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.

Maybe.

22 comments:

Long-time RN said...

Dammit to hell sweetie, I'm so sorry you and your family are becoming additional casualties of this war.
I'm so sorry support and connection are slipping away as well as having to cope while so far away from all that was familiar. Whatever emotional line has been crossed or unfinished business that has become his priority, the fact you feel excluded and emotionally abandoned is just plain wretched.
No one has a crystal ball. Please don't judge yourself or beat yourself up over how well others appear to be 'handling' these situations. Hope and pray for continued strength and insight. Keep on with your studies and love those girls. Take very good care of yourself, breathe, dance. (((Hugs)))

Eric said...

As an observer who served, but not in war, it has struck me how different soldiers have returned from the war changed in different ways. One of my good friends in college is a former Army Ranger who was one of the 1st troops we sent into Afghanistan after 9/11. He was one of the Rangers who fought at Roberts Ridge in Op Anaconda. He killed and saw his buddies die up close. He came back from the war more focused and serious about his life and life in general. He considers the war to have been a clarifying educational experience about the real world. He's now in medical school. Other war veterans have returned like him. Others weren't changed, at least noticeably, by the war, beyond having an extraordinary life experience - and I'm taking about Combat Arms types, too - while others have had a hard time incorporating their war experiences.

I don't know, but it does leave me to wonder how I would come through war. With your husband, I can only say what I would say generally about a man undergoing a difficult psychological period. It's very important that his closest loved ones stay with him and be a part of his life, even when he seems to be pushing them away. It's a process.

Rachel said...

I have been reading your blog for a year now and I love your writing and I always find what you have to say very helpful and interesting. I think you have a lot of wisdom and a lot to say.So I just wanted to thank you .....

Soldier 2 Soldier Support said...

War does change your outlook on many things in life. There are many that go through the same things, its not that they are better but the pyschological aspect of war on loved ones coming back can reek havoc on family life. For me it was seeking professional help for myself and my family. God Bless you and yours.

missalexxx said...

I've been reading your blog for a long time and I think you're an amazing writer. I've commented you a few times before, I believe. Anyways, I just want to say I'm really sorry the war had such a bad effect on your family. I dated a guy in the army who was deployed, and it changed his entire life--and not in a good way. We aren't together anymore (he broke up with me while he was deployed) and I know a lot of the reason he broke up with me is because of how bad he was effected. I have watched how he has changed since being at war and now since he has been home and it hurts to see how bad he is hurting. There is no easy way to deal with it, and it seems there is no way to help them. The only thing (in my opinion) that helps is having their loved ones around. I can sometimes get him to talk to me about things and it seems to help. I really and truly wish you and your family the best.

Eric said...

The 7 Army Values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage.

The "Selfless" of Selfless Service is the basis for the honor of military service. I don't think any soldier can know when he joins how expensive honor is. It's hard-earned in peace-time. In war-time, the price of honor is brutal.

Chaotic Mom said...

You write very well. Very well. I encourage you to keep writing, even if not specifically about your "armywife blog days". And I say this after reading several of your posts now.

Wyldth1ng said...

Good luck to you.

Aprillini said...

GIRLFRIEND, won't you please write something to tell us how you are doing? People you don't even know are sending their thoughts and prayers your way. Sometimes just writing it out helps. I know.

Long-time RN said...

I'll second the above comment. Hope your world is intact and you're hanging tough.

Elisa Morrison said...

I found your blog for the first time today, and even though I don't usually comment on the first read, I have to write and let you know that you are not a failure, you don't have to smile, and if you really need to, you can get some help. I'll be praying for you and your sweet family.

Long-time RN said...

Hey there, just stopping by every now and again to see if you've ventured back to writing. Sincerely hope you are doing well.

UnitedStatesAirForceAuxiliaryMember said...

Wow! I love your site! Great music! I want to thank your husband for serving, and stay safe.

Long-time RN said...

A new month has started. Stopping by to say hi. Life like an hourglass glued to the table? Wishing you smiles and peace.

TBone said...

Julie Anna,

Hey...it's TBone. I stopped by to see what you were doing and read your last one. I was sad to see what is going on in your life.

I too came back with a cloud over my head. I lost a friend and some folks I knew in Iraq. I saw and did things I regret. When I got back, I sat on the couch for a month and drank while I was on leave. I played XBox and did yard work, but wasn't much of a husband. I had nightmares and almost hit my wife when she woke me up one time. Life was shitty. Everyone said I changed. I still drink too much occasionally. I suppose my "give-a-shit" meter is still pegged most of the time.

After a while, I started to feel better. The old, tired saying about "time heals" is true to some extent. Love him, even if it doesn't seem like he loves you back. He will get his bearings straight in a while. Don't give up on him and I'm sure he won't give up on you. He stepped through a door over there that he didn't know existed. He will reconcile with his demons eventually.
"Love heals" too. Remember there are three things: hope, faith, and love...and the greatest of these is love.

Take care,
Tony aka TBone

Long-time RN said...

Good to read you may be posting again and of the move. Many of us are keeping the Washington men and women in our thoughts and prayers.
Have a good holiday weekend.

Jenni said...

Hi Julie Anna!
We went to Fort Lewis to see Ryan (Usual Suspect) come home. I thought about you a few times, since you'd mentioned Fort Lewis in a couple of your blog posts. I know you're no longer there, but I just wanted to say I hope everything's going well for you.
=)
Jen
(btw, you got me hooked on The Sundays!!)

Hooah Wife4life said...

I just came upon your blog today. reminds me of me...you are in a different place than we are but still it reminds me of the "good ole days" reminensing of being that young family in a one bedroom apartment.Living on love, as they say. While today we endure a deployment with an end that seems so far from reach. While there is so much unknown about this time, there still looms a larger unknown when he comes back home. I have surely after a year apart lost sight of what "normal" is and we can never go back.
Let me asure you that your viewpoint is still worthy, elightening and insightful.
Thank you for sharing.

Long-time RN said...

Hope you're OK and life's on a smoother course. And I hope you're dancing! Take care.

Hyc said...

I wish you'd write again, it made me feel a little less lonely

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