Jonathan is 3.5 months into his deployment. (Not that I’m counting. Jonathan once told me that “countdowns” only make deployments more exasperating. And I would never try to over-exasperate myself.) Which naturally means I spent my weekend finishing and shipping my Christmas care packages, and lulling my migraine in and out of violent fits of nausea with various medications. And I want everybody to know that I made it through a 2.5-day migraine (not that I was counting that, either) without vomiting even once.
I have a history of being bad at dealing with stress. Extremely bad at dealing with stress. My doctors have hypothesized that my migraines might dwindle away substantially if I work on getting a handle over all my stress. Oh, okay. Now that you’ve told me I’m too stressed, I’ll totally just stop being stressed. THANKS FOR EQUIPPING ME WITH THAT MAGIC, DOCTOR HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF OBVIOUS. So now the stress of knowing I’m going to get a migraine when I stress just adds more stress to the already-there stress and, before I know it, what began as an annoying headache has turned into a scene from “Rosemary’s Baby,” except instead of harboring the child of Satan in my pregnant belly, I’m harboring the triplet children of Satan in my forehead.
If you also suffer from migraines, you will probably agree that the above is not hyperbole.
A significant amount of my trepidation about pursuing a relationship with Jonathan was due to my inability to handle everyday stresses gracefully. For example, if the store is out of my brand of mascara when I go to pick some up, I COMPLETELY LOSE MY SHIT. Another good example: A few days ago I tried to vacuum my room at the same time the washer was running in the laundry room, which shorted out the electricity in my apartment, and I spent the next half hour stomping from room to room, half-screaming and half-crying, flipping all the breaker switches on and off rapidly until the one connected to my vacuum plug started going again. Everybody in my apartment really likes me. In my defense, the breaker switches aren’t labeled. Except for the sump pump one. Which I was conscientious enough in my rage to avoid. You’re welcome, apartment.
Anyway, now that my carpets are vacuumed, I recognize that these are not actually tragic things. On a scale of things-that-should-stress-you-out, mascara and vacuum cleaners shouldn’t tip much weight. And, when I met Jonathan, I was fully aware that my instincts told me to respond to little annoyances with overreacted dramatics; so how on earth was I going to respond to a deployment? If I go into hysterics when I realize I’ve missed my credit card payment by one day, how could I go stretches of time not even knowing if he was alive? I was positive that the second I allowed myself to have feelings for Jonathan, I would crumble to pieces. Which is exactly what happened.
And, some days still, it happens all over again.
I sometimes refer to Jonathan as “my big bottle of Xanax,” because he has a narcotic-like ability to soothe the constant sense of stress and urgency I naturally put myself under. And despite having maybe overreacted to that vacuum cleaner thing a few days ago, how I manage stress today is a world of improvement over how I managed stress three years ago (vodka), or in college (fits of insomnia followed by fits of hyperactivity), or in high school (black eyeliner).
But it’s still a learning process. Which means there’s still an ongoing struggling process; especially since I’m still trying to avoid the overuse of vodka, sleeping pills, and black eyeliner (I’m doing better at some than at others). Which means that, sometimes, all the stress I have willed myself to magically just “get a handle over” reminds me that it’s still hanging out, swimming its way up to my face, to ruin my entire fucking weekend.
When I got back from dropping my Christmas care packages off at the post office Saturday morning, my weekend migraine fate was sealed. An annoying thing about sending care packages and also having a regular office-type job is that Saturday morning is the only time I can get to the post office without taking off work. And I found out the hard way during Jonathan’s first deployment that UPS and FedEx absolutely do not ship to APOs in Afghanistan (they are, however, happy to let you pay for all the packaging you just used to prepare to ship care packages from their store, even though you’ll have to re-package them at the post office). Since I tend to send baked goods, which go bad the longer they sit in your kitchen waiting for the post office to open, this means all my care package baking and packaging needs to be done between Friday night and Saturday morning. This is my official petition for extended USPS hours during the holidays. I buy a lot of stamps, so they should listen to me.
The great thing about migraines is that, when you have them, moving your head and/or face around a lot makes you want to aggressively vomit up everything you’ve ever eaten. So I took advantage of my limited face movement by parking myself on a couch and spending the better part of 48 hours making crafts that involved as little movement as possible.
Two pairs of ear warmers later, my migraine was still thumping dully, but at least I had a plan to keep my face warm all winter.
And as for the stress…it’s still thumping dully as well. I doubt it will ever go away. And for the next 5.5 months (NOT THAT I’M COUNTING, BECAUSE JONATHAN TOLD ME NOT TO SO I’M TOTALLY NOT COUNTING), it will ache the same way it’s aching now. But when it’s over, it will be replaced by the ache of leaving my family, leaving my job, and leaving my home for a new home. And as long as my new home is stocked with my favorite brand of mascara, I have a feeling I’ll be okay.