Although it's not everyone's way of coping, my religious faith was always a very important part of getting me through hubby's deployments. Perhaps talking to God at night in bed kind of took the place of some of the things I would have liked to say to hubby, but was holding back until he got home.
It wasn't even always pretty and praiseful talk. Sometimes I raged, and more than once - both in his last deployment to Iraq and his current deployment in Afghanistan - the "How DARE You!" rant passed through my prayers. Pollyanna Sunshine is most definitely not my name, and for a good reason. I may try to keep upbeat and positive, but it's just not always in the cards for me.
When hubby was in Iraq, I went home. We felt at the time that it would have been best. But I was surrounded by civilians who weren't always sure how to deal with me, or what to say. On the other hand, they were often intensely curious about many aspects of our military life - and some of the curiosity had a somewhat morbid tilt.
Like when they asked me about how I would find out if something happened to hubby.
Now, at this question they were interested in more than just the mechanics of the notification system.
I always replied, "I think I would just know."
I understand that this is really something I just tell myself to feel better and a bit more in control of events than I would otherwise. After all, the thought that I would somehow magically get some kind of clue if anything went down allows me to go about my day with my emotions more checked. I mean, I don't have that hinky feeling, do I? Things must be fine!
But there was that one night...
A few months into hubby's deployment to Iraq, I woke up in my bed, in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat. I've never had a panic attack before (or since) in my life, but that is the only way I can think of to describe what happened. I was sweating, but I was cold. I was so scared that I literally could not move - all my muscles were locked in position. My heart was racing, and not even beating steadily; and I was breathing so hard that anyone listening would have thought I had just run a marathon.
I felt like I had to throw up.
Gradually the feeling receded, and I was able to lie down and try to get some rest. Needless to say, I had no idea what was going on - I didn't connect it to hubby in any way - and getting back to sleep was not in the cards for me.
Hubby called me later that morning - the evening his time. Because I do prefer to hear more (although still abbreviated) rather than less of what he is experiencing, he proceeded to tell me about his experiences in his convoy that day.
Some simple addition and comparison brought this to light - that at the time I was shaking in bed with my first (and last) panic attack ever, hubby's vehicle had broken down in downtown Baghdad and was taking fire. Thank God, there were no casualties.
By no means was this the only time hubby was ever in a dangerous situation. That's an obvious given. I didn't get a panic attack when his office, in one of Saddam's palaces, was mortared. I didn't wake up to a panic attack every time his convoy came under fire. I didn't wake up in a panic attack when his vehicle was surrounded by rioters and barely made it onto the base in one piece. Or any other time.
And it's a good thing, too. I'm not sure how many such panic attacks I would have been able to take before ended up the crazy cat woman, sitting in a window at home in a wool sweater with unbrushed hair and about twenty felines roaming my house.
But the oddest things happen sometimes, things I just can't explain. This was definitely one of those times.