Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Mine Field of the Unpredictable World

Living on the farm there are most days that I think "Wow, he's getting a lot better". Thinking that may give me some peace of mind but it makes me put little expectations on him that end up not being good. Those expectations will lead to me being let down and then frustrated as I ascribe motives to him failing to meet them. But that is all on me. He didn't have anything to do with that whole cycle.

We live a life that is conducive to his highest functioning here on the farm and this is why I sometimes think he's a lot better. I am so thankful for those times that remind me of what he still deals with inside and of the simple things that are so difficult for him.

Our daily routine is basically groundhogs day. That's how he functions best. I try to replicate each day and just slowly add in little improvements as I see necessary. That means life is boring for me but I do it for him. He is a worker in every meaning of the word. He likes to get things done, to feel productive, to build things and better his environment's functioning. He gets tickled at his accomplishments no matter how small and he loves to share them with me. It's his clutch on manhood that he believes is mostly vanished (I disagree). So with his high productivity he has a list of jobs which each have many steps requiring they be done in the proper order and job has a corresponding shopping list. Not a big deal for most people but each day he is unaware of what day it is, of his day's plan, of what he was working on yesterday and what he may need to finish today. He's always in the present moment and requires queues to remember things. He has taught himself to be very methodical and routine with his tasks and even though it means every step takes a lot more time, it's the only way he can get it done. The love for his animals forces him outside each day to feed and water them. He has a relationship with them all and has the funniest stories to share with me about the Days Of Their Once he's out there then he's in THAT moment, surrounding by his work. Groundhog's day.

It's when I get the text that we need to go to the hardware store that his routine now must take a detour. We must venture out of our groundhog's day and into the mine field of the unpredictable world....turn up the stress and hold on to your seats! These are the experiences though that I'm ultimately thankful for, like I said above, even if they make me incredibly sad at the same time. Sometimes I watch our situation from the eyes of an onlooker. A grown man talking to himself in aisle 6 holding onto parts while he tries to figure out what piece will go where. The man struggles to stand upright and think while his frustration can be seen and felt by those that pass by. He gets angry that they are there invading his aisle! He gets angry at the music coming down from above, at the occasional "Are you finding everything ok"? interruptions, and worries that he's making his wife unhappy to be there. He feels he's failing her because his stupid brain can't do this. He's so defeated yet he knows if he gives up and leaves he'll have to come back because he needs these parts! I try to wander around the store coming back to "feel his vibes" every few minutes. I can feel that he's worried about me so I approach in time to hear his apology. I reassure him that I'm just fine and he can take all the time he needs! I wander some more. If I were to stand there he'd feel more pressure and so I don't want to add to it. When I see that other people are encroaching into his large bubble, I place myself between them so he can calm down a bit. When he finally thinks he has what he needs, we venture to the checkout counter where he'll have to dodge through the checker's gunfire questions. I try to answer where I can, I try to interject the suggestion that he can go out to the car and I can take it from here. Sometimes he takes me up on that but sometimes he just stays and suffers through this last agonizing ascent. When he's successfully passed this exam of answering all the questions without blowing a fuse, getting out the debit card, pushing the right buttons on the pay pad, putting the debit card back in the wallet, gathering his bags, and walking out of the store he lets out a sigh of relief! He relaxes in the car as I take him back to his safe base. Both of us hope we won't have to do that for quite a while!

Inevitably that battle at the hardware store will have taken all his energy for the day and his reserves. He'll be taking it easy and sleeping extra hours for that one. It will take us 2 or 3 days to get back on schedule, back to groundhogs day on the farm, back to him being able to smile and share funny animal stories.

Friday, June 13, 2014

My son deployed

My son has wanted to be a soldier since he was 11 years old. Even after moving to his dad's house when he was 15 and exploring a whole different side of teenage-hood, at 17 he called me up and asked me to take him down to the recruiter so he could sign up. He knew his dad wouldn't do it and he knew I would do it. I knew it's what he wanted, it's who he was always meant to become, a soldier's blood ran inside him.

He joined the Oregon National Guard (like his step-dad had done just a couple years prior). He became an Infantryman and was so proud! I flew to Columbus, GA to watch him graduate from basic and AIT. He came back to Oregon and did his monthly drills and yearly advanced trainings. He even had a stint in Thailand where his unit went there to train with the Thai Army.

He talked about the rumors of his eventual deployment to Afghanistan and the rumors changed over and over and I knew he wanted to deploy so badly (because that's why he signed up) that I thought maybe, just maybe, he was being more hopeful about the rumors than they were true. Ultimately all I could do was wait and see what happened.

It happened. He got the date. He went to AT to train for their deployment. The pre-mob ceremony was scheduled and I even signed up to go. It wasn't real yet.

Next month became next week and then it was tomorrow morning that I had to drive him to where they'd board buses that would take them to a plane. It still wasn't hitting me in my heart. It never does. I handle things logically and take care of logistics and planning. I'd helped him switch his phone carrier, add me to his bank account, copied his orders so I could cancel some contracts for him. I'd got the instructions for sending his things to him when he arrived to his first location. But I hadn't felt it yet.

The long drive to the bus was not filled with much talking. We had said everything that needed to be said and now it would just be fluff. Neither of us fluff much. Then we pulled into the parking lot and as he unloaded his gear from the trunk I watched my 6 year old give his big brother hugs and tell him he'd miss him. Then my husband shook his hand and probably pulled him in for a man hug but at that point I was in a fog - it was almost my turn. I could tell Josh was wanting it to go quickly and have as little mush as possible (he gets that from me). So I gave my hug and then he walked away. I didn't cry. I didn't say any last words from my heart. That's just not what we do. We had said all that needed to be said and he knows what's in my heart. Giving it to him at this moment would not be helpful to his hard shell.

I watched him walk away and I was thinking, "Oh my God that's it?? It's over?? That's all??" I got back into the car and slowly pulled out of my space and drove around the lot to the exit. I passed right by him and he didn't look at us, no wave, no nothing. It was typical Josh fashion and he was just like me, so I understood. I still didn't cry.

Then...I got about a block away when I got mad at some stupid trivial thing and started to blow my lid. My TBI husband, living in the moment as he does, asked in a very defensive tone, "What's the matter with YOU"? I replied, "REALLY"??? (ready for a brawl). And he made a smart move to just reflect for a moment at where we were and why, then he said, "Oh ya" with a sad and understanding tone in his voice and that's when I cracked!

During the weeks leading up to this day I had been told the details of where he'd be deploying and what their missions would consist of. It would not be void of danger. I would try to share my worry and sadness with Dean only to be met with his thoughts that this would be no big deal and that I was worrying for nothing. I tried to help him empathize by asking him to picture his cute, little, innocent, 6 year old being in danger and telling him that that's what this was like for me - training or no training - I'm the mom and I don't know what that training is like. He tried to understand but his emotions never could match mine.

So now we sat in the car and Dean did his best to understand how hard this was for me. I still don't know why my head can understand something and my heart just has a mind of its own. So my heart is breaking while my head thinks I'm being silly. My head is wondering why I didn't express any of this before, while Josh was here, would it have helped him? Would it have been important to him to know how I really feel? Hell, I didn't even know how I would really feel until that hug and watching him walk away. So the answer is obvious!

I took him to that bus yesterday morning and since then I've been forced to get out of my pajamas once and outside of that I've been in them. I just feel overwhelmed with bummed-out-ness. I'm just physically sad and depressed and he's not even in danger yet! He went to freaking Texas first for more training. But he's gone and I guess that's all that matters to my heart.

You see because of my unique predicament, I realize the reality that there is a 99.9% chance that the boy I birthed, the boy I read to and taught, who I took to football practice and Sea Cadets, the boy I homeschooled for a few years and who I fought with, the boy I helped graduate from high school by the skin of his teeth walked away from me yesterday and isn't coming back! That boy, who hasn't been innocent in quite some time (he IS 21 years old), will go and see things and experience things that no training can really prepare him for. I know now that there are more than two options - coming home or dying - I know the giant third option that is the most likely - his body will come home but his soul will have changed and his spark will be different. Yes this time is much different because he's not my best friend, my partner, my most intimate which Dean was. This time is a whole different journey that can't really be compared to the first one I walked. There are similarities - the worry - the wonder - the hope - the sadness - but ultimately nothing can prepare you for what you don't know.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My song

A husband with a TBI and PTSD means that most of the time he doesn't share his feelings for me with me. I have to ask or prompt him. In his world, he loves me and just thinks he tells me so of course I should know, and he's content. In my world, he's distant and busy and is always giving something else his attention and focusing so hard on it that he can't spare even a look in my direction, and I'm lonely. Even when I'm working close to him helping him figure something out or research something or complete a task there are no "feelings"'s only work.

Music has this very special place in Dean's life. He has it playing all the time in his shop so he can hear it in the distance even when he's out in the pasture. It's like when it's playing that means his engine is running. It gives him the right fuel for his brain to stay on track. Without it he makes more mistakes, is more frustrated, and not in a very good mood. With it on he's smiling, singing, focused, processing pretty well, and takes these little walks on memory lane in the deep recesses of his past. Music always takes him to a place where used to be and allows him to visit his life before his injuries. It's such a joyous blessing for him to have the secret passageway to his past while its also sad to know that music is the only connection to this happiness. 

With all his day-to-day seriousness and distance it is the most wonderful gift he could give me when he hears a song over and over in his shop and one day, when I happen to be in there while it's playing, he tells me "Oh here's your song" and he does his little, happy, jive dance around the garage while singing it to me :)

I remember this song from when I was younger but I had to run in the house to look up the lyrics. They really do sound like his sentiments! He is a simple man of few words. When he says words he doesn't embellish or otherwise make words bigger than his message. When he says something he carefully chooses his words and mean their literal dictionary meaning and he even uses words to mean what there origins are. He's got a word thing...haha.

So, here's my song:   (enjoy :) I am)
Right Down The Line

You know I need your love
You've got that hold over me
Long as I've got your love
You know that I'll never leave
When I wanted you to share my life
I had no doubt in my mind
And it's been you woman
Right down the line

I know how much I lean on you
Only you can see
The changes that I've been through
Have left a mark on me
You've been as constant as a Northern Star
The brightest light that shines
It's been you woman right down the line

I just wanna say this is my way
Of tellin' you everything
I could never say before
Yeah this is my way of tellin' you
That every day I'm lovin' you so much more
'Cause you believed in me through my darkest night
Put somethin' better inside of me
You brought me into the light
Threw away all those crazy dreams
I put them all behind
And it was you woman
Right down the line

I just wanna say this is my way of tellin' you everything
I could never say before
Yeah this is my way of tellin' you
Everything I could never say before
Yeah this is my way of tellin' you
That every day I'm lovin' you so much more

If I should doubt myself, if I'm losing ground
I won't turn to someone else
They'd only let me down
When I wanted you to share my life
I had no doubt in my mind
And it's been you woman
Right down the line