Emotional Resources

Emotional Resources

Initially, I couldn’t focus or concentrate. How am I going to be a single parent? We always did everything together! When he left, it was almost easier because the anticipation of his departure was so emotionally draining. I went into automatic, doing what had to be done. I realize now that I did take some of my frustration out on my daughter. My mother recognized this early on and set me straight. I had relaxed control over both children, and I needed to reclaim it. Eventually, the kids and I were functioning normally, again.

At the 6-month point, I quit feeling sorry for us and changed my thinking. The hardest thing emotionally is the loss of companionship. I was very lonely and found myself grasping every opportunity to converse with another adult. I found myself drinking alcohol more frequently, not more, just one or two drinks each night.

His return was much more emotionally taxing than I anticipated. It took at least 3 months for the kids and me to get used to another adult making and enforcing some of the rules. I didn’t deal well with his disciplining of the children, and he seemed to be talking down to the children. It had been 18 months, and the three of us seemed to have grown and matured, but he returned at the same level he was at when he left. He resumed managing all bills and the checking account. It drove me nuts for a while! It seemed like when he had called me from over there almost every day, we really talked! He listened. At home he was returning to his old routine of avoiding conflict and controlling things. I was unwilling to go back to that relationship. We have had to work through a lot, and that probably should include counseling.

When asked to discuss how her relationships with family and friends changed during Mike’s deployment, Kathy noted several things that surprised her.

My father, who hates emotions, came with me to the “send off” and came to visit us every 3 months from his home in another state. Usually, on past visits, he wanted to be taken care of and entertained, but not during this time. He mowed, fixed things, winterized our home, and did everything that needed to be done. My mom watched the kids when I needed to be away for days at a time for work. I didn’t hear from my mother-in-law at all, but I didn’t before the deployment, either. No one from his family really stepped up to help. His little brother called more than usual, but never spent time with us. My siblings were supportive, my sister most. My brother did take my children to his home for 2 weeks over Christmas and made it an incredible holiday for all of us.

Friends … well, I really learned who my friends were. Most of those we believed to be friends before Mike left disappeared. Some we had never really done a lot with suddenly appeared and gave me tremendous support. When Mike returned, his old buddies started calling. I insisted that we had new friends, and he was understanding enough to change friendships, himself.

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