Wednesday, June 22, 2005


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Ok, so I'm in a military frame of mind today for some reason...I can't really figure it out, though I will readily admit that I'm not really attempting to analyze it in the first place. So, to make use of this time here is an excerpt of some of the writing I've done for the Survival Guide my friend and I have been working on periodically. This passage is about the insecurities that rear their ugly heads during a deployment. If any one has comments, they are appreciated...yes that is a shameless plea for someone (anyone) to acknowledge that they are hanging around reading what I write. ;-)

Insecurity is an issue that everyone faces at some point; and unfortunately deployments bring out the deepest fears and insecurities in the toughest people without fail. It can be especially unsettling if your soldier isn’t usually insecure. Clark and I always joked that his theme song (come on, you all know you have one…it’s in the back of your head somewhere...I'll admit's Everybody Got Their Something) is Cocky by Kid Rock. Like most born soldiers, Clark is incredibly self-assured and downright cocky. “It ain’t braggin’ if you back it up” is the attitude; it’s an aura of authority and absolutely no fear. They can take on the world, after all they are off to the other side of the globe to fight injustice and to be your own personal Superman.

Then, the time comes, usually about a week before your soldier is scheduled to leave the States, and seemingly out of nowhere everything feels like its been turned upside down. I’ve talked to several soldiers who have returned from deployments and the scenario is always the same. Sometimes they are told by their superiors that the should expect their significant others, be it wives or girlfriends, to cheat on them or at the very least leave them with “dear John” letters while they are still overseas. For some soldiers, it’s just an insecurity in themselves. Whatever the reason is and where ever it originates, it will factor into a major part of your pre-deployment relationship.

It may manifest in a variety of ways. For me, it came in the form of frequent fights, where there hadn’t been any previously. Here’s one example from my personal experience:

Clark was originally scheduled to leave May 13th to go to Kuwait from WA. (He ended up leaving the 18th...but we didn't know he'd be delayed until after all the drama) the weekend before he was supposed to leave I flew down to San Diego and LA to visit my best friends since Clark was back in WA already. We talked throughout the weekend and everything was fine...he was nervous about going overseas...but everything was ok.

Then I went to LA on the 12th...I stayed with my old roommate that I hadn't seen in forever and it would have been all good except Clark had a meltdown that night. I was drinking and Karaoke-ing with my friends in LA and he was drinking into oblivion with his platoon in WA. He called while I was at the bar and was all upset and started talking about dying and not coming back from the sandbox and how I was better before him...on and on...and then he tried to pick a fight with me so that i would get mad and hang-up on him. (We established early on the hanging up is not the way to solve problems and promised not to do that.) I told him that neither of us was sober enough to discuss anything this serious right now and I refused to fight with him. He tried to make me mad because he figured if we were fighting or not speaking or even broken up that the upcoming separation would be easier.

Fortunately, I was able to convince him to wait until the next morning to make any decisions...and since we did make it through the deployment...he did come around. But it was tough...Once he was in Kuwait he tried at one point to convince me that he wasn't worth waiting for and that I shouldn't have to put up with this deployment and everything that goes with it. I had to remind him repeatedly that I'm stronger than I appear and I need him in my life as much as he needs matter what life throws at us. Yes I did hate that he was deployed...but if I had it to do over, I would make all the same decisions.

Deployment isn't as bad as the thought of not having Clark as a part of my life. It did take time for him to adjust...especially since he felt that being in a relationship means that it's not just himself involved. Clark actually apologized to me for bringing me into that point I told him that I was a grown-up. I hadn't been kidnapped or brain-washed and I chose to be with him the same way he chose to be with me...there was nothing to apologize for. After a while, it finally sunk in, but on particularly low day, I still had to remind him. Most of them freak out and try to distance themselves at some point as deployments draw near.

Once they are gone, emotions will continue to run high and they may shift without even a moment’s notice. Clark and I tried to talk about all the things each of us was feeling even if we didn’t think the other person wanted to hear it. He was usually pretty open with me, but we had a code word for when something was up. If one of us said the phrase, “I’m fine” that was a red flag for a bigger problem. At one point early on, I asked him if he knew what “FINE” stood for. It’s been said the FINE is really an acronym:
F- freaked out
I- insecure
N- neurotic
E- emotional
And usually when someone uses the word it’s either to get people to not question further, or it’s the politically correct answer to use. Rarely are people “fine” when they claim to be.
So, with that thought in mind, either of us uttering that phrase signaled a long discussion about what was really going on or at the very least a promise of a letter or email that would explain it all...

Stay tuned...there is soo much more where that came from. Maybe eventually I'll be able to illicit a response from ya'll.