It’s insidious. The way it creeps along into your life. Heightened heart rates, elevated blood pressure. Sweat dripping down your face and simultaneously making your palms clammy. Roiling stomach that is only trumped by the turmoil in your mind. The sense that you can’t quite fully breathe. Never mind sleep, tossing and turning as you run through the source ad nauseum until seeing straight is a distant memory.
B is about to start a stress academy. A school specifically designed to take you to your breaking point and shove you blithely past it. Training meant to find your bottom and figure out how to work from there.
I’m not sure what to expect. The instructors promised us all that we’ve never seen stress like this. But, truthfully I wonder.
Stress like being in the middle of a major inspection, three days after getting engaged and finding out that you’re moving internationally in less than five weeks and if you want to take your spouse you’d better find someone who can marry you asap, but not today because of the inspection and probably not tomorrow, but early next week as long as you don’t get caught in an exercise that you can’t leave.
Stress like making your second international move in eighteen months only to have major housing woes followed by being put in charge of not one but two deaths in the squadron in less than a month. Calling the families to arrange the shipping of belongings, discover any debts, and attempt to assuage the grief. All while trying to keep the people under you at the height of readiness due to the biggest inspection possible, operating on nowhere close to enough sleep, and under a commander who hates you? Throw in some family/friend deaths on top of it, just because all of that was clearly not enough on it’s own.
Stress like being asked to do something illegal by your boss and knowing that everyone else is doing it yet refusing because that’s not who you are? Filing official complaints about it only to watch it get mishandled for months on end before finally, the people guilty of the crime not only didn’t get punished but got rewarded?
We’ve seen stress. We’ve stayed up late at night tossing and turning. We’ve cried. We’ve yelled. We’ve questioned our own strength and sanity. We’ve always come through to the other side.
Yesterday, they told me it must be stressful – him getting the job offer and having just over two weeks to relocate and start work. Finding a place to live that will take the dogs. Getting both cars into the state. Starting the search for a job. I managed not to laugh. Instead I thought of the two young men we sent home for burial and shrugged. Stress, for me personally, will always be held in perspective.