Sunday, May 29, 2011

Army Wife, Army Life

When I met my Husband, he had 8 years in the National Guard already. Shortly after we met, he joined the Army Reserves. 458th En Bn out of Brookville, Pa. We got married and had a child and shortly after that the unit needed a VP for the Family Readiness Group which helps family members of soldiers who are deployed or in a crisis. I agreed although I had no idea what I was doing. I slowly learned the ropes and what the Army was all about. I went on weekend tutorials on how to prepare soldiers and families for deployment, counselling, consoling.. Then deployment came. I handled it with grace, strength, and pride. He moved to Wisconsin a week after we purchased a new home. He did 6 months there preparing to go. He left on our anniversary. February 20th. Shortly after that, the mother of his other child filed for custody. He had 50/50, week on, week off custody. She tried to take her for good. I knew if she did, he would never get her back. So I filed for custody of a child that wasn't mine. I filed for custody and contempt of court for not following the current court order. I showed up at court to fight with my lawyer. The child wasn't even allowed to speak to me. I showed up alone. She showed up with about 14 members of her family. The judge made the lawyers work out a compromise. She wanted nothing to do with it. We went back to court. Same thing. We went back a third time. The judge said if we came back again, one of us would be very unhappy. He wouldn't even hint as to which one of us it would be. That night she called me. She said I could have the child every other Thursday for a 4 day weekend. I took it. From that point on, I worked as hard as I could keeping those kids happy. I did whatever it took to keep them from missing their father. We went on trips, we went shopping, we did anything they wanted. I also worked as hard as I could keeping our soldiers happy. One day, my husband sent me an email with a list of names. He said that he had more than enough packages and the list was a list of names of the guys who got little to nothing from anyone. The name at the top of the list was a kid named Rich. Rich was 19 years old and from Erie, Pa. He had received nothing at all from home. No letters. No packages. No email. Nothing. This tore me up inside. They had already been in Iraq for 3 months. 3 months is a fucking lifetime in that place when you have no one thinking of you or writing to you. I started writing letters and sending packages. I sent that kid everything and anything I could get in a box. I had no idea what to say in the letters, but I wrote until my hand cramped. I wrote pages and pages. He wrote back and told me his parents disagreed with his decision to join the Army and refused to even admit where he was. They just refused to talk about it at all. I happily took care of that kid for the rest of the deployment. When the year was up, they flew home on the same day. February 20th. They flew back to Wisconsin and had to stay there for 2 weeks before coming back to Brookville. The day finally came. People lined the streets waiting for the buses to come through town. I was waiting to see my husband. I was waiting to meet my new friend who had become so important to me through the year. My husband was the first off the bus. I hugged him and welcomed him home. Then I waited. I stood there beside that bus and watched every face that came off. I waited and waited. The final soldier stepped off of that bus. It wasn't him. My eyes scanned the sea of faces around me. I started asking the soldiers where he was. No one would answer me. Finally someone sat me down and told me that he wasn't coming home. No one knew how to tell me because they were all aware of the very special bond we had. He stayed for another year with a different unit. He said for them to tell me there was nothing for him to come home to. So he wasn't. I was crushed. I bawled and bawled. It was such a sick feeling to me that this now 20 year old kid had nothing except the Army. Nothing! I had no way to contact him at that point. His location changed. He was unreachable. He did finally come home another year later. We met up after that at an Army function where he brought a lovely young woman with him. He met her shortly after returning and married her. Love at first sight. They had a child immediately after. He joined the Army full time and is now stationed in Afghanistan. His wife and child live in Germany where they wait for him to return very soon. I tell this story to remind everyone who reads it that there are so many of our soldiers out there fighting for us and losing their lives for us. Please remember them. Those soldiers also have families who need help and support as well. A soldier can't do his job to the best of his ability if he is worried about the state of his family. Take the time to ask them if they need anything. There are other young men out there just like Rich who have nothing and no one to talk to them and tell them how important they are. Find them. Do your part. You'll make a friend for life who will never forget what you've done for them and the feeling is beyond any other in this world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Marital Disaster

February 20th 1998. That's my wedding anniversary date. It's a shame that this year was the last one we'll share. I finally have the courage to walk. He's not a bad person. He's very well liked and well thought of by everyone that knows him. They don't live with him though. I've never done anything since we've been married without wondering if I'll be judged poorly for it by him. My house was never clean enough. My clothes too tight. My makeup too dark. My hair too blonde, too brown, too short.. My tattoos too big. My piercings made me a "freak". I didn't mop the floor correctly. I didn't iron the shirts properly. I drive too fast. My music is too loud. My voice is too loud. My laugh is irritating. My teeth are too yellow. I don't work out enough. I spend too much time on the computer. I spend too much time on the phone. I watch too much TV.
I've never complained. I've tried to be a good wife. One person can only take so much. There was actually a point in our marriage when he decided that his clothes in the closet needed to be color coordinated and hung according to article..of course only after being completely washed, dried, and ironed to specification. I had to be "taught" to mow the grass properly. I wasn't allowed to go over a certain speed on the lawn tractor. I was told years ago that I was not allowed to be jealous of other women. I was warned before arriving at a place where his friends or fellow employees would be, not to "talk their ears off because nobody cares about the stuff you have to talk about". I suffered the consequences if he had a bad day. I would go four or five days without being spoken to and I had no idea as to why. I would ask, believe me.. He would roll his eyes and walk away. He would watch me lie on the bed and cry for days and still say nothing.. Then one day, everything would be normal. We tried counselling. He felt the therapist was blaming him for everything, so we couldn't go anymore.
I can't say I'm completely without fault.. I would spend money to make myself feel better. It was all I had. Then I was in trouble for that. So he got a separate bank account. One that I still have no access to. I've not seen an income tax return in years. I have no idea how much money my husband makes. If I need money and ask for it, I have to pay it back when I get my check.
There comes a time when you decide that even if you have to live on the street, enough is enough. I had that day 5 days ago. I've never been so fucking free. I actually enjoy living in the same house with him and not speaking to Him. I love the fact that he has to sleep on the couch. I love that he refuses to eat anything I cook. I love that I don't have to tell him where I'm going. I love knowing that He knows he's lost the best fucking thing that ever happened to him. You know what I love the most though? Me. I love myself. Finally.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Birthday Boy

In honor of my sons birthday tomorrow, I thought I'd take the time to tell about this wonderful young man I managed not to fuck up yet.. I never wanted kids, to be completely honest. I was never a good babysitter and really just had no interest in kids. Then I ended up pregnant, by accident of course.. He was born May 3rd, 1998, and weighed in at a whopping 9# 7oz. The poor thing had a major cone head from the birth.. crazy big!! Thankfully I knew enough to rub that head every day to form it into a nice round dome. His father was bald already, so I knew this would be important later in life! Since that day, I've said, "I love my own child. I can't stand anyone else's." That statement still holds true to some extent. He was such a joy to raise. He was a really good baby, although he ate constantly, and his toddler years were just as perfect. Once he hit school age all my own opinions were confirmed. He constantly got complimented on his behavior and manners. His 2nd grade teacher even wrote on his report card that he was "unusually mature" for his age. I never wanted a kid, like I said, so I never spoke to him as one. I always used adult words, never used baby talk, gave him responsibility at a young age. I also told him I would always answer any question he had honestly. All he had to do was ask. You'd be amazed at the questions I've answered! Most recently was "Hey Mom? What exactly IS a douche bag?" Ha! When he was in 4th grade, he started playing ice hockey. This soon became his passion in life. In his 6th grade year his hockey team won their division championship. This year, he played ice hockey 7 days a week for 3 teams. Some days we spent 5 hours at the rink after school! He had the game winning goal for his travel team this year which won him his second travel championship in 2 years. He also had the game winning assist for the high school Freshman team for their very first championship. Did I mention he's an honor roll student too? I am so proud of everything he's accomplished already. He has a level head and has decided that it will be hockey over girls. He believes there is time for that later in life, and I couldn't agree more. He has been working toward an academic and athletic scholarship already for years. That is what he wants more than anything, so all the girls and parties will have to wait until he's ready.. Of course this could all change, but I know he'll do the right thing in the end and continue to make this Momma proud! I adore and love him more than life itself. Happy 13th Birthday to my Baby Boy!!