Sunday, September 15, 2013

Down Range to Iraq and Back

So this post won't say everything that I want to say. Sometimes there's much that I want to write about regarding the experience of being a military spouse, but I don't because I still believe in protecting the privacy of my ex-husband. Regardless of the struggles of our marriage and the growth that both of us still need to achieve as individuals, I still (or maybe re-)love the crap out of that man for the parts of him that he gave to our nation (and for a variety of other reasons too....)

So I'll just say this to summarize: somehow I can make a positive impact on veterans when it's my job and I'm an outside participant who they want to entrust with their stories and have help them. Being that same level-headed, easy-to-turn-to-person doesn't always apply when you are the spouse of the soldier or veteran however, especially if that individual is not willing to admit to anyone that anything might be troubling him or her. For years I convinced myself and believed that any relationship issues surfacing or changes with my spouse were due to the chaos of his upbringing....and once I finally realized that his deployment probably had incredibly difficult effects for him, many of my friends were shocked that I hadn't seen the signs in my own marriage. We see what we want to see.... And for every veteran and/or soldier I HAVE helped, I also have routinely failed to be able to be to understand and support my own spouse when we were in the thick of it. Granted the veteran or soldier has to be willing to share and/or try, but I think I was naive on how to do so in my own marriage....(and even today as his friend, I still fail to know just how to "get in there.")

A year ago this week while at the funeral of our friend who we lost in action, the CO (company commander...think big, big boss but not executive boss) and his wife pulled me aside wanting to know what had happened between my ex and I (who were separated at the time). The CO's wife is an amazing, yet stubborn woman who had seen her own husband through some hard times (both of my exes CO's and their wives were great supports during this time) and she had suggested the above pictured book to help me with the experience. Through the chaos of the funeral and return events that ensued, I completely forgot about it....but this week, that book randomly arrived in the mail. Even though I'm in the midst of several other books and have become a less-than dedicated reader, I easily devoured it in two short sittings....and I really, really, really wish that I would have known of this book's existence two to three years ago. In fact, in all honesty, I sort of wish that someone would have just sent it to me as a wedding gift....

Do I think this book will change my life? Nope. Do I think I can make my ex read it and actually do something with it? Nope. But so much of what was included in it, explains so much and solidifies so much of what I've worried about and felt in my heart. Some of the info in it I learned in the course of our marriage (for example: you don't wake a combat soldier up from a dead sleep......I was incredibly lucky he recognized my face prior to making contact with me....), but much of it was stuff that I really just needed to read and see in writing while stocking it up in my heart. 

Some of the passages that stuck out to me on today's reading:

And over time I hope to check out some of these other resources:

I'm someone who needs to make sense of things in order to move on, and although aspects of this book absolutely didn't describe our situation or him, there was so much in it that did offer explanations. And as much as we're "divorced," I don't know that I'll ever really be able to turn my back on this man. Everyone deserves to be loved....and maybe our veterans and our soldiers just need continual patience, respect, and some more of that unconditional love.....

If you know a spouse of a military member or a family member who is trying to understand why their soldier/veteran isn't the same way that once were, I'd highly encourage you to suggest this title. As I for one, am incredibly thankful for it randomly arriving in my mailbox this week.....and I intend to pass my copy on to a family member who is married to her own deployed soldier.... 

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