Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"No Man Fails Who Does His Best"

“Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.”

~O.S. Marden 

Often in emails or conversations with other spouses/Veterans via phone, the questions always begin. Much of the time, this makes me nervous because I really don't have all the answers. Disappointing someone with my responses is always a fear that nibbles at the back of my mind, but I always aim to be honest and make sure that they all know there is no "one size fits all" scenario. Questions like "How do I help him?", "How do I do all this?", "How am I supposed to deal with all this?" "How did you get through all this?" and the list goes on. After speaking with another spouse the other night, I went to bed and thought back on the conversation I had with her. I felt in my mind that I gave the God's honest truth and the best answer I could give her, but my heart felt heavy because I wish I could have been more well, sugar coated. Perhaps the years have hardened my ability to slowly pull the band aid off. When it comes to these questions though of how to deal with the war at home, there isn't an answer that is cookie cutter, inside the lines or a straight and clear cut one for any of us.

My best analogy is the sink or swim scenario. Many of us learned to swim with someone holding on to us, directing, and making sure one hand was under us the entire time; much like riding a bicycle with training wheels. Some of us were just thrown in as that was the way they learned, and it was learn to swim or sink. To this day, I remember my father saying "its now or never, girl. You either sink or you swim. There is no time to think about it." I used to as a child think my father to be this hard core, harsh, firm and no nonsense stone of a military man. However, looking back as an adult now, I see his point and it wasn't just about a swimming lesson. It was a life lesson and swim I did. It was the same way when my husband came off the plane; I never looked back. I just kept swimming to any where I could get my feet on solid ground.

With this life we are living, there are no guide books, no training wheels or hands being held underneath us giving us the courage that comes from knowing someone is there to hold on to you while you flail around. We get shoved in head first and never really get a good bearing on the direction we are going; it's just up or down. I can't remember honestly, how I did anything. I thought about this a while last night and all I could come up with was, "how the hell did I do it?". I just did. That's the truth. I think the reason I gained my bearings because we were on a track with a fast coming train coming down on us. With my Veteran and children, it was grab and run while trying to not ever look back. I took my home, what was left of it, and turned it into trenches for safety. I made a fortress out of love, stocked weapons made of patience and the will to keep my family together, all while we watched as the enemy fired upon us. I paid attention and tried to think on all opposing sides, especially that of the enemy, PTSD. I slowly found the courage to take on one fight at a time, choosing my battles wisely and learned from my mistakes. Trust me, there were many and more failures than successes for me. I think though looking back that is what made me even stronger and while I learned, my confidence grew. I learned much from many of those knock downs. I learned what was my limit, what my strength level was and when I needed to walk away. More importantly, I found out what I was truly capable of doing.

 "Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" 
~O.S. Marden

There were times there was no hope, and what hope was there was just a stone wall. That changes though as we go along because our point of view, especially that of hope...changes with us. We learn to seek out the only thing we can find and that is to survive, day by day and on our own. Over the past six years, things have come a long way although we are still far off from things being good. There are many of us all looking for that safe place to run to all while questioning if it even exists. Many of us are still fumbling in the dark, looking for some sort of thing that resembles our former lives we all got so comfortable in. Many of us fell behind and just didn't have the strength to keep going. Many have adapted and made a new normal for themselves.

  “No man fails who does his best" 
~O.S. Marden
 My advice is this, to all who may read this. Like many of our War Veterans, paying attention, relying on their senses and learning new strategies, saved their life. It's the same with us family members. Don't second guess yourself as sometimes the answer lies within, we just overlook it. Sometimes talking about it to another person in similar situations, you realize you had the answer all along, but it just took another point of view to put it out in front of you. Sometimes you walk away and then the answer sucker punches you out of nowhere. More times than not? There is no answer and that's ok too. Eventually, you will create your own.The game of life can't be won in a single play. It takes strategy, confidence and knowing the mind of your opponent. That comes from education, listening and learning from other failed moves. In this life, I don't think there is such a thing as winning, but surviving and making it work is the goal you seek. Hope rises from the ashes of all those burned bridges we lost along the way. For those that simply find themselves so battle weary that the only thing they can do is retreat, there is no shame in that. I know in some cases, walking away is the hardest thing to do but it is the only answer.

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else"
 ~Albert Einstein
  Many of you ask questions in regards to therapy, counseling, taking on a new hobby to fill the gaps of what was our old life. Some want to journal, some want to write or blog and some want to go on to do other things such as starting their own groups, or even non-profits. I encourage each to find their own niche and what's even better, is just when you think things are going all to hell? Life takes a swing and plops down opportunities in your lap and that niche finds you. It's just up to you what you choose to do, but don't second guess that and ignore it. Sometimes in all of that? We find new answers, renewed strength, new hopes and we see much more of ourselves and what we are capable of doing.

  “Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them" ~O.S. Marden

Because there is no answer to anything, and this is in any part of life; you simply choose to live or give up. As some of our parents once told us, and for those who are parents now; most us expect nothing more than trying their very best from our children. So why do we find it so hard to expect the same thing from ourselves or our Wounded Warriors? The answer doesn't lie in how do I get through this, how did someone else get through this, or even how do I help someone. It's how do I try to find the first step? You can't climb a rock wall without finding that first rock or ledge, can't read a book unless you start from that first word on the very first page, can't swim until you get into the water and you can't fail unless you never try. No one has a skeleton key to unlock all the doors. We just have to keep trying each and every one, even if it means getting a few slammed in our faces. It's a hard, challenging life we now live but it can be lived. There will be good days, there will be some really bad ones. What you take from each of those, what faith you have in yourself and the Good Lord above along with support from others who are living it too, is what gets you through. Trying to live is better than not living at all. As long as you try, you give your best, the rest of the answers will come to you.......... 

“No man is beaten until his hope is annihilated, his confidence gone. As long as a man faces life hopefully, confidently, triumphantly, he is not a failure; he is not beaten until he turns his back on life.” ~O.S. Marden


  1. Hi USM

    I haven't read or posted here in a long time....I'm always anonymous but did write about superwoman a year or more back and you responded with a thread on here.

    My husband was in the Army for 10 years, NCO, infantry. He was in Afghanistan for 7 months at the beginning....just following 9-11 and then in Iraq from 2004-2005 at which time his stop loss expired and he was discharged and began college. We have been together since 1999 and share three children (ages 6, 5 and 11 months).
    His PTSD symptoms began showing up following Afghanistan.....short term memory loss, agressive behavior, alcohol abuse, porn addiction, excessive spending and lots of lying to cover up his behaviors.
    BUT things got a lot worse
    He received the official PTSD diagnosis during his exit medical exam in 2005, and has proceeded to hide that diagnosis in order to continue his career in law enforcement.
    And given the degenerative nature of PTSD, he has been getting worse.
    By 2007 he was have sex with the wife of a soldier while that soldier was deployed and passing along STDs to me while I was pregnant with our second child and nursing our first.
    When he was caught accidentally, he physically beat me for the first time and blamed me for being fat and mean or he would not have had to cheat.
    We separated for 10 months, he started therapy and AA and we tried again. The physical abuse resumed and sexual abuse began which resulted in an additional pregnancy for us.

    Therapy began again, new improvements, then his Dad died a few weeks ago and the first thing he did was go to a bar and have sex with a random female he picked up there. I found out the next morning because she texted him. I flipped and exposed his behavior to his family and the grief counselor who was visiting us regarding his father's death. He told me I overeacted and promised to never have contact with her again.
    He raped me brutally that night.
    Then he exchanged 98 text messages with her over the next 2 days and tried to cover it up by changing the password on our shared online cell phone bill (which I was able to change back and access of course).

    So here we stand.
    I haven't told him that I know about the texts which stopped on Jan 14th.
    He is acting like business is normal (in an up swing as he cycles).

    Anyway, your sharing about there not being any real answer is so significant and you are so right.....I just have the need for some answers or change or just something so I can feel alive again.

    You give hope in your writing.
    You are brave and honest and honor your husband.
    I admire your strength.
    My strength has waned and I am out of options/answers.

    My husband clearly does not want to get better.
    He has created hell on earth for me and for himself.
    Our kids are forever impacted by his acting out.
    And I'm left with impossible questions.

    Do I leave?
    Do I report his abuse and destroy his career?
    I clearly make life comfortable enough for him that he has no motivation to change but I don't want him to seek treatment because he is scared of losing his family, I want him to seek it if he is ready to get better for himself.

    I look back over all of these years and one thing is clear....when his service ended in 2005, mine began and I don't have an end date to my contract.

    Thank you for continuing to advocate for PTSD recovery for veterans and families by sharing your journey.

    I will continue to live through the bad days and hope for the good ones to sustain us all.

    still searching for answers through a myriad of questions,

  2. Anonymous, is there anywhere you can go? I'm generally for sticking it out and resolving issues, but your husband is putting you and your children in danger. This is one of the rare occasions I would NOT recommend staying. The fact is, there are some men who can come back from this and be wonderful husbands and fathers (actually, I believe all of them CAN), but there are many who simply WON'T. He may have PTSD, but hiding it and hiding behind it to physically and sexually abuse you is unacceptable. I know where you're coming from. You want to hold on to the hope that he can recover and be the man you married (or at least a close approximation) and be a good father to your children. I don't know what the magic answer is for you, but until he is willing to let go of the dishonesty and selfishness, he's not going to get any better. Additionally, depending on the area you're in, you may not see any help from his law enforcement friends. It's not supposed to happen that way, but they often do look the other way thinking they're somehow doing the guy a favor. I can't tell you to leave him, that's your choice, but it may be necessary to bring the reality of what he's let his life become home to him. This environment is toxic for your children, and no matter how much you love him, their welfare has to come first. That was actually one of the big factors that I think helped my husband start to recover and change his ways. When he would begin to get angry or start with this behavior, I would firmly ask if he loved our children, and whether he would find it acceptable for their spouses to treat them the way he was treating me. When he said he'd kill them (especially in the case of our daughter), I told him that bringing that into our home was teaching them it was normal and acceptable, and that if he wanted better for them, he had to show them what better means, or they would believe that kind of treatment was healthy love. His attitude has changed drastically, but I've had to repeatedly stay calm and ask him how he thought his behavior was impacting the children and their perspective on love.
    I don't know your husband, but if he genuinely loves you and your children, he needs to adjust his behavior. I have found it more effective to avoid negatives and focus on positives--rather than "Stop talking to me like that!" I use things like "When you say things like that, I feel like you hate me, and I know that's not true. Please talk to me like you love me."
    Either way, the STDs and the marital rape are a huge red flag. Staying without demonstrative signs of real, positive change only sends the message that he can continue what he's doing without repercussion.


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