Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Emotional Breakdown in Wal-Mart

So I get some bogus information that all Christmas packages going overseas needed to be sent by last Thursday. Some brilliant Army wife read it in the Army Times and told the rest of us at school. Sunday night I go to Wal-Mart frantically trying to scrounge things up and settle for a stocking instead of the tree I wanted to send because I was afraid he'd get it late and then have this sad little tree for nothing. It was just too much.

Then, it happened.

I completely lost all composure in the Christmas aisle at Wal-Mart. Endless tears streaming down my face all the while I'm cussing myself out because I'm so pissed for letting go like this in public. I keep telling myself everything is going to be ok, we'll get through these holidays with no problem and then we're in the home stretch for him to come home. I was pretty darn positive up until that point. Maybe it was the fact that I felt like he had to settle for last minute crappy gifts and a stocking instead of the tree and ornaments that each of the kids had picked out just for him. Maybe it was dreading the entire experience from the start because I knew how hard it was going to be to buy things for him and have to ship them a million miles away just so he could get them 'after' Christmas. Maybe I was so dang tired that I didn't have the strength to be strong anymore. I couldn't handle it. I tried everything in my power to stop the tears but it just wasn't going to happen. As I reached the check-out I apologized profusely for my inappropriate display of emotions and explained that my soldier wouldn't be with us this Christmas and it was our first holidays to ever be apart in his 14 years in the Army. She was very nice and proceeded to tell me that what I was doing happens all the time in this town. So in the spirit of letting it all out, I cried even harder! To think that she was so used to seeing so many other military spouses crying at check out is just unbelievable to me. I guess I'm not as isolated as I often feel.

On the way home I started to calm down but I remembered thinking how crazy my friend (whose husband left 2 months ago ) was for telling me that missing the holidays was no big deal. No big deal? To our family its a very big deal. I think she is one of many spouses who becomes a little jaded because the soldier is just gone so much that they become numb. My soldier told me in an e-mail that the group he joined over there had left last November (07) and would be coming home the same time he is. I can't even imagine. I suppose after 15 months the numbness would set in at some point. It's crazy to me that there is a rotation that sends our soldiers right before the holidays and lasts through two of them and ends after they are over. Why couldn't they have started the rotation in May so that these guys/gals could get home just in time for the holidays? I guess wars don't stop for Christmas time. Then, I started to get mad. Now I just want to start throwing all of the stuff that I just bought at anything and everything and stomp on it and rip it to shreds. This whole experience is just such a mixture of emotions that some days I just don't know if I'm coming or going.
You won't believe the ending here- I show up to school Monday - package all set and ready to be mailed right after class and the idiot woman who read the article told everyone not to panic - that she read the entire article and discovered that the post office said to mail it that early if you were going to send it parcel post and not priority. FYI, I have never sent anything overseas parcel post in fear of it getting to him after he has already re-deployed. Needless to say, she is NOT one of my favorite people.
Since then I have regained my composure and gotten the tiny tree and the wonderful ornaments the kids picked out all packed up and ready to go. I just keep praying every single day that I have the strength to keep my chin up and my smile on to be the rock my kids are depending on.
If I ever needed superhuman strength, its definitely right now.


Heather said...

I don't get it when folks say it's no big deal to be apart for the holidays, either. It is a HUGE deal. My husband was deployed last year through all the major holidays and like you, I thought I was handling it pretty well. Until one day in the Christmas aisle in Target. I wasn't even thinking about it, just breezing down the row looking at stockings and ornaments when BAM! I had a full blown panic attack that came out of no where. Once I was back in my car, I realized how sad and overwhelmed I was at the thought of not being together as a family for Christmas. It sucks, it really does. Hang in there, hon! It will be over soon.

Army Wife said...

Thanks for that, Heather- I need advice from veterans of this holiday thing!

stephanie s. said...

It is a big deal, but you do have to be + and just think about the after and how you will only have a few months to go! BIG HUG going your way, and know that ppl are praying for you and your family!

Christy M. said...

It makes me so mad that one woman with some crap information cause you so much distress. I mean, I know you're already stressed and upset about being away from your Soldier during the holiday, but for her to add to that is just downright wrong. I think you know how I feel about her already ;)

I'm so glad you were able to get the little tree and special ornaments. I can only imagine how much it will mean to him when he opens that box.

My heart goes out to you this holiday season. I'll keep your family in my warm and fuzzy thoughts.

Lots of love!!

Mamalang said...

I sat in the high school auditorium practically sobbing Monday night. My hubby was home for his 4 day pass this weekend, left Sunday, flies to Kuwait this week, and I was watching my middle daughter doing something that my hubby and older daughter would have totally loved. I could not stop crying. I knew this is when it would hit me, but I don't think I was quite prepared.

We will get through it...I won't say it isn't a big deal, but we will get through.

sscrunner said...


The holidays are so important and it is always important to be with family. I guess some people don't understand the true meaining of "family." I think it is normal for you to feel this way. I have never experienced what you are going through, but you have for the most part been so strong, you deserve a good melt down.

I wish so much I could do something to make this holiday easier for you and the kids, but there is nothing anyone can do except pray and think of your family often.

He will be so excited to get your x-mas items. I would love to see the look on his face when he opens it.

Hang in there...

Lots of love!!!!!

jen said...

Not having your family with you during the holidays is a HUGE thing. My son left for Germany a couple of weeks ago from AIT and he will be gone Thanksgiving but I am praying home for Christmas. I'm a wreck just because he will be missing Thanksgiving. My grandparents (who are really getting up there in age and I fear this could be my grandfathers last holiday) will be here for Thanksgiving and we are planning a big family picture - only Blake won't be in it. ugh. The thought brings tears.

Hugs to you.

Hall Family in MD said...

((Hugs)) Glad you got to send the tree and the ornaments!

Crooked Eyebrow said...

I'm sending lots of internet hugs!
Never feel bad for breaking down.

My cousin from co. left for his tour last november(2007). Like you posted, he is there for a 15 month tour. It's almost time for his to come home!!!

Marie said...


For the veterans! This is just beautiful, hope you enjoy!!