It’s been awhile…a month from when I wrote this….plus two weeks to reflect on it before sharing. Time here is…disorienting. I was recently talking with an Australian commander who will be redeploying soon and I thought he capture it perfectly: “Long days and short weeks.” That’s deployment in a nutshell.
A colleague, and someone I also consider a friend, blessed me with the opportunity to read his memoir. Each chapter starts with lyrics from a song. It adds a connection that I have found so impactful as the reader. The lyrics serve as a bridge to his story. And so I have a bridge….I’ve discovered I walk around singing the Indigo Girls song, Closer to Fine, “There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crocked line. The less I seek my source of some definitive, the closer I am to fine.”
Being deployed makes you realize, with such clarity, how important relationships are…with your family and friends, with Mac and my boys, with my work-family/friends…with those who we’ve become “static-cling” to here. But what I’ve also found is how important my “relationship” with myself is while in “this world.” Some call it routine (and it is truly routine) but it’s more than that. It’s finding what centers you or calms your thoughts and feelings. It’s the inner dialogue you have with yourself: reminding yourself the importance of eating well, sleeping, exercise, hobbies, etc. It’s being honest with yourself on what does fill your cup back up. What is genuine to you and what your “trying-out” to see if it becomes a part of you. I’m 56 years old and I find I am learning more about myself than I knew I needed to learn.
Sure, little pleasures go a long way. I bought myself some silk poppies and a white pitcher/vase for my room. I found a sturdy, functional shower caddy so I don’t (and my roommate doesn’t) have to keep shampoo etc on the floor of our tight corner shower (I’m not complaining…I get to say I have a shower I share with one person!). I recognized long ago that I need “alone time” to unwind from always “being on” for everyone else. What I’ve found here is I need “alone time” from me and my thoughts and feelings more than anything else….so I’ve been practicing meditation and yoga.
And all that is really important, but I’ve discovered that my needs aren’t always so “purposeful” or deliberate. I’ve come to a realization that “this Carolyn” has to be different, and in a way that “isn’t me.” I have found that sometimes, reaching back to those I love…and friends that are an important part of my life…takes a lot of energy. I feel selfish by electing not to reply to an email or Facebook friend request. I know and understand it is important to those at home to hear from me as it is for me to hear from them, but keeping up with those connections can sometimes create a paradox…I look forward to that contact and then when it comes, I find a lack of “emotional energy” to respond back. I’ve had to learn to accept that if it doesn’t “fill my cup” to reply and reach back, I need to say that’s OK.
For those of you who have deployed, I know you understand. For those of you who had to navigate significant life-challenges, you likely understand since often controlling your contact and sharing that story is, well, very personal or private. Maybe that’s the space I’m in….
And so the Indigo Girls song starts back up in my head….”I’m trying to tell you something about my life. Maybe give me insight between black and white….”
All is good, I wouldn’t change my decision to be here.