When I came home from deployment, I had a lot of trouble adjusting to being in a normal city.

I got overwhelmed at Target buying new apartment supplies.

I ran out of church after service before I had a chance to socialize with people I hadn’t seen in 9 months, because I felt like the crowd was pushing in on me.

I wanted nothing more than to be left alone and try to figure out how to function again, yet I had friends that were insistent on spending time together and didn’t understand that when I said I wanted to organize the apartment, I meant alone and not with a running commentary from them.

On the opposite side was my family.

They wanted to spend all the time they could with me, but they understood my transition. My sister tackled me on the pier as soon as she found me walking off the ship.

Her and my mother drove me home and let me leave a trail of uniform items from the door to the shower and then asked me if I needed a couple hours to myself before we went out to dinner.

They asked me if I wanted to do things that weekend or if I wanted to be alone. They were willing to run interference when they saw me getting overwhelmed by people wanting to welcome me home in their way, NOT in a way that I needed.

I know it’s hard to understand that your service member, the person you love most in this world, might not want you to be around every moment of every day when they return from deployment.

But sometimes ALL they need is a little space.

This goes back to the communication thing. Listen to them when they ask for some time alone. Notice when they are starting to get anxious around people and help them. And enforce the boundaries you two have set up with people outside of your immediate family.

Lord knows it’s not easy to explain to a mother-in-law that yes, her son has just returned home from deployment, but no, you are not open to having company the first week he is here. In situations like this it’s important to be able to stand up and let people know that it’s your family and you all will make the plans that are best for you.