I was asked by a close friend of mine to write about something that I do at home that is seemingly impossible when I am deployed. I have been thinking about this for days there is one thing that stands out above the rest; communication. Being able to communicate with family and friends is made far more difficult while you are deployed. From reading body language to being able to physically touch someone builds an unmeasurable pressure. That’s not to say I don’t read body language here or communicate with the people I work with, but I would much rather be able to reach out and tickle my son or kiss my wife.
Back to the question at hand. Not only am I talking about verbal communication but it’s mostly the non-verbal communication that I miss. If you have ever loved someone you will know what I’m talking about here. There is something about looking into my wife’s eyes or looking into my son’s eyes that is unexplainable. The feeling you get from being in the same room as your family is something that you miss uncontrollably while you are gone. The non-verbal communication is the hardest to cope without. The good game tap I give my wife after she makes a meal, kissing her neck or holding her hand is all absent while you are deployed.
It is easy to think about why communication with loved ones is so difficult for us. Not only is the time difference vastly different, but our priorities change while we are deployed. There are a lot of things that happen in the States that people rave about that soldiers couldn’t possibly care less about. When you are away from family for so long and after you have been shot at a few times you come to realize the things that really matter and the things that are not worth worrying about. The one thing that is also hard for us while we are here is trying to understand what are families are going through. Trying to communicate what are families are feeling is hard. Often times we shut down and close the door before they can even knock. We often will dismiss how our thoughts or actions make our family and friends feel using the idea that what we are going through is worse and therefore we need the attention not them. Sometimes we have to take a step back and even though it is hard we need to be more selfless. Taking an extra 5 minutes to let our families get the weight of their chest will help everyone get through the deployment.
There are things that I see in the news media that I cannot believe are worth the time or money to put on air. I have been watching the news today and on every program they have brought up this GoDaddy.com commercial of a dog getting lost, finding his way home and ultimately getting sold over the internet. Animal rights activists are going BONKERS over this commercial. Why is it worth wasting money and time arguing about how wrong or right a damn commercial is? In the end GoDaddy.com does not even have to run a Super Bowl commercial because they have received so much attention already. There are so many issues that are going on around the world and even in the United States that people need to educated one. When can we start talking about that stuff? When are we going to start talking about the VA, the war in the Middle East or the murders in Africa?
It is important to talk about communication issues when we get home too. Not only is the discontent with lack of communication palpable while deployed but the surge of communication when we get home is nearly as hard to understand or cope with. When we return we are overwhelmed with trying to catch up on the things we missed. Although we can Skype and FaceTime often it’s the finer details that we miss and the finer details that you can only see and recognize in person. My son for the first 5 months I was in Qatar wanted nothing to do with me. It was nearly impossible to get him to sit down and talk with me for 5 minutes. At first it killed me because I didn’t understand. Only after a couple weeks of reading online I found that it was just a coping mechanism for him. He may have been upset or just didn’t understand why I left. He felt uncomfortable seeing his father through the iPad and not being able to play like we once could.
When I get home I fully expect there to be issues with communication between my wife and I but mostly between my son and I. My son is going to be confused where I stand in the “chain of command” at the house. He has been listening to my wife for so long that I have lost authority. It’s going to be a long process to get our ducks in a row and be able to try to pick up where we left off when I get home. I am most worried about where my wife and I stand. While my son is young and resilient my wife is more aware of the person I have become. As you have read before our marriage is very much on the rocks and the outcome is unknown. I will have to try to learn how to communicate my love and my appreciation for my wife. I need to grow and better comprehend what she needs from our relationship so I can become the husband she needs and the husband she deserves.