I want to thank each and every one of you that left me a comment or sent an e-mail about my post yesterday. You may not understand how much those words of support meant to me. It is hard to share struggles that are so personal.
Pat and I finally had a chance to talk. Can you believe he's been home for a week and a half and we've barely had or made any time to bond? He had 7 days of reintegration but being the commander, those became pretty much full days. So it was like he hopped right back into the swing of things at work. The few days that he did have off we were kept pretty busy accomplishing tasks, but despite the errands and such the communication was lacking.
We finally were able to talk today. (And it was while he was doing the dishes, so that was a bonus!) He didn't realize how how much his lack of communication was bothering me. He agrees that mentally he isn't feeling home from Afghanistan yet. I think the reason he's so looking forward to vacation is that he needs a complete break from the Army, both mentally and the physical distance from it too. He hadn't considered my point about needing to work to bond with me and the kids before the trip though. The other big struggle for him is the weight of this trip he's now on to visit with his Soldiers. I know that there are some of them that Pat feels responsible for, not in a blame type of way, but because he was leading them when it happened. After talking about this, Pat and I believe he was waiting for this trip to find the closure to the deployment and really come back to our family. It felt so good to finally talk with him. I hate that it took so long. I think after a deployment like this one you cannot push them too fast, but as my story shows, you have to keep trying to communicate.
There were some things that I did poorly in my redeployment planning though, and I want to share them in case you have a reunion coming up. I never thought my busy schedule would complicate our reintegration, but I guess you learn something new with each reunion. Here are a few things that I would do differently:
*My in-laws came to visit the weekend before Pat came home. I honestly believed it would be helpful, and it did allow me to get things done. However, it also added a little bit to the hectic feeling of the time and a little to the stress.
*I was working so hard to get the bags done for the single Soldiers that I was running around crazy buying toiletries every single day for each new incoming flight. Then I'd have to drive more bags up to post each day. The problem was that the donations were coming in late and so it was a last minute scramble I wasn't prepared for.
*I spent the remainder of my free time, which was very little, answering questions for the FRG.
So you're probably wondering why being busy was so bad. Because I was so busy, I never really got a chance to sit down and mentally prepare myself that my husband was coming home and that the deployment was over. I was so focused on others, that I forgot to spend some time with myself to prepare. By the time it was our turn for reunion, it almost seemed like another task I needed to check off.
Everyone wants to stay busy before the homecoming so that time might fly by, but for me being too busy wasn't a good thing. If you have a homecoming in the near future, I highly recommend taking some time to yourself shortly before reunion to mentally prepare for the upcoming change but remember to manage expectations too.
Thank you again for all your support. I would have been feeling so much more alone without your comments. I'll keep you updated on how it goes when he returns from this trip. I think we've finally had the breakthrough we needed though.