For two weeks, I worked on a project for a client handing out samples on local military bases in the DC/VA/MD area. When the opportunity presented itself, I was completely stoked. I was LOVING the idea of being back within the military community...literally. I spent time at Andrews AFB, Fort Meade, Fort Myer, and Fort Belvoir, home to service men and women from all branches of the US military. I caught myself in "moments," where I reflected back on my marriage and everything I felt being married to someone in uniform. At times, it was pretty overwhelming.
How that embrace we shared at the airport when he came home for R&R overwhelmed me with emotion. It made me remember how his uniform felt, pressed against my skin. Hearing that velcro, all the time. That feeling every single day when he walked through the doors from work. Driving through the gates of Fort Hood and everything just feeling different. Visiting Battalion HQ and spending time with him and his SGT. The memory of his diagnosis. Seeing him weak in his hospital bed. Praying like hell this would strengthen our marriage and pull us back from the fire we were in.
And for the first time since it happened, it made me think about the day we went to legal, signed our divorce papers, and both could oddly do nothing but smile. It was laughter and smile instead of tears. Sickening to say and to think about, but it's the truth. Giving up on marriage is the most empty feeling in the world. It was at least for me.
I feel like when I meet someone else in the military (which I do often in this area) I have to jump to tell them why we divorced. I wasn't a "cliche" military wife, cheating on her husband, as I'm so sure they often think of first. The military cheated my husband and I. The war disintegrated him before my very eyes. Literally. Into a man who at 25 walked with a cane and had the body of someone 3 times his age. Despite what some would like to believe, this was painful for me. Really, really painful. It made the decision to leave 1,000 times harder and until you've walked that path...you have no idea. NONE.
I remember talking to my therapist in Charlotte and asking her if this feeling would ever go away. If this feeling of sadness, grief, and loss over my marriage would disappear. She said in time it would. It's been 15 months now and it still hurts like hell. I feel like my husband was taken from me. Stolen. I still loved him, but he was gone. There was nothing I could do to get him back. That's something I still have a hard time processing. I didn't really want a divorce, I just had no other options anymore.
All of this happened to me at 25 years old. I was so young. It was only two years ago when all of this started. It feels like an eternity and yet still fresh. At my age, friends are on their first marriage while I'm reeling from the end of my first. The military factor makes me even more isolated. I'm different now. I'm not the girl I was. I'm learning that very quickly. I don't take life for granted. I appreciate the little things all the more. I don't complain about much. Being with someone in the military teaches you all of that too. I can't identify with a lot of people my age. I cling to those who are young and divorced like me. We have matching battle scars. We can compare wounds.
I long for the day I can be in a loving, supportive, happy, trustworthy, enduring relationship...with someone who gets me. Until then, I continue to reflect, feel, and know I'm not alone.
To all of you bloggie girls who are divorcing, making the choice to leave, or have been divorced...this one is for you. Thank you for being so vocal and supportive.