Final update because I feel odd commenting on other's stuff when I haven't updated my thread in forever, and I don't have enough to merit a 2nd thread at this point in time:
Things are still going really well. I've continued my IC and it has helped, a lot. H is still deployed and will be back hopefully in April. I was hoping I'd get to visit him, but with the pandemic, that is clearly out of the picture. I think him being gone this long would be tough in any circumstance, but it what happened really compounds this. Sometimes, I am hurting so bad and just need a reassuring hug, and can't have one.
We surpassed the 1 yr mark of BD already. I was very up front with him about being worried about feeling triggered going into late October and through the holidays, since the bulk of our separation was during that time. I will say I was able to GAL and not stew on stuff. I've done a lot of EMDR which has been interesting and seems to have actually helped a lot. I am not riddled with distrust or sadness or despair or grief so much now, and when I have those feelings, they usually are gone within five minutes and not day ruining. I sometimes tell H and we talk about it, and sometimes not. August was definitely rough for me, adjusting to everything and just feeling like I needed a lot of reassurance. I've been able to see H's growth, too - both personally and through work. That's been helpful. We do have spats every now and then (not related to being S or anything about that time - more present things), but are ultimately able to work them out and be productive. I do not have regrets about choosing to reconcile - I was clear with him that I had doubts in my heart when he wanted to come back. He was just as clear about not having doubts, and how that was an internal condition he had for himself.
I think we have both chosen to take this time to work on ourselves and our relationship and make it the marriage we want. Some of that, for me, has been being less guarded and more vulnerable in ways I never was - I can be really independent to a fault, and that has definitely contributed to some friction in the past. I have a better lens to see things through now and being more compassionate overall has been a big step for me. He sees this and opens up/is more vulnerable, which has made us both feel more connected. I've dealt with learning a lot of better stress management - I've had a stressful work situation going on since July that seems to almost be resolved, but was definitely affecting me a lot outside of work.
He has put a lot of effort into making sure this time apart is feels different. Sometimes it was very tough for me because even just being apart could be triggering - like I functionally know he is gone because he has to be, but just being alone brought up a lot of stuff and I had to really challenge myself to live in the present. We had our 2 year wedding anniversary, and he planned a ton of cute surprises. For my birthday, he sent a ton of thoughtful gifts and we had some very good conversation. It felt good to have it feel so different between us even though he still physically wasn't here for the 2nd birthday in a row. I spent a lot of time grieving over last year's missed holidays and this year's missed ones, but have had a blast getting the house fully Christmas'd out and getting into it because it hasn't been painful, and has been genuinely really fun, and I look forward to spending the holidays together next year and doing it even bigger. In a way, so many things still getting canceled due to the pandemic, there isn't a ton that he is missing anyhow, so that is helpful.
My tough days and feelings have really lessened, and I am glad it's started to get easier overall. I look forward to him coming home and us getting to reconnect even further - not that we didn't before he left, but the stress pressure cooker of him leaving in July did cast a shadow on a lot of stuff. I feel stable and secure and that I trust him. I am not worried that this will happen again because I can see him implementing better tools when he is upset. He isn't running away from stuff professionally or personally. I am really proud of our individual progress.