Lioness' Literatim

Letter for letter, the thoughts in my head.

2011; Ready for Review

Well people, it’s that time of year again where I find myself sitting down and reviewing the past year. So much has changed this year. As with every year, 2011 had its ups and downs. There were periods that dragged on and periods that raced by, all culminating with a New Year’s Eve spent sitting in the office waiting/praying for the phone to ring. All things considered though, this holiday season was much less stressful than last year’s, despite my current settings.

So, without further ado, 2011 in a nutshell:

January

After the most stressful holiday season I’ve ever experienced, I made myself get back on a plane to the middle of Nowhere, AZ because I’d signed a contract that said if I didn’t, I’d be in big trouble. I spent most of January rethinking my reasons for joining the Army, debating every day about whether I wanted to quit or continue on. These debates were fueled by the new knowledge that my darling husband, the kid that convinced me to join the Army in the first place, didn’t want me in.

February

Started hanging out with this one guy in my class who would later become a lot more important to me than I ever thought was possible. In February, I got my second tattoo – an infinity cross with rosebuds and butterflies – and that guy I was hanging out with a lot, he was there. At some point during February, he earned himself the nickname Pikachu. I think it’s safe to say that in February I started being more comfortable in my own skin and more confident about who I am.

March

In March I got the second piece of my back tattoo – a half opened rose with a butterfly – and guess who was sitting right beside me, holding my hand. At this point there was no question that he was my best friend. There was hardly a time when we weren’t together. At the end of March I found myself wishing I could slow down time because, although I was anxious to get out of TRADOC and all the bullshit it brought, I wasn’t quite ready to leave the familiarity of Ft. Huachuca and face the real Army. Especially since in the real Army there were things to deal with like orders that placed me halfway across the country from my husband. In March I also had to face the fact that, despite missing my husband, Pikachu and I had a connection that scared me.

April

In April, Pikachu took me out to my favorite restaurant in Nowhere, AZ to celebrate my 20th birthday with delicious Greek food and Baklava. I graduated at the top of my class out of 120 new analysts and headed home, spending my first week of ‘freedom’ showing Pikachu some of my favorite things about Florida life. I was finally reunited with my husband and after sending Pikachu back to his faraway home I made my way to Ft. Bragg, had a very disappointing first night in my new apartment and began settling into the life of a wife.

May

In May I began my work at the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater). It didn’t take long to figure out that the 1st TSC doesn’t function quite like most other units. It’s a beast of a different color. In May I sat my husband down and told him that something had to change, because I didn’t feel he was treating me the way he should. Things changed, for a few hours. A few days later I sat him down again and told him that things really needed to change because I didn’t appreciate him walking all over me and taking advantage of me being there. I was his wife, not his maid. Again, things changed for a few hours, and this time I made up my mind. I deserved better than what he was giving me and if he couldn’t make an honest effort to treat me right, he didn’t deserve me. So I left. In my new Jeep. Which I love.

June

In June Pikachu came out to Ft. Bragg before he deployed to help me get settled into my new apartment. It was a bittersweet visit because neither of us knew what to expect with his deployment. We’d kept in touch pretty well since graduation, and he was the one that was keeping me sane during the initial stage of my separation. He was who I called when the hubby and I decided we wouldn’t be trying to work things out but would instead be filing for a divorce. But, Duty called and he left for that strange place we call Afghaniland. Luckily, we still able to talk fairly frequently, so my sanity didn’t suffer too terribly.

July

In July I drove from Ft. Bragg to PA to visit my sister that I hadn’t seen since my BCT graduation. My dad retired after 30 years in the Marine Corps and I was lucky enough to get time off of work to be there. In July I admitted that I’d fallen in love with Pikachu. In July, we decided to tackle this long-distance relationship thing that neither one of us really wanted to try. You’ve heard them say “long distance never works” I’m sure. We thought we knew what we were getting into. I got lonely and brought baby Kiwi into my life – silly kitten. In July I went through the Army’s Driver’s Training Course to get my license on the HMMWV. Events being what they were, insecurities and jealousies surfaced and we began to realize what makes long distance relationships so hard. But we fought through it.

August

I started going to the gym a couple times a week with some of the guys from work. I reconnected with God in a way that confused me, but I find this connection to still be strong and true. In August I fought with the depression that comes with the territory of being the girlfriend of a deployed soldier. Constant worrying, not enough sleep and increasing stress at work threatened to break me. The only thing that kept me going was knowing he was coming to see me at the end of the month and he’d be all mine for two whole weeks. That and the fresh pain from my fourth tattoo – a scorpion on my ankle.

September

Pikachu was home for the first part of the month, and putting him back on a plane to Afghaniland was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. I had a bit of an emotional breakdown at PT the following morning, and as a direct result, gained a significant amount of respect for the G2’s new SGM. I learned, about three weeks out, that I’d be deploying to Kuwait the first weekend of October, and so the frenzy began. Packing things up and trying to get everything settled before it was time to leave was a new challenge, but I met it. Barely.

October

We left the first of the month and spent more time sitting on the tarmac than we did in the air. We got stranded overnight in Germany and arrived in Kuwait a full day later than we were supposed to. Training was quick, frustrating and confusing, and then it was over and the old team was gone. It didn’t take too long to get settled into our daily routines. A couple weeks in, Pikachu and I managed a phone call, not knowing it’d be the last time we’d hear each others’ voices for a couple of months. I started working out regularly under the guidance of the boss, and when I wasn’t at work or the gym, I was glued to Yahoo, hoping he’d be able to continue answering my emails. Towards the end of the month there was a rather intense, eye-opening email conversation that spanned the length of several days and sleepless nights. But then we heard that he’d be going home early, and that was pushed to a backburner.

November

The beginning of November was tough, learning that rather than going home early he’d be relocating to someplace else in Afghanistan instead. In November I become addicted to working out – became a true endorphin addict. Now I can’t help but wonder if this would still have happened if Pikachu and I had more regular contact. I know I often found myself heading to the gym after being disappointed by an email that didn’t come or contained only a few short words. The gym became my ‘happy place.’ I had my second Thanksgiving surrounded by uniforms and found myself thanking God for all of the amazing men and women I’d had the honor of meeting and serving with so far. And then immediately following Thanksgiving I fell prey to the depression again, but it was worse this time.

December

The combination of being away from home for the holidays and the minimal amount of contact that Pikachu and I were able to maintain had me in a rapid downward spiral to depression that came within an inch of breaking me many different times. Endorphins or not, I was beginning to question the strength of our relationship and whether we’d actually be able to make it through the deployment. I did my best to make sure no one knew what I was going through. And then we talked – and I mean really talked – for the first time in a month and a half or more, and he made me remember why I love him and helped me rediscover the strength I had hidden away that would get me through the rest of the deployment. Christmas came and went, my first away from home, celebrated with an early morning 5k run.

And now, here it is, New Year’s Eve. Less than an hour until the New Year hits and I’ve spent my evening sitting in the office waiting/praying for the phone to ring (and finally getting to talk to Pikachu!) and writing this post. No plates of snack food, sparkling grape juice or champagne. No Times’ Square ball or movie marathons. No family, no New Year’s kiss since the only person I’m interested in kissing is a couple of countries away. In some ways, it’s kind of a bleak ending to a crazy year. In other ways, it’s kind of peaceful. But maybe that’s just my subconscious comparing the stress of last year’s holiday season with the slightly painful ease of this year’s. Either way, it’s been a crazy year with a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for us. It’ll be difficult, with Pikachu changing AOs on me and not knowing how much communication we’ll have during the next few months, but we’ll be home before we know it!

Happy New Year!

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31 December 2011 Posted by | Confessions, In the hands of God, Life's what we make it, Sleepless Night Ramblings, That thing called Love, This Army life is crazy | Leave a comment