Its amazing what fear can do to us, isn't it? Fear can stop us from making a positive life change. It can keep us from stepping out of our comfort zone to meet new people or travel to an interesting place. It can keep us from ending old bad habits and starting new ones. Sometimes fear is necessary. Sometimes fear saves us.
Fear is powerful.
This past weekend I stared at one of my biggest fears in the face. Z's military deployment.
Right after Z and I got married, he was deployed to Iraq (he spent the entire year of 2004 in Iraq). It was, without question, the hardest year of my life. These days, hearing a song honoring military service, or watching a video about a family having a tough time dealing with deployment still bring all those fears and feelings right back to me and I end up teary-eyed.
Z's unit is getting ready to deploy again. They'll be leaving for training relatively soon and will then be heading overseas for a year-long deployment in a combat zone. This time, we're lucky. As of right now, Z is not on the list of soldiers scheduled to go. He's waiting to hear about a promotion, which makes him non-mobile...but the truth is, that can change. Instead of going overseas, Z will be deploying with his unit to the training bases they need to go to. He'll be helping them while they train and helping them process the loads of paperwork they need to do before they go. Once the rest of the unit gets on the plane to go overseas, then Z will be able to come back home. As of right now, Z's deployment will likely be for about 2-3 months.
We're lucky. Z is leaving...but the time he's gone will be short. Z is leaving...but he'll be stateside. We can still talk on the phone every day. I won't have to worry so much. I'll still be "on my own" for a couple of months...but its only a couple of months.
This past weekend was the family readiness meeting for their deployment. We spent 2 days in meetings about Tri-Care, soldier rights, family resources, etc. The last time Z deployed, I remember these meetings being so unbelievably overwhelming. I remember how fearful I felt and how I wanted to just hide in the corner and cry. I wanted someone to hold my hand and tell me that everything was going to be fine. I wanted someone to tell me that life would be exacly the same when Z got back. But no one could do that. And the truth is, it wouldn't have been possible. Things weren't the same when he got back. But we got through it...we both changed during the time he was gone. But we both accepted the changes, spent lots of time communicating how we felt about things, and adapted.
This time around, the meetings weren't so stressful for me. This time around those meetings weren't to help me so much as they were to help the other families in the room. We're getting off easy this time. But as I sat in that uncomfortable chair for 2 days, I remembered just how it felt the first time. I saw the look in the other family member's eyes that must have been in mine. I heard the questions that I had swimming through my head.
I watched as soldiers and their spouses reached out to hold each other's hands...knowing that they want to touch as often as possible while they still can. And I reached out to my husband and took his hand, too.