“We'd been apart so long--I'd been dead so long," she said in English. "I thought surely you'd built a new life, with no room in it for me. I'd hoped that."
"My life is nothing but room for you." I said. "It could never be filled by anyone but you.”
The other day I was sitting and reflecting on the deployment. THE deployment, the one that shook my world and ended who I thought I was. I was sitting and reflecting on moments that I had somehow forgotten had even happened... Somehow, I seemed to have forgotten lost phone calls and the few letters I had gotten.
In a very strange way, I knew that whoever it was coming home, just didn't seem to be my husband. It wasn't anything specific, it wasn't anything he said or did, it was just a feeling I had had. And when I saw him for the first time it was like looking at a stranger. He stood differently, he walked differently, his voice seemed odd. There was no familiarity in the way he kissed me for the first time in year.
We make excused, we spouses of those with PTSD. It's one of our greatest talents. The kiss was different because I had inflated this moment to be something more grand that it could ever live up to. His gait has changed because of months of hard living in the desert. The truth is, we all know something isn't "right" pretty quickly, but no one ever wants to be the spouse who's husband came home "broken by war" as it is often said.
We have grown so used to it being shameful. The secret that we all keep, the lie that we all tell, the life that we "don't" live. We grow weary of explaining why we stay, of making excuses to those who won't understand and facing a world that has more misconceptions about PTSD than truth in it.
The reality in my world is that I spend at least one day a week crying because of something he has said to me. I spend at least one numb from the hurt of our life and another resolved to not give up and yet another resolved to quit. But I love him and there is no other person who is better suited for me. And this life has made me strong.
I am now able to stand my ground against a man who used to easily sway me. I am able to fight for the life we deserve against someone I love who is supposed to be building it with me. And I am able to live my life each day the way that I want to because he isn't going to support my choices anyway, so why not do something that makes me happy?
It would be so easy to give up. No one would blame me for leaving. No one would hesitate to tell me I've done the right thing, I was in a terrible situation, I am stronger for being able to leave than to stay. I would find that being able to openly tell others what was going on would bring relief and they would suddenly understand all the cryptic cancelations and flimsy excuses. And in so many ways, my life would be so much simpler.
But I wouldn't be stronger. I would end up with another person who I was easily swayed by (not to say my husband used his power for evil). I would continue to be a person who never fought for what she really wanted because it's easier not to, because keeping the peace is more important. And really, what kind of life is that? Peace at any cost is no way to live.
So, I live with a man who is easy to love but hard to stay married to. I stay with him even though he can't love me back. I fight battles that would be easier left alone because some battles must be fought. I walk into situations knowing I can do no right, I will never win and yet I stand in the fire and refuse to let it burn me.
There is no room in my life for someone else. And I look at our life, tough as it is, and know that it is the one I was meant to lead for every path we have taken, ever obstacle I have overcome, ever battle I have fought and every tear I shed have led me to be someone I never thought I could be.