My husband, my kids and I - we gave so much of ourselves, and still all I can think is, "For what?" Twenty-plus years of numerous deployments and household moves under our belts, with all that collective experience and wisdom, and all it took was a combat tour to almost destroy our marriage and inflict major damage to his relationships with our older children. Retrouvaille saved our marriage, but there isn't a program like it for the family relationship. Even though our marriage is better, it isn't the same and it probably never will be; that and the devastating effect on us as a family is a loss I still find myself grieving when I read back on the stuff I wrote.
As many Marines (soldiers and airmen) do when they return, my husband maintained that because he came home in one piece, we should have been back to normal as soon as he stepped off the bus. No amount of talking got him to understand that while he was able to leave behind the physical reminders of that time in his life. and even though we were so glad he was home and safe, we still needed time to adjust. None of us got that time. He was back to work three days later. You know those post-deployment screenings "everyone" got when they returned? He wasn't screened. A lot of the Marines weren't screened. They were asked how they were doing and their "I'm fine" was taken at face value without further inquiry.
No one of any authority told him to keep an eye on himself or insisted that he check in with a professional, so he didn't. The man who was pretty good about listening to me shut me out and wouldn't hear anything contrary to his version of reality. The thing is, our youngest didn't magically stop having nightmares. Our teenagers didn't suddenly stop grappling with the juxtaposition of the father who left and the man who was essentially a new man in their lives. For all his insistence that life was back to normal, it was anything but, and less than 90 days after he stepped off that bus, we moved 5,000 miles away from what little normal we had to a whole new everything that, unlike all our other military moves, included a new culture and language. It was even worse for him because he had jumped through three different countries, climates, cultures and languages in less than a year's time.