Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Love Letter Campaign: My Promise

When we first met, I don't know what it was about you but I wanted us to work out and be together more than anything. I can't explain it. I wanted to drag you with me to Texas or North Carolina or wherever I went to school and never be apart from you. A lot has changed since we first met. I've never been a fan of change, but I've had to learn, that's for sure. When things didn't work out in our first time around, I was crushed. For the first time in my life I found myself, like so many veterans, drowning my sorrows on weeknights in a bar alone. The events that followed were like a sad movie. I saw you cry for the first time. As horrible as that was, I still cherish that the only time I've ever seen you cry was when you thought you were going to lose me. That's how I know you love me. When you were trying to "court" me the second time around you were so good at writing letters and I fell so much deeper in love with you. You don't do that anymore, much to my dismay. But you still hold my hand. And you still tell me you love me before you hang up the phone or leave the house..every time..no matter how much we're fighting or how mad you are at me. That means something to me, even if I begrudgingly say it back at the time. If you didn't say it, I'd feel lost. Please don't ever stop. 
A lot has happened in our first year of marriage, we had a baby---and while he is the love of our lives, and we wanted to have him,  I know in retrospect we both feel like we lost out on a part of our chance at couplehood. But like many military couples, we moved very fast because we were so happy to be together again and because you were getting medically retired and wanted me to be taken care of with health insurance. I didn't know you before PTSD , before TBI, and before combat. Sometimes I feel jealous of other wives who were with their spouses beforehand. I feel like they have something/someone to hold on to that I just don't have when things go bad. I always say when things get bad you have to fall back on your foundation and what happens when your foundation is shaky? We are making our foundation right now. And it is so hard. But at the same time, I feel lucky that I've only known you post-deployment. I don't have to learn to love a "new" you. Yes, you had gotten worse there for awhile, that's no secret but now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt like we were lost for a little while, but because of your strength and determination we are moving forward and not apart. I am so proud of the fact that you've never turned down help. I actually boast about that fact. You've never turned down a medication, or a therapy technique, or counseling. Anything that has the possibility to help, you're willing to try. I know you do that for us.
I saw you without me--it wasn't a pretty sight watching you drink yourself to death. I know that it'd be so easy and so much less work to go back to that, then to have to fight every single day to make our relationship and our family work. I know you don't enjoy going to counseling now every week and hearing me complain about different things. It can't be easy for you. But I also know you don't want to live without us. So you've learned to admit you are wrong. You're learning to recognize how what you say affects me. It takes a very courageous and loving person to set aside their pride and not get defensive and actually listen. You know it's hard to be married to you sometimes--with not only mental health issues but physical limitations, but I'm so glad YOU haven't given up. Like a true soldier, you've always "pushed through" when you've needed to. Even when I've felt like there was no hope. I believe you are so strong-willed that you can do anything. I'll never forget the day our son was born when he had to be under those lights crying, and you stood and held his hands for hours. I don't know where you found the strength to do it, but it was an amazing testimony of love.You defy odds and amaze me sometimes.
I also will never forget the time you drove all night to see me at the drop of a hat. I'd be lost without you. You're my best friend. You are my rock and with you, I feel safe. I'm proud to be married to you. You're the guy that stops to help old ladies, broken down cars, anyone in need.  You're a day to day hero, but you're also a war hero. I know you were just "doing your job" when that firefight broke out after your second IED, but you didn't cower like some of the other soldiers did. You never cower. You told me recently that no matter what happens or how mad you get, you're not going anywhere and you're never going to leave. I'll never forget that conversation. You're a fighter and I'm so grateful you fight for us. I think it's easy for us to get stuck in the daily problems and bickering that get blown out of proportion. Things have never been easy with either of our families and it's easy to become resentful and lash out. It's also hard taking care of a new baby. But I want to make it work with you. I know we don't speak the same love language a lot of the time but I hope that with help, we can continue to try to learn to be on the same page.
I want to work together to make our relationship better and better. I want to be happy with you, and plan our future, and grow old together. I want to have a little sister for our son someday. I'm so happy I see a future for us again, and I promise you that I will never give up on us either. I will fight for you just like I always have. No matter what happens with our families, we will always have each other and our own little family. If we both never give up, we'll never have to know what life is like apart from each other.
Thank you for being willing to make changes to help our relationship. I will try to listen more and talk less.

This is my promise to you, and my hope for our future.
I love you.
Always & Forever, 
Proud Wife of a Veteran

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, visithttp://www.familyofavet.com/love_letters.html.

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