Friday, June 14, 2013

A Letter to Those Who Don't Know Who He Once Was

To Whom it May Concern,

I am an active member in our unit's Family Readiness Group, most recently being
the Leader and resource to provide support to the families of 130
deployed soldiers. I am a strong woman, mother, wife and leader. I am
committed to the Army as a devoted and supportive spouse and volunteer.

No expectations was what I told myself and my spouses when we
frantically prepared for our husbands to come home from OIF in November
of 2007.

My biggest fear was that my husband would come home different; he would
be the "typical" soldier that is talked about when returning from
combat.The soldier that I urged my Family Readiness Group to seek help
for. The soldier that I learned about in the countless classes that I
had taken before the homecoming of our war heroes.


I miss 
My husband that was a proud US Soldier. 
My husband that left the house at 0430 am to be at PT, on time, at 0630.
My husband that would always be willing to help another person, even
strangers.
My husband that would volunteer at church. 
My husband that would hang out with friends.
My husband that would engage in family activities. 
My husband that always rode his mountain bike.
My husband that had plans for our future.
My husband that made me laugh.
My husband that was a joy to be around.
My husband that was a hard worker and stood up for his beliefs and his
country.


Everyday 
I wake up praying that we will have a good day. 
I hope that he is in a good mood.
I wonder if there is something different that will set him off. 
I wonder if I didn't do something the right way.
I try to remember if I bought milk for his cereal.
I wonder if I will have to drop my responsibilities to make him happy.
I hope things wont push me over the edge so I leave.
I wake up hoping he changes and it will be like before.


I excused his need to be alone as part of the adjustment.
I made excuses to my friends and families. He is tired from waking up
early and working long hours. 
When he would spend long hours in the garage working on his car,  I
brushed it off as a hobby that he wanted to complete.
When he would go out in snow storms for a drive,at random hours of the
day and night, I just assumed it was because he was in the hot dessert
for so long. 
When he stopped coming to church, I accepted the "excuse" of needing to
sleep in.
I endlessly find myself making excuses for him or lying, to protect him
and to protect us. 
My husband is in his own world. Everything is about his needs, his
wants, and his desires.
Everyday, I find myself planning my next move, to protect myself and my
daughter; evaluating his last phone call, the tone of his voice.
Should we stay out a bit later, just in case he is in a bad mood?
Should I leave work early to make sure the dishes are done before he
gets home?

In September of 08, I had a severe reaction to my medication. I was in
Liver failure and was sent to the University of Washington's Kidney and
Liver Transplant Clinic for evaluation. I wanted my husband to be there
for me. He was physically there, but mentally, he wasn't. 
He was angry when I didn't have the energy to be a tourist and see
Seattle. 
He was angry that we didn't have time to plan the trip. 
He got angry that he didn't have enough time to pack. 
He got mad because our new puppy was arriving on the same weekend that I
got sick.
He placed the blame on me
Everything made him angry. 
I didn't have the energy to wash dishes, do laundry, go grocery shopping.
I was sick. He was angry.

No matter what the situation was, his anger turned to rage. 
He kicked a hole through the bedroom door. 
He said I looked at him funny.
I was washing the dishes while he made a sandwich, he knocked
everything off the top of the refrigerator, because I might splash
water on his food. 
There was a toy on the floor that wasn't put away, it was thrown across
the room to make it known that it wasn't in the right place.
His computer wasn't working right, it was thrown across the room and
shattered into pieces.
The printer paper was jamming....it was smashed on the floor.
The alarm clock woke him up in the morning...now broken.
The cellphone rang....now 3 phones have been broken in rage.
He wanted cereal and there wasn't anymore....it was my fault for not
buying enough. I started to buy 5 or 6 boxes at a time. It was my fault
that he was sick of Cocoa Pebbles and I didn't buy another kind.
We had cereal but we didn't have milk...It was my fault for not keeping
up with the milk inventory.

Our daughters school events; He didn't feel like going. 
Parent teacher conferences; He was in a mood and didn't feel like going.

On Days he wanted to actually spend time with me, things went horrible.
I couldn't find a sitter at the last minute.
Days I was able to find a sitter, he got angry because I didn't want to
see the same movie.
Going to McDonalds, he would get angry; they didn't make his coffee
right; they didn't put a straw in his bag to drink his orange juice.

Everyday is a constant reminder of my "new" husband. 
A husband that does not interact with his family. 
A husband that has left his family to be in his own space. 
A husband that is so disconnected with reality, he finds relief in
focusing on things that don't matter. 
A husband that has been through and seen more than any person can
imagine. 
A husband that reenlisted in the Army because of great leaders that
inspired him to have a military career. 
A husband that lost his friends. 
A husband that scares me. 
A husband that avoids any interaction with people. 
A husband that would rather stay home than see his daughter receive a
special award at a school assembly. 
A husband that did horrible terrifying things to my 3 month old puppy
because he cried at night. 
A husband that says "I Love You" because he knows he has too, but has a
blank look in his eyes. 
A husband that makes plans, and doesn't follow through. 
A husband who can not be relied on, even after a commitment. 

Will I have time to be a house wife, a mother, a volunteer and go to
work? On busy days will I have time for day to day responsibilities and
have time to go to scheduled appointments. 
I was so proud of him, and everything about him. 
I was told how amazing of a soldier he was. 
How he was a great friend, a great battle buddy. 
Now, I don't even like to talk about him, because people will ask
questions. Questions that I am embarrassed to answer. 

My husband spends his weekends sleeping, I remind my daughter to be as
quiet as possible, to not wake Daddy. I knew if we wake him up, he will
be angry and aggressive; we will be scared. 
I spend my weekends working longer than required hours, helping my
friends do things just to stay away from home as late as possible. 

It broke my heart when my daughter said to me, "Mom, I wish Daddy wasn't
a soldier. I hate that he has to act so tough. He scares me. My belly
feels funny."
I have been in counseling prior to his redeployment to prepare myself
for his homecoming.
I have been going weekly since his return. 
My daughter has also been in counseling, learning to deal with her
emotions and her home life. 

It could be worse. I was never physically abused. 
Sometimes I lay in bed and wish I was, I would have a reason to leave. 
The emotional scars are still here. The pattern of domestic abuse has
begun. I know that if he doesn't get his rage and anger under control is
will escalate. 
I am glad I stayed strong and never did leave. I am his wife and I will
stand by his side. 
Couples have problems, couples cope and learn to adjust to each others
wants and needs in life. 
In our situation, there is no coping or adjusting between the both of
us. There is just coping and adjusting to different emotions everyday.
Different patterns that are always changing.
He will never be the man that left me on October 7th, 2006. I have stood
by his side from day one and I know that he is trying to help himself. 
He has begun to deal with the avoidance of May 17, 2007, the day he lost
himself. This process is overwhelming to him and to myself.
I thank God everyday for not taking him away from us on May 17th. 
I thank God he is now getting help. 
I know that May 17, 2007 will be with him forever. What he saw, what he
felt, and what he heard are a part of him. It is now a part of us, our
family. 

A Letter Written in June 2009 By A Veteran Spouse Determined to Stand

2 comments:

  1. this was very sad but also very true....I know a lot of military personal comes home different in one form or another......this made me cry...thanks for posting this

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  2. I really relate to your story. My husband and I is on the same page as yours. Sometimes, I wish He didn't serve because this caused him having PTSD and TBI. And now we are having a difficult time being together. He was so down, he always say " It's better if I'm dead". I always understand him, and be strong for us. I still having my faith that one day the PTSD will be all gone.

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