Monday, September 3, 2012

I'm Not Sure Why

I am not quite sure why, but recently my mind keeps wandering back to good times long ago. The memories hurt sometimes. They bring forth a longing for the way my life once was. It hurts deep down in my heart, to think of what I had. It makes me feel helpless, to not be able to be there again. What was the change? My husband went to war. In August of 2004, my husband went to Iraq, and he never fully came back. He is physically alive, not burned, not missing limbs, in fact if you saw him; you would not think there was anything wrong. He is broken though. He is broken in his mind, both physically and mentally, and he is broken in his spirit. He is not the man I once knew. I will never again, get that man back, but instead I have had to learn to love a new man.

The morning my husband left, was not unlike so many other deployments and separations. As always, we did not bring the kids. He had already said his goodbyes the night before. It was just him and me. We got to the base, stopped the truck, unloaded his bags and doubled checked to make sure he had everything he needed. Then it was a quick hug and kiss. With a quick goodbye, I got back in the truck and drove away, trying so desperately to not look back. I had absolutely no idea, what I had just said goodbye too, and driven away from.

I had just said goodbye the man I fell in love with. I said goodbye to his laugh, his smile, the way he would walk, talk, joke, and shine. I said goodbye to the confident man, I loved to watch. I said goodbye to the life we knew, not knowing our future life, would be so different. I knew he would change some, because of the war, but I never had an idea how much. That morning I said goodbye to my husband, the father the children would never know. I said goodbye to a happy man, a man with visions for his future. He was a man who had drive, and a desire to do great things. I said goodbye to my partner. I said goodbye to the nights, where we would lay in bed for hours, and just talk about anything and nothing at all. I said goodbye to the feeling that as long as I lay there, wrapped in his arms, I was safe, and nothing in the world could harm me. Now I am the one who protects him from the world.

The man that came home to me is not the man I once knew. It is his body, it is his voice, but it is not him. I know the man I first fell in love with, is there somewhere. On a rare occasion, he sneaks out, and let’s his voice be heard. Unfortunately, the man I fell in love with, has been taken captive by this monster called PTSD. I never knew who this monster was before. No one had ever told me, that one day; this monster might visit my home, my family, my husband. No one ever told me, that PTSD’s relative, named TBI would come and steal away parts of my husband forever. PTSD has taken his trust, his confidence, and his feelings of safety. PTSD took away his ability to enjoy everyday life. PTSD took away his career, his hopes and his dreams. TBI took even more, it took his memories. It took those past thoughts and feelings. It took away his ability to remember who he once was. TBI took even more of his confidence, and his ability to do basic daily things, causing him to feel useless. PTSD and TBI have stolen my once brave, confident husband, and refuse to let him go.

This is not the life I wanted, nor the life that he wanted. Our children will never know the man he once was. They will never get to have a “normal” father. They will never know what it is like to be a “normal” family. A family that has friends, does social things, takes vacations, and doesn’t walk on eggshells, wondering how ugly PTSD is going to be today. They may never know a father, without headaches, or illness. They may never know a father, that isn’t afraid to be a part of the world. We never knew, when he kissed and hugged them goodbye, that their lives would never be “normal” again.

Some days I wonder if it would have been better, if I had never known, the man he was before PTSD and TBI. I wonder if it would be easier to deal with the life we have now, to accept it. I wonder if I would have less anger, and resentment. I wonder if we would have been as strong to deal with all of this. I love my husband, the old and the new. I cling tightly to the memories of who he once was. I feel a hurt so deep inside, for the man that left that early morning, in 2004. I wish I could have stopped time; held on to him a little longer, treasure him a little more. To allow my mind to remember that much more about him, and to hold on to him just a little tighter. I don’t know if I would have been better off, not knowing him before PTSD/TBI or not. For now, I will cry over the memories, and do my best to make new ones. I can only hope that one day, with enough love; he may find the strength in himself, to fight back, to come back to us, even just a little bit.

Submitted by: Melanie


  1. Being a vietnam veteran with PTSD I can understand your feeling. The one and only thing he needs now is your support and love.

    1. Thank you. I have no plans on going anywhere. We've beend doing this awhile, and will just continue fighting through. Hopefully one day, more of him will come back to us.

  2. You are not alone in this. I was with my husband before he got PTSD. He was a different man, husband, and father. My daughter, 10 yrs old, still moarns the loss of her "fun daddy" 6 yrs ago. She wishes he was still the same. The only person in our family who will never have any recollection of the old daddy is our 3 yr old. He only knows this daddy, so this will be his norm. Sometimes I wonder how much different it will be for him than it is for us since he doesn't know anything else, but we do.

  3. I can relate to your story in so many ways. Maybe the worst is the moment when you realise that you lost the person that was ones the most romantic and loving, who then suddenly wouldn't even recognise himself, but could recall the the times you shared together, but now just feels numb.
    I met my fiance 2008, I knew he had come from Iraq and I thought to myself that it must have effected him in a way or another, but it only showed during nights, when I would wake him up from the nightmares that he was having. Otherwise we could enjoy our new life together, however this all changed after about three years, when i've been away for a longer period, in another city where I study.
    When I came back he was like a different person, for so long he must have blocked the bad memories from overwhelming him, but would now open up about the war and told me he had began to see a therapist. I could see that he wanted to get better but bottling up the traumatic experiences for so long only makes the recovery even harder.
    He told me that he felt nothing and everything, his mind would not stop from re-living the horrific moments to the point that he wanted to just shoot himself.
    This was obviously hard for me as well, and that I could only try and be there for him, even he said his mind did not perceive me as the person he know he loves. Now he could not feel love, he could not cry or laugh, he would just try and listen to old songs, watch old videos and pictures to regain the emotion that was ones there. I was reading and learning about PTSD and trying to figure out ways to fix him, but was very saddened to realise that there is very little that can be done a part from consistent therapy and group meetings, when it is due to brains neurological imbalance and chemical depression that causes it.
    I guess the major difference in our stories, and many others that can be found on the Internet is that my fiance was a victim of war without a choice. Not only had he already experienced two other wars as a civilian by the age of 19, but the last one was the most devastating one, -that still will have an effect for many years to come, whether it is due to the depleted uranium used in Iraq or sectarian divisions that was created by the US military tactic “divide and rule”.
    He had just started university before the invasion in 2003, but living in a war zone, with arbitrary arrests of innocent people as terror suspects, heads body parts lying around in the streets and having to identify bodies of your friends after car explosions, and on top of that witnessing execution of relative, -must have been too much.
    Now after the illegal war with its various war crimes, left a country that is torn apart, and for him to be able to visit his relatives every few years just makes me have to worry whether he will come back alive.
    I can understand to some extent the misery that veterans are also having to face, but only to a certain extend. There is just so much anger from the injustice and with no closure in sight for the Iraqis. Although which wars will be fought is down to governments decision, but when hearing the motives of people in the US who joined the army in order to go and “revenge and kill muslims in Iraq” who had nothing to do with anything, is absurd to me and arise no sympathy. Besides there is nothing heroic in killing people no matter how much the government is trying to justify its actions and the actions of its soldiers.