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Here we go again…

April 9, 2011

Apparently I like to reinvent my blog as often as I reinvent myself… I present for your reading pleasure “Front Toward Enemy — An Army Girlfriend’s Wild Ride”.

There was a conversation that C and I had awhile back in which he revealed to me that Claymore mines possess an imprint of the words “Front Toward Enemy”.

I had no words for this. It was mind-blowing on so many levels. Did our infantry really need instructions for how to use a landmine? (no 11 Bravo jokes, please) Were these mines so poorly designed that it was impossible to tell which side went “bang” without explicit instructions? Maybe this is just the Army’s version of preventive maintenance. Either way it has stuck in my brain as one of the funniest examples of the ridiculousness that our Servicemen and Women deal with everyday. I have so much respect for our Military. A Claymore mine is an always will be an abstract to me, because that is not how I have chosen to serve my country. But for that 1% who do– thank you. I’m proud to be a part of your family, even tangentially.

I think that Milspouses and significant others sometimes feel like one of these mines. Like we could go off at any moment and if we happen to be facing your direction, well… God help you. Andi over at SpouseBuzz calls it Deployment Rage Syndrome (DRS, for short), and says it makes “PMS look like a walk in the park.” You can read about the day she discovered she had DRS here.

While I have yet to verbally disembowel someone in a Post Office, the urge is definitely there sometimes to just lash out. I know that it’s no one’s fault, per se, but deployment is stressful and I don’t always rise to the occasion. I’ve never been in a situation before where death, and loss, and unspeakable injuries, and all those other things that people don’t talk about are simmering so close to the surface.

My fuse seems to be shortest when people try to compare our situations if they have a SO who travels for business or works odd hours. “Oh, I know exactly how you feel,” they’ll say. “My hubby is away all weekend on a business trip and I don’t know what to do with myself!”

Oh? You know how I feel? Is your hubby sleeping in a hovel that he helped build and dodging grenades before breakfast? He’s away for 2 nights, he has a cellphone and internet (neither of which are ever interrupted by copious amounts of bird crap on a satellite dish), and unless his business trip is 6-12 months long and involves mortal danger, I’m not sure you DO know how I feel.

Well, that’s what the person in my head says. I usually just smile and try to change the topic of conversation as fast as possible. Don’t even get me started on the people who say, “Well, you knew what you were getting into.” In the immortal words of Peter Griffin: That really grinds my gears.

I have been surprised to find that this last part of the deployment is proving to be the most difficult for me emotionally. I am torn between the delight and anticipation of his homecoming, and unabated terror that something is going to happen that will ruin it. Knock wood, I know. But I had to say it out loud. Does anyone else feel this way when their loved one is due to redeploy? The weeks between phone calls feel like forever– I keep asking myself, “Did he take this long to call before? Did he tell me he was going to be out of touch and I forgot?” And there’s always that little person in the back of my head poking me and saying “What if..?” It always turns out to be something benign; their mission was delayed, or C was helping build an Aid Station with the materials that (finally) arrived.

I haven’t sent any mail since February when redeployment was announced, because the things I had sent in September had only *just* arrived. Even though C is the one who told me to stop sending mail I feel guilty that he hasn’t had any little cards or care packages from me. I try to make up for it in other ways, but a link on a Facebook page just doesn’t feel the same as mail call.

To add to my mental mess, I signed the lease on a new apartment yesterday and I am moving… right after I get back from a week-long business trip. Where am I going? To a National Guard base in Pennsylvania. I should feel right at home.

So welcome to my “virtual claymore mine”. Sit back, relax… and as long as you’re not the enemy, enjoy the explosion.

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