27 May 2012

End of  May.  Yes, still here... 

Alot has happened in seven months. Last fall  I had a dream that a young man was trying to get me and my husband's attention  as he stood behind a tall glass window. Every now and then I would glance his way and then look back at the very busy world, my husband never even noticing. But when I woke up I knew exactly what that young man was trying to tell me.  My husband and I agreed I would go off the pill and my anti-depressants,  and six weeks later I was pregnant. I knew it would be a little boy- I knew who he was, who he is.  Nobody was very surprised when the ultra sound confirmed it- just excited.

Now my husband and I are trying to decide between the names Soren (for the Norwegian 'Sorenson' side of me) or the name Creed Christian.  I like both names but honestly, the Ranger's Creed and the Soldier's Creed are very cool and my husband was friends with a SF soldier who went by that name and I always wanted to name my son something  pertaining to the past decade of our army life.  Baby is due this summer. Looks like he will be a Madigan baby. 

My husband was one of the twelve soldiers who went to Walter Reed Medical Center and one of the six who had his diagnosis changed back to PTSD after Forensics Psychology tried to change it to adjustment disorder for the Med Board. I called the Secretary of the Army last fall and talked to his main secretary about what was happening here at Madigan. I told him a bunch of wives were getting ready to go to CNN because we didn't have any other options and that something really wrong was happening here at Ft Lewis- that soldiers weren't being taken care of concerning  PTSD and the Med Board.  He gave me his email address and told me to have the other wives email thier husband's issues to him and he would look into it.  I quickly called the omsbudsman here on post and told her to get the soldiers together and gave her the email to give to them.  A few weeks later the Army Surgeon Generals office called and said they would be taking over.

After the holidays my husband flew to Walter Reed and was tested for 2 days straight to see if he had PTSD. They called my father in law with questions, and they called me for over an hour with questions about my husband.  It was hard  to relive the painful past  during the interview but I knew it would be worth it.  To this day my husband is being treated for PTSD and I am learning to live with it.  I have also learned to be strong.  Though certain days are very rough and hard for me to be around him because of the PTSD, there are days when I have a glimpse of the husband  I knew- the one who loved me and would do anything for me before Iraq- and it's those days that make it worth it.  I have my own therapist who helps me deal with the past and we also see a marriage therapist. I have to say, I didn't realize the magnitude of all this until I had professionals thanking me for doing what they wanted to do, but couldn't out of fear of  repercussions from the army.  I know I played just a small part in all this, as there were many involved, but I really believe God ultimately stepped in and now many more soldiers are going to get the help they need and deserve.

After my husband returned from Iraq, after I learned of the many life altering changes he had endured in Mosul -including being blown up,  fire fights, taking others lives, being snipered at,  and a cowardice betrayal from his own side that almost cost him his life, after he changed into someone who scared me and hurt me and abandoned me and our little girls and who tried to hurt himself and drink himself into oblivion...I could hardly write in this blog anymore. I could hardly make sense of anything anymore. I was just trying to survive.  I no longer knew what was normal or okay in a marriage... The war was so young that PTSD and TBI was little known and we didn't get the help we desperately needed, not until after we came back to Ft. Lewis and even then it was a terrifying time.  I somehow wrote in this blog a little though I think I just skimmed over things and tried to write about simple little life things. I don't know. I won't go back and read it. It still hurts to much to read in those time periods. I wrote alot of drafts but didn't publish very many out of fear of putting it all out there for the world to see. This is the most I've written in a very long time and I'm still not even sure of what's ahead in life for us. At least now I'm able to breathe again.

29 October 2011

I am still here at Fort Lewis! STILL.  My husband is still going through the Med Board process.  I really think he will be done soon but I have been saying that for almost two years now, so I honestly have no clue how much longer we will be here.

Things have changed so much since my husband joined the army 10 years ago.  Change is just an ongoing process in the army and we all change with it without realizing it.  We are both still receiving therapy and are on antidepressants, as is the rest of the army population...okay maybe not everyone. Just the ones that have been in for several years now, the ones who will actually admit when things are really screwed up.  I guess the trial for the sergeant who killed the civilians in Afghanistan started today. Don't know what to think about that.  He definately needs help and should get it before anyone  judges him...but the army doesn't usually work that way. 

I had a job last summer  until I broke my foot and couldn't walk for almost four months and I haven't worked since. I recently cracked a different toe on the same foot, but at least I can kind of walk this time. I think it's because I have very little peripheral vision. It's always been this way since I was a teen and my optometrist correctly predicted that I hated video games and then told me that video games was my new homework- to try and improve my vision. My brothers were jealous. You can imagine what my husband thought when I walked into a doorframe while we were dating, and later a tree branch, and so on and so forth.

I have lost all desire to work, finish college, become a nurse. Sad, I know.  I've found it's easier to just hide in my house. Not the right answer, I know  but I have lived and learned and understand why so many armywives do just that.  I did get a phone number from the library for a class to become a tutor for adult illiteracy here in Tacoma. I really like that idea- to help others learn how to read. I couldn't imagine not being able to read. To help make up for the lack of income I've become one of those couponers you see on TV.  I get several hundred dollars a month in food and household goods with coupons. It's really fun. In a sense, I'm beating the system- in a pathetic housewife sort of way....Filling up our pantry til it's overflowing and hardly paying a penny for it.  Getting ready for the Zombie Apocolypse.  My daughters friend calls it the panic room. I thought that was interesting...panic room?  I guess so.

The army has hired companies to come in and cut down all our precious trees on post.  My girls are not happy. Why would they want to take away something so beautiful, such as these Evergreens? I don't know. I can see the helicopters as they fly overhead better now though, which is nice.  Try to find the positive things in a situation, right?

Once in awhile I wish I never changed the template of this Army wife blog. I lost alot of good links to fellow bloggers and can't find them now. I still wonder what ever happened to the Unlikely Soldier. And now I know. I just looked him up online and it appears he still has a blog.  Hope he keeps writing. 

It appears there are many cases at Madigan of soldiers who have stacks of paperwork with diagnosis of PTSD who are going through the Med board. When they reach Forensics Psychology as part of the Medboard evaluation, the not so lovely doctors there change the PTSD diagnosis into a noncompensational diagnosis (such as 'adjustment disorder and possible malingering') to save Uncle Sam some money by not medically retiring the soldiers who should be medically retired. This has become so big that some very ImPoRtAnT people in the army world have gotten involved...finally!  I wonder how many soldiers have been put out on the street without benefits  they rightfully deserved and desperately needed only to end up, oh I don't know...maybe becoming homeless or committing suicide or killing thier family- all because Uncle wanted to save some money. Nevermind that without these soldiers, Uncle would have nothing.

04 March 2011

March 4, 2011

Let's see...Pilot program, 1 year so far going through med board, at least four more months to go, possibly longer.

My husband isn't thrilled with how long this is taking but I see it as a chance to save some money. We are pretty sure it will be a medical retirement, though nothing is ever set in stone.  I could sit here and complain about alot of things pertaining to this whole mess, but I don't want to.

It gets harder for me to describe life on a military post. I'm so used to it I no longer know the difference between this world and the other.  I feel as though I have talked about everything over the last five or six years. I've seen it all.  Hmmm...I do see alot of soldiers who haven't deployed. I can tell from thier patches. At one time, not to long ago,  there was nothing but soldiers who had deployed around here. Now there are alot of  young faces of  infantry boys who haven't gone anywhere yet. I just want to pinch thier cute little cheeks and say, "Start praying now...cuz you're gonna need it."

29 December 2010

Has it really been five months?  We are still here at Fort Lewis. My husband is going through the MED board- the new pilot program, actually. He started it last February and we are still waiting. I think the last of his medical appoinments was a few weeks ago. He is now receiving Social Security disability as well.

Life has been good, for as good as our situation can be.   I am more or less his secretary in most things. His memory is shot to the point if I try to have him write his appointments in a scheduler, he ends up losing the scheduler within a day or so.  I keep track of everything on a giant calender in the hallway so we both can know whats going on each day.
I call him an hour before his appoinment because he won't remember he has one. I still get the phone calls from him asking me to come get him for lunch or after work, only for me to remind him that he has the car that day.  I still get the occasional panicky phone call from him because he can't remember where he parked in the giant Madigan parking lot. I will calm him down, talk him through it and we usually find out he has actually parked on the oppositte side of the hospital.  I usually just go with him to his appointments so I can know for myself whats going on with him medically and so we rarely 'lose' the car that way. His body, as well as his mind, is really tore up and worn down and we have been learning to live this way.  I was working up until a few months ago. We honestly thought we would be out of the Army by now, but I guess the longer he's in, the more money we can save. I try to look on the brighter side of things now.

My husband and I both still get therapy.  It does help, as does various medications.  He takes nine pills a day for multiple reasons, I just take two.  He's in constant pain, even while on the pain meds he takes, but he is learning to live with that as well.  He technically should be in the Wounded Warrior Battalion, but his infantry unit is taking decent care of him so he hasn't moved over yet. I don't think he will at all, if possible,  because someone told him that the Wounded Warrior unit can keep him in the Army past his Med board if they think he needs more treatment  and he does not want that.  He wants to be treated outside the Army because sometimes just getting away from all this is the best treatment of all.

I  am in the process of sending out nursing school applications, hopefully for next fall. I was working as a CNA until I broke my foot a few months back. Now I just hobble around, only dreaming of the day when I can wear a normal shoe on my right foot again. All my left shoes are getting worn out, while my right shoes are still new looking. The zipper on my left Harley Davidson boot busted and the leather is all worn. The right boot? Perfect condition. I can now drive using my left foot on the brake and the gas. My mind is so wired that way now that I don't think I can go back to using my right foot to drive again.

I keep my mind busy. I pray alot, which helps. Alot. I am so grateful I chose to stay with my husband despite everything because now his number one priority is me, our marriage, and our children. We are best friends again, something we hadn't been for five years. Now that we understand PTSD, TBI, and the other injuries he has, we can better deal with it all. There are still days that are not good, but at least they aren't a living hellish nightmare that we endured for so long. We both lost who we were. Life was beyond Hell.

There is still a very small part of me that is constantly screaming in anger and pain. No longer fear, thank God, but the pain and anger that is there is still very real. After hurting my foot and I literally couldn't get around for a couple of months, I rediscovered my passion for books. I read so much now.  Some people deal with thier pain through drugs or alcohol. I deal with mine through books. The escape is beyond heavenly. I have ten library books on my shelf, about twenty I bought recently through ebay, and ten more on hold at the Pierce county and Lewis-McChord libraries.  I go through goodreads.com and find the titles of books I want to read and just go at it. Mostly paranormal romances, or the occasional ballet story. I can't get enough, and I love every minute of it.  I'm going to let my foot heal completely so I can take ballet classes again.  I even thought about going back to Thai kickboxing. I did that when I was younger and loved every minute of it. 

One thing I know-I'm a different person now. I'm a stronger, better version of who I was before I lost myself to a very sick, wounded infantryman who went to war one person and came back someone...or something, very different. He was  a monster.   I would wake up in a panic in the middle of the night, not knowing who or what was lying next to me.... I'm sad that a part of me is dead after all that. I have shields that shoot straight up around me over topics  such  as  alcohol, Iraq, war, women. I can get cold and numb in an instant, with no  feeling in me other than self preservation for me and my girls. Nobody. Will. Ever. Hurt. Us. Again.

Life on post is  interesting as usual. Soldiers came home, the population has exploded, life is as crazy as  ever here.  There are things about  this life I have always loved.  I have so much to tell- the little stories of daily living on an army post. The things I used to write about before Hell hit home. I can't wait to write more. For now, there is a great book waiting for me by my bed. I must go to it.

08 July 2010

The 4th of July was fun. The public was welcome on post for the Freedom Fest and fireworks. My brother and his family came over for a BBQ and we watched fireworks that night. Instead of getting stuck in the middle of the crowds, we found a newly cleared, grassy spot on the hill overlooking the track/fair area and were able to have an upclose view of the fireworks. We were the only ones there, besides a soldier and his little kids on the other side. Instead of getting caught in the traffic, it was a simple walk home. We actually hung up the flag outside our house earlier that day, where it stills waves proudly in the wind.

Soldiers are returning home. Alot of them. I don't think I'll even be able to drive my car on post- it's already so crowded and it's just going to be even more so as summer creeps on. I dont mind. It's my playground but more importantly, it's thier training ground.

20 June 2010

The other day I saw a helicopter chasing a smaller one all around post. They were obviously having alot of fun. The thing I liked most was the giant JAWS teeth painted on the larger helicopter, like a mouth. I had to look twice to make sure I was seeing correctly. It's been awhile since there's been some lighthearted fun around here.

My husband is still receiving the help he should have gotten along time ago. So far so good. Even I have been getting help for awhile now and feel like I am seeing things through new eyes. The fog has diminished quite a bit. Though I will never let my guard fully down again, I do smile alot more and have a better outlook on life. I can't look at female soldiers without getting sick to my stomach so I avoid most places on post. The male soldiers aren't as bad, never have been. Marriage therapy has helped tremendously and I can honestly say my husband and I are friends again for the first time in years. He has gone out of his way to prove his devotion to me and our children and though he is still learning to fully feel again, he told me he sees me as his safe place. I'm happy about that. I hope I can truly say the same about him again someday. PTSD is so real. I know alot of wives out there know what I am talking about.

Summertime is here according to the calendar. The clouds and rain still think they belong, and I still wear sweaters, coats, and boots. I wonder if it's because I lived in the hot South for two years. I just can't seem to warm up. I still make beef stroganoff in the crock pot as though it were the dead of winter and sip on hot cocoa.

The 4th of July is just around the corner. I have always loved the fireworks show the army puts on for us. We'll have a BBQ...maybe even get a little sun. I don't see very many flags on the houses here on post, not even on flag day. We haven't put ours up since the day my husband got back from war. I love my freedom, as we all do. I think we are all just tired. Imagine that.

I can tell alot of soldiers have returned. I don't dare drive on post or just outside of the gates in the morning, lunchtime, or after work. SO CROWDED. I hope I start to write again. I'd like to have a little more of my memories recorded here because I'm not sure how much longer my husband will be in the army. I'm turning in applications to nursing schools now and where I go is where we will go, for a change. Unless Uncle Sam has other plans, but I don't think so.

27 February 2010

The PX was crowded today. As I walked throught the lines of young and middle aged women anxiously waiting, I remembered that today was the day Mario Lopez from SAVED BY THE BELL would be visiting. I passed through the food court and sure enough, there he was, hunched over a table, signing autographs. All I got a glimpse of was his curly dark hair, some brown skin, and just a peek of his famous dimpled smile. Honestly, not that big of a deal.

I do think it's fun to occasionally see a famous person sitting right there at a table at the PX. My PX. The same PX where the woman's clothes are temporarily hidden by a wall of cardboard, a meek little table and chair set out for some big-name who just happens to be lucky enough to step foot onto Fort Lewis. Wait, maybe it's the other way around. Maybe WE are the lucky ones. Anyway, I have seen a few famous faces here over the years. The ones I really remember are President George W. Bush, Thomas Kinkade, Cutie-pie #81 Burleson from the Seattle Seahawks...um...that's all I remember. I do wish I had been here when Dr. Cullen graced us with his presence a year ago or so. He came all the way from Forks to say Hi to the military and I was all the way in Fort Stewart, Georgia at the time. I have wondered if Edward might tire of Bella one day and join the army and get it in his contract to be sent here to Fort Lewis...ah...never mind.

Let's see...any other excitement going on? I was at the commissary tonight buying ingredients for my precious homemade pico de gallo, when I snagged the Army Times newspaper and paid a whole $2.64 for it- something I rarely do. The front cover caught my attention. It seems the very kind $6000 tuition grant that Uncle Sam was offering to military spouses was just snagged away. No warnings, no explanation, no worries. Oh, except for the thousands of spouses who were counting on all that money to go to school next semester. I think they are all very worried now.

I'm just glad I used $900 of that grant this term to finish up my last two nursing prereq's. One more week and I will be all done. Micro and Stats almost done? Check. Associate degree in pre-nursing? Check. Washington state nursing assistant certificate? Check. The remaining $5100 I was counting on to help pay for nursing school? ....?....?

Oh that's right. Uncle Sam took it back.

14 February 2010

I want to thank everyone who has ever commented. It means alot to me.

My husband has been home for about four months now and he has literally everyday gone out of his way to show our girls and I how much he loves us. It took alot of ptsd therapy through the vet center (which he is still receiving) and continous marriage therapy. He absolutely refused to go through the army services and somehow was allowed to get help throught the vet center, as long as they worked with the active army.

The other thing that really made a difference was when I finally let him go. I finally woke up and realized that as much as he blamed me for everything, it wasn't my fault and I couldn't help him. I had no other choice than to take care of myself and our girls and that is finally what I did. I told him I would let him go if that is what he really wanted. He could go party, play, meet women, drink himself to death...I would no longer allow the kids and I to live the hell he was putting us through. I had a strong support group with my family and our church and my Heavenly Father. And I would let my husband go for good and take our girls and get the hell out of his way.

He said no, he didn't want that. He wanted us. He started going to his ptsd therapy appointments, stopped drinking, stopped hanging around certain people, he took his numerous meds daily, attended anger management classes and ptsd studies, he took our marriage therapy seriously. He moved back home and even began to participate in family prayers everyday. Once I let go, he held on.

I have such hope for us. We both are very careful now to show each other love and appreciation everyday. I know that I cannot control him, nor would I ever want to try again. I deserve a man who will fight for our marriage and family and that is what he must do to keep us. And that is what he is doing. I stand by his side because I want to now, not because I am afraid or feel that there are no other options. I believe in him and in us, and best of all- I believe in myself. I help my husband alot with all his appointments, and health and memory issues. I don't mind.

I have seen the wonderful man I met and married change after war and I have literally watched the demons dance around him through it all. The hell we, as a family, have gone through has been the worst nightmare I have ever endured. I can't let myself think to much about it yet, as the pain is to tremendous to bare. I start crying in the middle of the day for absolutely no reason, but I know there are reasons, very real ones.

The man I knew and loved so much is coming back to life a little more everyday. I am so grateful. He is still in the army and we still live on post. He has years to go in his enlistment and I don't know if the army will let him out or not. If not, then he will be so close to retirement then that is what he will do. If they let him out soon, then we will take on a whole new life in the civilian world. I really wouldn't mind going back to it. I really wouldn't mind if he and I just took our girls and moved to Alaska and hid away from the world in a cabin for a very, very long time.

I suffer from my own ptsd, or so the therapists say. I walked on the edge for so long that I still find myself doing it once in awhile... But I can now look around and smile. I still believe in hope and I think this time, hope believes in me.

I think I may really be able to go back to chronicalling daily armywife life now. Through the eyes of a wiser, albeit very cautious armywife now. That's okay. Maybe I can help some newer military wives out there through the hell they will quite possibly endure, if they are not already there.

Hang in there ladies. Be strong and take care of yourselves. You deserve to be loved and to be happy. War, ptsd, tramatic brain injury...it's all very real so keep in mind that your husband probably still does love you very much. But while he is trapped in his own hellacious world and has to decide for himself when to get help, you need to back off, be strong, and look out for yourselves.

21 October 2009

The army helicopter keeps flying overhead, spotlight streaming through the trees. They're obviously looking for someone up here. I told the girls to help me make sure all the doors and windows are locked, which was a good idea- two windows and the back door have been unlocked for who knows how long. I'm up tonight playing with the idea of writing again. I feel as though I've left part of myself unfinished, the way I left this blog.

I often think about the time eight years ago when my husband and I were in Utah and he was getting ready to make the enlistment into the active duty infantry official. I made him promise he would never let any of those army horror stories happen to us. He said he would do his best. I felt as though we would be okay. I still feel that way, despite everything. Maybe I'm crazy. Wait...yes, that's right, I am.

He spends a good half the time with me and our girls and spends the rest of the time with his army buddy off post. It's a very difficult way for me to live, but he says he is almost ready to come home for good. I have seen a difference in the last couple months with the various appointments he goes to, along with our marriage therapy and my personal therapy. He still has his moments, but we are both learning about triggers and how to just walk away when things get intense. It can escalate without a moments notice. We are also relearning how to communicate with each other. Sometimes I hold him so close to me and I can almost pretend that my husband is really there with me. My real husband- the one from the past, before all hell broke loose. For so long it a was as though my husband was gone...just gone. His body was there but a totally different person was inside of it. It was so hard to comprehend. Very painful. He couldn't understand...he couldn't even care.

My husband is doing one thing that many soldiers won't do. He is getting help. He has even asked me to drive with him to his PTSD appointments because the one time I didn't, he drove to his other place and got drunk instead. Some might say, let him do this himself, but he has been my husband for so long. I promised him in sickness and in health, and I am keeping my promise, even if he didn't. If we end up walking away from each other, at least I know I fought my damndest to save this marriage. Things are better but we still have a long way to go, I understand that.

We had such a great week together and yesterday he decided to go to the other house. I thought things were okay until a phone call woke me up at one in the morning. He was drunk off his ass, walking home from a bar. He spilled his guts saying he was tired of death and of bullets flying past his head, and he is mad at God (to put it kindly), and my dad is a mother fucker because he's a Vietnam vet and should understand. Strange thing is, he had to be up by five to go to work.

My husband went to war for our country and came home with a different war for our little family to fight alone, in silent fear for so long. The army says they are trying to help. What a joke. We are getting majority of the real help through the vet center. When my dad says FTA I know exactly what he means now.

The helicopter is gone. They either found who they were looking for, or they didn't. It's okay, the doors are locked and this army wife can handle just about anything now.

13 August 2009

My heart is broken. My husband was diagnosed with PTSD and TBI and life has been hell for more than two years because instead of getting the help he needs, he was shit on even more. We all were. Now we are back at Fort Lewis and my girls and I are living alone. He can barely function with out freaking out, and for safety sake has moved out. We are all getting counseling of all kinds but I can still barely breathe. I thought an army wife was supposed to be strong, just like her warrior husband... now we are all broken.

I love my husband and I am still here for him, despite the things he's done which I can't even begin to mention. He says his biggest fear is to lose me and the kids, then why can't he see that I'M STILL HERE?!

i'm still here...

30 October 2008

We live on post. Housing is roomy enough, and I have set up our 'home' even though we don't really know where home is anymore. Things are better. Neither I nor my husband are as crazy in the head as we used to be. I no longer have to worry about him bringing home soldiers who sit around and get drunk with him and make sexual hints to me behind his back. At one time I thought that was how army life had to be, but now I realize that is no kind of life.

With a little help I have been able to see the viscious trap many families in the military fall into: alcoholism, lies, hurt, a feeling of no escape. He hasn't drank in over half a year. And I told him straight up that I can no longer live with his lies. What is a relationship, really, if there's no trust or honesty? It's certainly not a healthy one, nor is it one I want myself or my daughters subjected to anymore. He has reached out for all sorts of help and programs and has shown me in every way possible that he is serious about getting help. He has been through alot and I know that. I've been there for him. I wait. And hope. And pray. I also save my money and have my back up plans... just in case. He is who he is and I no longer try to change him. Either he continues to be someone worth living with, or he doesn't.

The truth is we do care deeply for each other, but I can no longer be the coward I have hated so much, who accepted so much...so we'll see what happens.

Yes, I am a huge Twilight fan, though I keep it fairly quiet. Stephanie Meyer created a timeless story than can take even a fifty year old back to the age of seventeen- a time when love really was true, and when it was all that seemed to matter. She created an amazing man who can only be found through paper and pen. (And to think I lived that close to Edward in Forks, Washington when we were stationed at Fort Lewis.) November 21st, the book comes to life in the movie theaters. Being who I am, I will not go see the movie for the first week or two. I truly live in my books and movies and if there is a person's head in front of me at the theater, then I will most likely smack it... so I will wait till the hype calms down a bit and the crowds become sparse.

The reason I even bother to mention Twilight is because the first four books were my dearest companions as I journeyed from Texas through Louisiana, through Mississippi, through Alabama, through Georgia, up to South Carolina to pick up my husband, and back to Georgia to a new army post. I mostly read them at night, after my girls were tucked into the hotel beds and the lights were dimmed. Out came the flashlight and alive came Edward and Bella. I would stay up reading til I couldn't see anymore or until the book and flashlight would fall to the floor, my eyes closing. Of course I read Breaking Dawn, but that was after we arrived at Fort Stewart and I had to wait until August for its release. I can only say that Stephenie Meyer has a mind I would love to visit.

We were walking through Wal Mart the other day, the only major store around Hinesville for about 45 miles, when a soldier commented on how bad ass my husbands Sea Hawks jersey was. We found out he was from Seattle too, and was just recently stationed here in Georgia. His english was so crisp and clear. For once I finally heard my own North Western accent. I hear alot of odd slang and accents around here. Black, South, slurred....you name it, the accent is here. I had a best friend from Alabama who was stationed in Washington with us and she tried to tell me we sounded as though we spoke more proper or something. I thought it was odd but now I know what she was trying to say.

It's good to write again. I've missed me.

02 February 2008

I believe my armywife blog days may be over. I have nothing to write about and when I sit down to write, I draw a blank. My husband has been active duty for almost six years and though I was told the other day that I am still just a baby to this armylife, I feel as though this is all I know- to the point that I can no longer distinguish the difference between before and after life inside the gates enough to write my observations or opinions anymore. I don't know. Maybe I'm just tired and don't care anymore. But let me give it one more try.

I took my daughter to ballet class the other day and sat on the steps of the empty hallway next to the open door of her classroom, classical music floating through the background and the occasional ballerina walking by. I tried to study medical terminology but couldn't focus as I realized despite moving and all things brand new, including the scary turns life can sometimes take me on, the one bit of familiarity I could cling to was simply being in a ballet studio.

When I was in high school and my heart needed healing, I could dance and drift away to another place. I could hide in the dance studio where I was an assistant ballet teacher and smile as I taught the sometimes plump little girls with thier pink leotards and frilly tu-tu's, the kind that only little girls can wear. Or I could hold onto that barre and focus on nothing else but bettering myself as a dancer and lifting my leg higher than before, or turning faster than ever, or balancing with perfection and listen to the click click click of my beautiful brand new pointe shoes on the hard wood floors and the only competiton I felt was with absolutely no one else but myself... those were the days when I could truly breathe and when I knew who I was and where I was going and what I could become.

I always thought I had to get out of that dirty, rainy little nothing of a town but I had no idea how much I would miss it once I was gone. I married my husband as a teenager and had a baby soon after and had kissed ballet and all my dreams goodbye. I had breathed my last breath of true youth and young freedom. We fought together to survive those early years, just me and him and that baby. We barely had enough food for dinner some nights but we had more than enough love to feed the whole damn world. We truly knew what love was. He was my knight in shining armor, the only boy I could EVER want. I was his queen of all queens.

As time passed, the boy turned into a young man and somehow gathered enough strength to leave for a little while and train in the army as a means to try and better himself, but most importantly, to provide for his young family- now with not one, but two precious daughters to care for. It was torture, the time apart, but as time proves over and over again, it surely passed. So grateful to be back together, we moved to an army post in Washington, a place where he learned how to become a true blue infantryman and how to become one with the Strykers. War took him away again, not for to long, but long enough to see and do things that he would never forget, as much as he wished he could. He lost friends to death and he himself was injured. His countenence grew darker and darker with each passing day after his return. Nobody cared about him. He no longer cared about anyone either, much less of what his God wanted for him. Something was under his skin and wouldn't ever let him rest. He could no longer look at his family the same. He saw them as a burden, they were in the way... of what though? He had no answers. In moments of sanity, he didn't want to feel this way.

I, on the other hand, lost my mind as well. How could the only boy I ever loved and who ever loved me change so much? He now had an empty soul, eyes so dark, and a hatred so deeply inbeded that not even death itself mattered to him anymore. He was now something so opposite of what he used to be.

Our love was there...somewhere. It had to be. If I just dug deep enough maybe I could bring it to the surface and let it renew itself. If I prayed hard enough maybe the God that was there for me as a child would show himself when I needed him more than ever before. Maybe, if I could somehow look inside myself and reach into a part of me that didn't think could possibly exist and hold onto that woman who has to be strong no matter what happens, maybe she'll be strong for me. Because I'm losing ground. I can't find reality. The baths I take everyday aren't to spoil or pamper myself, they are to help me find myself, and maybe to help me hide from this dark world that I live in inside these gates. When I turn out the lights and light a tiny candle and hide my face deep in the water with thoughts of never coming up for air, it's to protect myself from the world that nobody warned me about when we were young and desperate and we joined the army at war time.

I can look around and see the families who have been where we are. I can pick them out pretty easily. We try to smile. We are supposed to have pride. So why don't we fly the American flag outside anymore? It's not there. Not anymore. We can't go to the grave sites of the men who died in war because it hurts to much. We can't go get help because that would be the end of us for sure. We are experts at hiding what this has done to us. I applaud the soldiers and families who can endure all of this and come out shining. Maybe you are stronger than us. Maybe you are better than us, or maybe it's just how it is. I do applaud you though.

Maybe someday while I am at my dance studio, pirouetting, or leaping through the air, or just simply breathing, I can get myself together and be as strong as you are, as strong as I should be.


15 December 2007

We get a tiny bit of clouds and drizzle and everyone here throws on thier coats, hats, umbrellas even, and call it rain. I call it a little bit of home as I wear a short sleeve t-shirt and stand out in the chilly air soaking it up. Who'd have ever thought I'd miss the rain so much?

I am ready to begin work at the hospital. I've been asked more than once if I have been there yet and seen what there is to see? I knew they meant the burned, tore up soldiers from Iraq. The soldiers who are missing parts of thier bodies, skin, face. The guys in wheelchairs without arms and legs, or with bandages around thier burned faces, or what is left of a once beautiful face. Of course I have seen it. And I am going there to do what ever I can to help out.

Home life is okay. Fine, even. I rarely walk on eggshells anymore, ever since I found this excellant article on co-dependency, and it woke me up a bit. While self-medication through alcohol and 'shutting down' are still regular occurances for my soldier, he understands that I don't like them very much. We have somehow managed a twisted compromise involving alcohol and family and army and religion. To try and prioritize that list just isn't possible right now. It depends on the moment, really. I'd like to say that Iraq was the only cause of PTSD and a messed up life, but I believe the infantry unit he was in began the hell years before he ever deployed. He was low-crawling and 'killing the enemy' in his sleep way before he ever left for war.

Fortunately I am relearning that I must take care of me, and not just by going to ballet or school or work. My children are becoming more of my focus-as they should be, as well as myself, and not just him. I am beginning to remember that my opinions matter, and they matter alot. I am also learning to be fair and patient, less judgemental, more compassionate. Everyday seems to be a learning experience around here, for some reason. If I dare to hope for a better place, it's okay. I'm not disillusioned. Hope, kind words, and willpower really do make a difference. I've witnessed it many times over.

There is still hope here.

04 December 2007

The other day my neighbor and I were visiting and the conversation turned to the all the disrespectful, uncontrollable children in the neighborhood who run around and cause trouble. She said it was never like this until about last year when the army started moving all the wounded soldiers and thier families into housing. She commented how it's all those infantry families that are causing the problems. Then she stopped in mid-sentence and suddenly looked trapped, and very apologetic. I just laughed and told her it's probably very true. I wasn't offended in the least.

30 November 2007

I believe I have finally pulled my head out from under the covers and can take a good look around. You'd think I'd been in depression the past few months and maybe I have. It's probably not to uncommon for a situation like mine, especially with a surprise move just before the holidays. I miss my family and thought I would be celebrating one last holiday season with them, but we have always known we could leave anytime and always made the most of each Thanksgiving and Christmas, knowing it could be our last with them for awhile. We have some good memories.

Back at Lewis I was within four hours driving time from my family so I never quite knew how other army families felt, being so far away from home. I wondered why many wives hid inside thier homes so much. Now I know. We really can't afford to fly us all out there and back this Christmas, and neither my husband nor I are from wealthy families so they can't help us out either. Oh well. At least I will be with my husband and my kids will be with thier daddy this Christmas, which is a miracle in itself at wartime for an active duty family.

Fort Sam is a slight disappointment, but I have to remind myself it's not the typical army post I am used to living on. This is more of a training/medical post and I rarely even see an army vehicle, rarely see army helicopters fly around, though I DO see alot of military funerals. I see plenty of AIT students, doctors and nurses, and wounded soldiers from Iraq.

The attitude is different here as well. The feeling in the air is of newbies who have yet to have a clue of what lies ahead of them-war. So many of them are focused on drinking, playing, and trying new sex partners every weekend, when they should be learning how to save lives and become real soldiers. My husband had some friends over once and they happened to bring along a female soldier and she spent the whole evening snuggling up to two different guys. Come to find out both guys were married, but not to her. I was disgusted that it was brought into my own home.

I know people will do what they want in this world, and I almost feel it was a curse to be brought up with the morals the way I was. It makes it difficult for me to be around this environment. I really believe seeing all the shit that goes on around here is what set me off into a depression. The reality of it all, and knowing my husband has to work right in the middle of it, and all I can do is trust.

Of course it's rampant all through out the army, but for some reason it is right in my face here, as much as I try to look the other way. I know single soldiers have a right to do what they want, but when a trusting wife is waiting back at home and female soldiers are trying to lay thier dirty claws into the married men just for the hell of it, I get sick. I've just seen way to much of it here.

Onto the lighter side of life, I found a ballet studio with a wonderful instructor and I look forward to my classes each week. They keep me alive really. Pirouette's and pointed toes and a dancer's demeanor. I just drink it all in. I have even picked up a yoga class, as odd as that class is to me. I have heard the health benefits are tremendous so I just had to try it. Hell, I may even start eating blueberries and oatmeal everyday. But I refuse to hug a tree- unless it's one of the Evergreens back home. I miss them that much.

I really want to post some positive, uplifting words but I have very little good to write. That is why it's been a month since I last posted. But life goes on just as it always does, so keeping busy with school, working, volunteering, and dancing just as I always have is what currently keeps me going.

Thanks to those who still come back here and read. I see there are still a few people left!

29 October 2007

Every now and then I ask my husband if he's ready to get out of the Army, move to Alaska, build a cabin, and live the real life yet? He was willing after he came home from Iraq, but I wasn't ready. Now I'm ready but he wants to stay in the Army. We clearly are on different pages.

It's not just that I want to live in Alaska. I'm more after simplicity. I want to get back to the basics of life. Just to be able to peek outside and not have to worry about the fast-paced, false world we live in now. To see a wild animal or a wildflower. To see a sunset or watch the stars and breathe fresh, clean air. I long for all that.

No more soldiering. No more war. No more news. No more lies and tears and lonliness. No more putting my life on hold so he can do it all. Of course I'm proud of him, but I'm tired. And he is too.

Sometimes one can feel trapped to stay in this life. What will we do out there? How will we give the kids health insurance and a decent home, with food, toys, a future? Infantry skills are great for the Army, but I can't exactly kill people out there in America...

That's why I'm going to college my love, to become a nurse and make some money and help people all the while. So we can get out and look around and breathe again. See what life is really about. I have forgotten that world to the point that I am afraid of it, and you have forgotten it even more so than I. Here, on the inside, it get's so cold and lonely. The outside looks brand new and adventurous.

I miss my sister. She needs her big sister when that first little baby comes. I miss my parents. I want to know them again before they get to old and don't remember who I am. I know you miss your family, though you don't even seem to know who you are anymore.

I especially miss you, my love. There are so many divorces in this world. Everyone you and I know have been divorced or are unfaithful to each other. The rings on our fingers mean nothing to them, but it has always meant so much to us. Let's hold on to each other and get away while we still can...

So he has at least a couple more years on his contract. One can have a daydream moment, can't she?

12 October 2007

I drive to the barracks to collect his green bag full of dirty ACU's and give him a quick kiss on the lips. He looks thinner in the face and very, very tired. If I am lucky he will get to come home soon. In the mean time half an hour here and there will have to get us by. At least he is not in Iraq again, I tell myself.

I text him tonight, telling him I wish he were here because I miss him. I want to see him again. He texts back and says soon enough, be patient. He sends me a text picture of a waterfall in Washington that he named after me. The memory soothes my lonliness for awhile. I miss the Washington coast I tell him. We'll have to make new memories here, won't we?


He asks for a sexy picture of me which I text to him, no longer caring if his friends see it or not. He likes my pictures and it helps him get by.

Good night, my love.

Good night.

I know better than to harrass him to much while he trains. He can't control all things so there is no point in getting upset with him.

Awake. Kids off to school. I run my errands early, before the heat picks up and before traffic gets to busy.

Looking for work is not always fun, especially when I don't know my way around this enormous city. If I take one of the interstates West, then I would take it East to get back home. Deep breath. I can do that. Not bad for a shy, skinny girl who was raised in the country with orchards, fields, and combines being my only entertainment. I would ride my bike two miles on empty country roads just to meet my best friend halfway for a picnic in a field of wildflowers. Quite a difference from driving in the seventh largest city in the U.S.

I set my purse down and check my cell phone. Yeah, the ringer is on just like the last time I checked it. No phone calls. I hate feeling so dependent on someone who can't help me when I need it the most. Moving here has been limiting to say the least. I am completely on my own, which in some ways has been liberating, but when it comes to simple things such as finding a new store or looking for a job, I feel helpless.

I throw the cell phone on the couch as I walk out the door and head across the street to the neighbors house. She is out front for a smoke as usual, and I smile at her. She is barely familiar, yet the only thing closest to familiarity I have here. Another neighbor is with her and they are chatting away as armywives do so well, with an occasional bout of laughter one could probably hear up the street.

I swore at one point in my life that I would never be a lawn chair armywife, that I had better things to do than waste time by hanging out front, chatting with other desperate housewives, no matter how good the gossip may get. But things are different here and if some much needed socialization means sitting out front, then by all means.

The conversation is good and I join in easily, no longer that shy girl from the country. We all agree that eventually even the sweetest girls have to learn some bitchiness in order to survive this life. The eighteen year old across the street has yet to gain confidence as an armywife. She keeps to herself, hides in her house, and shakes when spoken too. I introduced myself to her once and she could barely utter two words. I remember before my husband was in the army, I lived in awe and fear of wives who were married to active duty soldiers. I was afraid they might swallow me whole if I looked at them wrong.

The conversation progressed from the local neighbors, to Tricare, to planning a trip to the range, to our husbands and female soldiers. Ouch. Touchy subject. It's unfortunate some of the situations we have witnessed involving infidelity. I have often wondered why Uncle Sam doesn't just throw all of the soldiers, male and female, into one big bed and just get the giant orgy overwith. Hell, throw in a bunch of wives to make it more realistic.

We have all wondered about odd situations involving our husbands and female soldiers, all in the name of 'army business.' We have seen to much shit go down and what can you do about it? Worry till you can't see straight? Get even? Trust blindly? How about trust and be the best person you can be, so you can at least know you did your part in the marriage, and hope your spouse will show you the same respect and decency you show him. If he doesn't, then bravely move on.

And then get even.

10 October 2007

My husband finally got a moment to breathe and we were able to go the the infamous San Antonio Riverwalk. What a peaceful walk with hotels and shrubbery, restaurants and flowers surrounding the water; people relaxing as they enjoyed a delicious meal outdoors, pretending they really could feel cool air from the water take away the humid heat of the sun.

We had a selection of eateries and unanimously decided to give Dick's a try. The waitors there were known for their rude behavior and bold comments and while I knew my husband would have fun with that, I secretly prayed they would look the other way and just let me enjoy my bourbon glazed salmon in peace.

The guys working that day clearly didn't see a need to pick a fight with my husband and they focused thier attention on the older, fatter crowds and made it clear to them that was why they were getting picked on. One guy even told a family to keep thier kids the hell away from him. I was easily entertained and tried not to laugh to loud. I think my husband was slightly disappointed no one said anything rude to us, but he didn't feel the need to start anything either. Of course I was relieved. There were a few military guys there and one of the waitors interupted thier conversation to ask a simple question,"What are you guys talking about? Blowing up shit and stuff? Yeah, I like that shit too."

I am slowly learning the post and it frustrates me more than anything else. There are very few outlets for family members and soldiers alike, very little entertainment. I understand that is what we have San Antonio for, but damn. Of course Burger King owns the lunch crowd just like on any other post and it appears the PX or bowling alley is the only hang out around here besides a couple of bars for the nightlife. Yes, I did find the library and yes, it is where I go to clear my mind.

I am amazed at the cemetary here. Not a day goes by when there's not a military funeral or two in session. Literally everytime I have driven by on the main road, I have seen a funeral. I have watched the widows dressed in black and saw the 21 gun salutes. I felt as though I had no right to invade thier privacy by looking, yet I couldn't help but wonder about that soldier's life. Was he old and retired? Did he fight recently in Iraq or Afghanistan and just couldn't hold on to this life anymore? Was his wife and children, mother, father, family or friends in the most severe pain I couldn't ever imagine feeling? How in the world does that pain get better? I have decided it is best not to dwell on it. As a military wife I could go insane wondering about all the what-ifs this life holds.

02 October 2007

The house that Uncle Sam built is beginning to feel a little more like home now. Majority of the unpacking is done and I have set up house pretty close to the way I had it set up back at Fort Lewis. Only this house feels more Southern in just about every way, right down to the front porch almost being an extended room.

I have come to understand that geckos are actually our friends because they will eat our enemies, and killing cockroaches has become a sport I share with my kitten. She notifies me if one is under the couch late at night, and I take all my frustrations out on the nasty critter until it is dead. Really, not only do we talk 'normal' in the Pacific Northwest, but we don't have to deal with even half of the insect issues the South deals with.

I have such kind neighbors who will bend over backwards just to help someone out. Whether it be a listening ear or helping me find the dance studio somewhere deep in the heart of San Antonio, or bringing over Pepsi chicken and key lime pie, just because. They have been there for me. I am finding out kindness can be contagious.

Contrary to what I thought for a little while, armywives are still an asset to soldiers. My house is often a hangout for soldiers and I have passed out a blanket and warm dinner more than once in the past few days. I hate not seeing my husband regularly, but I do see him from time to time which helps prevent the insanity from seeping in. He always brings a few buddies with him and of course I don't mind, but when there isn't someone tagging along, I cherish the rare moments alone with him.

I have made an ongoing list of things to do when my husband is away (whether it be training, tdy, war, what the hell ever) because if I don't keep busy, I become that crazy armywife who needs to seriously get herself together...

*Exercise (my faves: walking, jogging, weights)
*Make chocolate chip cookies (remember to halve the recipe and double the chocolate chips to your liking)
*take the kids to the park, the one with giant sprinklers...we have never experienced such magic
*work or school or both, of course
*re-evaluate goals and write them down often
*eat green olives stuffed with feta cheese while typing on your milblog
*look for that other ice skate until you realize there are no ice skating rinks nearby
*give some of those cookies to the soldier who took apart your AR-15 rifle and cleaned it for you because he just couldn't help himself
*get pictures of all your husbands tattoos because you can't stare at them when he's away (especially the skulls that glow in the black light)
*continue the ongoing debate of getting one yourself
* pat yourself on the back for withstanding the peer pressure of your husband and all his buddies who tried to convince you to get that spur-of-the-moment tattoo just because they did. God bless the milky skin that hasn't been inked
*download music from itunes (a few faves: Where'd you go by Fort Minor, Dante's prayer by Loreena Mckennitt, Season of Love by Jaci Valasquez, Holiday by Britt Nicole, Flower of Scotland by Brora)
*apply to nursing school and hope that you will still be here next spring when school starts
*take bubble baths often
*send lots of pictures and a weekly email letter to friends and family back home because they really do appreciate it
*get a kitten, the entertainment alone will keep you smiling
*go on giant southern cockroach hunting sprees, no hunting license required
*read this woman's blog
*walk up the street about midnight. Enjoy the 88 degree weather and marvel at the night lights of San Antonio
*grab that map and try not to get lost upon leaving those gates when heading out into the real world
*sing lullabyes to your kids at night because it tends to soothe you just as much as it does them
*let your youngest crawl into bed with you at night once in awhile...the world suddenly doesn't feel so lonely
*don't shop to much...just a little bit now
*do buy sexy lingerie. You'll get to wear it someday when he gets back
* do buy sexy bras- you can wear those even when he is gone
*Ok, buy those cute shoes while you're at it, they will help keep a smile on your face just by looking down
*plan some really fun Halloween crafts and decorations to do with the kids...gotta love Halloween!
*take lots of pictures with your digital camera
*learn to make a quilt
*paint a dresser and make it adorable for the kids bedroom
*count how many drill sgt's you can see at the PX in a week. If they don't have the hat on, just look for that black badge...not to many, huh? They rarely stop working
*take a peek at Craigslist.com. It's unbelievable what good deals you might find
*watch your daughter pick her nose with her own tongue. It's highly impressive
*take up salsa dancing. What could be sexier? I miss, miss, miss the latino dance club back at Fort Lewis
* dig through the cupboards and return all the neighbors tupperware and dishes, as well as the neighbor kids clothes left behind from the last sleep over
*buy a leapard print broom because you really will sweep around the house more often
*more ideas to come

24 September 2007

I read this from the Seattlepi.com and had a good cry. I don't know how families manage to go on after thier soldier is killed. There was a camp at Fort Lewis to help some of the families deal with the pain. Some excerpts from the article:

Kaylee wadded the clay into a ball.

"This is the Iraqi that killed my dad," she said, her voice rising as her fists pummeled the clay into a flat pancake. "I hate you, I hate you. I hate you."

And this...

"After lunch, the kids trooped back to their rooms for one more task -- writing letters to the ones they had lost. The adrenalin charge from playing with the soldiers evaporated, and the mood turned quiet.

"I love you," wrote Chrizchele Bunda, 9, whose father died while patrolling the Tigris River in Iraq in January 2004. "I wish I could see you one more time..."

As painful a reality it is to read this, I'm very glad to see the government reaching out to these families and offering something, anything to help honor and remember thier soldier, as well as keeping them a part of the larger military family, for they always will be.