Editor's note: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects untold numbers of American service members and veterans and the problems with OEF/OIF veterans are only beginning. What is easy to overlook is the toll taken on their family members. Battling Bare, a group of women married to PTSD sufferers is starting a series of letters written by members hoping to give light to life with someone suffering from PTSD. These letters offer a stark and unique insight into a growing American epidemic that a more academic analysis cannot provide.
This first letter is from Heather Goble, wife of a Navy corpsmen for nine years. If you would like to contribute your story please send it to Submissions@battlingbare.org. We cannot continue to pretend these problems don't exist, and they can and will be ignored unless and until they are documented.
Originally published in Business Insider
Before you came into my life, I had heard rumors. Back then, no one really spoke about you unless it was in hushed whispers. No one knew for sure what you looked like but I heard you did unspeakable things...that you crept into bed with husbands and seduced them away from their unsuspecting wives. I also heard that you drank. A lot. I heard sometimes you could be two places at once physically in one place but mentally elsewhere. It was also said that you were a liar, home wrecker, careless and violent...that sometimes you would take your mounting anger out on walls or whatever or whomever happened to get in your way. You left shattered picture frames and broken memories in your wake. There have been songs written about you...yet they don't even begin to do justice to just how evil you are. In fact, there has been talk of you being a murderer. I can't say that I'm surprised. I wouldn't put it past you. I believed those rumors and I certainly never invited you into my life.
It was four and a half years ago when you crept into our lives an unwelcome guest. I'm not sure if you were in his med (medical) bag on the plane or if you quietly crept in through an open window one night making him awake in a state of panic...but once you came, no matter how much I begged and pleaded, you just kept finding ways back into our life.
I still can't believe the cops were never called when you would be banging down the door just to prove you were still there, still providing him the thrilling "alive" feeling I couldn't...At first you were just a nuisance...doing stupid things like ruining our sleep and tracking your sandy footprints all over our home, leaving shattered glasses, like a disrespectful child never cleaning up after yourself...leaving your mark to let us know you were still there...then you started turning up and interfering with his job.
Leaving us on edge...but you proved to be a stealthy, well-trained machine...incognito even. We knew you were there but no one else admitted to seeing you some might say you were a ghost of sorts. Eventually, we thought maybe they were right that maybe you weren't there to stay....So we tried so many times to go on pretending we had moved on...but you are like the ex we avoided yet managed to bump into on the Fourth of July at the fireworks, causing him to hide under the nearest table so you don't see him and have to wax nostalgia about all of your memories. Those trips down memory lane were always too much to handle anyway.
But we were wrong. And you were angry. Angry that we wished you away or that we ignored you I'm still not sure which but you sure let us know it. Quite the elaborate production. You make quite a scene, don't you? You followed us everywhere we went. Proof of your existence began popping up everywhere but, like us, others knew of your bad reputation and hanging out with you started to get him into trouble at work...and then at home...You once left a hole in the wall at the top of the stairs...and I read the elicit text messages between the two of you...you sure were proving all the rumors true.
The last straw was when you began attacking me for trying to pull him away from your allure...your antidepressant induced numbness...All I wanted was to go back to being a couple but everyone knows, PTSD, you're a dirty, dirty whore. You weren't ready to let go yet. You had greater plans...the ultimate sacrifice was number one on your list.
And you tried to take it. You probably would have won if I conceded defeat that day but, unlike you, using him for whatever thrill...I love him. So I saved his life. I'd heard you'd been violent before, or in instances like ours, cowardly, disguising yourself as miracle pills that would end the suffering you've caused. Some might say you are the snake to Adam and Eve. Even the experts trained to recognize you, they were so afraid of you and the implications of your existence that they concocted an elaborate cover up and sent us on our way. Maybe you are just bloody brilliant.
I've been talking about you, PTSD, and I have about had it with you in my life. The few bruises, the tears, the fear, the insecurity, anxiety, infidelity, deceit and the broken heart....I'm over it and I want my husband back. I bet you feel real big...that uneasy feeling you leave in the pit of my stomach never goes away anymore. Empty promises don't ease my pain. You have even stooped so low as to bring my children into your little shenanigans and that is just crossing the line. They aren't babies like they were when we first met. They're perceptive. They've witnessed our arguments. They've seen how terrible you are to me but I'm strong. I'm a fighter and when it comes to my children, I always show them that...but you're expertly trained and certainly know how to subdue your victim until they concede defeat.
This time is different, though. You have me so close to waving the white flag to protect my children...but I know once you put the pen in my hand to sign away the relationship I committed to, you will only find another home to ruin. It is for that reason that I will let you win this round.
No, I ran. In fact I fled. Hundreds of miles. Too tired to fight...but I'm regrouping. Preparing. Training. Filling my arsenal. More focused and driven than before. I'm sure you've heard the phrase that Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned. If you won't go quietly into the night and leave my family be, you need to know I'll never give up. And when you come at me again, I'll be prepared. This time I have a ton of women who have my back. We will tell everyone what you do. I won't let you have him.