*WARNING: The language in this post is not "PG-13" (as often the language in our lives is sadly not either). While we're normally careful to limit curse words in posts, etc., the raw nature of this one sort of calls for it. If you're bothered or upset by curse words, please don't read. Certainly NOT our intention to make anyone uncomfortable, but instead to share from different perspectives the hurt, anger, internal conflict, and struggles we sometimes feel.*
What hell man has created. What HELL! I tell you with urgency and unedited truth the hell I see. I want you to know my story and when you hear it and when you know my heart I want you to be as shocked as I often am. I want you to cry and be miserable and know, really know what hell man has made.
I have in the past 5 years learned so much about how man, or woman, often have absolutely no regard for eachother that they, whether knowingly or not, actually contribute and participate and perpetuate this hell I speak of.
When I say "hell" I want you to know what that means. Hell to me is a "place" a "mindset" an "existence" that is so repulsive, it breeds hate and infiltrates even the most loving heart and it breaks it and it rapes it and debases it over and over and over again. You will either continue to exist in a way that perpetuates it, feeds it, and complicates it, or you will demand of yourself to remove yourself from it, you will not be blind to it, you will not chose to be complacent, you will not feel so hopeless about changing it, and you will make a choice to stop it.
No woman should ever have to sit with her husband and tell him of this hell. No woman should ever have to become so hateful, so full of spite, so brutally honest, that she forces her husband to face this hell and make a conscience choice to either continue to participate in this hell, or leave. Remove himself. Extract himself from not only his own internal hell peppered with images of a past life, shattered by life after combat, destroyed by society and their inability to relate to any other human being other than themselves, or their fucking SUV.
Tonight I am raw and so angry, dangerously angry. Violent and hostile and not fit for society angry. Let me share with you, dear reader, my hell. Let me invite you to come and sit next to me while I recant my hell. Let me poison your sweet mind with my hell. Let my hell rape you.
I hung up the phone with a feeling of joy and childish excitement I have not felt in a very long time. Christmas WILL be good! Oh God I love that feeling, the "christmas" spirit I guess you would say... I don't remember the last time I truly felt it. I know for sure it has been gone from my sight since I met and married my husband.
Christmas was always special to me. Memories are so far gone that I only remember just a few at this moment; the big tree in the Great Hall, the giant beautiful golden birds that decorated it, the snow, the way the world looked protected and blanketed by snow, trees naked, but safe, a foreign concept to me. A beautiful type of gray. Corners of the world like the Campus of St. Johns frozen in time, no students making their tracks. Deer right in front of the pallestra. Moving right along, the only sound was the crunch of snow under my tires as I drove slowly toward the massive bells and stained glass windows. Peace. Inside these quiet buildings was an unseen force that moved you to want to learn. It did. I was never a student there, only a health care worker, but it was an environment that bred the deep desire to learn as much as you could.
Another memory was my parent's christmas tree. Always a real pine. The smell, the reprieve from tension in my dysfunctional childhood.... the smell signaled a moment of distraction. My younger brothers and I would always want to sleep under or around the tree. Children scattered like a litter of puppies, overlapping, upside down, dreaming of happy things. Warmed by the multicolour lights strung up the tree. I love their tree so much, it was not a "theme", it was true to life. It was an ornament from school, popscicle sticks painted red glued like a sled, hung by a small cut of yarn, a golden angel, a bird, a mailbox... It was the most random collection, but damn, every year, we looked around at each ornament like we had never ever seen it before.... and moved by the spirit of Christmas, we just couldn't bare to sleep anywhere but right up underneath it. Perhaps my brothers don't have such fond memories of a tree, or sleeping under it. But I did, and they were there, and I loved when Anna our cat, was right up in the melee of children sleeping tangle of limbs.
So tonight as I hung up with my girlfriend, I ran up the steps, hurried the children off to bed, and told my husband. It was going to be our first family vacation. It was going to be their first plane ride. It was going to be our first Christmas where we would have these memories, together, as a family! I told him our plans, which, I had fully committed too. He knows how much I love I christmas, sure, traveling with him and kids would be difficult, but I had it all worked out, a little benadryl for kids, fly at night, quiet air ports, I will ask his doctor for a better medicine to calm him, Valium, I thought.... There is no way any doctor would not do this, knowing what our lives would do, just one for the way there, one for the way back.... Once we get there, we would be just fine, and we could do what normal families do at a holiday....
His response was alittle anticlimactic, and he was concerned about going their. It will be hard for him, it will be be difficult for him......
"You know WHAT?! I was SO excited, I was so hopeful, like a naive little girl, what the FUCK was I thinking." I looked at him and wanted to go to him and start hitting him and screaming and making him bleed. He just sat..... *blink* *blink* His eyes the only thing that moved. Which infuriated me even more. I was so full of hate and repulsion, I wanted him gone. I wanted him away from him. I was so mad at HIM.
"YOU ARE SO CONCERNED ABOUT YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, do you EVER think about us? Creating memories with our children? You do not know me anymore. Or, You are so far GONE, this is not how you would have responded years ago...." He just sat..... *blink* *blink*
Nothing moved, not even a twitch in his face, no change in breathing, no nothing. I was raging, I was going for the kill. Goddamn it, if he can not save himself, and I cannot save him, and the doctors are not saving him, I WILL TELL YOU THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Out spewed the words that I will forever regret, "Get the fuck over yourself. For this one time. You have flown before, you have been to this house, you are the father. You fucking PUSSY get the fuck up and fight for yourself! Do this, for your sons." I know before the bullets had left the gun, that this might be it. I have fear that I will drive him to kill himself, either by my occasional painful "calls to action" or by the rare moments when he realizes that his pain is *killing me*. I felt him rising inside of himself, I saw the tell tale signs of the beast awakening. I braced, but only this time, not out preparation to soothe, to help, to encourage, but this, I braced, for incoming, and for the fight that was rising within me. I was ready for the fight I wanted the fight I wanted some sort of reaction out of him that if it meant screaming and bloodshed in my living room, I wanted it.
He BURST out of the chair, and standing tall over me he screamed " I am tired of this! I will NOT be called names!" I didn't flinch, but I closed my eyes, I didn't want to see what he looked like hitting me. I didn't want to know that wild eyed far away look as my husband.... I have seen a man like that before, and I refused to know my husband as such.
But the first sound I heard and the first rumble I felt was not of his fists against my body, or the whooshing and roaring of blood in your ears after being hit upside the head, it was of his angry body weight stomping away from me, his foot hitting the floor so hard the house shook. He went to the island, grabbed his cigs, and stormmed off to the door. I closed my eyes again. I didn't want the last memory of him to be leaving me, his back to me, angry and hurt. And I was aware that this very well could have been the last... He is so close to ending his pain, that I wouldn't be surprised. Infact, I am waiting for it.
I am waiting for him to kill himself. A wife, a houseful of children, she waits for it, knowing she cannot stop it, that she cannot time it, nor can she prepare, but she sits, always, knowing, that this very well could be the last. That is my hell. That is my pergatory. Knowing it will happen, but there is nothing you can do. There is no amount of love in my heart, money in the world, that can make him love himself. Right now, at this very moment, I tell you honestly and painfully, that this is not just my hell alone, but I share it with many, many, other women. Waiting in this timeless hell of anticipation. I have become good at pretending it "isn't that bad". "He would never, he just is very sad...." "I will see him through this,I will love him through this.... I am worth living for, surely he would live for me... He will live for the kids...."
The other day, I was reminded, not so gently, that I am NOT worth living for. It is NOT ME who must want to live, it is NOT ME who will keep him alive.... He must find within himself, he must find it Beyond himself, it is him, not me, who will be enough to encourage him to carry on. He has emotionally flat lined. It is painful to see. His affect is so flat, and stone cold. It makes me rage. I often incite a riot within himself just to see some sort of response, some sign of life.....
After he came back in, he sat down. He stared forward, I stared at the computer screen. I was still very mad at him. We sat in silence, for several minutes... I wanted him away. I was like an abused child, just HIT me already, get it over with.... But, true to the nature of my husband, he just sat quietly. He would never hit me, and this time, I wish he would have. I deserved it.
I turned to him and I said we will not sit in silence and end this day like this. You tell me and you tell me right now, do you want to die? Did you think of killing yourself tonight? He admitted he did. Just outside, he thought of ending it. I raged, inside and out.
"If you kill yourself I want you to know I will hate you and I will hate you forever and ever and ever, and I will fucking spit on your grave and WILL SCREAM AT YOU and I WILL HATE YOU. GOD DAMN YOU I LOVE YOU and I have spent the last 6 years of my life fighting and endlessly working and fixing and mending and creating and lving for you, if you kill yourself, I WILL FOREVER FUCKING HATE YOU." I was shaking, and I was serious. But he just sat and sat and sat. Flat. Dead. A few minutes passed us just sitting in the middle of this hell together. Together....
"Please, I'm sorry, listen to me when I say that I can not fix this for you, I can make you want to live, I clearly am not enough to make you WANT to live, nor are the boys, but, I promise, I will never stop fixing this WITH you, fighting WITH you, but I have for a while now, been fighting for you by myself.... I know you are very very very down and circling the bottom, but please, you are scaring me. And if you went to the hospital tonight, there would be nothing they could do for you, but if you stayed there, I would feel relief, like we were taking action, like I could breathe and not have to worry just one minute about you...."
It was then, when our 5 year old came out into the living room and demanded comfort. "I'm scared." No you aren't, go to bed. "I'm scared." Of what? "I don't know I just am I need you to come and lay by me." There is nothing to be scared of, go lay down, and daddy will come lay by you but we have to finish our talk first. He would not move. He refused to go. I stood up. You will either go by yourself back to bed, and wait so we can finish our mommy and daddy talk, or you will be carried, and you will wait there until we are ready. He fell to his knees and kneeled over as if he was in a modified childs pose, or someone praying to Mecca.
GET. UP. But this child, as stubborn as he is sweet, wasn't going anywear. I picked him up and put him in my bed and told him he will wait.
I came out in to the living room. My husband in the SAME position in the chair, a leg thrown over the arm.... Flat. I asked him to just go lay by our son, that I just had nothing more to say. That I needed him to sleep and know that I will call his doctor and we will get this taken care of, and it will get better, and once again, I am fighting for him come morning.
WIthing minutes, I hear him snoring in the bedroom. I wanted to crawl into him and cry and urge him to be happy, but, knowing this is beyond me, I came here instead. As he snores, I get to relive a little hell to share with you.
So at this point, I am again, exhausted just from having to think about it and write it out to you, but, I am not the only woman who waits for his end, planning for the worse, it will hurt less then, I will bounce back faster, for the boys.....
I have met women who have lost sons, who have lost husbands, who left behind children..... Women who have lost their loved one in more ways than just death.... Being victimized by a broken system, being poisoned by medications that do not work so they add and increase and add again, yet when a wife screams that the medications tasked to help, are actually making things gravely worse, she is dismissed, ignored, and actually bashed and painted as an adversary in the medical record..... This is true. I testify. Not only have I experienced just this, but so has so many others.... to the demise of the Veteran.
Now. That. That was our night. That is, unfortunately more often than not, a typical night in combat household. Its an unfortunate thing that we have to have these conversations, but, they are incredibly important.
And in the words of a very wise friend and mentor, Sweet Dreams or None at all. ~
** And I realize that the words I spoke to my husband were upsetting to you, but, I realize, that what words that come out of mouth, will anger God, but that because of Grace, I was forgiven before I even spit them out... That what makes Him happy, instead, would have been to use words that lifted my husband up, rather than put him down. It was only until this minute, that I came across this:
(Eph 4:29-32 NASB) Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Written by Kateri P. Wife and Caregiver of a Veteran with PTSD/TBI, and other war related illnesses, who hopes that her candid and often jarring accounts of random moments in this Life After Combat, will either move the reader to action and become informed, or, be a source of comfort in realizing, You are not alone.