I spent 8 years in the Army, active duty. Deployed 3 times, married to the woman I love for the last 8 years, and who has been my friend my entire life. I was always…angry, selfish…and I was not a good husband to her. It took almost losing her once before to see what I had become. And I hated myself for it. It has been a little over a year since I got out of the military, and I thought things were getting better. I had changed in many ways for the better because I needed to. I thought we were going to start a family. On Tuesday. 08Dec2020 she came home from work. I was working on a project for school, she asked me to pause what I was doing. She told me that she is leaving me. She can’t do this anymore. That we were like roommates, I’m never…there. And she resents me and is not in love with me anymore. I asked if she would see a therapist with me. She won’t. I told her I had no idea and that I can change, I’ve been changing and I want to, bbut I need help. She has given up completely on me, and wants nothing to do with me. I felt…agony. Everything she told me, I realized she was right. I have never really been in the moment when we do anything. And I broke down. Since that day, I haven’t been able to keep from falling apart for longer than 30min. I couldn’t think of anything else other than what happened? What have I done. After talking to some friends and family, I realized that for 9 years now. I have been in denial. I haven’t spoken about what I saw and did on my first deployment, and that I had bottled it up for 9 years. I realized…that I had been denying even the slightest possibility that I have PTSD, and thats why whenever we are out in public, I’m always searching, always watching, turning to see every new movement and loud noise, and every exit. I never realized that I was not being there for her. That I was always on the defense and not giving her what she needed. I now know that I have been poisoning myself by not telling her any detail about what had happened to me. By the time I realized, it was too late. I’ve tried to tell her. I’ve tried to, not justify, but to help her understand that I was seriously affected by what happened, and that I need her help. That I want to open up and be vulnerable like she always wanted me to. But it was too late. The only person I trust enough to finally let some of the weight go, the person I love and want to share my life with, wants nothing to do with me. She won’t let me talk about anything. And I don’t know if I can last much longer. She has been the one person I can rely on for the past 9 years. And she wants nothing to do with me. Her eyes look right through me…like I’m nothing. When she does speak to me, it is brief and cold. It terrifies me. And it is killing me. All I want to do is tell her how much I love her and how sorry I am that I never opened up. And that the only reason I didn’t was because I thougth this was my burden to bear. I didn’t want her to see or understand the evil’s that I have. I wanted her to stay safe from that hell. But I can’t even mention talking to her. Now I’m left stranded. And each day that passes, my thoughts get darker. I feel like, if the person I love the most, hates me to the point where she will spend 9 or more hours away from home just to avoid me. Then what kind of person am I? What kind of worthless monster am I? And with how much I’ve clearly hurt her, why should I even fight to stay alive? I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. I don’t think I have much longer before I just end it. I already thought out how. And with her gone literally all day every day. I know I have so much time to do it. I’m barley holding on right now. She leaves again tomorrow for another all day avoid me session. It’s an opportunnity that I don’t think I want to resist anymore.
First off, welcome to Heart Support. You came to the right place.
I’m not military, so I can’t totally understand the horrors you’ve gone through or the pain you’re experiencing right now, but HS has partnered with The Veterans Project to bring resources to veterans. It might be worth a look. Also, you can get encouragement from staff blogger Ben Sledge here. He’s a vet who struggles with PTSD, so he understands what you’ve been through and how you’re feeling now.
As for your wife, I’m really sorry to hear about that man. It sucks to realize too late that something may be beyond repair, when you thought things were going just fine. Don’t blame yourself, it’s not like you were actively trying to push her away, your intentions were good. This can’t have been an easy decision for her either. However, right now she needs her space. She’s grieving too. Don’t write your marriage off just yet though. Things are dark, and I can’t promise they’ll end well, but one thing you can try is sitting down and writing a letter telling her everything you want to tell her. If you write down everything you experienced and how it affected you, it ought to self-explain why you didn’t want to tell her, and it may be cathartic for you too. You can choose to send the letter or not, but it’s a start at gathering your thoughts and feelings around her and the things you’ve been through. I know you’re desperate to fix this right now, but don’t rush it. It will stress both of you out if you do.
Check back in with us. I hope things go well for you.
This pretty much says what I was going to say, especially about Ben.
@jakejeckle I am really sorry to hear about everything going on. I know that is really tough and while I was never in the military, I know what PTSD can look like from my uncle who served in Vietnam. You are not alone in your struggle and your life has so much value.
You are NOT a worthless monster and I can say that with 100% certainty. It doesn’t matter what you did overseas or here at home, you matter and you are loved. Please stay.
Brother, I can’t even begin to imagine what emotional guilt you are sifting through right now. While I’ve never been married, I do know what it’s like to lose a loved one…
I just want to say, I am so proud of you for being open and honest with yourself. Admitting all of these things are never easy. I’m glad that you’re willing to seek help.
HeartSupport is definitely the right place for you. They have helped me with my mental state so much and I can only imagine what more they will do for you. Hang in there brother! This too shall pass. You are loved!
Hey @jakejeckle, Ben Sledge from the team at HeartSupport here. Your story hits unbelievably close to home in my own story. I spent 11 years in the Army and deployed to Afghanistan where I was wounded in action and then later to Ramadi, Iraq during the surge for 15 months. 3 months prior to coming home my wife left me. She told me the same: there was no chance at reconciliation and that she didn’t love me anymore.
I came home and lived on my best friend’s couch, crying in the shower in the morning, and getting wasted in the evenings. I tried multiple times to reconcile but she just got angrier, and eventually I gave up and signed the divorce papers. It was a dark time in my life. In fact, one evening I contemplated whether to kill myself.
That’s a big moment everyone in life wrestles with, so you’re not alone in wondering if you can make it. And that’s the odd part about suicide ideation. Part of you wants to live and the other part wants to die. The head and heart disagree while running in opposite directions, which makes you feel further torn in two. But that night I had an epiphany I want to share with you. But first some backdrop.
Shortly after my epiphany, I moved to Austin, Texas. I knew one whole person in the city and got an apartment by myself. This was a first, because in college and the military, I had always lived with someone (I’m sure you know the feeling of brotherhood and camaraderie well). This new situation, however, would force me to face my loneliness head on. I ended up talking to my cat a lot like Tom Hanks chatting up Wilson the volleyball in Cast Away. I ate dinner alone and watched TV alone. But I had resolved to live despite the hardship and hurt. When I felt myself slipping, I remembered my epiphany from the evening on that awful paisley spread: I would keep fighting because it strengthened me.
The night I lost hope, I also found hope in the unlikeliest of places by dwelling on how much pain and heartache I’d already been through. I’d made it through two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and buried friends. The person I loved the most had left me. Somehow, I was still alive. Bullets and bombs hadn’t killed me, and neither had the trauma. If anything, I was more grizzled, seasoned, and adjusted to fight through obstacles. Plus, if I killed myself—after surviving several attacks by al Qaeda—I’d give them the win they wanted all along. My ex would also find love again, and I’d be worm food. She’d move on when I couldn’t. I realized that if I kept living through the hardship, one day I’d be able to point to this time period as the defining moment that I grew stronger by facing my adverse situation.
In life, we often look to the future or current hardships as insurmountable. Yet, when we reflect at the moments when we’ve grown the most, it’s been through adversity. Ask any person about the toughest moment in their life, and they’ll likely tell you they’re stronger and wiser for having battled through. That’s because growth happens in a crucible, and like gold in fire, human beings are refined by adversity. There has to be a breaking down and regrowth for the new strength to emerge. Though we don’t think about it, this is part of the natural order to life.
When you exercise, tiny tears occur in the fascia muscle tissue. They then repair and your muscles grow stronger, leaner, or larger. This process continues to happen every time you work out and is why you get sore after a particular brutal day on legs. Outside of the gym, if you help a butterfly as it’s struggling to emerge from its chrysalis, you’ll do permeant damage. They must struggle to get the proper fluid into their wings to fly. If you hunt, you’re aware that in order to loose an arrow, you must draw back and create tension on the bowstring. The string must be stretched and the more you create tension, the further the arrow flies. But that’s the double-edged sword in all of this. Struggle, tension, and pain makes us grow the most.
Now that I’m some twelve years removed from initially believing I was better off dead, I’ve grown exponentially. I made friends, found love again, and can say, “it was worth it to endure.” At the time, it didn’t feel like it was worth it to endure and disrupted my comfort a lot, but hindsight is always 20/20.
This is the thing I want to challenge you with. In the military, we will face down insane odds, suffer, and prevail. Yet when we leave, it’s like we forget that warrior ethos. God knows I did. So my challenge to you today is to remember your oath: I will NEVER accept defeat. Then from there, I want you to keep talking with us, and sharing your journey. You can reach me personally via email at [email protected]. Just say you’re the guy from the forum and we can chat combat vet to combat vet. Like you, I struggled severely with PTSD and Moral Injury from what I had seen and done. You have a brother who understands.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
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