I’m now one week into my husband’s deployment, and it’s already caused me physical pain — literally.
It’s his third and my second deployment, so I knew what to expect as I dropped him off at the brigade chapel. I knew I would cry and be so much more than sad, but I also knew life would go on. I felt confident I’d get through this period of separation, just as I had before.
And I was incredibly proud of myself. I dropped him off, and after a tearful goodbye, I drove away.
I couldn’t go home, so instead I went to my happy place — the waterfront. I sat for about an hour sulking on the banks of Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Eventually my tears dried up and I went home, showered and went to the office. I continued with my life. I didn’t cry one more tear for his absence and I felt proud of myself.
And then it happened. I woke up the next morning unable to get out of bed because I was in such severe pain. It started just below my rib cage, and shot down my back. I was convinced I would need gallbladder surgery.
After a trip to my doctor, another to the emergency room, blood work, an ultrasound and a urine test, the doctors ruled I am completely healthy. After about three days and an anti-spasm medication later, I slowly began to feel like myself.
During my visit to the ER, I explained to the doctor the pain started after my husband left and he smiled. Apparently, there’s a whole demographic of patients at the ER consisting of Army wives with stomach pains after their husbands deploy.
The pain was stress induced. The nurse practitioner suggested I meditate when I find myself in increasingly stressful situations.
First, I was slightly embarrassed to have caused such a fuss for stress pains, but I had never felt anything like it. It was miserable and debilitating. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
In the two weeks my husband and I had together before he left, I didn’t take off work when he did. I cut out any activities that didn’t include him, such as yoga, to spend more time with him. I tried so hard to balance my time without showing anyone I was freaking out on the inside.
I was stressed about excelling at both my job and my home life, worried to fail at either and freaking out about the looming separation and danger my husband could face, but I internalized every emotion. I didn’t want my husband to worry about me while he was heading off into war. It seemed selfish.
So when you think about all that being pent up inside my body, it’s no wonder my organs began to have spasms. Something had to give.
So I took the forced downtime to remind myself why I signed up for this crazy life in the first place — both as a journalist and an Army wife.
I revisited what made me initially fall in love with each, while propping up my feet and snuggling my four-legged, fur-babies.
I may have fooled myself into thinking I was the strong Army wife I’d like to be, but my body knew better. I think I’ll slow down and remember the joyful moments instead of dwelling on the hard times. The life I love and I chose will never be stress-free — it’s just not possible. But I don’t have to wear myself out pretending it is.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.