While I worked with the women who contributed to Combat Trauma: The Spousal Response to PTSD, I learned to cry again. I learned to mourn with them through their trauma with their warrior-spouses.
One day, I asked myself how I had become so crusty? I felt sorrow, but I didn’t cry. Why? I concluded that after losing my birth family through early deaths and having personally had two close encounters with death because of cancer, I had hardened my heart toward my own emotions.
I have the most caring and wonderful warrior-husband in the world. Has he suffered post war trauma? Absolutely! In my book I’ve talked about his nightmares and flashbacks, but he has always held tightly to common sense and hard work and that has been his salvation. Yes, the after effects of war, death, and loss of his Brothers has had great effect. Yes, there have been times when he has wept while crawled up in his recliner in the middle of the day. Yes, he always weeps when we stand at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC. Yes, he is somber when he speaks about his experiences in Vietnam. But I’ve also watched him laugh too. When he and the Brothers gather around the table at a military reunion, they both laugh and cry. My pride in him and his Brothers far out ways my grief.
So what happened to make me cry again? Most of the women who companioned with me to write this book have suffered the extreme ups and downs with their warriors. Unless you have been in combat, you cannot know the trauma the warrior—wonderful men and women—have experienced. Unless you have married a combat warrior, you cannot know what the spouse has had to endure. My situation was rare. I wish that all of these spouses could have had my experience, but few did. When I listened to them pour out their hearts, I was overwhelmed with emotions. Their sadness broke my hardened heart and I cried. It felt good to cry, to feel the strong emotion of love and respect.
I am eternally grateful to these companions and to the many more who have now read their stories and have shared their heartaches. They taught me how to feel deeply. They taught me how to cry again. Thank you!