In many ways I find myself very lucky. My husband talks to me. He expresses emotions in his own personal way.
You know, the subtle way only someone who is very close can decode? But he talks to me. That is all that matters.
Are there things I would rather not hear? Yes, of course. But I feel extremely lucky every time my husband opens up just a bit and expresses anything other than irritability, frustration or numbness. Let’s be honest:
Being married to someone who has been to war multiple times for long period of times is probably not the way I had envisioned my life as a wife to be.
Over the years, I have not only tried to find ways to help my husband cope with his demons. But to find ways to help me cope with the struggles of being married to a combat-veteran. Often times it seems as though he is still at war. I mean, some days it is all he talks about! Do I mind? For the most part, no. Because those are also the days he tends to open up and let me have a glimpse of the man I married.
I met my husband after he had already been deployed twice. To be exact, we met about a month or so after his second deployment. So, I never really had the chance to meet the pre-war version of my husband. But every once in a while, he will tell me about the things he used to do and enjoy prior to the Army. Every once in a while, he will laugh so loudly and with so much heart that I have to hold back my tears. Because I don’t want him to know that for that tiny moment, my heart played Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
Every once in a while, it seems like the curtain of iron rods that drapes before him open by the waning strength of a runt that allows my husband’s soul to shine through. But most days, that curtain of iron rods is held shut tightly by the hands of a giant.
The last 9 years of our marriage, I have tried to get to know the pre-war version of my husband a bit. Yet get to know and accept the post-war version him. It’s not always easy, but I’ve managed. However, one of the most frustrating parts of this relationship is that sometimes I feel like I am not his wife. But more like the ONE asshole in the unit that doesn’t know how to do their job. And risks screwing up the whole mission!
The only reason I make this comparison is because I have been lucky enough for my husband to talk to me about how important it has been for him, and everyone he was deployed with, to know what is supposed to be done. Because their lives depended on it!
So, for a total of about 2 1/2+ years of his life, my husband was in a constant state of hyper-vigilant fight-or-flight response:
24/7, 730+ days, 24+ months!
Never in a million years could I, or will I ever be able to, imagine what that is like. I will, with an extremely high probability, never know. Nevertheless, I will have to learn how to cope with him fighting his demons. Every day. For the rest of our lives. It can be very hard, when I don’t feel like his wife at times.
For a while now, I have felt like there is not one thing I can say, or do, or just passingly mention without my husband analyzing every last detail of it. And then turn around to tell me the most apocalyptic ending possible.
He sees the danger and worst possible outcome in everything
Everything seems to have some fallacy in some way shape or form. The thing is, I never thought he did this on purpose. And for the record: he is not violent or abusive. He has one of the most loving and gentle souls I have ever encountered in a person. One just has to be able to tap into it.
But the other day, something was off. We had a discussion about our current living situation. And in that conversation, I realized something. Something that, to him, may be far more serious than it is to me.
I screwed up the mission!
I put our lives at risk!
Let me explain:
Last year, after winning our battle with the VA, we had the choice to stay in Oregon, move to Alaska or go back South. Long story short, we chose to stay in Oregon. Because I was planning on applying for medical school and start my journey into the world of neurology. Since we already lived in Oregon, it was far easier to try and apply to Medical School here. Much easier than moving down South, establish residency and hope to gain admissions 1+ years after our move clear across the country.
Come to find out, I still needed some science courses before I could apply here in Oregon anyway. So I came to the conclusion that I would have to sign up for a Post-Baccalaureate. Then we found out I was pregnant. The morning sickness killed me. Elijah was starting school and was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism. The VA wanted one appointment after another. And then we found out I had a miscarriage!
Everything we had planned went to shit!
I fell apart!
I was barely able to get out of bed every morning. But I forced myself.
The holidays went to shit.
I barely kept it together for Elijah, because he loves Christmas.
Then I find out my sister-in-law is pregnant. That just about took me over the edge.
I tried so hard to stay on the path we set for ourselves. I tried so hard to stick to the plan. I tried, but in the end, I failed. My husband has been extremely supportive in everything I wanted to pursue. I literally changed my mind about my next career move about 15 times within a 2 month time period.
Yet, he stood right next to me.
The exact plan was for us to move into our own house, get counseling for Elijah, try for another baby, complete the required science courses, apply to medical school, gain admissions to medical school (and if not, go to plan B: PhD in Psychology), become a neurologist (or Plan B: Clinical Psychologist), get a job, move to Alaska or back to Texas.
That was the plan. And at times, it felt as though that was the mission!
Just that when things got rough, after my miscarriage, I did a complete 180 degree turn. And deviated from just about every part of the plan we agreed upon.
I didn’t complete the science courses.
I never applied to medical school and never attempted to gain admissions to a PhD program in Clinical Psychology.
I never got that job.
And it looks as though we might be stuck in Oregon for a while.
All because I deviated from the plan when shit hit the fan!
Now, to be fair, my husband doesn’t blame me for anything. And while he tries to be happy for us, he admitted that he may never be truly happy again. Therefore, he doesn’t blame me for our situation; which could be far worse. But I can’t shake the feeling that my husband may feel as though he is losing control of a vital mission. A mission that could cost us our livelihood.
All because we didn’t stick to the plan.
For so many years, he’s depended on himself and everyone around him sticking to the plan. Everyone knew their roles. Every stuck to their roles and the plan in an attempt for them to come home alive! He’s told me over and over again, that if one person screws up, it could cost them their lives!
Their entire team’s lives could be in jeopardy; all because of one person not marching to the same beat!
And for some reason, I have felt as though I was THAT person.
I have felt as though, according to the realm of PTSD, I put our lives at risk!
Have you ever felt this way?
Disclaimer: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please view my disclosure policy.