The military tries to explain it to families on pre-deployment meetings. Senior spouses try to explain it to new spouses, with various degrees of success, what is coming back. No one can really do a good job.
Lucky for me, Mrs. Salamander has always been the very sensible type, a much better person than me in so many ways. As with all good partners in life, she knew more often than not when to give me space, when to draw closer; when to speak, when just to be.
Lucky for her I guess, according to her I am/was and hopefully will be fairly low maintenance. Flinty now and then, but on average easy to read - at least for her.
There is something though about coming back from deployment. In peace or at war - peaceful or not - that can change a person. If not for good, then for a transition period.
Some wonder why, after months together, some only feel better socializing with their Shipmates. Even if they weren't on your deployment - just other people who have deployed. There are reasons at larger gatherings, military or ex-military will group together. Hard to explain why - but there is a quick bond between those who serve and for many - a parting from those who have not.
I have never seen it written about well. Much of it is caged in psychobabble or snuggy-huggy in ways that make it but fried air - of no use to those who deployed or those who welcome them back.
I found something that gets close to capturing one aspect - one angle - of a complicated mental state. I found it in a classic - one that I am listening to in my travels; Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
Here it is for you to ponder next time you wonder what is behind the silence and distance;
I found myself back in the sepulchral city resenting the sight of people hurrying through the streets to filch a little money from each other, to devour their infamous cookery, to gulp their unwholesome beer, to dream their insignificant and silly dreams. They trespassed upon my thoughts. They were intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretence, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew.
Their bearing, which was simply the bearing of commonplace individuals going about their business in the assurance of perfect safety, was offensive to me like the outrageous flauntings of folly in the face of a danger it is unable to comprehend.
I had no particular desire to enlighten them, but I had some difficulty in restraining myself from laughing in their faces so full of stupid importance.
I daresay I was not very well at that time. I tottered about the streets -- there were various affairs to settle -- grinning bitterly at perfectly respectable persons. I admit my behaviour was inexcusable, but then my temperature was seldom normal in these days.
My dear aunt's endeavours to 'nurse up my strength' seemed altogether beside the mark. It was not my strength that wanted nursing, it was my imagination that wanted soothing.In the first few months after you leave active duty - the feelings are not unlike returning from deployment. Different, but especially if you wade as I have up to your ears in a civilian undertaking; similar.