When The Line Between Reality & Surreal Becomes Blurred

The other day I was giving some thought to life beyond Iraq. It seems like I have been living here so long that life beyond the sandbox has become surreal. I don’t even know when that happened, it was so long ago. We all say we are excited about coming home, and that is true, but in the same breath that we declare our excitement, we are also nervous. We express our joy at returning to those things that we left behind but anxious if it will still be the same. I have lost contact with myself. I am not even sure who that is anymore.

I have been living in another life time another dimension so separate from the world I left behind that I fear I may never really find my way back. Will those I love be able to accept me if I was not the exact person they knew. Would they be angry with me for the loss of my innocence. Will they understand the person I have become, the new needs I require. If I turn left, when they are used to me going right will they make the new turn with me, or stay on the old path, and we become separated, even for a moment. Detached now from who I was, I do not really even know who I am right now. When I first arrived here I was able to separate the two worlds. Things were distinct and traveling back and forth was easy. I was able to rationalize my behavior as two separate and distinct personalities. Now that line almost doesn’t exist. Living, working, breathing and being overwhelmed by the environment and those in it, I have found their personalities meshing with mine. A composite of characters that would rival Sybil. Cast adrift, living in the moment, my vision never wanders far from little box here. One moment I thinking of home, my husband and kids, I miss them, my heart heavy; then in a flash the drama of life here disrupts my moment of longing and I am quickly teleported to another dimension, one in which all the players are living in that same moment of time existence. This may seem distorted to those who have never experience this, I know that my wildest of imagination never produced me living like this, but within the box, things are real. The people, the sights, sounds, the soap opera drama, it is all real to me. I can touch it, feel it, be surrounded by it. Home… it is a dream, an imaginary world. It is like that tropical vacation you have always wanted to take. You close your eyes and escape to the vacation place in your mind, and though it brings you happiness you know it is just beyond your reach. Then you open your eyes to reality and go back to the mundane work at your desk.

I hate talking about my feelings. One, it is viewed as weakness, something I cannot tolerate within myself. The second is, what is perceived as sharing feeling by one, can be misinterpret as “whining” by another. That is one thing I will not have others see me as… whining about anything. Some people here say that my posts are too dramatic, and become lost in the symbolism. Some have stated a resentment at the attention the website sometimes gets, because I confess I am not always the poster child of the U.S. Army. I am just a soldier, experiencing and finding my way through my first deployment. When I was arrived I sought to please everyone, and that a good sense of humor and respect would carry me through this. I thought if I just worked as hard as I could then everyone would see that and somehow I would be above the “infighting” that exist in any unit that lives, works, plays, and breathes together 24/7. I thought people would say ‘go get “Wilks” she’ll get it done. Not that everyone else couldn’t have done just as good, just that people would see me as sort of that “worker bee” and accept me. See, I struggle a little with the fact that I am older than 80% (+) of those around me. With no real common bond, and set in my ways, I didn’t know how I was going to fit in.…hell I don’t even know who Snoop Ditty Dog.. or whoever is. The soldiers around me are looking to go places in life I have already been and left behind. I felt and feel very old. Crap, I have people giving me orders who are barely older than my son. After a while, I felt lonely and isolated and tried to fit in, and as many of those who are deployed with me here know, I have made my share of mistakes along the way. Most soldiers my age are senior NCO’s or officers, and have learned along the way and have much to offer, but because of my rank, I don’t fit in. I only share life’s experiences with them, not military structure. I work hard. That is the most important thing to me, that is the only way I know. I feed off recognition. I have always been that way. I will charge a dozen insurgents in an ambush with nothing more than my utility tool, smiling and thanking the NCO who ordered me to do it, not even arguing back (which will be a surprise to some here) all for the simple knowledge that in the aftermath they will acknowledge that I did it. I know, not the best personality type to have in the Army. But that is me. Tell me “good job Wilks, thanks” and the next time you ask me to do something I will try even harder because I know I have to work harder than last time to get the same recognition. Hand me a roll of toilet paper with the words “Thanks” on it and it gets its own little place on my shelf and makes my month. That’s just how I operate, and I guess I am too old to change. So I will probably be doing a lot of corrective training.

I figure I would bring this post to a close with a photo of me during a happier time. In my mind and in my actions I sometimes forget she exists, buried in order to survive a year here. But in my heart I know she is alive and waits the freedom bird that will take us home so she can be set free from her exile.


5 Responses to “When The Line Between Reality & Surreal Becomes Blurred”

  1. Greg Pressey Says:

    Thanks for the feelings. I can picture the sand and heat but your thoughts are what make it real. I wouldn’t worry about your soulmate. So he may have a new person to fall in love with all over again, it will work, you both know the ways of the world and can roll with life’s punches. Play safe. Sincerest Regards and Admiration.

  2. The Thunder Run Says:

    Web Reconnaissance for 06/14/2006…

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention….

  3. Momma Kat in GA Says:

    *hugs* We appreciate you and all you do for our country… as always, you do remain in our thoughts & prayers. *more hugs*


    Momma Kat
    Loganville GA
    Proud Web of Support Mom :)

  4. Steve Schalock Says:

    Nailed it, Eagle!!!

    6 Months back… still finding who the “new me” is.

    You have a great partner! Hang on, get back - then sleep all you can, sleep more (you haven’t had normal sleep since you heard you were deploying. Then, start creating a new life. You are a different person. Grey Eagle is a different person. Your children are different people. It’s a different world. Not bad, not good… just different.

    Start over - build on the foundation of those who love you, and you love. Now you know what is important!!! The rest of “the world” may seem not to. No matter… sleep, heal, build a new life.

    You are blessed! You have a family to hold you up, a family that needs you - that gives you a reason to go on, if for no other reason than to bless them with your being YOU!!!

    You’ll be out of the sandbox soon, and on to your next life!

    Take pictures of the boring, routine stuff. Everyone has pictures of the exciting stuff, but the routine… you wish you had them - no one does.

    I can’t thank you enough for your sharing your soul. I know some of what you are going through. It’s a great comfort to hear someone else echo (better than I could) many of the struggles.

    God Bless you!
    Hang in there. It will end.

    SSG Schalock

  5. Lisa Says:

    12 years ago, Hubby was in the Navy on a 6month deployment and then had 3 months till his ETS date. We decided to have him finish his Navy commitment and for me to build a life in our hometown.

    He was only gone for 6-7 months but he was a different person when he returned; more cynical. I finished college and had just started my career I became more independant and self-absorbed.

    The first 3 months we lived together after his tour ended were difficult; but we saw the beauty in what the other had grown into and built a life together. We have carried that approach into our 30s and it has been successful; not easy. But very satisfying.

    I know you know this but; as every major life transistion requres adjustment and if it handled well it make your family stronger. You understand this and your marriage will thrive as a result of it. This is the advantage of being 30 something as ooposed to 20 something. :)

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