Monday, August 08, 2005

Just When I Thought it Was Safe

Ok ya'll, Miss Joan let me intro this week's installment of Seven Inches of Service. This week's topic: soldiers may be heroes, but they are still men who can be assholes and we aren't allowed to say anything bad about them these days without a public lynching for being unsupportive and unpatriotic. I will, of course, post all the other links once they are finished. :-) Happy Military Musings Monday!!

Image hosted by

This week’s topic is interesting for me to contemplate because, of all the wonderful ladies I write with, I am probably the most pro-military. Not only do I support my soldier, but for the most part, I also support the job he did and the mission he was a part of. That said, my right to free speech had little to do with his military service or the actual terms of Clark’s deployment.

Yes, there were many times that I would get frustrated with the Army: for the lack of concrete plans, the excruciatingly long hours, all the normal things that aggravate the most patient of military girlfriends. However, holding my tongue in regards to the military and my soldier reacting out of character didn’t occur until after he was home.

It was easy for me to be supportive of Clark and his actions while he was gone; not only was I immensely proud of him, but I also knew that he needed me to put on a brave face and be strong for him. Once he came home, it was a different story once he was back on U.S. soil.

My issue still wasn’t with the deployment, but rather what the deployment did to my Clark. Since he came home, he has been diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and it has caused more problems than I have time or space to write. One of the biggest issues for me was pretending that things didn’t bother me because I wasn’t supposed to “upset” Clark.
He and I always had a completely open and honest relationship built on communication. When he got home, he was told (by the Army doctors) that he should stay away from me because a girlfriend would only disrupt his recovery. I guess I should back up just a little bit, when Clark was being debriefed here in the states, the Army made each of them go through a Psych evaluation. They spent a total of ten minutes with Clark and pronounced him to be sane and emotionally healthy. That evaluation was just further proof of how flawed the system is…Clark was far from emotionally healthy and anyone who knows him would say that he is unbalanced at the very least. I knew that from the beginning and I love him anyway…I’m not completely balanced myself, so we balanced each other.

Anyway, a week after he came back home, Clark had a meltdown and ended up in intense therapy. I was really proud of him for going; but I have a lot of rage toward that so-called “therapist”. He told Clark that his family was the only group of civilians that he should associate with; that family didn’t include me. When Clark told the doctor that I was the one he confided not his family, he was told that “limited contact if any is all that would be recommended with this girlfriend. A girlfriend will only slow down your progress.”

I was so hurt, and scared for Clark because I could see him shutting down. I knew I was the only one he trusted completely; it’s still that way. He tells me things no ex-girlfriend should hear because I am the only one in his life he believes without reservation. After that doctor got to him, Clark started to pull back and stopped being so open with me. No longer could I tell him my thought, fears, dreams, plans…nothing. I was informed that to do so would be detrimental to Clark. So, I did as they asked. I stepped back and for the first time in our relationship, I had to bite my tongue and not tell Clark exactly what I thought.

After several months and many near break-ups, Clark decided that I was more important than what his doctor said, but the pattern was already set. He had already become comfortable with running from everyone and believing that he was either beyond hope and help and believing that the Army was his solution to all that plagued his mind.

It was after the deployment that I lost my right to free speech; it was only after I had endured what I thought would be the most difficult ordeal did I come to understand how it felt to have to pretend to be one of the shiny, happy people. I was made to feel by most people around me that to show any frustration or impatience was a betrayal to the man I love. Never mind that those people all had the soldiers they loved emotionally intact.

I have nothing but love and respect for the other women of this forum…Joan, Ingrid and the others were my strength and support. It was only with them that I had the freedom that any woman in a civilian relationship takes for granted. I have learned a lot since then and never again will I allow the entity of the military or the unsympathetic civilian population censor my right to free speech or make me feel unpatriotic based on ignorant assumptions.