It is interesting how something like a deployment stays with you forever. I have been home from my deployment for over eight years and last night something triggered me to have a dream about being back there. Deployment memories came rushing back. And by something I know exactly what it was, a picture of dead bodies and an article about survival that in hindsight maybe I should not have read. The dream was full of combat, team drama and hurt feelings. I only remember waking up and not wanting to go back. I ended up staying awake from the time I woke up, somewhere between 4:30 and 5, because I did not want to go back to my dream.
Most days when I look back at my deployment I remember the good stuff and try to suppress the bad stuff. There are so many positive memories from my deployment, mainly the friends I made who i continue to talk to regularly and overcoming so many challenges that I never expected to face.
My boss told me before I left to “jump; it is not as far as it looks.”
He was right and most of the time I jumped because there was no other choice. And it never was anything I could not handle. It may have looked big and scary. Like my first mission outside the wire. But once I accomplished the task I would look back and see how far I had come.
Some things were small like learning to use the radio or being a truck commander…other things were big like returning to the place we were shot at.
I never really thought much about how living in a place where you know each day could be your last can have such an effect on the rest of your life. I am not in the military anymore and most days I do not give a second thought to what it was like to be over there. But then something triggers a thought and I am reminded of what it felt like all over again.
To wonder if you would ever see your husband or parents again.
To wonder if your life will be cut short and all those dreams and plans be left unaccomplished.
Maybe I am over dramatic
But all those feelings were there inside me each day as I got ready for work, prepared for a mission, worked out at the gym, hung out with friends, got ready for bed. Deployment memories. Always there. Knowing you are in a dangerous place and you do not know what will happen wears on you. Something small will trigger your deployment memories hidden deep inside to come flooding back and it will seem like you left that Afghanistan only hours ago instead of years.
Another reminder, I am not who I was before I left and never will be the same. I have changed, grown stronger and will continue to move forward. And I will jump when I need to because I know it is not as far as it looks.