It's not always easy...just ask us, Mr. and Mrs. Stress

I didn't anticipate Mark's return to be easy as pie. I knew there would be adjustments as we trudled along through the holidays but reality is setting in as we return to our routines. I did not get back the man I sent to Afghanistan 8 months ago.

As a couple, life would be hard enough when you’ve spent 21 months apart. But on top of all that, Mark and I know that in 4 months, we’ll be apart again when I likely move to Vancouver to start my new life as a civilian until I can transition back to Toronto after a few years of proving myself. I’ve struggled with the decision to move because it feels selfish and perhaps even a little idealistic, but in the publishing/writing business, hell….in any business these days, you need to go where you have the possibility of a job. Vancouver has given me the hope of chasing my dream. I know that if I don’t actually chase it, I will live a life so dangerously full of regret.

So yes, it’s a bit stressful in the Thompson/Atkins household. Every decision feels haunted by the idea of only having a few short days left together before we go back to a life of separateness. I was considering going away for the weekend but that meant 48 hours away from Mark that we know we won’t be getting back. Counting down the moments together has become such an exhausting way to live.

On top of that, as expected, Mark is extremely on edge after his tour. He’s forgetful. I walk behind him closing all cupboard doors, shutting drawers, drawing all the curtains and tidying up after him…and occasionally, getting sort of angry about it. Mark snaps at me sometimes about small things but then quickly apologizes a short while later. Some days, he is the sunny soul I remember. Other times, I’m still searching for him. I try to remain patient because I know he’s had more important things to think about over the last 8 months and so the minutia of mundane household things is negligible to him.

And then in other moments, he can’t seem to do enough for me. He wants to make my tea, cook all the dinners, and do all the laundry. But then I want to scream, I’M A BIG GIRL!! I’ve been home, coping with life that continues go on, even when he is gone. Didn’t I do it all myself? Hadn’t I survived flooded basements, knee surgeries and the death of my dear Duncan all on my own? Aren’t I strong and in the military too? I don’t need a man to save me!

I’m reading what I’ve written here and I’m realizing that we both have a long way to go before we’re fully able to welcome each other home. I’m thankful that this week, I’ll be seeing the social worker to see how I can adjust my attitude to make things easier. And I’m thankful that I have access to that social worker.

All we can do as Mark and I adjust is cognizant of the fact that we’re having a hard time with it and we need to take the steps to make things better.

Now, if we didn’t want to make the effort, that’s when I would worry.