Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Love Letter Campaign: Happy Anniversary

This morning as I woke up on our 6th anniversary, I had every intention of writing about how we fell in love, but now that I sit here, it seems like another life we led. Instead all I can think of is how we are staying in love, through all our struggles and dealing with our “new life”.

When you returned home from Iraq, hurt and broken I never dreamed of what trials we faced. I was not totally new to PTSD, I heard you mention it after your first tour and heard talk of it from others and the news. But you came home with physical issues and a TBI on top of that PTSD. I slowly saw our lives changing.

On the outside we both seemed “normal” and tried to go through our days as usual. I watched you struggle, trying to heal after your surgery, trying to get use to the idea of no longer being needed in the Army (when they told you they were medically retiring you). I knew you were holding in your feelings, you never could open up to me; you were never one to complain about your demons. I had very little knowledge of what you experienced on your tours, but I knew it must’ve been horrible. Why else were you so angry (all the time)?
Through it all, I am grateful that the kids rarely see this new side of you. You are always so good at holding things together when they were near. But often when they went to bed, I got to see the “new you”. The one that sat in the garage in the dark, for hours. The one who rarely spoke to me, or told me what you were thinking, even if I aggressively probed you about it. The one who could explode at any moment over what seemed like nothing. The one who acted out his dreams unknowingly. 

I finally realized that our life would never be what it was, that day we were getting ready for “N’s” birthday sleep over and I saw in you someone I never knew was there. The paranoid you who thought we were being watched, who was angry and suspicious of everything and everyone. But I listened and for the first time we talked, and you were able to pull together before our guests arrived. Not too long after we decided that I should stay home for awhile, to be with you and the kids. I am grateful for this time.

Through all the fighting and arguing, I am grateful for those glimpses I get of who you use to be, the man I fell in love with. The man who can make me laugh, make me smile, and make me fall in love with you all over again. I am grateful for the sense of humor that we all have, that we are able to step away and laugh about your memory lapses, your sleep walking adventures, the times when you are not aware of what is going on around us, and the times when you are too aware of what is going on around us! It helps me through the times when we struggle. I am more proud of you than you can ever know. You sacrificed everything for our country, for our safety, for us.

 My hope for us every day is that we will learn how to heal, how to keep the “old you” here more often, how to deal with the days when you just can’t be you. I pray for the strength to be who you need me to be, to give you as much as you have given, to love you as much when you are not loveable as I do when you are. My dream is that one day the “old you” will be able to break totally free of this war scarred you and we can move forward and grow old with this life in the background, a distant memory of the sacrifices of a soldier and his family. 

No matter what happens, know that I love you. I love the man I met, the man I married, and yes, even the man you are now. 

Happy Anniversary!

With Love,

This blog post is part of The Love Letter Campaign... a project started by FamilyOfaVet.com to encourage those who love a hero to write a letter sharing their story (where they started, what they've faced together, and why their love endures). It's not just for spouses, but also for parents, siblings, caregivers, and friends. It's about telling the "rest" of our stories... stories that continue despite PTSD, TBI, and the challenges of life after combat. To share your love letter or find out more about the campaign, visit http://www.familyofavet.com/love_letters.html.

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