I get many comments and emails about how to deal with a loved one coming home from the war zone. Some of them are simple and other really break my heart. It is so hard some times to answer their questions. Mostly because I have to allow myself to feel again what I felt when I came home and that isn’t easy to do. I think that I have dealt with those feeling just to find that I am not sure that I have when I am asked questions like I have in the last few weeks.
On a post that I made back in 2006, a lady recently made a comment that took me days to think about and respond to. She wrote back and I had to look deep inside myself again. This is not easy, as I have said. I am starting a new relationship and get worried that if he sees “that side” of me he will run away. But I realize that, “that side” of me is part of me and he needs to know about it like everything else. Then there are other things that come up and make me even more nervous.
I made one response and she came back with another. I hope that she does not mind that I am bringing this interaction to the forefront. I believe that it might help me, her and others to bring some light to it. Maybe some of ya’ll that have dealt with this can also offer some advice.
Below is my response to her last comment.
You are not rambling and it does not bother me for you to contact me. It helps to talk. It may not solve anything, but it helps to ease the stress. And if you can find someone that understands what you are going through, then you can see that you are not alone.
I am at a loss for words. I can’t imagine loosing a child, much less being the one that finds them. I had many fears of loosing my oldest son while he was in Iraq. Being there together could bring up many concerns, would they notify me if something happened to him, would I be in a convoy and roll up to see him lying there on the ground…. many horrible fears!
Read the book you got on PTSD, but remember that even though there are common symptoms, everyone acts out differently. It would be better if he would see a councilor but if he wont, see if you can get him to go to the VA. Since ya’ll are both former military, he might be more willing to talk to someone there than in the civilian world.
Many of my friends say that I am such a different person now, than I was before I went over there. In some ways that is good, and in some it is frustrating. Just yesterday morning I was scared that my boyfriend would think I was nuts when I asked him to please turn the light out in the truck. (I am riding with him for a few weeks while my wrists heal.) It was dark outside and he had the light on inside the truck. I felt exposed! The longer it was on, the more nervous I got. He was done looking at what he needed to look at and we were just sitting in line. I asked him to turn the light off. He looked at me and asked why. I really didn’t want to have to explain because I felt silly. We are in the United States after all! But I could not shake that feeling of someone watching me through a scope. I asked him to please turn it off because I was uncomfortable. He gave me another funny look and turned it off. He didn’t press me for anything more, but I knew he was wondering what was going on in my head. I was scared that if I told him he would think I was NUTS and decide that I was to much trouble and dump me. But I told him later, in my own time and he says that he understand. He is former military, but never saw combat.
Lately it seems like things are popping up that keep reminding me of Iraq. It has been a while since that has happened. Just when I think I have got it all behind me, it comes up and slaps me in the face. In the last couple of weeks, I have had several calls from people thinking about going over, I ran into a guy, twice in two days, that I worked with over there, and I have had a couple of people ask me about dealing with someone coming home. It brings everything to the font of the mind. One of the things I learned while over there is to shut that stuff down, put it in the back of my mind and not think about it. Ya run a mission and something bad happens. You deal with what ya have to deal with to take care of the wounded and get back to camp. Once there, ya know ya have to go back out again. For me, to be able to deal with that and not go crazy, you shut your feelings down….put them in a box, lock them up, and do your best to forget it. Unfortunately, that “skill” overflows into the personal life. When that happens, it causes problems because they don’t understand. Then when the feelings creep up on ya and slap ya in the face, you feel silly and scared that the one that love you will think you have totally lost your mind and that they will leave you. And sometimes, we will push those we love away so that they don’t see all that we have pent up inside. We don’t want to burden them. It is easier to run them off than to have them leave us because they think we are crazy.
Thing is you have to stay true to yourself and your feelings, but be aware of his. I know you say you know what is inside, but this is not the same man that left to go over there. The job he took is not a life long career, it was never meant to be. So don’t think that he is giving up a good paying job to work on the marriage. War, combat, comes to an end sooner or later and ya have to come home after it ends. Do NOT come down on yourself for that. A relationship takes 2 people. One being gone for a long time will always put stress on it. You have to get to know each other again, fall in love again. Treat it like the two of you have just met. He is going to be that different. Yes, you are going to see some of the man you fell in love with once in a while, but you will never get the person back, fully. He also has to be willing to help himself and not waller in the mud, but that does take time. If you fight, stand up for yourself, but be aware and don’t push it to far. There are times that it is better to walk away for a while and come back to it when the feelings are not so high and out of control. But he has to know that as well.