LOVING A WARRIOR IS HARD
It’s not for the faint of heart. You see, I didn’t know what I was getting into fifteen years ago when I fell in love with my warrior.
I didn’t know how to be alone, be independent, take care of things for both of us when he’s gone, or (the hardest one) deal with moral injury. I was what you call “a needy woman”. You look at me now and think I’m joking. I’m not!
So often we think soldiers have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder which is really overused in my opinion…an opinion that I developed listening to my husband)…While my husband does show some signs of it, what he really battles is battling is moral injury.
Moral injury refers to an injury to an individual’s moral conscience resulting from an act of perceived moral transgression which produces profound emotional shame. The concept of moral injury emphasizes the psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of trauma.
While my husband does often have some signs and symptoms of PTSD, what he really suffers from is moral injury. The saddest part is that I didn’t know anything about it until our youngest was about three months old and he was the key note speaker at a symposium on ptsd. It was then that I learned of some of the events that had taken place during his time in 1st Ranger Battalion.
I will be the first person to fight for my husband. He doesn’t need me to, because he’s honestly the strongest person physically and mentally I’ve ever known. Also the bravest.
I know. I know…all women think this about their husbands. But the reality, is he has numbers to back all of it up. He’s truly amazing. While most soldiers (and former soldiers) talk about what they did on the battlefield, my husband almost refuses to talk about it…which is why I was brought to tears the day he shared parts of his moral injury.
I WANTED TO KNOW
I used to pressure him for information. It wasn’t that I was nosey, but being an empath, I really wanted to understand this man…this man who I love and is my soul mate. But he would shut down every single time. I wanted to know what battle looked like for him. I wanted to understand who he was as a human.
Eventually I just gave up because it cause frustration and anger for him and sadness for me. So I just started listening when he would talk to others.
One day he recommended a book called “On Killing”. For the first time I felt like I understood my husband.
For years I’ve know God created him to be a Ranger. A warrior, fighter, and hero. He literally did for eight years what he was put on this earth to do. I could feel it. To his core, this is who he is. He was living his destiny. But it was confirmed once I read this book. People are so happy when our brave men and women return home. And while my husband was happy to see me, he missed the battlefield.
We didn’t have many issues while he was in Battalion. Maybe it was because he was gone, so the only time we had was short and so we made the most of it. He was either deployed or training so our time together was special and very focused.
Maybe it was because we didn’t have kids at the time so we were super focused on each other.
Or maybe it was because he was living his purpose in life…and now that he’s not fulfilling what he feels God has called him to to: kick in doors and take down the bad guys, he feels empty and lost.
A NEW FOCUS
Within the last year or so, Joe has started teaching SOCP(Special Operations Combative Program). He’s also nearing the end of his military career. He’s been doing this for nearly 20 years. (I know, we don’t look that old.😂 Right? Tell me we don’t! lol) He’s trying to figure out what he will do once he retires.
Of course he thought of law enforcement, fire fighting, contract jobs over seas at one point…but with the combatives, I told him (paraphrasing) “If you can figure out a way to do this in the civilian world, that’s what you need to do.” He has the experience of putting the moves into real world experiences for troops. He’s fighting, so he’s getting the physicality he needs. He’s getting out pent up aggressions. Most of all, he’s sharing his knowledge and experience with the next generation. It’s a win, win.
But the idea to write this blog came from another blog I read. It broke my heart, and honestly it concerned me.
My husband always said those who committed suicide were selfish and cowards, and most of them probably didn’t even actually have to kill in battle. According to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in “On Killing” “…that extremely rare “natural soldiers” who are most capable of killing (those identified by Swank and Marchand as the 2 percent predisposed toward aggressive psychopathic tendencies) can be found ‘mostly congregating in the commando-type special forces [units]'”
I asked my husband, within his unit, how many had direct, known kills. He said maybe 1/3. Do not take this the wrong way! These men are not crazy men going around looking for people to hurt or kill. These men are heros. Continuing with Grossman’s “On Killing” he shares that “it would be absolutely incorrect to conclude that 2 percent of all veterans are no more inclined to violence than nonvets. A more accurate conclusion would be that there is 2 percent of the male population that, if pushed or if given a legitimate reason, will kill without regret or remorse.” These are the guys who will protect you in a bad situation. They’re not looking to do bad things, but will diffuse a bad situation. We need these men.
So honestly, all these guys who talk about all the guys they’ve killed and what they’ve done overseas probably didn’t actually do anything. And if you’re offended by my husband’s thoughts on suicide I personally am sorry (as an empath) but he’s not at all sorry and he thinks you should toughen up. (And I’m not joking.) Suicide is ugly. It happens, and my heart breaks for those left behind to deal with the broken pieces. I think sometimes people fall into such a dark place they think the only way to get out of their person hell (whatever it is) is to die.
I LOVE HIM, BUT IT’S TOUGH
This is what’s so hard about being married to my husband:
Our personalities are complete opposites. I am an empath by nature, he has command presence by nature. Empathy is his very last character strength. Feelings are nothing to him and are seen as weakness. How could I be with someone so opposite?
It used to really bother me, and until I took the time to learn his personality, I used to drive him crazy!!! I would constantly ask him about his feelings (which he didn’t want to discuss) and about his experiences (which he didn’t want to talk about). 1. He doesn’t want to brag about anything because honestly some of the things haunt him. 2. He doesn’t trust his memory. When stuff hits the fan, he tends to black out. So he doesn’t trust that it happened the way he remembers. In fact, when people tell him what he did, he doesn’t remember it that way. Basically it’s not nearly as dramatic to him as they retell it…but multiple people tell it the same way and remember it the same way.
The truth is, he has TBI from setting charges to take down doors. It has affected his memory as well as his emotional state and how he interacts with the kids and me.
LIVING HIS DESTINY
He’s done all this because it was who he was created by God to be. He has lived his life in service to our country. I don’t care if you don’t agree with the war or if it offends you, or if you think these warriors are too alpha. (I appreciate an alpha male. There are actually too few if you ask me.) Or our soldiers have done bas things. The truth is, you will never understand the daily torture of a true warrior, and I will always fight for them. Not that they need it.
They have done bad things, and that haunts them. It’s not that they meant to do it it. The ones they meant to do, I can tell you 100 % they don’t regret it! My husband doesn’t regret it, and that’s what keeps me going sometimes in our marriage: I try to remember what he’s done and why he is the way he is. (I honestly do.) The truth is sometimes I want to quit, but as he often says, “The Key to a long marriage is finding a woman who is more stubborn than you are stupid.” It’s also remembering our covenant with God. That is the number one thing that keeps me in it.
I think he met the most stubborn woman he could ever find in me. Giving up can’t be an option.
I was a little offended when I realized I’m stubborn, but the truth is I really am. I’ve had to take on some of the “warrior’s” personality traits. I’m not a warrior like he is, but I love a warrior and for that I will always be changed. Changed to my core. What changed him changed me too. It will change our children and generations to come.
Loving a warrior isn’t easy, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I love him and will fight for him in all that I do.
Until next time…
I can’t recommend this book enough. This book is for anyone who wants to understand soldiers more.