Thin, vague line.

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I’m in a very odd place right now.

Jason’s been home almost two months, so I suppose that I would consider us readjusted. There are still a few things (mostly on my end), but other than that, it feels like he never left.
That being said, I feel as though I’m trying to figure out who I am again.
Through the course of these wars, I’ve developed two different fronts. My “normal” front, and my “deployment mode.” These two cannot coexist peacefully; I’m either one or the other. Right now, these two are battling for supremacy and the only space between them is a thin, very vague line.
When Jason is home, I guess we can call this “normal.” I try to be a good person. I try really hard to be kind, go the extra mile, look the other way and turn the other cheek when someone hurts me. I try really hard to be graceful, the kind of woman my grandmother and my mother would be proud of. You know the whole, “remember your manners,” or “you’re better than stooping to their level,” mentality. Hey, now stop laughing, I said I try not succeed. The two things are vastly different. But there’s a lot about me that Jason tempers, when I’m upset, he takes care of whatever’s irking me, or he makes me laugh so hard I forget what I was cranky about. I do the same for him. We balance each other out. I also know that when I’m upset, it makes him doubly upset, so I try very hard to keep my feelings to a manageable level. Hell hath no fury like a pissed off Jason. But that’s when he’s home. When he’s gone, all bets are off.
When Jason is gone, so is the even-tempered wife. In her place is a very antsy, anxious plate-spinner. You know, the show-off who runs between spinning plates, keeping them all perfectly spinning and balanced on those little poles. Well, my plates often fall, but the big ones kept spinning just fine. I’m a control freak when Jason is gone. I have to know the status of every bank account, the contents of the pantry, the exact schedule of where the boys are supposed to be at any given moment. This does not mean that I’m nice. During deployment, I have little tolerance for anyone who feels the need to be anything less than nice to me. I have no room for unkind remarks, no time for those who do not make time for our family. If you make me drop one of my spinning plates I’ll make you eat off it.
But something worse seemed to happen to me during this deployment. Somewhere along the way, I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but my switch flipped from “deployment mode” to “don’t mess with me or I’ll go medieval on you” mode. I dropped people like the bad habits they were. I identified my biggest sources of stress, of worry and I just snipped those neat little threads that were hanging and cut them loose. I stopped being nice to people just because it was the right thing to do, and I started speaking my mind to those who intentionally or unintentionally hurt me. I lost my cool more than a few times, and the worst part is that I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt for it. I may not have been graceful, but I certainly wasn’t a doormat.
But now this deployment is over, so where is my little nice, mellow, personality? I picture her somewhere in my mind, locked in a Monet-style little meadow of daisies, playing along in the flowers while mean, Deployment Mode Rebecca holds the key at the door firmly locked. (That would make a great Barbie, by the way; I can hear it now, “comes with referee whistle, mug of coffee on 3rd refill, skype permanently open on the laptop and overbooked calender.) Its almost as if I’m afraid to let the nice version back out. After all, “normal” is only here for another 17 months before he’s gone again and “deployment mode” rears her ugly head.
Here’s the thing though. Where is that thin, vague line between being an outright wench, being graceful, and being a doormat? That line seems to be getting more and more blurred for me. I can’t even tell which section I’m in anymore a lot of the time. I figure if I’m going out of my way for someone I know would do the same for me, then it’s grace, and love, and so very worth it. But when time and time again, you’re doing things for people who could care less or wouldn’t do the same, then it’s doormat time, yes? To many times I’ve been the one standing with a sign that says “Hi, I’m Mat,” as I received the short end of the stick.
Luckily, Jason finds this all rather amusing. Mostly because I usually save my sharp tongue for him by retelling some story and saying “I wish I’d had the nerve to say…” (insert clever retort here), and he responds with “well, why didn’t you?” So now he’s sitting back and watching me deliver punches (to other people, let’s remember that Jason is perfect…) with a perplexed grin on his face. But he knows I’m struggling to either get myself back to my “normal” state or develop who I am now. He’s remarkably understanding about it all.
Can one year really change someone so very much? I suppose, when you’re 1800 miles away from home and go through the immense, well… crap that we did for last year, then, yes. So now, I’m trying to step back and gauge the merit of my reactions. I’m not biting the head off the doctor who misdiagnosed Brody, or the chick who took 15 minutes to fill a white chocolate mocha order at Starbucks, but I am putting my foot down and saying that you’d better treat me how you’d like me to treat you, because I’m done one-way-streeting it here. Maybe that’s really what grace is, defining yourself with poise, courage, and kindness all while keeping true to what you deserve as a person. Now if only that personality would ring the doorbell and join me, that would be great.
So, like I said before, I’m in an odd place. Trying to reconcile who I was when he left, with who I became while he was gone, and become truly happy with who I am now before we have to endure another deployment. I’m trying to figure out where the line is between grace and doormat, and it’s not always as clear as you’d think. If you were one of the strings that stayed, it’s because you’re awesome, and supportive. If you’re one that got cut, well, that says it all. I’m navigating this thin, vague line as best as I can with no apologies and no regrets. Please note, the doormat is located next to the door, where you’ll be seeing yourself out if you choose to use me like one. Oh, and don’t let the door hit you…

One Comment on “Thin, vague line.”

  1. Lillian

    First and foremost, you should get a lot of credit for being so self-aware. Not a lot of people are willing to examine their inner thoughts and feelings as much as you do, and the fact that you do so with such eloquence is a great accomplishment.Secondly, although I obviously have no idea what it's like to go through a deployment, I do think it's possible for a year to change someone in ways they never expected. I came back from a year in the Middle East being *much* less doormat-esque and *much* more willing to let someone know they'd pissed me off – and, like you, it kind of freaked me out at first. I eventually accepted that while some people will take my lack of tolerance for BS as me being a b*tch, those who know me will appreciate the fact that I'm not as docile as I was before. I suspect the same will be true for you: those who know you and support you will be happy to see you putting people in their (much-deserved) place. Lastly (and I apologize for writing such a ridiculously long comment), even if you take no crap from anyone, it doesn't make you any less gracious. You're still filled with the grace, compassion, and kindness your mom and grandmother are so proud of – you're just more selective about who gets to benefit from those traits. Ain't nothin' wrong with that. More power to you, my friend. 🙂

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