While They Serve
By Edie Melson

Runaway Emotions

My son’s two deployments were difficult times, for a lot of reasons. Of course I missed him and worried about him. I expected, even anticipated those issues. What I didn’t expect was the runaway state of my emotions.

I am not normally a crier. It’s not a judgment on those who are–it’s just not the way I’m wired. God knew what He was doing when He gifted us with three boys. In our home if the boys wanted sympathy, they were much more likely to find it from their father rather than me.

My motto when they were growing up is now part of our family folklore, “No blood, no tears.” (Is it any wonder one of our boys chose the Marine Corps?)

Edie and her son Jimmy at his second deployment.So my tendency to break down into inconsolable sobbing for no apparent reason really threw my guys for a loop. I have to confess that it rattled me as well. I’d always taken pride in being strong, no matter what life threw my way. Then life tossed my son’s deployment at me.

I remember one time specifically. I’d been cleaning out the hundreds of movies we’d accumulated in the family room. I sat in the middle of the floor surrounded by stacks of movies sorted into give away, donate or throw out.

But as I worked my way back in time with the movies as a guide, the tears began to flow. Each animated film brought back memories of my boys as children. When my husband finally found me I was clutching Robin Hood to my chest and sobbing. I ended up keeping every single movie that day.

And it wasn’t just the surroundings at home that could trigger a response.

I was frequently ambushed by flowing tears when I was out and about. The post office and grocery store seemed to be particularly dangerous sites. There was just something about Cheerios and mailing packages that opened the floodgates of my emotions every single time.

I finally began to find ways to cope with my unsteady emotions. Here are some that helped the most.

  • Accept that the emotions are coming, often over the most inconsequential things.
  • Give yourself grace when the tears flow. You don’t win any medals by not crying. Getting the emotions out helped me to be stronger, even though it felt like the weak thing to do.
  • Let people know what’s going on. I learned early on that a quick sentence containing the words "son," "deployed," and "war" were the only explanation I needed to offer.

Now it’s your turn. What things triggered emotions when your soldier was deployed? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.

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