I should have known.  I can’t even look back on the pictures I took during that time.  So much time went by.  She was so tiny at the beginning and so big at the end.  It hurts my heart.  So, when I sat down to re-read journal entries from before and during the deployment, I should have known I would be boarding a roller coaster.  Should have known I’d be riding it when I read through the pages.  Pages and pages.  Of change. 

In me. 

I started out a timid, scared woman.  Oh, I played a good game–made myself look confident, like I didn’t care what other people thought.  But, I cared deeply.  Too deeply sometimes.  I was incapable of speaking up for myself, for my family.  I often couldn’t state my opinions or share my thoughts.  I didn’t want to rock the boat.  I waffled with every decision I had to make, regardless of how inconsequential it might have been.  I was scared to death of change, of being without him.  That was before.

The year–it changed me.

Now, I am confident.  I am strong, resilient.  At times, I am even defiant.  I still care what other people think, but I care even more about what I think.  My family, my husband, my children are at the center of every thought, decision, choice I make. I will share my opinions, because they are worth hearing, worth having.  And I really don’t mind rocking the boat–sometimes, it’s fun to do it.  Like I said, I can be a little defiant.  The decisions I make are firm, strong, and carefully thought out.  I am not scared of change anymore.  Just very weary of it.

I hardly know that girl who was here before my Soldier deployed.  There is just a shell of her left.  I still have a little of that child-like joy, though it has been dampened.a bit. Jaded, maybe.  I still find joy in the little things, but with that comes a thread of melancholy.  Because I know it won’t last.  That piece of joy, as with everything, will end.  I still am proud of my husband, but that is now a fierce pride.  It comes with a sense of constant awareness, waiting and preparing to strike anyone who will criticize or attack him.  And they do, occasionally.

So much positive came out of this adventure that is still concluding.  But, I see some aspects of my character I must also temper.  That quick defiance.  Looking at the negative in life with an attitude of resilience and disregard is one thing.  But when that attitude starts targeting loved ones, especially my Soldier, I know I must temper it.  Quickly.  That pride that feeds the fear that he will just leave again, that whispers in your mind not to trust him completely to save yourself from pain at the next good-bye.  Those are terrible things.  Natural reactions, possibly.  But so awful.  

We are still adjusting.  Still transitioning.  This deployment didn’t last just a year.  So many people think life just clicks back into place once your Soldier is home.  It does not.  There is work to be done.  Always work to be done.  Learning to be a family again, learning to trust and to be open.  So painful to admit, but a good dose of humility will do me some good.

As always, the deployment will not win.  That’s where I will direct my defiance, my pride.  Because my children, my family, my Soldier are worth fighting for.  Eventually, we will be “normal” again.  Having him home, leaning on him, opening up to him won’t be hard.  It will be worth it.

And then, he’ll probably be getting ready to leave again.  Charlie Mike.  

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