"The military is drawing down. Deployments are slowing. Your service member will be home more."
Someone please tell me I'm not the only person who reads those words and thinks "I'll believe THAT when I see it."
Military leaders claim that my spouse is going to spend more time in my house and less time in a foreign country. And as much as I want that to be true, there's a part of me that thinks, Yeah, right.
If they say, You should get ready for longer dwell time!
I think, If you say so, Buddy.
It's not my fault that I have that reaction. I've been through rigorous training to think this way. My lessons could be given titles like "Disappointment Bootcamp," "Last Minute Extension Psych Out," "You Got Punked Block Leave," "Lock Down Letdown," and "PCS Orders? Just Kidding!"
Lesson after lesson, month after month. I''ve learned that when it comes to anything good the military says is coming my way, unless it is happening before my very eyes I will not believe it ... and even then buying in can be an emotional danger.
I've heard horror stories about soldiers getting off the plane from a deployment only to get right back on and go back thanks to a last minute extension.
I've learned to work around the skepticism. I only make reservations for things that can be canceled if military duties come knocking. I occasionally let bitterness seep in, but I've learned how to keep it at bay for the most part. I've started using caveats when I talk to family about plans.
"Well, if he is here, he'll be there," I say.
"What?! Are they deploying?!?" My mother-in-law worries that she has somehow been left out of the loop. "I thought they were drawing down!"
"Oh, they are. But you never know," I respond.
Because, well, you don't.
Strangely, this doesn't impact my ability to take the Army at its word on negative things. "We're kicking out 20 percent of certain officer grades in several year groups and no longer allowing reenlistment of some people." Or "your spouse will likely be required to attend three weekend field trainings in the next two months."
I'm totally sold on that stuff being true as soon as it is said. I even find myself wait around for the doom. Why? Because it's bad. And, as we know, the military as great at giving you stuff you don't really want to deal with.
My skepticism and belief in negativity is a coping mechanism that, for the most part, works for me. It doesn't keep me from being happy. It doesn't keep me from living my life. But nonetheless, it's there.
If you're like this, too, you're not alone. There's at least one other skeptic hanging out with you in this world -- me.
Can I get an "Amen?"