When "Reunited" Doesn't Feel So Good


It isn’t that Peaches and Herb were misguided.  I’m just betting they weren’t thinking of the end-of-deployment type of “reunited” when they belted out their anthem.

Although the time from when my husband returned from Iraq in March has not been prolifically chronicled here, I haven’t made secret the stress we have faced since that time.  At first, I thought his behavior, like mine, had been affected by everything from the addition of a five-year-old Ethiopian girl to our home to the serious eye injury that still keeps him from performing his normal civilian job.

But then I realized that some of the things my husband has been doing are completely and totally out of character for him--period. I will not go into too many specifics about some of the things that have occurred in recent months because I still can’t wrap my mind around some of it and the internet is forever.  But I can say that I found myself on more than one occasion in the past few months looking at this person I’m married to and wondering who in the hell he thinks he is and what in God’s name is he doing (?!).  And the typical, infuriating response I received when I asked those questions is, “I just didn’t think.”

For him this means he didn’t think it was a big deal or that I’d be mad or that it would cause a ruckus.  For me, it has meant he didn’t think about me, or anyone other than himself.  That stings and even if this is not the first time things like this have happened (where I’ve felt he’s acted selfishly or without regard/respect), I used to be able to point something out and have a sincere apology that led to the behaviors stopping.  Now though?  The behaviors continue and I cannot figure out how to help.

Let me give you a benign, but typical example.  Last week, the girls did not have school the day before Thanksgiving.  My husband works part-time at night at his civilian job while I work typical hours and am the person responsible for opening the office.  He is usually done at 9 a.m. and his job is less than three miles from our house.  On this day, our youngest also had a doctor’s appointment at 11 a.m. at an office that, given holiday traffic, would take nearly 40 minutes to reach.

By 9:30, I was beginning to wonder where my husband was.  Time passed and prior to dashing from the house with the girls at 10:20 to make the 11:00 appointment, I had texted twice and left him a voicemail.  Unbeknown to me, he had been asked to work over and because he doesn’t carry his phone on the floor, he “didn’t think” to tell his boss he needed to call his wife.  Instead of working a half-day and leaving at 1:00, I worked a half-day, but left the office at 4:30 and felt like a totally irresponsible employee who cannot get herself together.

That experience agitated me, but it was done and with commentary like, “So you’re going to be mad because I had the chance to work extra?” I just did NOT want to engage.

After work, I slogged through a downpour to buy the necessary ingredients for my contribution to my extended family’s Thanksgiving meal.  I came home and immediately preheated the oven because I was ready to bake.  The family had other plans, though, including dinner.  The girls “helped” me assemble my dessert and I shoved it in the oven, set the timer, breathed a sigh of relief and chased the kids through their bedtime routine.  Forty minutes later, the oven buzzed and my husband called from the kitchen, “It helps if you turn the oven on!”

“Oh, terrific, “ I thought.  “Now the oven is broken?”

No.  The oven wasn’t broken.  My husband had, at some point, decided that the oven had been waiting long enough and that he should turn it off.  What he didn’t bother to do, however, was notify me of his executive decision.

After he informed me the oven was not broken, but simply turned off, he turned the oven on, set the timer for 40 minutes and allowed my dessert to sit in the oven while it preheated—it was ruined.

He likened it to turning off a light in an unoccupied room.  I countered that a turned-off light is obvious.  But, if I put something in a still warm oven and I’m wearing oven mitts, I have no way of knowing the oven is not preheated to 350-degrees.  Not to mention if I dared to touch something of his without providing a head’s up, it would be on like Donkey Kong.

I’m pretty sure that if you are experiencing anything similar to this since your spouse has returned home you understand that my blinding rage had almost nothing to do with the ruined dessert, the money and time wasted on it or the nearly ruined family holiday that ensued the next day.  My husband was incredulous that this would have angered me in any way.

He “just didn’t think it was a big deal.”

I have grown weary of this excuse.  It’s been over six months since he’s been home.  Yes, we’ve had our share of awful things happen in the past months, but I attended enough reunification briefings to know that what we are experiencing now is atypical of someone who is going to rebound.  And, it’s certainly a far cry from the near seamless reunification we had following his last deployment.

The things I have had to do in the past seven months to keep us afloat have exhausted me.  I know couples aren’t supposed to keep score, but it’s hard not to when you feel disrespected and taken for granted nearly every day.  Sometimes I can’t help but think, “So this is the thanks I get?  This is what I deserve after being a one-woman band for a year and then keeping our boat afloat for nearly a year after that?!”  Truly, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve said, “Mmmhmmm” watching Snapped on the Oxygen Network, I’d be retiring next month.

I’m not going to lie--this is yet another in a long list of National Guard family realities that I’d rather skip.  Thanks so much for taking him, breaking him and sending him home and for screwing up the emotions of our children only to tell us it isn’t your problem to fix because he’s no longer considered ‘active duty.’

There.  I said it.

I think that it is ridiculous that even after I sit through briefing after briefing (each identical to the last and strangely the same as the last deployment’s) I still end up having to look for the information I need on my own and usually find out about things after I can no longer take advantage of them.  Frankly, I barely have enough resolve to move through each day with three kids, three jobs, empty bank accounts and four weeks until Christmas that I, honestly, have no time to figure out what “services” are allegedly available to help me figure out what in the hell is the matter.

I haven’t blogged in awhile because I have had nothing inspirational, funny or positive to say.  I like SpouseBuzz because it is a great resource and because people, for the most part, engage each other in positive ways.  I didn’t want to be responsible for bringing down the mood, especially given our anniversary and the new look.

But, if even one person reads this and realizes they aren’t in the boat alone, I’m okay with other people thinking I’m Debbie Downer.

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