When I was about nine or ten years old, I experienced the first big shift in my life. My mother finally convinced my farm-loving father to move into a neighborhood in the vicinity of town.
This was HUGE. The farm, and all it entailed, was all I knew. A lot changed.
My pony went. In its stead, I received my first Schwinn bicycle from Bicycle Bill’s in Vermilion, Ohio. It was that burnt brown color; a ten-speed. Clearly this was meant as a trade-off.
There were others. My dad bought a bigger boat. He named it “Compensation.”
My mom received her house in the suburbs; away from the farm. I’m sure I didn’t have a firm grasp on the full meaning behind that name, compensation, but I get it now.
Give and take over a life time of togetherness, I believe, must balance. I’m a big believer in the pendulum. And, for the most part, it does. But when the bar begins to swing away; too far for me to grasp, I begin my retreat.
It’s happens often enough that I recognize the symptoms, although, I still haven’t managed to wipe them out, completely.
When Rick goes TDY or on a long deployment, our lives begin to shift away from the comfort I’ve created and with which I’ve worked hard to surround us. In response to this intrusion, I begin to construct my perimeter wall; an emotional barrier with which to shield any potential hurt or hardship lurking out in the distance.
It’s what I do. Not intentionally, but it's my coping mechanism; my atonement.
I know others who follow similar patterns. Some spouses make large purchases, again, somehow in restitution for a sense of loss.
“This American Life,” from Chicago Public Radio, had a segment last week titled, Will They Know Me Back Home? It features a dramatic read taken from excerpts of a book about military life. One of the vignettes includes thoughts from a wife coping at home, while her husband is deployed for a long period of time. I related so strongly, it prompted me to recognize some of my behaviors of late, anticipating an extended absence.
I’m rusty — out of "deployment condition." The guys call it "readiness." My military spouse went from rarely being home to rarely being away from home in recent times.
I need to polish my armour; remember how to embrace the change, and wait for that balance to come back full center.