I have decided to begin a series. So often, we forget that everyone has a story – so much of it is hidden. If we only knew the battles people face each day, I wonder how much differently we would treat each other. If we only knew the story of the person sitting next to us, would we look at them differently? Would we respond to them the same way? I have decided to meet with these “every day” people, hear and share their stories.
If I could give a message to another woman, dealing with either similar or worse circumstances, I would tell them not to stay too long and put up with so much all for the sake of receiving pieces of love and pieces of companionship.
I just kept telling myself that I was wrong, that everyone has problems, every couple has problems, and it’s normal. That’s because three out of four of them were alcoholics and two of them had PTSD.
I met Thomas on my 21st birthday. I met him at a bar, and I gave him my real number. He texted me the next day, and we decided to go on a date. He showed up at my house in his army uniform. He looked so good. So attractive. We dated for a year. I definitely loved him. I’ve never loved anyone like him. We talked about marriage. He told his family we were going to get married. I started picking out rings…
…And then he got notice that he was tasked to deploy. It didn’t matter to me; I was determined to stay with him. I wanted to remain committed. But he was so scared that he was going to die or that I would leave him while he was gone, that he broke things off.
I was devastated. I felt betrayed. After all he had promised me. He just ended it over what could happen. I was in a really dark place after that.
He was in Afghanistan for a year. Ultimately, we decided to at least remain in contact while he was deployed. I could tell he regretted his decision to end things. He sent me gifts, money, and letters. He called every chance he could. Every time we spoke, he reassured me that we were destined for marriage and a family.
But the deployment to Afghanistan was rough. He didn’t share everything with me, but he told me some of his experiences…some of the traumas.
When he returned home, it was both exciting and overwhelming to see him again. But I was grateful to have him home. I was ready to continue the time we had before his deployment.
But that ended just as soon as it began. Six months later, he was tasked to deploy again. This time, to Iraq. And once again, he was gone for a year.
While we stayed in contact, I dated other people. I never felt the same way about anyone else. I wanted to be with Thomas.
When finally, he came back, I hoped that all the distance was over. But the Army had other plans. He soon received orders to Germany.
He asked me to go with him. He still wanted to get married. But I decided against it. I was scared of the huge change, and I wasn’t willing to quit my job or drop out of school.
Two years went by. I had waited for him. But I soon realized that physical distance is only one kind of separation. After he got back, he would often go out and get drunk and sleep in his truck. He started drawing horrific things, like people on spikes. He even got a tattoo of one of his drawings. It scared me and his family.
Shortly after he returned to Texas, there was a shooting at Fort Hood. One of our mutual friends was killed. When Thomas called me and told me that his best friend died in the attack, we were both devastated…but him especially.
After that, he was never the same. Thomas left the military, and we lived together for the next nine months. It was horrible. Every day was a cycle…he came home drunk, throw up, and pass out. Then he often had night terrors. Countless times, I woke up to the sound of him screaming. When I shook him awake, he would burst into tears. One night, he told me that it felt like the Devil was chasing him. He felt like he was going to die. He felt like he should have died already. It made me terrified to go to sleep next to him.
During those months, he pretty much ignored me. Every time I asked him to get help, he refused. He kept saying it was weak. He thought others would figure out something was wrong with him or accuse him of taking advantage of the VA system.
Then he got mean. He started blaming me for his depression. I knew he needed help. His family knew he needed help. Trying to reintegrate into normal life was too much for him. He was miserable. When we had sex, there was nothing there. It was like he was a shell of a human. And there was no love there.
It lasted so long, I got used to it and started getting over him before I decided to end it with him. I was sad our story had changed. We weren’t going to get married like we had thought. All those years of waiting. He’s still the only person I wanted kids with, the only man I’ve ever truly loved. But being deployed traumatized and changed him into a different person. I knew I could never make him happy. He was miserable with life.
I still think about him sometimes and hope he’s ok and wonder what could’ve been if I had stayed. But I didn’t even feel loved or safe in my own home and I’m glad I ended it. Timing was just never on our side. I try not to think of it as a waste of time but a lesson or something I had to go through. Our experiences make us who we are, and I’m happy now with where I am in life…even if it means being single.