Military Spouse Life

Happy Mother’s Day….Stay Away….

Therapy is in general, a good thing…..right?

Usually.

While Bill and I agreed the couples therapy might not be a great fit for us (and I haven’t bothered to reschedule the last appointment) I start my own today.

I don’t know if I want to go….but I feel like this is the only person I can talk to now….

I have to go because I’ve had this appointment literally two months and it’s just hours away from now. I can’t call and cancel now….but I don’t know if I want to sit and rehash all the crappy stuff that comes along with being a military spouse.

I also feel like, unless this therapist is a military spouse herself, she’s not going to get it.

It’s such a lonely place here…which brings me to living in Illinois.

We’ve been here a year, and while his family is nice (with the exception of  a Mother’s Day incident which literally left me in tears and extremely hurt) they aren’t my “friends.”

The Mother’s Day incident isn’t something I’m really ready to talk about, but Bill drank last week, (of course he says he never will again….) upset my MIL, and she basically told us to stay away from the farm for the weekend….on Mother’s Day……you know since we moved all the way here to be close to them. Talk about heartbreak. She also sent it in the form of a text. I was shocked and probably spent three hours crying about it. I know my husband was in the wrong, but I’m dealing with his behavior every day, and being pushed away doesn’t help. They really just ignore his PTSD and don’t seem to understand.

So a new movie is out. Book Club starts some of my favorite actresses (I’m not sure how Jane Fonda still get’s roles….she stinks and she kind of ruins the all-star cast). The movie looks great, and Bill tells me to go see it. The reality is, I literally have no one here I can ask to go with me. How sad it that?

Between taking care of VA appointments/medical appointments for Bill, taking care of kids, and working, I’ve made no real friends I can just text and say “Want to see this movie?”

So instead of going by myself (I just have no interest in that), I’ll spend today working for the hockey team, and then I’ll work on my own book.

While it’s nice to work on accomplishing my own goals, it still stinks to be so far from anywhere I’ve ever called home, and not have someone I can do anything with (as far as friends). I also think it’s a little sad I’m about to go tell all this to a complete stranger at the Vet Center.

This life is so lonely. Being a military spouse is extremely hard, and it’s making for a long @$$ summer.

What are your struggles as a military spouse? If you’re not a military spouse, do you know any you can reach out to? Sometimes it might be just what they need!

 

Military Spouse Life

Here’s to the Military Spouse

Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day!

Usually I find it strange when people find out Bill is a Marine and they thank ME…

It’s weird, right?

Because I never went through a long deployment with Bill, I’m NOT the person to thank!

Having never served, I didn’t have to endure boot camp, 4 am wake up calls for PT, and dealing with command. I never had to go overseas and sleep in a tent, go days being shot at, worrying about roadside bombs, sent home a body of a deceased team member….. I was home, in the comfort of the United States, in a job of my choice, where I was always relatively safe.

There are, however, the long days of post active-duty responsibilities ranging from fighting with the VA (my personal favorite) to dealing with the side effects of PTSD. This week alone we went through a bad episode which involved me crying, hurt, upset, and scared. He doesn’t remember all of it…. I thought for sure it was over and I was going to be on my own with the kids.

I’m grateful I never had to give birth while he was in another country. I’m grateful I didn’t go months on end without seeing him. I never had to live on a base (we lived right near the base…actually right under the flight line, but that’s another post!)

I feel like when people say “thank you” or we are appreciated as a military spouse, it’s because of all those things active duty spouses have to deal with on a daily basis. What people don’t see is what happens after.

I was only a part of the active duty life for such a short time, I feel like I don’t deserve the “thank you.” What I do deserve it to have the VA treat my husband and family with respect. I deserve to not spend hours on the phone to get an appointment for NOVEMBER for him, when it’s still May (that happened this week). I deserve to get him his benefits without fighting tooth and nail AFTER I discover what is owed to him…because they sure as hell don’t make it clear what he is eligible for!

I deserve to not worry about the side-effects of PTSD/TBI…but these are the things people forget the military spouse deals with.

So on this day when everyone is thinking about the spouses who dealt with moving 100 times, or long deployments, I want to send a shout out to all of the Military Spouses who are left with the aftermath….. The PTSD/TBI issues, the VA fight, the war at home.

You are not alone.

You are loved.

You are enough…and one day a year does no justice to the battle we endure long after the active-duty war!

Be well 🙂

Military Spouse Life

You’ve Got Mail! (and a friend)

How many of you read the title to this post and heard the old AOL “You’ve Got Mail” voice in your head? Be honest!

Last week I came home to a package, and not the usual Amazon package (don’t get excited…I literally order EVERYTHING from Amazon because it’s easier…including toilet paper…so usually it’s not that exciting.)

Bill asked if I saw the package on the bed.

I told him I hadn’t.

“You mean you walked into the bedroom and missed the whole cooler sitting in there???”

I must have been tired, but this is what was waiting for me….(excuse my desk mess!)

Operation Homefront has a program called Hearts of Valor for us Military Spouses ONLY!!!!! If you’re a caregiver/spouse, or know someone who is, sign them up for this support group PLEASE!

 

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While you might wonder why a group would send me toothpaste, it’s not the point. The point is, there were people out there who donated some items which then came in this cute (thirty one) cooler and mailed it to me. It also included some Arbonne products which I’ve never tried.

Someone was thinking of me when sometimes I live in a world where I feel alone as a Military Spouse! (Also, we needed toothpaste!)

What is your favorite Military Spouse Support Group? Comment below and I just might add them to the resource page!

Life · Military Spouse Life

Run, Talia, Run

Trying to raise well-rounded children is tough! When they are so little (Liam is 1.5 and Talia is 3) it’s hard to know what they will enjoy and excel at….so we try different things.

Talia didn’t exactly take to the ice at hockey like we thought she would (the kid is obsessed with watching hockey, but when you put her on skates, she stands there and cries on ice until someone helps her….)

While we are still working on the ice skating (when we pull her off the ice, she wants to go back and do it again…..so we keep going with it)….we also saw the chance to do a Healthy Kids Running Series started by one of my yoga students in town. It’s meant for younger kids to get them interested in running.

Talia

Loves

Running.

It ended up being a perfect fit for her……and I’m worried she’s going to be disappointed next weekend when we don’t have her race.

She only ran 50 yards, but she loved every second of it. Yesterday she got her medal for participating! She was pretty proud!

 

Then I tried to get a family photo…..the results were hysterical! I’m sure all parents out there can sympathize with me….

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Who is in control here?

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Talia’s face is priceless here!

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Somehow he kept Liam from eating dirt…I was laughing too hard to help.

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The face of a man who wants help but his wife just keeps laughing!

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Again with Talia’s face!

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Everyone is OFP as they say in the USMC!

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Now it’s Bill’s face making me laugh!

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Right before he gives up!!!

In the end, we didn’t really get a group picture, but these are great!!!! Bill also got out of having to do the parent run because it suddenly started to rain HARD!!!! He was relieved. He hasn’t really run since the Marine Corps!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?

Life · Military Spouse Life

PTSD and the Blackout Effect

I swear the next time the VA decides to mess with his medications, I’m sending him home with them for a week……they can live my nightmare and see what they are doing to all the military families out there.

As much as I love my husband, his PTSD/TBI (Post Traumatic Stress / Traumatic Brain Injury) causes lots of issues. It regularly makes me think we won’t make it (though deep down, I know we will).

The VA decided to switch his medications, yet again. The result? It’s the same every time. He gets angry, spiteful, depressed, and basically, in short, turns into a jerk. It gets to the point where I’m in tears and heartbroken.

He says things I don’t think he really means…and half the time, he says hurtful things and then doesn’t remember later. I’ll call him out on the things he’s said, and he is genuinely surprised and doesn’t remember.

It’s painful.

I feel like I live on the edge with this. He could snap at any time and have a “PTSD episode” where his anger just takes over. He basically turns into a monster…. then after a few days, things calm down, and he returns to himself. It’s the time when he’s angry and mean that puts me on edge. I worry about what will happen. I’ve even worried about him hurting me.

I don’t tell you this to bash him.

It’s actually not his fault. It’s the fault of the combat-related PTSD/TBI. It’s the VA not helping us.

I know there are lots of military spouses out there going through the same thing. I see it daily in all the support groups in which I belong.

It’s like living with two different people, and the VA isn’t aggressive about taking care of our veterans. Sometimes they don’t take care of them at all.

All those things you see and hear about the VA are true….sometimes it’s worse. It’s worse when you actually live with it every day.

Sometimes it takes months to get an appointment. Literally months……then you get there and it was cancelled and no one told us. They tell you to call the appointment line and start again.

Last week they then called me to tell me they would call to make an appointment….yes, that actually happened. JUST MAKE THE APPOINTMENT.

Then he has to drive 90 minutes each way for a consult. It’s hard on his back. It’s aggravating to his knees. No one should have to drive 90 minutes for a doctor consult.

I watch him suffer. Then I suffer.

The circle continues.

It’s lonely.

It’s painful.

I cry…. a lot.

I spend a lot of time on the phone with my mom, upset and asking why he is doing this. I fear I have to take my kids and leave. I fear he will never get the help he needs. I fear our lives are over as we know it.

Then he comes around like nothing happened. He doesn’t remember half of what happened. He’s seemingly okay for awhile….then the cycle starts again.

This past week it was a phone call to me at work freaking out about the dogs, threatening to get rid of all my dogs. He was so angry and threatening…I grabbed my computer at work, told my (very understanding boss) I had to go, and flew home.

It’s a long 30 minute drive.

My dogs were okay.

He’s fine with them now. He was upset one got into something she shouldn’t have….

He actually has the biggest heart of anyone I know. When it comes to animals and rescue, he would take every abandoned or hurting animal and save them. When he has these “episodes” he’s just a different person.

The medication switch makes everything so horrible. The best part? The VA MAILS his medications …yes, through the MAIL. So we have to wait for them to fill it, mail it, and for it to be delivered. Meanwhile, they have him decreasing the one he was on and he’s off balance. We’ve done this at least two dozen times already. Medication only masks the problem. It’s not a solution…..changing it constantly makes it WORSE!

Is there really no way to have a regular pharmacy fill a prescription and bill the effing VA so we aren’t all suffering?

By the end of the weekend, things had returned to normal, but when will it happen again? When will I feel alone? scared? hurt? When will I feel like I can’t take it anymore? It’s a lonely place to be!

Today some new medicine came. I also got a letter they sent us the wrong disability pay, so they will be taking it back. Do you know how frustrating it is to have pay constantly messed up? Then our normal pay is reduced to fix their mistake, and I can’t plan for bills…..

If someone were to say they are thinking about joining our military, I would tell them to thing twice. It’s a noble and amazing, selfless thing to do, but it’s not appreciated by the government who continues to leave the veterans and their families out to dry.

I will be updating the Resources page over the next few days for those finding themselves in the same situation….hopefully we can find things that actually work!

Life

May Day, May Day, We Need A New Goal!

You know how Facebook has the “On This Day” feature? (I guess it’s a feature, but sometimes I don’t WANT to look back!)

Today is May 1st and Facebook was kind enough to remind me a year ago today Bill and I bought our first home.

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I know it looks small, but it is actually really big and I still love it!

So then Facebook reminded me about two years ago. Two years ago I graduated with my Certificate in Professional Writing:

Look how little Talia was!! She was only a few months old and just a little “nugget!”

So fast forward to today….

I feel compelled. Compelled to accomplish something. The funny part? I didn’t really think about May 1st as being the day we bought our home, and I completely had forgotten the date of graduation. Why is it funny? Because I set today as a launch date for a new project!

Several years ago I was the Editor-In-Chief of My Petz Magazine, Charlotte, NC edition.

I also was the head writer, editor, and sold advertising……it was super grass roots!

The magazine was successful, until payday came. My pay was based on the ads I sold, nothing else (so my “friend” and I could get the magazine off the ground).

Payday came and payday went. There was a lot of avoidance from the publisher…and then the email came.

I wasn’t getting paid.

All the money (allegedly) went to publishing the magazine and everyone was getting paid except me. This means the graphic designer was paid, the printer was paid, but I wasn’t paid.

I was beyond upset. I was counting on the money to …you know…pay bills.

Thankfully I had a second job.

The publisher of the magazine decided to fold everything (including the original publication in Atlanta, GA) and be done with the whole thing.

So here I am in the Midwest. I have tons of other experience in other areas of publication, I have just never owned my OWN magazine.

St. Louis (the biggest city near me) has no pet publication…

I decided to go for it and launch a magazine. I started setting everything up with the “launch day” set for today as far as social media.

It wasn’t until I logged into my FB account, I saw today is generally a day of accomplishment.

Now none of this takes away from all the other things I’ve accomplished. It just feels good to be moving forward when so many things have been rough! I need to have a plan…even if it changes along the way.

I know I need to write, and I need to be able to work from home as much as possible for my husband and my kids. I can’t tell you how many appointments we have every week for Bill alone. He sometimes can go to three different VA/Vet Centers in two days…it’s insane!

Pets have always been something I am passionate about, along with writing. There’s an opening in the market for a great, quality magazine in the area not too far from me, so I’m going to go for it and see what I can do!

 

Life

When the Mets Come Marching In

So I’m an East Coast girl. I was born in Connecticut, and grew up between CT and Pennsylvania. I’ve lived in both North and South Carolina….. I have no idea how I ended up in the Midwest….okay, so it was because of my husband, but still, I’m a total East Coast girl, and as much as I love Illinois, I’m a proud nutmegger (that’s what you’re called if you’re from CT because it’s the “nutmeg state,” which is crazy, since I’ve never been invited to a nutmeg farm).

So when the St. Louis Cardinals (Bill’s team) offered $5.00 MLB tickets, I jumped on the chance. Being he sometimes gets anxiety in crowds, and can have a panic attack, I was fine spending the money to see how he would do, and would not care if we had to leave early.

The good news is he did GREAT (organized seating seems to be better for him than a mass crowed. Some veterans, sadly, can’t do either).

The better news? I was able to get the tickets against the Mets (from New York…which is where my family is from) and the Mets WON!!!!

We had a great family night out, and aside from the unexpected fireworks (which again, Bill did great) we had a blast. (No pun intended). I just wish venues would warn about fireworks! We went to a fair one time and we had no idea fireworks were going to go off. My poor husband freaked out because we were in a metal building and it was just a horrible sound, especially if you’re not expecting it. It reminds him of gunfire.

Side note, next time get seats on the lower level, because we were almost at the top and I don’t do well that high up!

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Liam had no idea what I meant when I said we were going to watch the Mets, but he was excited to go! Talia wanted to stay home because it wasn’t hockey….she got over it!

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Once we gave these to Liam, he started practicing throwing balls to the front of the truck…..poor planning on my part, but he was into it!

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She has a Mets shirt on under there, but insisted on Stingrays over it (hockey).

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These two are best friends. Let’s see how long this lasts!

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It took 506 tries to get them all smiling, and Bill looks like he was over it at that point! Still!!!

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This is how mesmerized Liam was when the Mets took the field! I freaking love this kid!!!

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Second to the last row from the top….but it was still fun! Look at the arch in the background! (No, I don’t plan to ever go to the top……I’m not a tourist! HA!)

What new thing did you do this week?

What do you do about crowds when your veteran gets nervous?

Life

When the Game Plan Changes….

Yesterday started out challenging……

I have been “working from home” for two days so my husband can take care of all his appointments and such with the VA. (Also, shout out to the VA for continually canceling his appointments when he gets there….jerks!)

Here are some hard facts about working from home:

  • Kids don’t understand the concept and think it’s time to play with you and distract you,
  • Your husband thinks it means you’re available to help clean the house, watch kids, and take care of everything while he does other “projects,”
  • Nothing gets done,
  • You rather be at the office!
  • You feel like the following:

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I then had another bomb dropped on me. I thought I would be partnering with another yoga studio in the area…and now she’s not so sure. (I will say she has A LOT going on, so I actually understand).

I’m crushed. We had plans to teach and to launch a wellness magazine in the area.

So as I sit with screaming kids all around me, I feel lost.

I thought I was finally going to be able to teach yoga full time and spend more time with my kids and husband.

It was even harder to get work done knowing this. I felt like I needed a new plan.

When the morning was over, we found ourselves racing to couples therapy (and of course we were late). As you may have read last week, we are about over this shenanigan. Seriously, we are better when we are NOT in therapy. I don’t have such an urge to kill him all the time (not literally….) When we walk out of therapy, we are fighting and angry…but we press on.

Everyone agreed the relationship between us would be better if I worked from home all the time. Crazy, right? Considering how insane my house is during the day. The flip side is leaving each day to go to work when your husband has combat-related PTSD/TBI can make leaving the house for extended periods of time an absolute nightmare…

So I’m setting new goals.

It’s no secret writing is what makes me happy. It’s what I want to do for a career and it’s what I would do even if I didn’t have to work…along with teaching yoga. Teaching yoga makes me so happy and helps my own mental status (I have Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety), so I won’t ever give up teaching.

I’m determined to find my own way as a writer and instructor so I can work from home. As chaotic as working from home can be, it will make for better relationships at home and with my husband.

Have you ever worked from home? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

 

Life

When Your Husband Brings Home A Goat

I once woke up around 6 am and found a duck in my bathtub.

Yes, a live duck, swimming in the bathtub.

Why?

My husband had hit it with his truck on accident, and he wanted to be sure it was okay, so he brought it home.

I wasn’t happy. Eventually the duck went back to the pond and everything was fine…but today….today there was a goat.

Today my husband left to go to the VA. He got there and of course his appointment was cancelled and no one told us. He did still need to get labs done, so I expected him to get his blood taken and return….

Three hours later I had a goat in my driveway.

A live, living, breathing, $#!++ing goat.

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My husband proceeds to tell me the goat belongs to his cousin George who has a small farm next to my husband’s parents. The goat keeps getting out and my father-in-law wanted to just eat the stupid thing, because it’s always getting into the cow pasture.

So my husband decides the best thing is to bring it home.

He claims it’s temporary until George comes home and decides what to do with it, but after my husband put it in the back yard, our daughter proceeded to walk up to it and introduce herself. She said “Hi, I’m Talia!” and then continued talking to the goat and referring to it as “friend.”

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I would love to blame this one on the PTSD, or the Marine Corps…but this is all my husband and his “Redneckery” as I like to call it.

He said “welcome to country living” but I feel like we don’t need a goat in our yard to be “country….”

I digress.

Now he’s in the other room telling me we should name it “Gyro.” Um…..wrong animal!!!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever come home to? What would you do if there was a goat in your yard? Who wants to place bets it will still be in my yard in the morning?

Life

Happy Birthday….in Heaven

My step-son would be 11 today.

Instead of planning a big party with cake and ice cream (and probably a hockey game) we have to visit him in a cemetery.

I never met Riley.

In fact, my husband hardly did either. Riley was “born sleeping” as they say, meaning he was stillborn.

My husband has been through so much, but I worry losing his first son was probably among the worst of it. It is probably worse than a father he never knew, or losing his mom when he was 12. It is probably worse than any loss in Iraq on deployment.

He was deployed to Iraq when he got the Red Cross phone call his son would not make it to be born alive. At seven months pregnant, his first wife had lost the baby.

I won’t get into a blame game, especially since I only get one half of the story (I’ve never met either of the ex-wives, which I’m totally cool with) and because we know where Riley is. He’s in heaven. I imagine (for some reason) he takes lots of walks with my great-grandfather, who never met either of our children. I don’t know why I imagine this…I just do.

They flew my husband back for Riley to be born sleeping. He buried him. He returned to Iraq. Less than three weeks after Riley, my Bill was in a convoy where he lost two guys and almost lost a third after hitting an IED. We are lucky he’s alive…we are lucky all those who survived are alive, my husband included.

I know my husband was mad at God for a long time over losing his son. There’s no rhyme or reason we as humans can understand when it comes to loss, especially one like that.

I just know he’s okay now, and one day my husband will not hurt, but he will see him again.

For now, even though we struggle, he is the absolute best father to our two children (who are too young to understand having an older brother in heaven). He does spoil them, but I let it go, knowing he’s making up for lost time with Riley.

Today we will go to the store, Bill will ask me what I think an 11 year old wants, and we will go leave it next to his headstone.

I know I struggle with it….I cry every time I’m there.

Sometimes I go alone.

Usually I have to give Bill a reason to go there, such as putting up decorations, etc.

I know Riley isn’t there….I know he’s in heaven. I also know there is nothing I can do to make my husband feel better about the loss of a child.

Usually he sits in the truck (my husband) and just stares at the grave. He makes a comment like “no one should bury their child,” or “all these poor families.” (Riley is in a special section of the cemetery for babies.)

It’s painful to look. You see all the graves of parents who are there every week with custom toys and decorations for their lost child, their names embroidered on teddy bears and flags. You also see the untouched graves of the children whose parents can’t bring themselves to go there, or in some cases, even order the headstone, so a marker sits there years later.

So for today, all I can do is pray. It’s hard to lean on God for comfort. I think it’s because we want answers and healing and as humans we want it right away.

Think of my husband today…….

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”