I started blogging years ago, as an outlet, some place I could go to word vomit, someplace I could put things and share them, or not. It was more about the physical process of typing the words, getting them out of me and to somewhere. Eventually though, I felt like I ran out of things to say there, so I stopped. In the last few months, I began to feel like I needed that outlet again, but I didn’t feel like what I needed to say was worthy of being read by my friends, family, strangers. Today, I went back and read some of those old posts, and in attempts to share more of our story with you, I am going to share some of them.
This one brought me to my knees this morning, this one…was written by Nate, and I told him that he should write something, so that others could see the other side, so it didn’t seem like this was just about me. He said he didn’t think his words were good enough, HE felt unworthy of sharing his words, and I encouraged him, that even if they helped one other person that it IS worth it, it is ALWAYS worth it. I’m really good at offering up advice and not taking my own.
Lots of things stood out, and I am grateful.
Tearing Down Walls
“Hello, most of you who follow this blog know a decent amount about me. I am the other half or in some cases more like the one quarter compared to Kristle’s three quarters. I would venture to say that a large majority of you have a spouse who is like me and needs at times to be coaxed like an adult child or lead by a leash to get things done and done right, or just you simply decide to do it yourself. For some of us warriors, I guess is the word to call us, it takes a lot of swallowing pride to watch this. I speak for myself here but I believe that I had been a strong, confident and mostly successful soldier and person before my injuries and ailments. I always felt like the best was the only success and that I was always strong enough to do it all, not only perfectly but also with out help. Now skip forward a little to my time after I had returned home from Iraq, early 2008, and on my way into a Warrior Transition Battalion(WTB).
All I wanted was to beat this diagnoses of TBI and PTSD (among other less significant injuries), but it seemed the harder I tried the worse I got. So I reached a point in my life where I had to come to terms with the idea that what I knew best and where I wanted to be was ending, I was medically retired. While this was an honor in some ways to be given the rights and benefits of a soldier who committed their life for 20 or more years to our country, I truly was sad, disappointed and ultimately depressed. The good though in all this was Kristle and our family. I would never have to leave them again to go fight a war, I could be their to help raise them, to watch them grow and be involved in their lives. Boy did I not see the bright flashing signs telling me to get help or things will be worse. Now, I could argue that I did go through “therapy” of many sorts and was on a slew of medicines, 17 or more at one point, so I should be doing good. I also decided I could fix my problems at least on the outside by just saying “I wont be like that anymore” or saying “I changed, look at how good I am”. EHHHH EHEH! In the voice of some crazy sketch comedian on one of those shows…… I truly hadn’t changed nor fixed things at. In fact I had built a pretty thick wall around me that no one could see past or feel my pains issues or burdens, accept of course the one person who I cared most about. That wall was paper thin to her. I still tried to hide behind it but she could feel the pains and see the shadows. No I was not hiding it from her, I was simply denying it. Denying it to the point that it has shredded our marriage, or trust and her personal sanity.
Denial is a powerful thing. While I was busy trying to be perfect and hide from failure, Kristle has been left following behind me picking up the damages. Denying herself along the way, dropping her life so that I could pretend to be Nate. Until enough was enough. I always swore I would do anything to get better, or help my family or be “normal”. That is anything but what would put me out of my comfort zone; deep intense therapy, in-patient therapy etc. What a croc of bologna, I did just enough to get by, put on just a enough of a front to keep people happy. When inside I was dying, and I was only hurting myself and my family more and more. I guess where I’m going is that us “warriors” try and maintain this perfect, prepared and tough exterior at all costs. But is it worth it? Warriors even wives would you sacrifice the very thing you want to protect and love for the pride of appearing perfect or together? Would you accept, I mean truly accept, the help that is out there to help you cope in a healthy way so that the you that your loved ones need can really be there? Can you give up the pride, break down and say HELP! PLEASE HELP! So those of you closest or that know how to help can help. I know now finally after four years of hiding that this is what I must do.
It is not easy for you or even anyone around you, but it is necessary. Learning when to say enough, learning to accept success even if it’s less than perfect, learning to accept the gifts that your loved ones give to you by their personal sacrifices daily. I know that’s what I want. I want to be able walk into a busy place and handle my fears, to learn how to communicate effectively when I need a break or just expressing myself with out anger or rage, to learn how to treat my wife so she knows I love her everyday not just the good ones, I want to follow through with my life plans, to pave a path for my son and daughter to follow and be proud of, I want to be the real me for me. I want to learn to be Me so everyone knows who I really am, not just what I what them to see. True change has been a long time coming, trust will be a structure built again with my wife once again, not just patched long enough to stay dry.
Some times breaking down to your most raw vulnerable state is the best, maybe even the only way to begin to build yourself back up. That is where I am finally, fours years later, one badly damaged marriage and family later, one extremely hurt and burdened woman still holding it together.”