After two tours in Iraq, I came home to a shattered family. The stress of being gone and my ex wife’s previously undiagnosed bipolar and borderline personality disorders created trauma in me I was not even remotely capable of handling. I found out about her cheating while I was in Iraq from a misguided email and I had to keep quiet about it. I didn’t need it to be a distraction while trying to survive there and if I said something and was half a world away, she could wind up doing anything, specifically taking our kids and running. That was a ton of weight to carry and I carried that shit all the way home.
Then, on the flight home to finally be with my family again and straighten out the mess, my commander pulled me aside in a Dublin, Ireland airport to tell me that my ex wife tried to commit suicide. Instead of meeting my family on a parade field with honors, it was off to see her therapist and find my kids and figure out how to help her. I couldn’t be principled about finding out she cheated now, right? So I had thought.
It turns out that she dabbled in meth, our neighbor’s husband had been her affair, and his wife was fired up and set to tell me as soon as I came home. No need to spill the beans, I found out already. And we worked like hell fixing her so much that I largely overlooked what was happening in my own mind. I wasn’t transitioning back well already. Getting screwed by a whole country that hates you was one thing, but finding out my spouse was doing it when I wasn’t looking, regardless of her mental health, was a million times worse. I got out of the army to fix my family and hopefully end all of my wars.
She was on drugs, highly abusive and she occasionally put a gun in my face to check “how bad do you have PTSD?” I stuck it out trying to preserve my family, but I lost myself in all of it. By now, I was a functioning alcoholic and capable, sometimes willing, to make my own disasters for my life. Our kids suffered with a shitty, self loathing dad and a “bat shit crazy” mom.
After her ninth affair in ten years, her drugs, more of her suicide attempts, her vile temper, her lies, finding out she put us eighty thousand in debt that needed bankruptcy, my broken bones and broken soul, I quit trying to fix it. I quit trying to salvage the marriage and after six months of living on my own couch just to know my own kids, I left to start my life over.
The recession had been in full swing, I had a sales job I didn’t really like, and that job didn’t really like me either. Being a private mess and being miserable with work is a bad combination for maintaining employment. I had nothing, no hope, and slim options. In the drama and bullshit of trying to make my family work, I lost a lot of people and my future along the way. I was an effing disaster…