#CharlieMike, Community Service, Faith, grief, Loss, Shaken, Vulnerability

What’s best for three.

About a thousand times, I have heard, “Just do what is best for you and the kids,” Or “you have to do what feels right.” Does that mean what I think is best,  or what you think is best, which definition and whose opinion are we basing this off of? Is it what feels right to me, or to you, and when? Because we all know, I am currently a minute by minute kind of person, I have to be. Sometimes, things are really good, and other times I crumble, and there truly is no rhyme or reason to it.

You begin to second guess yourself when you have a thousand opinions in your ears, a thousand people who think they know what is best. I am grateful for those who truly know me, and who truly knew my husband beyond small glimpses of things. You see, there was a lot people didn’t know about us, about our life, and about my husband. He struggled way more than most of you know, but we kept it within the confines of our 4 walls, and those closest to us, because he truly wanted what was best for us, and that for him was to be a provider, and to be strong, to lead us to Jesus, and to put aside his own struggles for the three of us. He never wanted the attention to be on him, not for a second.

I often wonder what many would have said to him, if they knew how much he struggled on a daily basis, if they knew how much pain he was in daily, if they knew he fought to do basic human things, and yet he was the first to work, and the last to leave every single day. He worked alongside me in the community despite his pain and struggles, he supported the kids whole heartedly at all of their activities, even beauty pageants, he was an amazing pageant Dad! He painted an image, he paved a path, he made his life what he wanted it to be despite struggles. More importantly, despite the opinions of others, Nate did what Nate wanted to do. We were told in 2008, he would never hold a job, that he would never have the mental capacity to complete school, that we needed to accept that he served honorably, and now it was time for him to rest. That wasn’t what was best for him, or us, so we fought it.

Almost 10 years later, Nate had the life he fought for, he graduated from UF and fulfilled his dream of becoming a Gator, he had one of the highest GPA’s in his class, and was excelling in his career. He still was in the same position health wise that he was 10 years earlier, and in retrospect, even worse. If we listened to everyone’s opinions then, where do you think we would be? The move to Florida for Nate to go to school was the best decision we ever made, and the judgement was laid on thick for that one. We literally sold everything we owned to take a chance, for him to make his life what he wanted it to be. In his eyes, this is what he fought in Iraq for, for the freedom to choose, for the freedom to make life what he wanted it to be,  for the freedom to do what is best for three. MM_0175-1.jpg

 

Faith, grief, Hero Missions, Shaken, Truck, Uncategorized, Vulnerability

Spoiler Alert; This wasn’t supposed to happen.

I’m not good at talking, I can’t find the words to say when we sit face to face, probably because I’ll crumble, maybe I fear the reaction, maybe I fear judgement, I don’t know, but I can write. I can write because I can spew, no reactions, and then, I can walk away and be done with it. There is so much of this that can’t be fixed, nothing that anyone can do or say can fix this. I have to work through it on my own. Im angry, everything hurts, everything. Just breathing somedays hurts because I can’t understand why it had to be him and not me. We talked about this, we talked about how I thought he would be stronger than me, and he could live without me, but I could never live without him, and yet, here I am without him. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Simple everyday things were not supposed to feel like this.

The list of things I currently hate includes, but is not limited to;

Restaurants we have been at together

Restaurants we have never been at together

Driving his truck

Not driving his truck

Having his things in the house

Not having his things in the house

Living in the house

Thinking about NOT living in the house

The fact that he is soooooo loved

How prepared he was for this

Sleeping

Not Sleeping

Not being able to have stupid arguments

The fact that we EVER had stupid arguments

Hearing songs that remind me of him, or special moments

Bonfires

The VA

Putting things in JUST my name

Kids activities, this week Dads and doughnuts, we avoided it.

Math- that was his deal, and I am not smart enough to help my kids.

Going to Church

Not Going to Church

Meeting People who will never know him

Working

Not Working

Hanging out with couples without him

Traveling

Not Traveling

Leaving my kids for even 5 minutes

Not being able to leave my kids

Being far from my siblings

The list is not all inclusive, but that should give you an idea of the plethora of emotions I go through on a daily basis just trying to get through every day tasks.

The one thing though, that I hate more than anything else in the whole world right now is the fact that he knew the real me, the me I am so good at hiding, the me that is not as well put together as you all see. He held that together because when I fell apart he picked me up, he he was my punching bag, my voice of reason, my everything. I keep people at arms distance so I don’t have to let them in, I’m really good at that, always have been, I let him in, and now I’m here, without him, and I don’t know which way is up.

 

Spoiler Alert; this happened, we are here, and now I’m stuck.

 

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grief, Loss, Uncategorized, Vulnerability

Tearing Down Walls

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.”

Nate