We became acquainted in 2001, when I was a young Lieutenant and my husband was a Captain. That winter, you won, only because you had multiple train wrecks going through my life, and mostly because I allowed you to win. By your victory, you forever embedded in me a lower self-esteem, and the inability to see that I could conquer you. You struck again in 2004. My son was newly born, a new war was happening in Iraq, and the other war in Afghanistan had not yet been completed. Again you not only soundly beat me, but you took many others down as well. You separated families, caused divorces, lost friendships, death, and major destruction where ever you went. Just when I thought we were done with your foul ass, you came back again in 2006. This time you brought reinforcements—memories of past deployments, an autism diagnosis, and a brand new baby girl, and again you won. There was a long time before you reared your ugly head again.
In that time, I forgot you even existed. We got used to being a family, we moved three times, each successive move, you loomed in the distance waiting, biding your time, when you would strike again. You struck again in January 2013, with a notification of orders after New Years. We had almost four months to prepare for you, and prepare I did. Like a battle-tested soldier, I prepared myself with an arsenal of supportive friends, a liquor cabinet full of wine, and a XXX-day plan to reinvent myself. I read Eat, Pray, Love, and decided that I didn’t need to have an adult tantrum, get a divorce, fly to Italy, followed by another trip to India, and capping off my journey in Bali; to find out what my purpose in this world is. Unlike that author, I have children, I know what I want, and I don’t need to eat a shit load of pasta, take a vow of silence, and fall in love in Bali to discover my life’s truth. After the first three deployments, I decided that you were not going to win again. You were not going to rob me of my self-esteem, rob me of my confidence, and rob my children of a happy, carefree summer. I decided to stand up and say, fuck you Deployment. Fuck you, fuck the horse you rode in on, fuck the grass the horse ate, and fuck the trail of shit that followed the horse you rode in on.
Sure there will be dark days and lonely nights. There will be broken appliances, cars in the shop, sick children, misbehaving children, and adult tantrums. There will be hours and days were I wish I didn’t take vow of abstinence from alcohol. You will rob me of Mother’s Day, of Father’s Day, of my Anniversary, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Most of those aren’t really holidays anyway, and I will wish you never happened into my life. But I will persevere, and you will not.
In 180 days, you will be nothing, but a bad memory; a spot on my Facebook Timeline, you are like Justin Beiber. You make headlines, do stupid shit, and at the end of the day you will be forgotten, wrote off, and laughed at. You will not defeat me, because I’m stronger than you. My marriage is stronger than you; my children are stronger than you; and I am stronger than you, Deployment. I have the upper hand against you. You are a piece of paper with the number XXX. I’m a living breathing being.
Do you know how you will be defeated? Do you know how you will come to an end? I am alive, and I will continue to live through you. I will not stop my life, because you are here. I will not spend my days sad and alone. I will not allow my children to suffer, because of you. I will live, and you don’t live, you are a piece of paper, numbers on a calendar. Each passing day pieces of you are ripped up, thrown away or burned. Unlike the last three times you were here, you will not take a piece of my heart, a part of my life with you to hell. I will be intact, and you will be destroyed. And the very thought of your demise puts a smile on my face.
Today, your demise will be by way of the beach. I will run on the sand, soak up the sun’s rays, swim amongst the waves with the dolphins, and laugh at your futile efforts to defeat me. Good luck to you, Deployment, I look forward to the challenge these next XXX-days. May the best woman win, and since you are a piece of paper with numbers on it, and not a woman, I have the upper hand. So take your sorry ass, and go ruin someone else’s life. As the song says, “If I’d known for just one second you’d be back to bother me; go on now, go, walk out the door, just turn around now; ‘cause you’re not welcome anymore; weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye? Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die? Oh no, not I, I will survive; Oh as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive; I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give, And I will survive.”
Jodi M. Vetter
Mrs. Lieutenant Colonel, CINC House (just kidding)