During deployments, and even just short underways, sailors stop off at various and sundry ports, where they have the opportunity to get away from ship life for a little while - usually at most a few days - see the sights, witness the culture, and oh yeah, get wasted.
While I love that they're able to make these stops and get some down time when they are working 7-day weeks with unreasonable hours and undue stress, it's always bittersweet to hear from DH when he makes these port visits. Amid the joyful voices and celebratory planning is my own poisonous streak of bitterness, twining between my words, wending its way through phone lines and the ether separating us.
When is my port visit? When do I get downtime, time away from the stress, where I'm not on call 24/7 with the kids and work and cleaning and life in general?
I always feel immediate guilt. His own stress must be incredible, not to mention inescapable when you're floating in the middle of the ocean on a big piece of steel. But he chose this life. I didn't. In fact, I begged him to throw this life over in favor of his family. I wanted a life with a true partner, a husband and father to our children, not the life of a single mom bereft of the minute freedoms of single motherhood.
Then he calls or e-mails or text messages (if he's in the US) with blow-by-blow details of his escapades. I hear after the fact about opportunities for tawdriness that he passed up, I hear about drunken escapades, I get pictures of revelry in a Russian bar in Hong Kong where they have to don fur coats to take shots of vodka in a deep freezer. And the bitterness wells up, overflows, and hardens into a coat of tinny armor over my skin. I head for bed or a shower or a last-minute cleaning session before the day ends and try to forget that he's gallivanting about some foreign city, surrounded by a festive attitude, while I pray that my kids make it through the night without starting up another pukefest.
The next day, I wake up slightly less optimistic that I'll make it through this deployment or underway in one piece, and hope that it isn't obvious to the rest of the world how close I am to cracking.
The long one about failure.
3 days ago