The adjustment after the homecoming may be harder than at the beginning of the deployment. I believe this is an important factor in veteran depression and suicide. I am so used to just handling everything about the household and kids. Now that my husband is facing retirement and is in his first job of his entire career that he doesn’t have to work ridiculous hours and won’t deploy, he is struggling with fitting into the day to day routine. This life is not easy.

    • valligideons
      Posted at 15:13h, 07 April Reply

      That’s an entirely new transition! Wish you all the best of luck! And thank you for your family’s service!

  • Sarah White
    Posted at 06:22h, 07 April Reply

    I am dealing with this right now. Has never been this bad and he is so close to the end I think he is afraid to leave. Doesn’t know what he wants doesn’t know how to feel and it’s all my fault. Even though I have just as much stress because I am have been alone a major of the 16 years we have been married. It’s breaks my heart to read these things but it also gives me strength and hope. I believe we can get through this. I just need him to believe in us.

  • Terri Rausch
    Posted at 20:11h, 27 May Reply

    Transparent you are, and it’s what is needed in this world. Marriage takes commitment, hard commitment. I am thankful you two work at it!! You are proof of the great need of sticking it out in the hard times! You give hope to all who walk in those kind of trials!! Don’t ever throw in the towel!! Love you!! Keep writing!!❤️

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