Determining Worth

23 May

A year was too long.  Six months were tough, but after that point the mind and heart begin to go places from which they cannot easily return.  This past weekend was Memorial Day, and I remember with great respect all those who have surrendered their life for the liberties we cherish.  The risking of one’s life is noble, but the year-long prison-camp lifestyle risks one’s soul, and I’m not sure that’s worth it.

I understood my husband’s desire to deploy. It was a mixture of duty and pride stemming from his military upbringing, military college, and being the only man in his family without a combat patch. I knew he’d never live with himself if he didn’t go, and I’d live the rest of my life with a self-emasculated man (which is arguably no man at all). Regardless, I dreaded the separation. He owed a debt of gratitude to the legacy that had raised him, and a true debt of service to the Army who funded his dental school, but it wasn’t worth his life (to me). I need him, for me, by my side, in my life, for my benefit. So every day I sighed with relief that he had made it one day closer to coming home.

Before my HD returned I decided I would force myself to accept that his deployment was worth it. I would convince myself to believe it. My route to this end was to say his sense of duty and honor were part of what made him the man Young G and I depended on. His love for us was inseparable from his integrity as a soldier. And so on.

A friend helped me realize that may e my HD needed to hear me say, “it’s worth it,” because maybe he doubted that. My friend said this would only be effective, though, if I believed it. My husband felt regret as he watched Young G grow from a nursing baby to an iPad-wielding toddler, and had missed the transition. My friend helped me plan a memory book detailing month-by-month of the year-long deployment, and in it I tracked the changes of our son. In one sitting he could absorb his boy’s development and see how positive his life was. This gift came from my heart and with it I convinced myself that my husband’s deployment was nothing to regret.

Then he returned and was altered. We had made it through sniper bullets and bomb blasts and were left in marriage counseling. On the very Father’s Day night I presented him with the memory book with my letter telling him “thank you; it was worth it,”he became viciously angry with me, shouting profanity and calling names. The next month he explained to a therapist that he wanted to be alone, because he couldn’t feel love, compassion, or even sympathy for me.

The night of the argument I paced the yard, cigarette in hand, planning my future with the possibility that my husband no longer loved me. Could I stay married to someone with such disdain for me? Then, as he blankly spoke to the counselor — with as much emotion as if he were reading an eye-chart — I wept. I wept because my perfectly good marriage was collapsing for no good reason. My crying didn’t even annoy him.

I had sacrificed my love, life, and future because of pride? Fuck that! I wept with disbelief and felt abandoned. He wasn’t dead. He was just gone. Like shattered crystal, my belief that any of this could be worth it was irreparably destroyed. For the life of me, Young G, and then the Littlest One I’d just conceived, the answer was “hell no! It’s not worth it”. What would I say, “at least our family was destroyed by him defending the country we love!”?

We don’t speak of these things now, though. That was merely my personal horror, terror, and nightmare. He didn’t leave me, he didn’t die, our family is happy and bigger and stronger now. He loves his memory book and we speak with pride about his service. But I’ll never forget looking that demon in the eye and the destruction it promised. I get a cold chill remembering that sense of abandonment, and in that moment I would have paid back every dime to have my husband love me.

All’s well that ends well, they say.

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One Response to “Determining Worth”

  1. Dena Anderson 24 May, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    Your wisdom and your courage never cease to amaze me. While I was reading, I prayed that our granddaughter, who has the hard job of being daughter behind daughter, will be blessed by God with such Godly and beautiful wisdom, and courage. Bless you, sweet one. My prayers continue.

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