Goodness, it's hard to believe it's only been three weeks since I've had my Hubby home! But it's hard to believe it's already been 3 weeks too! We have done soo much in the past few weeks, and things are going well! It took a little bit of a bumpy road to get there, but we made it! When I last updated, I was relaxing after working my tushy off at work and at home trying to get everything ready for him to come back. I spent the next day just relaxing, watched some Bachelor Pad (I didn't get to finish all of it) and I was just about to finish last minute touches around the house and getting ready when I got a message from one of our family members wanting to come to the Homecoming Ceremony. Looking back at it now, and even at the time, I knew it was fine and it wasn't a problem, but there were other things to consider.
Background here, my hubby had deployed to Iraq from 2008-2009 and then left again last year after not even being home for a year to go on a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan. Many people, including our immediate family, do not know the severity of the toll the Iraq deployment took on him, and being a newly married couple and a new Army wife, I didn't know what to do. But there were a few incidents of things that happened that we felt should be kept private. However, when Hubby came home this time, things were not as bad in some ways and worse in others. I have known and loved him for the past 7 years and there were qualities that he showed upon this homecoming that I have never seen. I'm not going to sugar coat this, because I know other military wives read this and I want to be honest. And he and I have talked about this and already worked through this situation. But when he first got back into the country and while he was at demobilization, he was very possessive, controlling, and would get mad at me over the tiniest things. Of the two of us, I am definitely the more emotional, but that wasn't the case. His emotions were all over the place and for a few days, even before he came home, I was literally afraid to talk to him or Skype with him because I felt like I was walking on eggshells. I'd never encountered David like that and I didn't know what to do. Add to all of that the mix of demobilization stress? It just wasn't a good couple of days leading up to the homecoming. We had decided to be 100% honest in the evaluations and doctors check ups and because of that, we weren't sure if he was going to be able to come home, or if we were going to have to drive back to post (which is in a different state) to finish up meeting with doctors. Because of the two deployments being back to back and the stress that came with the past 3 years, it is no surprise that my Hubby has mild PTSD, and most wives know the cautions you have with that diagnosis. So, back to the day of his homecoming.
Just about 30 minutes before I was planning on leaving, I got a message asking to surprise my Hubby at his homecoming. More info, at this point, he didn't want anyone there. He wanted me to pick him up and us to head straight home, but we decided it would be important to have our immediate families there prior to this. So, the word "surprise" sparked a protective nerve and I wasn't what to do and how my Hubby would react. One thing that most people know about me is that I don't like last minute changes. If something is planned, especially just a few hours before the event, I cannot stand lack of organization, communication, and changes being thrown into the mix. It literally sends my head spinning. Another thing that has always been frustrating is when I need to make a decision and I get NO feedback whatsoever from the Hubby.... not cool. All of the emotions of the week, plus the ending of the deployment.... it wouldn't have mattered what happened, I was a ticking time bomb of emotions waiting to explode.
I had done a fairly decent job of holding it all together and taking care of everything. We had a BUNCH of lows and dark times over the year and points where I really didn't know what was going to happen. Thank you Lord, our leave was marvelous and we were able to completely enjoy one another. There was a change in our relationship over those two weeks, but anyone who has gone through a year without their spouse can tell you that eventually you have to face the nasty things and deal with the damage that your relationship has taken. Welcome Home's are joyous for families, but they are also terrifying for wives. You don't know what is going to happen and how this reintegration process is going to change. And even though you're scared and wanting to make it as easy of a transition for your spouse, you are also so excited and relieved at the deployment being over and them being home and safe... it's a very strange mix of emotions. As my incredible sister said "I think wives have PTSD too!! We go through so much while they are away and being alone... it makes us a little crazy".
Well, I went crazy. It wasn't the what, it wasn't the who... it was the when.
A massive breakdown just overwhelmed me and I couldn't do anything! I know that sounds silly now, but that's the only way I can explain it. I couldn't talk, I couldn't move, couldn't get ready... it was enough to just cry! Oh was it an ugly cry. And my INCREDIBLE Hubby stepped in and saved the day. He was so loving and comforting. And he knew just what to do, even though we were still hours apart. He told me to turn on a specific playlist, to listen to that and get ready and to not call, text, answer anything from anyone except for him. Just be in my own little bubble of a world for a little bit. And it was perfect. I was about 45 minutes behind schedule, but in a way, I needed that breakdown to just let things go, and he needed to take charge of the situation and make sure everything was ok. I ended up leaving way behind schedule and speeding to get to the city in time... during rush hour traffic.
My sweet sister and her boyfriend were about to leave too. Jared, her boyfriend, had called in the middle of the fiasco and asked me to remember to bring some kitchen canisters for Tristen. I tried to hide my voice from sounding like I'd been sobbing for the past 30 minutes, but he knew something was off and asked if I was sleeping. Haha! Thank goodness Tristen hadn't called then or I may have lost it on her, but she called while I was driving to the city and as I told her everything that was going on, she was just so understanding. She didn't really understand, but she was sympathetic to the entire thing and that's all I needed. I had texted my other sister earlier and she called while I was still driving, and as I told her what happened, she had the exact same reaction I had! It made me feel so much better for someone to REALLY understand. Because even if it's your best friend, your son, your brother, whatever relation... unless you are the spouse, you don't really understand.
It's been a saving grace having Aimee this year. David and I are almost exactly where Ben and Aimee were 2 years ago, and so as I'll tell her things, she just gets so frustrated because she wishes she had videotaped their deployment so she could show me and maybe we wouldn't be going through the same things! Brothers will be brothers though, and Ben and David are scary alike. As I got farther into the city, traffic got worse and it was about 20 minutes before the ceremony began. Can you say Stress?! I was panicking, trying to get through stand still traffic, praying that I would get there in time. The thought of missing the ceremony was just unimaginable. I had people telling me where to go and how to get there the fastest.. and I wanted to scream. I used to live around this area, I know my way around there better than I do our current hometown. Aimee kept me calm and we laughed and joked as I worked my way through side streets to get to the Armory. Thankfully, because of the massive accident and the traffic, the ceremony was delayed for about 20 minutes.
I ran in so fast I forgot my camera and the cute sign I had made in my car. When I walked in, both my Dads were standing in the lobby alone while everyone else was praying in the ceremony. I immediately started to break down, fearing that I had missed it. My Dad went into full football coach mode then and told me to cut it out, suck it up and to get in there when I pulled it all together. I followed them to our family and was SO relieved that the guys hadn't come in yet. I didn't miss anything! I went straight to my Mom, I don't remember seeing anyone other than her and she just loved on me during the ceremony while we anxiously stood there, seeing David but not able to go to him yet. My sister got there right as they were coming in and stayed at the back, but LOVINGLY brought me a huge Diet Coke! Gosh, what would I do without her! As soon as I could, I ran into David's arms and at that moment, nothing else mattered.
I have a lot of other photos, but these are some of my favorites!! It was just perfect! After lots of laughter and tears, hugs and pictures, we went to dinner at BJ's and then I finally got to take my Hubby home for good!!
I'm sorry it was such a long post, there was a lot that happened. I'll update on our trip and the last few weeks tomorrow or Thursday, but I hope you all enjoy and have a wonderful rest of the week!
5 weeks ago