Eric and I have a commonly repeated conversation, usually while driving. It goes something like this:
Me: “What are you thinking about?”
Him: “What are you thinking about?”
Me:”I’mwonderingwhyyouaresoquietandthisotherthingI’mworriedaboutandblahblahblahblahblahblahmorestuff,” comes tumbling out.
Him: “Oh…I was thinking about how the cotton is only a foot high now.”
WHAT?! I have brain on rapid fire and he’s just looking out the window and seeing what’s there. I don’t think he gets thought-vomit like I do.
“I really don’t know how you do it,” says any number of people, shaking their heads slowly as they discover we are a military family and my other half is deployed. “I could never do that.”
Yeah, you could. If it was your life and you didn’t have a choice. There are plenty of us doing it. It sucks. There are good parts, like anything. The highs are high and the lows…well, they suck. My strategy is to tuck my chin, focus on the next right thing and move. Keep moving, keep doing, keep on keeping on. Everything we do gets us that much closer to it being over. Every missed holiday, every missed event, every school function he’ll watch via social media….it all gets us that much closer to homecoming day.
A random day of mid-deployment thought-vomit looks something like this:
It’s Saturday and we’re at the trampoline park because I feel sad that they are missing their dad. They need activity and busy-ness from time to time. They need to wear themselves out. Looking around, I’m struck by how no one smiles. Looking across the cavernous lobby, I catch sight of a couple walking to the exit with a small child, their jump time now concluded. The sweaty, flushed face looks up as she reaches to grasp the hand of one of the adults.
“They don’t even look happy,” I think to myself as I condescendingly judge them. The adult seems to carry the burdens of life physically on her back, slightly rounding at the base of her neck.
As they walk out, I continue to ponder the inner thoughts of other patrons. Cell phones in every hand, boredom tinged with a traces of anxiety, we are all watching each other, sizing everyone up. “Look at how good I’m doing at this whole parenting thing. I’ve really got my life together, ” we all think as we pray no one sees how we really don’t have it together, and we are all pretending.
Or maybe it’s just me who feels like a pretend adult.
My eyes return to my book, though I can scarcely recall the sentence I’ve read 4 times. Turns out this whole deployment business has well, ups and downs. And some of the downs, I don’t handle very well.
Thanksgiving. The 4th holiday he missed. Fourth out of the 8 or 9 that he wasn’t here to celebrate. Normally the holidays evoke gratitude and reflection. This year I was angry and irritable.
I’m angry at the political climate. I’m angry that my son is blind in his right eye. I’m angry that I can’t be with my person. My best friend. I’m angry at the sexual harassment perpetrators, the hypocrisy of politics. I’m angry at the church and myself for not loving people as well as we should, being chastened by a remarkable conversation with an atheist/agnostic who’s actions are more Christ-like than most of us who claim a relationship with Jesus.
I’m angry that I have to fear when I send my kids to school that they may not come home.
Still sober and clinging to my 9 months. I feel good about that, but life isn’t as it should be. It’s paled, almost black and white. The color has slipped a bit…my anger turning to a melancholy I can’t shake.
I can laugh. I can take my kids camping in the rain. I can joke and be social with friends. I have girl friends that I see regularly for adult interaction and coffee. I’m reading, learning and growing. I’m working at being a better dog parent/trainer. The stuff I’m learning about is awesome and I want to pick up the phone and talk to him about it, and then oh..wait. I can’t. Dang it.
I look over and see a birthday party in progress. The noise makes my skin crawl.
I’m nervous about our move to San Diego and simultaneously can not wait to get there. Once we get the transition over with, it’ll be fine, I remind myself for the 500th time.
I want to wake up and have this year over.
I try, yet again, to read my book. The kids come running up, their faces flushed. “MOM! This is so fun!” they holler over the loud music, then darting back out to play dodgeball, practice their flips and cartwheels and see how high they can jump.
They will be okay, I marvel. Borrowing some of their enthusiasm, we’re getting through it, I think. Maybe not without some bumps and bruises and rough days, but we’re getting through it.
Put most simply, my thought vomit is well, messy.
Perhaps everyone’s thought vomit is messy like that. Or not. Mine’s pretty loud. And she likes to talk and analyze. A lot.
In our pre-marriage counseling some 20 years ago, a reference was made to a marriage book, by Chad Eastham, “Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti.” In short, men compartmentalize areas of their life, like the little squares and of a waffle. Women, on the other hand, are a tangled mess of saucy goodness where everything is tangled and intertwined, like spaghetti.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ve got some sauce falling off the plate because the noodles of my mind are being twirled a bit too fast by life.
Hmmm, now I’m hungry.
Messy spaghetti, anyone?