One night, while bickering military spouse bloggers clogged discussion threads about an Army wife’s lingerie calendar, another wife sat at her computer, typing.
She was probably alone. She was not writing about jealousy, self-esteem or whether cheesecake pictures boost troop morale.
Here’s her post from the Spouse Calls blog:
My marriage is over, and my ex-husband is no longer the same since he’s been back from Iraq. He used to be a sweet, calm, funny guy, that was always there for me, I used to tell him, that hugging him was recharging my battery, because it didn’t matter how bad a day I was having, the moment I saw him, everything seemed to go away.
He has now turned into a judgmental, criticizing, angry person. It didn’t take long for the differences to show. He started having problems sleeping, having problems driving.
The nightmares were horrible. But then the worst of all started — the drinking. All this anger and confusion when mixed with alcohol was a horrible thing.
He started breaking things at home, would lecture me for hours in how I did everything wrong, and when I wouldn’t answer anything, he would get furious. But if I said anything back, he would also get furious.
We no longer had dinner together; he would sit in the kitchen and drink until he fell asleep. Then when he woke up, he would yell at me because I let him fall asleep in the kitchen. The truth is that I was happy when he fell asleep; it meant I had peace.
We had a gun at the house, and sometimes during these fights, he would get the gun and lock himself in the bathroom. I would beg him to give me the gun. He would answer, "Don’t worry. I’m not gonna do anything."
He would call me horrible names, put me down. I was walking on eggshells around him. Anything could set him off.
And then there were days when the man I knew was back. We would go shopping and go out dancing, and everything was great. He didn’t want to get help, he said he was his own psychologist, he knew himself better than anyone.
When I started seeking help — I now have clinical depression — he got mad at me for that, said he didn’t have time for depression.
So after all this, we got divorced. It was final in March.
We still talk; we were together a total of 12 years.
I read his e-mails and all the letters he wrote me throughout his deployments, and it makes me too sad.
He is no longer in the military, but is still in a military-related job, overseas. He sends me pictures, and I see so much hatred and anger in his eyes. The same eyes in which I before saw laughter.
He says we made a mistake by getting divorced, that he wants to get back together. He wants to get help and settle down and have a family with me — we don’t have any kids — and I would like that so much. We still love each other very much.
But I know that it’s not an option at the time. He needs to get treatment. At the same time, I feel guilty that I left him, while he’s "sick," but I guess it made me sick as well, and I would be of no help to him.
Anyway, that’s my story. I am now left with letters, e-mails and videos of a man that no longer exists.
To read this post and offer encouragement, see the Spouse Calls blog here.
Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at email@example.com