Locally we have a few units deploying to some areas overseas. When I see these things come up I can’t help but flash back to what it was like preparing and watching Tyler leave us for Afghanistan. I remember all of the feelings as if I’m still living it. The terror, the anxiety, the hope, the excitement, and dare I say the relief?
Now, before you think I was HAPPY to send my husband to war and that I’m the worst military wife you’ve ever heard from, hear this; Tyler signed up for the Army with a desire to DO something. So, no, he didnt want to leave me with our 2 children under 2 years old, BUT he wanted to leave to serve a purpose larger than himself and for that I was relieved that he was getting to do so.
Then I think about the struggle. The daily anxiety of what we are in for. The constant juggle of wondering when the other foot will drop, even when things are looking up. Wondering what’s next, what’s about to go wrong, and what we will be enduring next. Am I speaking of the 10 months I spent home with 2 children while my husband was away fighting for each and everyone of our freedoms we take for granted? Or am I speaking of the daily life we live now that he is home, has been home, but never really returned from war?
Well if you are a military wife or partner, you know which one I’m speaking of. That’s right, the days we live now. You see, the military trained my husband impeccably to GO, to FIGHT, to ENDURE….. but no one ever trained us for him to come home. Physically he’s here yes, he’s been home for more than 4 years, but do I have my husband back? Do my children have their father back? No. Not the same one that left us in December of 2013. Instead, we received a physically injured, and mentally traumatized man who does the best he knows how.
You see, nobody ever tells the soldiers what to expect, and their families? Forget it! Hell, we even lost our military mental health support person for the families at home DURING the deployment due to budget cuts. If you ask me, that’s one of the MOST important positions to keep budgeting for! So let me be the one to open your eyes as to what you can expect upon your soldiers return home.
Things will begin with an amazing, honeymoon period, things will seem perfect, like you never missed a beat. Things will be the best they have ever been! Everyone will enjoy each others company, and life will be grand! And then… out of nowhere, something, somewhere, will set them off. Now this could mean many things, but for us it was anger. Extreme anger to the point of instilling fear. Aggression that I didnt even think my husband was capable of. Think I’m exaggerating? Come check out the repairs to my drywall and then talk to me. Then, suddenly this beautiful man who you’ve loved for as long as you can remember is standing right in front of you, but you can’t find him. He’s lost. He may be physically home, but he’s mentally still at war. The constant rollercoaster of emotions… sad one minute, not sleeping for days the next, then can’t stand to go to ANY public location with you, so instead you stay home like hermits because neither of you can handle it. You are dying to go out and adventure, do the fun things like you use to, but if you try all they are consumed with is how many exits there are, where is the nearest door, who is the biggest threat, what will we do if a shooter shows up, what’s that over in the corner, a loud bang or crash – guess what it’s time to go. Oh and not to mention that the ONLY acceptable seat in the entire place is nearest the door with a wall to their back, where they can see everything happening around them at all times.
This is living with a Veteran. This is being the spouse of a combat Veteran. I’m constantly on the watch for things that could set things off of our track of complacency. I do the driving. I choose the restaurants. We stream movies instead of going to the theater. Kids being loud or arguing? That’s right, me again. Why? Because this is how I keep our rollercoaster on track. Now, this is not me telling everyone that my husband doesn’t do his fair share. He absolutely does. He’s a great father, and a fantastic spouse, and the very best friend I could ask for. This is just a tiny glimpse into our reality.
To the families of those preparing for deployment or currently gone – I see you. I hear you. I get it. I am here. Prepare yourself, because the deployment is the easy part. You will have everything taken care of, you will fly through the deployment with a few hiccups here and there, but just know that that tiny battle is nothing compared to the war that is coming your way when your beloved soldier comes home.
When you find yourself in the throws of reintegration and the military nowhere to be found, know that we are here. We are living it and we are happy to help you. We have solutions. Solutions that have made our life more enjoyable, given us control, and not turned my husband into a zombie, ‘cuz yeah… we did that too…. but that’s a story for another time!
Sending you love and strength ❤