Monday, November 01, 2010

how can I properly say thanks

Yesterday I did absolutely the wrong thing, and basically yelled (via email) at a pen pal that I developed through this blog because she has been too nice to me. I got another care/package from her and I got frustrated at her for all the nice things that she has done for me. Unfortunately she was received the brunt end of my frustration at all the support that I have received from many different, and sometimes random families. What made me mad was that I have no way in which I feel that I can properly say thanks to her and others for their kindness, other than to write a card or email and say thanks. This to me just seems wrong. Perhaps most troubling is that I do not feel that I have done nothing to warrant her, for lack of a better phrase, love and affection. I have trouble seeing and accepting how me working and living in Afghanistan makes me anymore special than someone's neighbor down the street.
I for the most part, and most of the time, enjoy what I do as a soldier and enjoy being deployed. So I tell others that being deployed is easy when you enjoy what you do. I do not feel special, unique, or in need of praise because of my job here. I also am very fortunate, that while I do go outside the wire on missions, I have never gotten shot at engaged by the enemy. Nor have I ever lost a friend or associate in war. The guys who are getting shot at, or have lost friends; those are the true heroes and ones deserving of praise and gifts in the mail.
I used to really enjoy watching the TV show M.A.S.H., and still do when I happen to find it on, and a couple lines from that show I always seem to recall. Klinger to Radar, "Hey what are you so happy about, the only smiling faces I see around here are outside the latrine (toilet)." I always thought that was funny, because that often is the truth around here. The other line was from a Christmas episode in which I believe Hawkeye is narrating a letter he is writing to his father. Where he basically states, "The more they try to make it like home, the more it makes everyone homesick."
The second always really sticks out with me. Try as we may to try and fool ourselves, the fact is that we are still deployed. I have mentioned to others that while I have never been to prison, being deployed in some respect a lot like going to prison; only the guards are pointed the other direction. So I try not to get too wrapped up (no pun intended) in Christmas time. Whether it is Christmas, the 5th of May, or there is a sale at Penny's, we still have to show up and go to work every morning while we are deployed. Most offices try and rotate their soldiers so that they have at least one day a week off; if their one day a week happens to fall on a holiday then they luck out. Otherwise it is work as usually. Along those same lines, while I greatly appreciate and treasure all the care packages I receive, one of the most frustrating lines (for me at least) is a note inside stating that I hope that 'fill in the blank' can give you a little taste of home or feel more like home. The more I or others try to make it like home, the more I miss home. I think part of the reason I let my frustration out on my pen pal, was that it is almost impossible for me to do anything more than just say 'THANKS' to her and the others that have sent me care packages.
One of the things that does suck about being deployed is that I am totally removed from many normal American interactions and activities. I am the type of person that feels a bit uncomfortable about receiving gifts and not being able to properly say Thank You. So not being able to run down to a store and pick up a descent thank you card, an appropriate gift in exchange for the kindness of others has been a bit frustrating.
So for all the care packages I get, I try to send a thank you note or email to let you know that I have received your care package. I will admit though for a couple families I think that I missed sending a proper 'thanks' mostly because I may have received a couple boxes at the same time and over looked, or I returned from being in the field and in my haste to open the box I discarded or misplaced the return address. Sometimes though if my thank you note does seem a bit short, please forgive me as I am quite likely at a loss of words to say thanks for your act of kindness and generosity. Occasionally I have a tough time accepting that others would want to send me something simply because I am somewhere where they are not.
Once again to all the different friends and families who have shown me some form of support during this an my past deployments thanks for all that you do to try and make our jobs easier.


Paxford said...

Thank you for your thoughts on this. It's interesting to hear it from the side of the receiver.

I have a few "adopted" soldiers (via Soldiers' Angels). I try to stress to them that anything I send (cards, letters, goodies) are because I feel the need to reach out beyond my life to someone who may be in need of friendship & an ocassional laugh. Return obligations are hopefully not worrying them [I'll ask them next time we email or catch up online - just so they know]

Stay safe... God bless and prayers sent your way.


Bag Blog said...

When someone gives you something, or compliments you, etc, it really is enough to just say "thank you." Soldiers' Angels are told to keep sending letters and packages whether their soldier ever replies. Most of the time the SA are not ever thanked or acknowledged, but it goes a long ways when they are.