by Cristin Kraus
I’ve always felt the need to help other women mend their broken lives. But it took my life being broken to really get motivated. A little over 2 years ago, I met and married who I thought was my soul mate. He was a Sergeant in the army and had been in Iraq for over two years. We spent hours dreaming of our life together. The children we would raise in our own home, holding hands at our 60th wedding anniversary, and growing old together. It really was a possibility until the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder started creeping into our perfect marriage. Looking back, I can see that there were red flags all along. But there wasn’t anything that we weren’t willing to face together and conquer as a couple.
Unfortunately, the uncontrollable symptoms of this parasitic disease slowly surfaced and he was diagnosed in 2010 with PTSD and Major Depression related to the combat. With each passing day, I watched the man I love slip away until he didn’t even recognized himself. As his sanity and our life spiraled out of control, he was eventually medically retired from the Army as a result of the diagnosis.
For anyone who is not familiar with the symptoms of Combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it affects both the Veteran and his family, please research this for yourself. He begged and pleaded with me to leave because he knew he was quickly losing the ability to control his symptoms. But I refused to leave for about a year until I finally recognized how detrimental his disease was to my own health and safety. Looking back, I can see that he loved me enough to let me go.
The last time he visited our old apartment after we separated, he said he couldn’t stand being there, that it made him sick to his stomach. It was like reminder of what the disease had done to him, every room reeking of all the dark moments we endured. And like that apartment, I realize that I’m my husband’s dark room, his harrowing memory of a lifetime lost to the wounds of war.