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Spartan Wife Pt. 1

On February 19, 2013, in Personal Stories, by admin

Tiffany Wedding PhotoAs I am sitting here, I try to find the words to describe our life. We have two stories. The ones our friends know us by, and the one that we live. If you’ve seen The Notebook, you see a couple whose love withstands the sands of time. Noah, for instance, holds on to the small glimpses of his wife that he gets so rarely, as he tries to get his wife to remember their love through her Alzheimer’s. This is our story, but PTSD is our shadow. It is our invisible wound that cannot be seen to the naked eye, but if you look into the eyes of another wife who bares the same weight on her shoulders, you can see it. The proud smile on her face, but no light left in her eyes. We do not complain.

As the wife of a Marine, you learn early not to complain. As with our men, we are a breed of our own. We take care of the laundry, pets, children, appointments, dishes, working, making sure our husbands takes his pills on time, and the right ones at the right time of day, and that’s just the beginning. For us personally, there are still nightmares. My husband wakes up to the sounds of bullets whizzing by his ears. Ones that should have ended him. His PTSD is apparent in every part of our life. He can’t work for others, so we started our own business. Driving is hard. He constantly searches the streets for IEDs, if there is a bag or garbage on the road, we change lanes, if someone is going to slow in front of us, it’s because they are equip with a bomb and are about to detonate. We don’t go out on dates, if we are seated somewhere, it has to be brightly lit, and he absolutely needs to see all exits, doors, and windows.

Marine jacketRandom things will set my husband off, I am slowly learning his triggers, but at what cost? The Marine Corps breeds you to tear the next guy down. I am that next guy. If I show emotion, it only makes things worse. I cannot cry in front of my husband because the PTSD has made him emotionally unavailable. Sometimes it angers him, other times he doesn’t care. I’m sure when I cry, he flashes back to when the children of Iraq were crying. To him, I have no reason to cry. I do not know pain and suffering.

Some ask, “Why stay?” The answer is easy. I love my husband. I gain strength from those small glimpses of him that I get at random times that remind me that he is still in there somewhere. I am grateful every day that the angels were with him the day the insurgent shot at my husband point blank, and the gun jammed. My husband later picked up the gun and it fired just fine. I have a fearless man to call my husband. Walking the streets of Fallujah at night during a firefight will do a lot for a person.

He values the small things in life, but also holds a lot of resentment to those who complain that their coffee was made wrong or their significant other bought them the wrong color cell phone case. What about those who never made it home, they wouldn’t complain about anything like this… My husband was the last to see some of his friends, once blindly volunteered on a mission which led to loading a friend’s body in the aircraft.  He has buried friends at home, and friends who were killed in action. He escorted a best friend home and personally handed the cover to his father. You should be safe in America, on our soil, but no. This friend made it through two OIF deployments and was killed in San Diego on a motorcycle by a careless woman driving and texting.

There are good things. When he is himself, he is the warmest, most genuine man I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. The first time I’ve seen him really show any kind of emotion was on our wedding day. He was overwhelmed for many reasons. His best friend deployed to Iraq the day we got married and wasn’t present, but even more so, he was overwhelmed that I was actually saying yes. I chose my life, he didn’t. After our military salute, someone, who is still unidentified, stole most of our gifts and our cards. We almost didn’t get a honeymoon.

There has been a personal downhill spiral as a caregiver. Giving and giving and giving eventually leads to an empty tank when it’s not being reciprocated. Fortunately, I was accepted by the Wounded Warriors Project, and was sent to a retreat for the wives for a little R&R. It was the first time in years that I didn’t feel alone. To be frank, it was the first time I thought, “Holy Sh… this IS normal” So we are dealing. Day by day. Hour by hour. I am currently in the process of applying for the Caregivers program. I didn’t apply for the longest time because doctors at the VA told me that I didn’t qualify because my husband “has all of his limbs.” My husband has physical wounds, but if you saw him on the street, you couldn’t tell. I have gained strength from the WWP and a few select women I’ve met along the way, and I plan on becoming an ambassador to help others who feel alone. This is our story. We are bound together by red thread, and no matter how far gone he is in himself, he always comes back to me, and for that, I am forever grateful. Stay tuned for the positive changes that have occurred since writing this at the beginning of 2012! The differences are night and day, we reached the light at the end of our tunnel.

Semper Fidelis,

Mrs. Sis

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One Response to Spartan Wife Pt. 1

  1. Significant Other says:

    Spartan Wife, your post brought me to tears as I know the emptiness and loneliness you have experienced throughout your relationship. I understand the dual life you describe all too well. As most people are unaware of what goes on in relationships where PTSD and TBI dictate. And sadly I also understand the lack of light in your eyes for as I have looked back at photos before meeting my Marine and of us before PTSD and TBI unraveled our lives I had a spark in my eyes that has since disappeared. Emotional unavailability of the Marine in your life and the constant giving that isn’t reciprocated is all too familiar a story for me and my Marine. Ironically the day we got married my Marine was also full of emotion and warmth that I had stopped seeing on a daily basis. I have asked myself often through the years why I have stayed and I understand your statements. You love your Marine, the moments when he is the person you fell in love with you can think of no reason why you would question your relationship or having gone through all you have gone through with them. But those days when you as a significant other have to deal with angry outbursts, moodiness, being a care provider as though you were taking care of a child and not receiving any love back sure often make it difficult to maintain and stay strong. The VA in 2004 through 2010 did not offer services to significant others. My thought was how the hell can you help the Veteran if you do not help the family who is the support system and life line of the Veteran? It never made sense to me.

    About three years ago things started to fall into place. He seemed to have finally found some sort of peace and was working and was happy and we were pretty happy. Then he was hit on his motorcycle. Ironically he made it back from Iraq and was hit by a civilian woman who was most likely on her cell phone while driving and he was on his motorcycle. This greatly altered our lives and continues to as he still is attempting to recover from the injuries he sustained three years ago from this accident.

    We have struggled and fallen so deep into the dismal abyss that was our life that often it felt as though there was no bottom, no light at the end of the tunnel and that we would continue to spiral down wards in our hellish life. We have made it through eleven years together. Eleven years of good and bad, of learning and adjusting, of fighting and loving. This year in fact I got to the point where I felt I could take no more, I was done and felt I could give no more. Oddly this decision came not after the worst period of our struggles together, but I think was a culmination of the many years of giving and feeling empty. My Marine was taken by surprise. And I was amazed that he actually cared. For this year his anniversary period was worse than it has been in several years. We basically were living like roommates for months. So at this point he has stated he will turn things around and make a conscious effort to be more attentive, communicative and loving….and because I love him and know that he is a good man under all the PTSD and TBI I am staying and waiting for him to fall back into character, to be the man I fell in love with.

    Good luck Spartan WIfe. Stay strong! I will keep you in my prayers.

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