Saturday, October 27, 2018

Day 20

Today was day 17 since the 3rd most powerful hurricane to make landfall in US history buzz-sawed through north Florida. And day 20 that the State Emergency Operations Center was activated in response to it.

I've worked 11 to 16 hour shifts 19 of of those 20 days. And the one day that I took off was such a disaster that even though I had the chance to take another one off tomorrow I decided against it. I don't mean the day I took off was a disaster for anyone else — just for me personally. 

I have this weird thing where if I get into a rhythm with something intense, it's really hard for me to stop, even when all apparent evidence would suggest that I need to take a break. As long as I keep going I'm fine. It's the moment I stop that I go to pieces. 

I don't really understand why this is. I usually have no trouble with large amounts of free time. I even seek it out. And I'm not a workaholic. If anything, I tend to generally be more worried that I'm lazy and lack motivation. But there are times when I really can't stop. 

When I was in the Middle East for just shy of two years, I didn't come back to visit the US once during the entire duration — even when one of my grandparents passed away. This wasn't really because it was against my organization's rules, or because I couldn't afford it, as I variously told people. In reality, it was because I knew that once I got back to family, and security and normalcy, I would fall apart. 

That's how I feel now. 

The last 20 days have been one of the most intense experiences of my life. Barring none. I've been stretched personally and professionally, at least a couple times near to the breaking point. I've had to learn to rely on my teammates in ways that I can only remember on one or two other occasions in my life before now. I can also say, for perhaps the first time ever with honesty, that there is really nothing else that I'd rather be doing and nowhere I'd rather be. But I can't shake the feeling that the moment I stop for more than a night, I'll go through windshield. Again. 

So tomorrow morning, before the sun rises, I'll go back. Just like I will the next day and the day after that. Anything to push back that moment when I'm all alone in my living room and everything is quiet and normal and I suddenly have to think about what it all means. Or if it all even means anything. It's all equally terrifying to me. 

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