Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Conversations of the Heart

When husband was gone there were nights that I lay in bed needing to cry, needing to share the hugeness of what seemed to be swallowing me whole--the sorrow and stress and difficulty that seemed so overwhelming that I couldn't even acknowledge it... there were nights that I just longed to not be so full of me and my thoughts with no place to pour them.

The first few weeks he was home--I'd even say the first couple of months--there was this quiet, subtle, dissonant clash. It was the sound of two sets of six months of difficulty and hardship that weren't shared but happened in the context of a marriage, crashing together. It was hard to share. It was hard to relearn our language of talking about the really big stuff. It was hard to regain the courage to share the internal, after six months of sharing with no one.

In the last few days I have realized that the dissonance is beginning to cease.... and our marital harmonies are coming back together.

It's been a hard few weeks. A close friend of ours is dying, and it is to that backdrop that I am finally beginning to deal with my own grief. But now, I'm not dealing with it alone.

We've spoken of heavy things lately. Husband has been so patient as I bring up more and more and more. But in that heaviness, I've felt our hearts connect. We've spoken and been heard. We've shared griefs and sorrows. We've laughed and laughed and laughed. We've discovered the language of our marriage anew.

It hasn't been easy getting back to this point. It's heart-breaking to feel at times like such a stranger to your own spouse. But as we relearn our language that speaks from one heart to the other, maybe we develop it even more fully.

Most of all, I am happy to have this man beside me. This man who is my true compliment and confidante, this man who sees me naked emotionally, physically, spiritually and helps me to learn the freedom of being so and not being afraid or ashamed.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Welcome Home, Now Get to Work!

I am officially back again. After we left I took some time off from the internet for Lent--hence, the long absence.

I suppose that makes the proclamation that "He's HOME!!!!" a little anti-climatic, but I shall make it nonetheless:

HE'S HOME!!!!!!

I made it through the drive, my Dad and I got our new house in very functional working order, and four days after we arrived, my husband walked through the door and into our arms again.

The reunion was wonderful and somewhat surreal. The adjustment was more difficult than we expected. We're still learning how to really talk again, and some days my heart still hurts for the six months of very significant history that we missed out on in each other's lives.

We've had hard things happen, and frustrating things happen. Andy's squadron gave them three days off and sent them back to work full-tilt. (There was one more four day weekend thrown in there too, to be fair). He's worked 10 or 11 or 12 hour days most of the time since he's been back, and also had to go in for some weekends. It doesn't seem fair to us, but.... what do we know?

To our great relief his leave period has finally come and the next two weeks are ours.

Despite the little and big hard things that we're still walking through, it is a sweet thing to wake up beside him each morning. It is indescribably beautiful to see him crawl around on the floor with our daughter--to see her light up and reach out and say, "Daddy!" when he gets home. It's wonderful to share her milestones with him and to once again walk our experiential roads together.

He's home. We're home. And that's good.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I feel disjointed... Stressed... Exhausted.

I feel no feelings about homecoming sometimes. I can't see past the drive and the moving in.

Sometimes I don't even feel like I remember how to feel about my husband. I miss him... but is this *really* going to happen?

So much to do. And then the giant of a drive just looms...

Once we set out, get a day or two behind us, I hope I will feel differently.

For now it's just the tasks before me, anxiety, stress, and exhaustion.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mixed Bag

I can't tell you how I feel right now. I don't know.

The days are slipping by me. Sometimes it seems they are going fast. Sometimes it seems that each day is an eternity.

Each day brings me closer to my husband.


Each day brings me closer to the five day drive that causes me much terror.


Each day leaves me with less time to pack and get all the errands done that I need to do before leaving.

The stress of the the last two years is still weighing heavily on me. My grief still feels as full and intense as it did the first week after Mom died. My ache for my husband hasn't changed.

Sometimes I want to run ahead singing with my head thrown back and my arms out--my husband is coming home!

Other times I want to go to bed until a few days after he's back--sleep through the trip back, the packing, the unpacking, the anxiety.

And yes I am anxious. I'm anxious about us coming together again. I'm anxious about learning how to be a two-parent family. I'm anxious that I won't keep my sense about me so as to not overwhelm husband with my hearts ahces and pains just as he returns home in desperate need of rest. I'm anxious that I'll forget that for a while things need to be about him... because ME has really been screaming to be heard.

So I am a jumbled up mess. Mostly I just want to get through these next few weeks as quickly as possible. I want to be in his arms. I want a taste of some sort of 'normal.'

And I want my family to be able to rest. For just a while. Just rest.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Finishing the Race

*For the record, I should really be doing my before bed cleaning.... but I'd rather blog*

As I stated in the last post, I've been struggling a lot lately with everything. As I look at the calendar each day I'm, quite frankly, overwhelmed. The first thing I see of course is, "We're getting closer to husband being back!" Then I also see that feeling of 'it's getting down to crunch time on getting things packed and ready to leave.' I see that we're getting closer to a five day car trip that I'm frankly terrified about (Thank God my Dad is going to caravan with us, but it's still VERY daunting). We're getting closer to me having to move into our new house by myself, and get things set up as much as possible with a baby to take care of as well. These are all tasks that scare me. I feel so much more confidant when husband is by my side, but without him, I'm just scared.

Part of me wants to just curl up and hide. Part of me doesn't really believe that we're getting near the end and that I'll actually be seeing him again. Part of me is afraid of even that. Will things feel the same? Will I crumble all over him? Will we have a small respite from life difficulties or is there another crisis just around the corner? Will we readjust? Will I know how to let him help again? What challenges will we have in renegotiating our marriage roles?

Sometimes it feels like I just can't keep putting one foot in front of the other tp do what needs done to even get there. Some days it feels like too much, and I resent the fact that I have to.

I was feeling all of this and more this morning when I sent husband a quick email saying as much. Normally I wouldn't send him an email that focused on how discouraged I was, but something in me--maybe selfishness, I'm not sure--wanted to share it with him.

Afterwards, I went and did my run/walk on the treadmill and came back upstairs and checked my email, hoping to see a message from him even though it was the wrong time of day. What was there instead was a devotional that I subscribe to but rarely read. For some reason, this morning I decided to read it.

It centered around this verse: "Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 3:12-14

Reading it, I chafed against it a bit. There are some things (like dealing with my Mom's death) that I just don't feel ready to leave behind.

But the commentary attached put things in a new light. The author, Father Pat Umberger, spoke about the last leg of a race. He said that it's at the moment when the finish line is in sight that the body, the spirit, your courage, the will to go on is put to the ultimate test. You have to keep going, keep pushing to cross the finish line.

I realized that that's where I am right now. I can see the end of this deployment. And everything in me is being pushed to the outer extremes. It is normal, ok even, for me to feel what I'm feeling, but it is essential that I keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The grace of God will help me do that. It will help give me the courage. It will infuse me with His strengh when I'm out of my own. I know this.

And in a few short weeks (God willing), this fight to push on... this anxiety and fear... this faltering of courage (or maybe it's a gathering of it) will all be but a memory. My husband will be in my arms. We will be setting into our new home. And a new season--one with weather I can't foresee--will have begun for us.

I will push on. I want to cross that finish line.

And the push to cross it will give me a fuller understanding of the push that I need to give in the ultimate race of our faith.

One foot... in front of the other...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Going Crazy....

It seems like the closer we get to the day we leave to go back to the northwest... the closer we get to the day husband gets home... the further away it seems.

I've really been struggling the last few days. Everything that has happened in the last year and a half seems to be hitting me full force. At times I've wanted to hide. Other times I've simply felt profoundly sad. At all times I have longed for my husband.

I worry about my trip back with the baby and getting things in the beginning stages of set up in the new house during the few days before husband gets home. I worry about the homecoming and readjustment--that I have focused on this day for so long that I'm setting myself up for disappointment. That things won't be as wonderful as I want them to be.

Mostly though, I just long for him. The reality of how much I need him pounds at me all day long. I know that the need of his physical presence is one that can wait a few more weeks... But soldiering on alone in all of the day-to-day challenges and in the depths of deeply difficult emotions just seems so hard some days.

I will do it. I will do it for him. I will do it for our daughter. I will do it because I have no choice.

And somehow I know the grace of God will sustain me.

And in a few short (or not) weeks we will be in one another's arms again.

Friday, February 03, 2006


I went to Mommy group again today, and the topic was "Marriage." After the last meeting I wasn't sure what I was walking into. After all, I felt pretty out of place when the subjects of husbands had come up at the end of that meeting.

The time came for the presentation and our speaker took the podium. Although I'd been looking forward to the speech, I was also preparing myself to feel sad about little tips 'to put in place today' that would cause me to think, "I wish he was here."

A few paragraphs into her speech the speaker mentioned that her husband had spent most of the last 20 years in the military--at least part time. My ears perked up. As she went on she explained that her husband had signed up for the reserves several years into their marriage... and that she'd never expected for him to actually have to deploy to another country, especially in a war... BUT...

He did. Her entire speech was about what she had learned in her marriage because of her unexpected journey as a military wife.

I was immediately encouraged--For the first time in my five months here I was sitting face to face with another military spouse who knows what it's like to miss her husband and to have him in dangerous territory for months at a time. (Being away from base and that fellowship of sorts has been difficult).

She sat down, by me incidentally, and I quietly slid my military I.D. over to her... Her face softened, and she put her hand on my shoulder and whispered 'bless you.'

Then it was time to break into discussion groups. And... just as happened last time, it became a time to vent about the frustrations women face with their husbands... A question was asked point blank--what are some of the qualities that you respect about your husband... There was silence... and then there were some... "He never helps the way I want him to in the house, but he tries... I guess..." responses.

I understand these responses. I do. I've had them myselves at times. I don't pretend that I have a corner on the 'how not to be exasperated with my spouse' market (in fact--just ask me about bookshelves sometime! ;))

But what the whole morning made me think was this:

I am so singularly blessed to be in the marriage that I'm in. Even the challenges of Navy life bring me many blessings.

Because I spend so much time apart from my husband, I am afforded the opportunity to step back and examine our marriage and what I can do to try to improve it when we're back together. This deployment, I believe God has been bringing to light my inhibitions and fears. He's been showing me how much I hold back in life in general, and in my marriage as a result. I've had time to really look that square in the face and determine to change. It seems that each separation I make a discovery about myself in the context of our marriage. It seems strange that things work that way--that I would learn more about our marriage during times when we can't work together on it, but someone that's what happens. It's actually a comfort in some ways--"Being Married" doesn't just stop because he's gone. There is still work being done. Attitudes of my own to challenge, prayers to pray, revelations to be made.

Because we are away from one another, our time togehter is sweeter--often it is bittersweet as we prepare for separations, or come together after a time away knowing that looming in the future there will be more time to be apart. But it is sweet nonetheless. We touch each other more lovingly, fan the flames more passionately, speak more gently (at least sometimes).

When he is away I have time to reflect on all that my husband brings to my life and to our marriage... because suddenly it isn't there anymore. It is sad to miss him and all the little ways that he blesses me, but the flip side of that sadness is the realization of what all of those things are to me.

And when we come together again we have the joy of newlyweds all over again.... but deeper. When we got married we didn't fully know what we'd been missing in our lives before then. Each day we know a little bit more... And that makes the missing even more intense and the reunion even more joyful.

As I've said before... Distance doesn't always make the heart grow fonder. It's easy to drift apart during those long spans of time...

But God can work all things for good, and in our case, he is spinning even long separations and deployments into something that builds us into better people: better mates, better servants, better individuals...

We're lucky!