For those in the Shadow

When I met my husband, I already knew the military life.  I understood that I would often be left to hold down the fort.  I knew to make plans assuming he wouldn’t be there and relish in the joy if he could be there.  I planned our wedding on a Wednesday to accommodate his daily work schedule and made sure it was in December to avoid courses.  

When we bought our first home, I lived here first like so many other spouses.  I raised our babies, and pets and did renovations (horribly) but alone.  I got to watch on social media what he was doing, yet still I tried to avoid that as it somehow stung more on the long tear-filled days (mine and the kids)

For years I pissed and moaned mostly to myself about the lack of consistency, lack of real routine we could bank on and so much more.  But I still had unwavering pride, for my husband, the troops, and my country.

When I look back on that girl, I want to shake her, that part of our journey was easy.

Since he released, I realized the Military WAS our consistency, it WAS our routine, and it was what we could bank on.

We knew there were specific times of the year for field time, exercises, courses.  We knew deployments were possible ahead of time, and more importantly, we KNEW money was coming, how much, when and where it needed to be put.  We knew who to call if there were issues, we knew if he was sick where he needed to go.  We had contingency plans for our contingency plans.  Then suddenly, poof, just like that I felt like everything disappeared.

Living with a partner in the military is hard, living with a partner with PTSD in the military is hard, but we did it.  We experienced loss, pain, heartache, happiness and I met some of the most wonderful people in my entire life.

I never imagined how difficult it would be to live with a partner releasing medically, with PTSD and a back up plan that could very well be swept out from under us at anytime, is terrifying!

There are so many unanswered questions, delays in those answers, enough paperwork to make you weep, and the worst of it, is watching your usually structured partner, kind of float through each day without any real passion.

But I learned that the majority of what being an active duty spouse taught me, to survive the daily green and combat boots, would be the most important bag of knowledge i could dip into.

Routine needed to come back, even if that meant we all woke up at the crack of dawn to eat, tidy the house, shower, dress the kids.  Coffee at the kitchen table with my husband, and our planners to ensure we were planning our own “courses, exercises, deployments” became imperative, much like “O” group. 

It was so easy to want to sleep in, lazy around, and forget to do simple tasks like laundry, or eat.  The trained brain my husband had, which, by default trained ours needed to be awakened again before we allowed that depression to creep in.  

I’m not going to bullshit anyone and say that it’s easy.  I often, HATE that he’s home.  Not because I don’t love and admire this person.  But he’s always in my shit lol.  I got used to MY routine, MY discipline for the kids, the way I kept the house.  The re-adjustment period every military family has after every course etc. is now my everyday.  Essentially, we have to get to know each other, fall in a different type of love, and live together.  It’s not easy, it’s not always my favorite thing, but he’s still the same moderately deranged Sapper I’ve always known and loved.

When I met my husband, I was told I would be disappointed, that the military would never put me or our family first, and that I needed to maintain “thick skin”

I did that,

but NOTHING prepared me for release, you need thicker skin, a genuine passion for your future alone and together, and a lot of coffee.

For the families, don’t forget who you are, but right now its your turn.  Don’t let your soldier forget who THEY are.  The military is an identity, not just a career.  It’s easy, much like when we have a child, to forget who we are and adopt just “mom”.  

Routine, communication and little bit of standing back and watching goes a long way.

For the men & women getting out, thank you, you’ve done so much good, we see you.

-Ash

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