May 18, 2011

Band of Brothers Syndrome

Sorry I've been absent so long.  Things have been hectic, but mostly I didn't know what to write.  My mind was all over the place and so were my emotions.  Reintegration has continued to be hard at times.  There were arguments, irritation, and sometimes silence.  I was sometimes feeling bitter and hateful.  It was not a happy place to be.  I walk a fine line between what I think I should share because we are blog friends and sometimes our stories can help one another and what may be sharing too much personal and private information, so sometimes I wait to see what turns out before I share.

There may be a real name for this, but I don't know it.  I call it Band of Brothers Syndrome that my husband suffers from when deployment ends.  Band of Brothers Syndrome for us is how my Solider is so used to living with his fellow Soldiers that he has difficulty transitioning to living with his own family.  He was a great communicator and supporter for me when he was away.  In some ways we'd never felt so close and connected despite the distance.  So when he returned from this deployments, I was so surprised to realize how much he had changed.  He has become a barbarian or caveman of sorts.  While you may think this is funny or stupid, sure, there are parts that are funny, but it was seriously affecting us.

For a while I forgot about how this syndrome takes hold of Pat after a deployment.  I didn't realize why he only grunted as a response while I was trying to converse with him, belched loudly at the table without saying excuse me, passes gas (although I think that is putting it too nicely and I should really just call it farting) with no notice or apology, and seems to have a difficult time incorporating into our daily lives.  But in a more serious aspect he's not communicating.  He seems to have forgotten living with a family.

This is because he is used to living with his Army brothers, and that brotherhood sometimes felt like all they had for almost a year.  These guys truly depended on each other to stay alive.  I guess I'm so ready and happy to have my husband home, that I sometimes fail to realize it is partly sad for him to no longer share such camaraderie with his brothers in arms.  Also after living so long with just the guys he's going to come home a bit crass.

Now that I've remembered this issue, Pat and I have been able to talk about it.  I have a better understanding of what this transition is like for him.  He's now trying to act a little more civilized and working to communicate better.  We're finally falling back into our rhythm without grinding on each other's nerves.  I guess I'm just shocked at how long it has taken us to get reintegrated from this deployment.  This third one has definitely been the hardest.  They say the deployments seem to add on top of one another for families, but in addition to that this deployment was a very difficult one that left marks us that will never go away.  I'm just relieved that the us I know is coming back, and that feels so good.

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Lisa said...

I shared parts of this with my husband, and he agreed with what you said about what the guys experience. We too struggled with feeling so close and communicating so well during the deployment and then not having that when he came home. We weren't prepared for that.

I'm so glad that you guys are communicating better now, and that you're working through some of this stuff now.

Kristen said...

Shelly - read Lt Col Dave Grossman's On Combat and/or On Killing. I have On Combat if you'd like to borrow it. He goes into great depth about the physiologicial and pyschological impact of long term combat stress. Why they come back belching and not communicating, etc. It's the best information I've ever found on it.

Anonymous said...

At least you're talking through it... that's probably the best/only thing you can do.

Jessica said...

I am so glad that your communicating and he's coming back.
Reintegration is so difficult sometimes. It took us months (seriously months) the previous deployment to get back to where we were.
Keep communicating and working through it.

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