Monday, January 21, 2013

The Love Letter Campaign ~ Ten Year Milestone


Sean,

We are about to reach the ten year mile stone in our marriage. A feat that seems more difficult to find in couples these days, especially couples in our same situation. I know I wrote you a letter for the first year of this Campaign, but I felt that since we are so close to such an important time in our marriage, that another letter was deserved.


Back on that April day in 2003, when I made the choice to remain home from school so that I could marry you before you left the next day to return to Germany, I knew that this was the step I wanted to take. I know some thought us too young, but I knew what I wanted and that of course was a life with you. I was ready and it made me ever so happy that you were ready too.

Of course neither one of us could have ever planned you getting injured, but that is life for you, putting wrenches in gears and such. We barely got to spend our first years of marriage together before you were injured and thus I have spent most of our marriage learning about this new "you" and what a journey it has been.

I know the man I married is not the same man, but even without your injuries I kind of expected us both to grow up in some ways and change. I was looking forward to us growing up together, but we were forced to grow up so fast. From the moment you came home from your deployment, I could tell you were different, but ignored it. I was just glad to have you back, especially after two injuries, I didn't want to lose you. So, I spent the first several months living with blinders.



I saw the changes in you and would make excuses to myself that it wasn't a big deal as you were just adapting back to being home. When you would see the Army doctors and get prescriptions, I figured that would make things better and we could continue on as we planned. When you ETS'd out of the Army and we went back to the States, I realized very quickly those blinders needed to come off and I had to face the truth.

I was married to a different man.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take the time to process this as we found out right away that we were going to be parents. Life for us became very chaotic, between adjusting to parenthood and facing the reality of your injuries. The next few years were a whirlwind of VA appointments, Doctor's appointments, home jumping, job searching, child rearing, and so much more.

We fought so much. I cried a great deal. You slept at great lengths to avoid the pain. I felt so alone and had no idea what would happen next. I was so worried it was the end.

That was when it happened.

That day where you finally reached out to me when I felt sure I couldn't take anymore. You reached out and told me you needed me. I knew then, despite the changes in you, that I didn't want to abandon you. I knew that you needed me to help you find your way back from the darkness and not leave you there alone.
The next part of our journey was a roller coaster ride, so many ups and downs, but I strived to keep us going. We went through doctor changes at the VA, medication changes, job changes so I could be home with you more, home changes again, and constant daily life changes.

Then came along a second child.

Life became more chaotic than before, but I stuck with you. I left my job completely knowing home was where I was needed. Money was tight, but I made it work. It was then you went through some difficult therapies. I did my best to keep you encouraged, to keep you from falling.

Life became alright for a bit. We worked out ways to make life flow a little less crazy. The children were getting older and everything seemed like it would be alright for us as a family.

The thing is, it will never be like it was before. You still struggle daily, even with your medications and therapies. Our lives still have to be handled differently from others. I know this troubles you. I know how much you don't like not being able to do more for us. I know that the daily pain fills you with bitterness. I know that you feel we all deserve someone better. I know you see how much of a toll it is on me sometimes to be your Caregiver while also taking care of the children. I know you wish you could give back as much as you get from us.

Here is what I want you to know.

I love you. I always have. I always will. Sure you have changed. Sure you are disabled. Sure we have to handle things differently. Sure it might mean we will all go crazy. What is important though that we do all of this together!

So, ten years ago when we made our vows we ended up with more, "For the Worse" than we expected. I think though that it is okay, because it has helped us become stronger. It has taught us a great many things we would have never learned if life had always been easy for us and I am grateful for the lessons.

We were never like traditional couples from the get go and I don't see that as a bad thing. We have come this far and I am planning for us to go even further together and you know how I am with my plans! I just want you to know I am here for you, that you still mean so very much to me. You always call me your, "shining star" and I want you to know I want to always be that for you! Yes, even when I am losing my mind and acting like the one who went to war, I still want to be with you.

Though in a way I have been to war. No, not the same kind of war you have and my own war could never compare, never. I just mean, I have been in the war of keeping our marriage whole. I fight to keep us together through every struggle from the normal battles like money to the more difficult battles like whether you are going to make it outside of the house today. I think I'm winning though, so I continue to stand on the field of combat because I feel my war is worth it.

Who knows what the next ten years will bring us or even the next twenty, but I feel confident that we will make it through.

You are my soul.

You are my hero.

You are my warrior.

Ich liebe dich.

~Aimee

Submitted By: Aimee L. Taylor

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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