He came home later than usual but honestly, his work days were getting ridiculously long. I could tell he had another bad day. Most of his days were bad but denying the reasons why, he blamed it on everyone else. I asked him how his day was going in hopes that I could make him feel better once he vented a bit. His eyes were big, wide, and tears were forming in the corner of his eyes and his jaw tightened with each breath he took. We stood in the front hallway entrance of our house on post. As I listened to him tell me of his day I started shaking. He wasn’t okay. He was shaking, bouncing like a child throwing a fit. He got loud, even louder and spun and punched the support wall, breaking it and the other side as well. His fist made a hole the size of his head. In fact, that’s the story we told the maintenance people in fear he would get in trouble. See, thats what we did, we made excuses, told stories. They seemed to believe it, of him tripping over a toy and smashing into the wall. The maintenance worker kept his mouth shut. He was smart enough to know things weren’t what they appeared and I guess he figured it wasn’t his business since we paid for the damage. I know its not right but one will do anything to cover up their husband’s temper to protect them. “It’s not a big deal, just lost his temper from a bad day of work, its not like he hit us, just the wall. Oh, and that thing he broke, well, he paid for it so I can’t say anything but maybe I can replace the kid’s toy since they weren’t the one that broke it.” This is what I told myself over and over, every time he lost his temper. Every time he threw something against the wall and broke it. Those kind of days happened more than not. I didn’t know it then but my friends feared for us. I was so accustomed to his behavior I thought this was normal. This is not normal.
After he hit the wall his eyes were glassy, he had zoned out completely. He didn’t notice his hand was swollen or the fact that there was a big hole in the wall. He didn’t see the fear in the expression of our kids. I still can’t believe he didn’t break his hand. There was a moment when we just stood there and I tried to keep the kids out of the hallway and away from what was happening. After several minutes he came back to reality and just looked at his hand. He didn’t feel the pain and asked what happened. He was still pretty upset and shaken, as was I. This is where I tend to forget what happened. I remember cleaning the kitchen and picking up the living room so he wouldn’t get upset about the mess. The kids went back to their playroom and I tried with all my heart to act normal. On the outside I’m sure I held it together because the kids didn’t seem to notice anything was off. On the inside I remember feeling a terror, the kind I’ve never felt before. Somehow I knew this incident wasn’t like the others. I had thought at the time my husband had gone upstairs to change out of his ACUs. I remember hearing thumping around and a bunch of banging, some yelling and cursing. I wasn’t sure what he was doing but I tried to let him vent in peace. After a few minutes of me cleaning and trying to calm down the noise upstairs stopped. It just…stopped.
I took a deep breath, leaned over the counter and watched my kids play waiting for him. My husband came down the stairs still in his uniform and the look on his face was…off. I stood and watched as he went in the playroom and hugged and kissed each one of our three kids. He told them he loved them. Then, he walked over to me, looked in my eyes for a minute without saying anything, kissed me and said, “I love you.”
I am having a hard time writing this part without crying. Although I don’t always remember things I remember this next part because its branded in my head forever.
“Hey, what’s wrong? What’s going on?” I followed him through the kitchen, down the hallway and up the stairs pulling on his arm. He sped up, I lost my hold on him and he told me to leave him alone. He had something to do and not to worry about it. I hate when he tells me to not worry about it. Before I could catch up to him he had locked our bedroom door. I tried to open it but couldn’t find any of the keys that are supposed to be on the door frame and I couldn’t get it open with the other stuff I tried. I talked to him through the door but there was no answer. It was terrifyingly quiet.
To this day I don’t know why I left him alone for so long knowing something wasn’t right. Any person in their right mind would have broken down the door. Me…I went back downstairs and cleaned what wasn’t dirty. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so lost and unsure and basically freaking out. I called three people that night. I called my best friend but she never answered. Later when we spoke she said that she never received a call. I called my other friend who is the wife of my husband’s cousin/bff. Her phone was on vibrate and she didn’t answer. After I made a third call to a fellow military wife and my bff and again no answer I started to cry. I checked on the kids and they were watching t.v in their room. I paced the living room crying.
You know that feeling of total helplessness? That was me. I made several more trips to the bedroom and just stood there with my ear to the door. I don’t know what I was listening for. I just stood there holding my breath and listened. Still total silence. There were a few times I talked to him but no response was given.
After going back downstairs to check on the kids I went again to the living room and paced. I cried out. I don’t know what I said but I felt this…push. I literally felt a physical push. I fell on my knees and cried out to God. Time didn’t mean anything to me. I prayed, I cried and oddly in that moment that turned out to be about an hour that I prayed, my kids stayed where they were; no one called my phone and no one came to the door and the dog didn’t bark. There was absolutely no interruption. I didn’t stop praying until I could feel peace throughout my entire being–which was the moment I gave everything up to God. I knew that He was the only one who could save my husband. I knew in my heart that my husband had no intention of leaving our house unless it was in a body bag. Call it intuition or just common sense but during all the pacing I did I kept waiting to hear the gunshot. That is just something a wife doesn’t want to think about.
All I remember after that was checking on the kids once again and heading upstairs. Amazingly I found a key. I swear I looked every where for one before but all of them were missing. I’m not sure where I found it but I if I remember correctly it was in one of the kid’s room. When I walked in our room I saw the destruction he had made. His dresser drawers were pulled out on the bed and floor, some broken. His clothes where thrown here and there and the closet was messed up. I had to step over everything to head to the bathroom where he had locked himself in. I knocked so he wouldn’t be surprised and I opened the door slowly to find him laying in the bathtub with a loaded gun to his head. He didn’t see me at first. His entire body sat frozen, gun at the ready and his finger was on the trigger to pull. I wasn’t sure what to do. I mean really, what does someone really do in this situation? I sat on the toilet lid and prayed silently to God to give me the words to say. Nothing came. I had no words to say so I just sat there. I gently put my hand on his arm that was holding the gun and he looked at me. “Please leave.” Those were the words he said to me. I shook my head no and kept my hand on his arm. It took too long for him to lower the gun. He was crying and laid his head on the wall. I listened as he cried and talked about how he could just end it now and leave me and the kids with the money we needed to survive. He said it was more than he could give being alive. We sat there in the bathroom for a long time. I stared at his temple where the mark of the barrel had made its imprint. Its an image I will never forget. I guess it wasn’t until the moment he smacked his hand that held the gun against the tub that he realized what state of mind he was in and the fact I was now in there with him and he wasn’t the only one who could get hurt. He put it on safety, unloaded the camber and emptied out the bullets. I took the gun from him and he got up. The rest of the night is a blur.
There is a lot more to this story that continues on to the present and there is a lot I didn’t tell you that led up to this night. My husband didn’t get help and the army didn’t make him see anyone after his deployment to Afghanistan. I knew he had PTSD but I didn’t know what to do about so I learned to be the safe place for him. I learned his moods, kept the kids out of his way and knew when to shut up or help. I thought I was protecting him. I wasn’t. After that night I decided no matter what he was going to get help. Honestly, I was scared to death he would hate me. I went in secret to talk to someone about it but I turned to my best friend and fellow army wife. It was her husband that got the ball rolling. We all knew it was bad but that night became a life or death situation. It was a battle after he started counseling and frankly it still is some days. That night was the beginning to help him heal and now after many set backs and yet another, although short, deployment his PTSD is recognized and so are his other medical conditions. God has provided for us and my faith has kept our marriage together. This life isn’t easy but with God, we are making it.
To this day I believe this wholeheartedly—
I remembered to come back to Him. I truly believe there is a reason no one answered their phones and why I couldn’t find a key to open the door sooner. The only one I could rely on was God. I felt Him. I needed to give everything over to Him and when I did, I felt peace in the worst storm in my life. I won’t ever forget that urge, that physical push I felt. Its moments like this that make it hard for me to believe that people don’t know the Grace of God or even believe He is real. He is real and He can do what is impossible for humans. I know people have a right to their opinion but I will live my life for God and hope that people can see Him through me.
This is my testimony and oddly enough not too many people know this side of the story. They know what my husband has told them but I’ve never even told him what I saw and felt that night.
I’m sorry this is so long but I felt maybe it was time to write about what got us to the point we are at now. A lot of my friends have husbands coming home in the very near future from their deployment. I’m excited for them and praying that they don’t experience what we went through. This deployment they are coming home from is the one that sent my husband over the edge and broke him. The deployment he never should have been allowed to go on and the one that he was sent home from early. It was the one that God used to help prepare us for the rest of our lives. My husband has the help he tried to get before and failed. He has the support of those around him. This is our blessing for our faithfulness.