Saturday, April 16, 2011

Separation Anxiety

In another life, I was the wife of a naval officer. As such, I was subjected to separations of six months or more at a time. Because I was an Army brat before I was a Navy wife, I was familiar with the affects of these hails and farewells.

I was generally unaffected by the absences of my former husband. I was raising a son and trying to finish college between sorties and relocations. Besides,  my former husband and I did not have the type of relationship that found me seated on a widow’s wharf awaiting his return. I left that to the other, “weaker” wives. Somewhere in the transition from army brat to navy wife, I adopted pragmatism about military life that trumped the emotional distress that I observed in my peers. I lacked the patience and sympathy required to “now, now” my sister military wives each time a ship departed and returned. Our husbands were gone. And life would go on. If all went well, they would return. And the cycle would begin again.

Fast forward to 2011. The love of my life is away on an extended business trip and I find myself experiencing the “psychology of deployment”. Every emotion that I mocked or refused to let in all of those years ago has swept over me in waves of passionate and tearful sentiment. I have never missed another human being the way I am missing this man. My soul is surprised to find that my pragmatic sensibilities have let my heart have its way. I am in unfamiliar emotional territory, remembering the patterns that defined and affected my military neighbors each time a sailor set sail.

The psychology behind separation begins in the malaise that I am experiencing in my lover’s absence. In time, the veil of this dim light that hovers over me will lift. I am not wallowing in this grey haze; I am aware of its presence and allowing it to pass in its own time.

Eventually, the melancholy will give way and I will return to a routine that allows me to miss my lover and once again enjoy both personal and professional productivity. And just as I settle into a routine that makes his absence manageable, I will experience the euphoria of his return; it will be predicated by the announcement of the date of his arrival and followed by his homecoming. Then all will be well in my world once again.

That I am writing this post means that I have turned a corner.

To my former sister military wives: I am sorry for judging your temperament toward separation as weakness. If there was or is weakness in separation anxiety, it is rooted in our love for our men. I know that now. I could not relate to it then, but I emphatically and passionately understand it today.

Once, a navy wife asked me to write a poem celebrating her husband’s return. I didn’t understand the sentiment of the poem when I created it for her, but I understand it now. I leave it here for you to ponder…

”eternity it seems, welcome home…”


Navy Wife’s Welcome

A day is coming when the grey steel
and salty blue waters which separated us
will return you to me;
eternity it seems, welcome home.

Signs on the pier and in the sky
cannot express the joy within me;
my heart has found its way to shore;
eternity it seems, welcome home.

Pier side I will search for you,
enduring meaningless conversation
with others who have waited.
After waves and smile to acquaintances--
there you are;
eternity it seems, welcome home.

What next?  Stare in disbelief--
I wait for you to speak;
a hug;
hold me--
a kiss;
touch me;
eternity it seems, welcome home.

Heading home we play catch up,
revealing the topics of letters not yet received;
“he said”, “she said” and the like--
neither admitting distraction;
eternity it seems, welcome home.

Not wishing to be hasty,
we cross our threshold--
still chatting and secretly anticipating
our bodies touching once again;
eternity it seems, welcome home.

Our hearts beat as if it were
the very first time;
your absence has been our foreplay--
Enter in;
I missed you--
I’ll show you;
eternity it seems, welcome home.

each movement is a tribute
to our unity and destiny.
Your jaw tightens;
your lips pursed--
one final thrust;
you look into my eyes--
and we’re there;
eternity it seems, welcome home.

© 1993 Camille Gray. All rights reserved.