I'm going to go ahead and warn you that this post could be seen as kind of whiny. And for that, I preemptively apologize. I really have been wanting to get these feelings out on "paper" for awhile and I think/hope this will help.
(Note: I struggle with being really honest about my anxiety and depression on my blog, so if it's something that bores you to tears, I apologize for that as well)
I woke up this morning and sobbed for a good 10 minutes, cuddling my beast and chewing on my lip (anxious tic). I'm not even sure why I was crying so hard and frankly, I wasn't too sure why when it was actually happening. All I knew was I was hurting and scared and for some reason it was really intense.
I think I finally figured out why it's so hard for me to leave Rob.
When Rob was in Iraq, I went through what is (apparently) called "anticipatory grief." I remember sleeping in his bed after his parents asked me to stay over, tossing and turning and clutching at my chest. I sat up and realized that I was behaving as though he had died, and was contemplating life without him. I researched it online and found that it's quite common among military spouses, and knowing that made it a lot easier to continue dealing with those moments.
Thing is, I don't think I actually ever dealt with it. Aside from those few moments of clarity, I never considered the danger he was in though I had plenty of extremely obvious clues (the FRG finally stopped letting us know about brigade casualties because of the effect it had on spouse morale, for one). I think my brain protected me from worrying because, to put it mildly, I am pretty damn neurotic. If I had fully embraced the danger my husband was in, I'm pretty sure I would've been committed.* I was in college and studying abroad; I had no choice but to shut down part of my brain in order to keep functioning.
After Rob came home, and I finally heard the stories and saw a few pictures, it hit me with full force just what my husband had dealt with on a daily basis those 13 months. I immediately felt horrible for burdening him with my petty requests for validation, my whining about life in Russia and Beloit, and my jokes at his expense (though I dare say he appreciated the last one). We watched the movie "Restrepo" together and it was cemented in my mind.
I began to retroactively worry. Pretty talented, no?
I began obsessively reading the blogs of widows and widowers. It seemed to me that I could feel their pain through their anguished words, in some sort of secondary way. I hugged my husband even tighter than before, worried obsessively if he didn't answer his phone, and imagined his funeral in my head during long car rides. In other words, I once again became that girl who, in those few moments of clarity during an incredibly shit-tastic deployment, feared losing the most important person in her life with all she was.
So back to me leaving. I've noticed that each time I leave for a project, which is pretty frequent, I have the same sort of nostalgic thoughts...things like "I remember when we used to go to the field with Cypress," not stopping to think that we had just gone to the field the previous day and would most likely go again when I came home. In 3 days' time. On days like today, when he's in a location at which I can't reach him, I feel even worse...like he's on 10 days of patrol again with no access to phone, internet, or email.
I had never considered that I would still be dealing with the pain 3 years after he came home. Rob even told me that I have more baggage from the Army days than he does, and frankly, he's totally right.
This realization has helped me to recognize that I need to be better at focusing on the here and now rather than some imaginary future. I'm hoping that now that I have a context for it I can work on fixing it, and maybe not bursting into random bouts of crying before traveling to a project.
I also hope that I have scared away readers by talking about all of this (worrying powers, activate!).
Okay, I feel better but also whiny, so I want to say again: I understand that there are military wives going through a lot more stressful situations than I am currently...and I understand that military widows (and widows/widowers in general) go through something that I cannot even begin to fathom. I just wanted to share my experiences. :)
*If I ever do get committed, I hope I get to go to that one in Shutter Island and share a cell block with Leonardo di Caprio.