January was a yo-yo month for us. Full of ups and downs, and twist and turns.
So it is no surprise to me when I look back why I ended up a bawling mess in my supervisor’s office this week during our 1 on 1.
Here is how our last month has looked:
Over the holiday break, Tom met with a Missouri National Guard recruiter. We were both wanting to be closer to home, and wanted our job situations to be more secure. Both of us are going to be 30 next year, so we wanted to see if there was a chance to start our permanent-in-one-place life sooner than we had planned first getting into the Army gig. The National Guard would allow Tom to still be in the Army, but do it part time so he could pursue is cop dreams again, and we could be stationary. While the Army at one point looked like it may have been a lifestyle for us in the long term, many things have occurred for us personally that we know that this would be Tom’s only enlistment. After speaking with NG, the benefits were just too good not to pursue getting out of active duty early. (Like end of this spring early.) I won’t go into all the benefits that were on the table, but let’s just say Tom and I were ready to pack our bags and say goodbye to Clarksville. Tom just had to get a few people to sign off on the contract change here in FTC to make it official. This was happening, and we both were on board of making a career out of the National Guard.
That first week back at work was possibly the roughest for both of us. Everything just kind of spiraled out of control before our eyes.
Tom was asked to interview for a company level communications position. He did not want it, however he was one of the few who were qualified and had the correct security clearance. He flat out told his commanders that he did not want this position and was happy being a team leader in the line infantry.
I am sure you can guess what happened.
They made him the Company RTO that same day, not even minutes after he said he didn’t want it.
The very same week, I was told I was going to be cut back to barely anything at work.
We were both distraught and felt like we had no purpose here.
It is the week we would like to pretend never happened.
From that though, Tom had no qualms about turning in his National Guard packet. It was the best plan to get us both back home and started on different avenues. And everyone he talked to said that of course he would get that passed through. No big deal.
It took a little time to get all of this back since there are several people in the chain of command the paperwork has to go through. Ending your active duty contract is a fairly big deal even if you are switching to NG.
But eventually we heard the answer. One person who had to sign said no way Jose.
It took us awhile to accept that our next year would be here in TN (and for Tom-Afghanistan again) instead of the house and jobs we had just spent the past few weeks envisioning.
Finally we did start coming to terms with it and started seeing some positives.
This job has given Tom some pretty awesome access since he now works at the company level instead of platoon and team level. Basically, he is the right hand man to the group’s boss. He is being slotted for some training opportunities that he otherwise A) didn’t have access to due to poor leadership or B) didn’t have a reason to go. His leadership before was pretty toxic from what I could tell, so we are both pretty happy that he is in a much better position with people who seem to care about what he has to offer and actually value his knowledge and gusto. He has a pretty sweet schedule now and dictates most of that on his own outside of company field training times. It also means that he will be much safer on deployment. He doesn’t like that too much, but I can love on that fact!
We both grappled on to the idea of another deployment.We had thought we were going to be able to steer clear of this next one due to contract timing. You have to have so much time stateside to do separation things before your contract ends, and we didn’t think that they would send him overseas for only a couple months. We both were in dream land thinking we wouldn’t have to go through that all again.
I didn’t get emotional about it, and I even told several people without any tears or wavering in my voice. With the ups and downs of the month, we just kind of took it for what it was and started making other plans. I am
currently still in a job search here right now, but I am also looking back home now to potentially move while he is deployed. If I were to find a job in Missouri it would mean that we are back on the long distance train for at least a year until he can join me. However, it does mean that I can start getting things settled long before his time in the Army ends, and my career doesn’t have to continue to be on hold. Since he is going to be gone for most of that time anyway due to this deployment, we really don’t see this as a bad thing. While I like the area and we have made some friends, it would be very tough for me to continue to be part time here while Tom is over seas. The ultimate goal is for me to have a full-time job. Wherever that happens will dictate a lot of factors such as our moving time, Tom’s career plans, and baby plans.
In the meantime while all of this is happening, I have had the period from nightmares this month. TMI maybe, but it is the truth and had a huge affect on my emotional state. Unfortunately, this is a side effect of not being on birth control and trying to have a baby. I have resorted to feeling like a teenage girl again with weeks of agony. Yes you read that correctly, weeks. (Don’t worry, I have a doctor’s appointment this week to hopefully sort that out.) Although this time, we thought we were pregnant for a hot second due to the first symptoms I as having only to receive a call from the doctor that we are indeed not. I was heartbroken again to get these results because so much inside of me was pointing in the other direction. That would have made this angry tornado in my stomach worth it. For the last couple weeks I have eaten mostly Cheezits and McDonald’s McChickens because I am so nauseous from being a woman. Not exactly a breakfast of champions let me tell you, but it is the only thing that will stay in my uneasy stomach.
So after all that business, I still didn’t cry. I just figured that is the way that it goes in the Army and our life. You never can settle on one plan. Always have a back up and contingencies, and be ready for all that to change to0. It just is what it is.
Number one thing I have learned as a military spouse is accepting things I cannot change and move on with it. (I may not be proficient in this area yet, but I am a work in progress.)
Then you come to this week.
Tom was away at field training during this awful winter weather. It has been doing everything: raining, sleeting, snowing, etc. And he had to sleep in a tent all week in these freezing wet temps. Although he tells me that he was glad that they had the tent and a heater and weren’t out on the ground, so of course no complaints from him. Just another day at the office. I however at the time did not know all this and was just watching the weather get worse and worse knowing he was out there, but I guess it is good training for the different terrain they may face. This left my emotional outlet out of reach and also my McChicken go-getter out of commission.
I also wanted to make sure I was completely open with my supervisor on the fact that I would be job searching not only here in TN, but also back in MO. At the same time, I also disclosed to her about the deployment.
And I just lost it.
I think it was the fact that I had not had a real meal in a week, but all the emotions from the month overtook me and I was a mess in her office. And then of course I was mad at myself for crying, so that just made the tears fall harder.
We have done a deployment before. Long distance relationship has been most of our relationship. We both have been on the bad end of career woes. We have dealt with the never ending changes of the Army.
But at the end of the day, we aren’t machines, and sometimes we are going to react and let it out.
While you do get used to things and learn how to adapt with the military lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that it gets any easier to deal with the separation.
I was just at my breaking point this week, but again I am blaming it mostly on the fact that I am starving and crave healthy meals.
So yes I am still job searching. For what? Lots of things, but only the right things.
Yes, we may be moving soon. Where? It’s up for grabs, and it may only be me.
Yes, Tom has to go on another deployment. How long and when? It changes on a weekly basis as does when they are leaving. 4 months-9 months. Give or take a few.
Yes, we have all of this taken care of. We are actually ok with how things sit right now. We are made to handle whatever may be thrown in our direction. We both just had our moments of humanness this month.
No one said that the Army doesn’t make life interesting.