By Jade Stone
We all recognize this picture and at one point or another have dreamed of having a moment just like that, where the world stops, your eyes lock and you are drawn together, almost magnetically into a strong embrace, to share in that magical moment called a kiss.
In that very moment, the only thing that matters to either of you is the other. *Sigh* Yes, you must admit, it’s quite the picture. Unfortunately, as with all dreams, reality seems to sink back in like a bucket of ice cold water dumped over one’s head. The reality of this picture is that it’s actually of two strangers, rejoicing randomly about the end of the war.
Sadly, as soon as this picture was taken, this perfect moment faded as quickly as it began and the two parted, going their separate ways. I believed for years that it was a young couple madly in love, simply celebrating the war’s end. Instead, it’s actually a depiction of the relief and uncontrollable happiness of a nation, seen as two complete strangers share an appreciation for the services each other had provided throughout the war…it was like a great big thank you and best of luck!
Interestingly enough, I have learned that a soldier’s return to the family after a long deployment is somewhat similar. I can remember waiting in a large gymnasium for what seemed like an eternity for that electric moment when the troops would be released and we would search each other out in the crowd, our eyes would lock and we’d go running into each other’s arms, just like the picture, creating a magical moment of our own. And to some extent, the initial reunion was every bit as glorious. We had missed each other so much that it never occurred to either of us that we might have trouble reconnecting. After all, we’d spent 18 months longing for that very reconnection what could possibly get in the way of that dream?
Well, there wasn’t enough “dream magic” in the world to prevent that cold bucket of reality from dumping rigidly on our heads, forcing us to face the hard truth that we didn’t really know each other at all anymore. Sure, we knew the person from 18 months ago, but this new person was a whole new ballgame. I believe the experiences we have daily shape us into who we are and who we will become…18 months of growing separately is a long time.
Furthermore, 18 months in a war zone makes such permanent changes that sometimes the original being is actually lost, forever trapped in a body that has lost the spark of life it once had. I had become completely independent and fully capable of running the house without help. I had also become so accustomed to not talking about my daily plans that I struggled to share the daily routine with him because it’s just what has to be done. Likewise, he had spent so long being told what to do that simple decisions like left lane or right lane in a drive-through were agonizing. We had both fantasized for so long about how wonderful life was going to be when he returned. But the fact was we struggled with the idea that we didn’t even know each other anymore. How is this even possible?
Well, lucky for us, I have a master’s in counseling (or so I thought) so I had prepped myself for the errors that might occur in communication, how to communicate in a non-demanding, encouraging manner, how to avoid possible opportunities in a grocery store for “shell shock” and how I needed to help him get back into the swing of things by trying to structure his day for him. However, nothing prepared me for the fact that here is the person that I fell in love with, vowed my life to, for whom I had waited months to return, and now that the time has come to “reunite” in marital bliss, I found the whole situation awkward and foreign with nowhere to begin.
It took me a couple of weeks to realize against my will that we really were actually strangers to one another. I had decided that if this were the case, then I suppose we should start dating before we could comfortably move past the awkwardness involved in the expectation of marital relations. While this seems to be a simple solution, when you are married to someone, the last thing you expect to do is go back to square one and begin courting before returning to a normal sex life but that is exactly what we had to do. Our demeanor had changed.
I simply could not understand why I felt so shy around him and why he seemed so timid around me but then it hit me like a ton of bricks-we weren’t connecting anymore. A relationship in which, at one point, we could nearly finish each other’s sentences had turned numb and cold, devoid of mutual understanding and knowledge of the other’s current inner being.
So we sat down and came to a few conclusions: 1) we had both changed; 2) we still loved each other dearly; 3) we agreed we had something special worth saving and 4) we were both willing to do whatever it would take for our hearts to reconnect and become one again…
This was a pivotal moment in our relationship…but when would it get better? Stay tuned to find out!
Jade welcomes your comments here as well as any suggestions you may have for her future posts. You may also e-mail her at email@example.com. To read previous Military Mama posts, CLICK HERE.