It has been seven months since my husband was officially medically retired from the Army, something that we never imagined would happen in his “career” of being a soldier. So many emotions overwhelm me when I look back over the years, especially when I think back to being naïve to things in life at the mere age of 20. Here I am, not even a year from turning 30 and I feel more in tune with life and how upsettingly brutal reality can be at times, yet in the same sense how amazing and precious life can be.
Over the past nine years, not only have we been faced with what war has done to our family, with the mental and physical injuries that my husband has sustained, but we have also been faced with the life threatening issues of my own health and the many close calls I have had. To say life has thrown some difficult curveballs our way, would be an absolute understatement, but we are still here and still thriving to make the most of our lives.
When I stop and think back at what PTSD has done to my family and me, I find myself learning that I have gained strength and perspective that I would have never gained without it. I have become in touch with what reality is and what being a selfless hero really means. I have learned how to focus on the things that matter in life and have learned to no longer dwell on the minor things or things that I have no such control over. I have learned that everyone has their own story and judging someone before I know them only lowers the person I am and in return, it turns me into someone I am not.
They often say in life that what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, I have seen this first hand and I fully believe there is nothing but truth in the statement. When going through difficult times, we have limited choices on how we are going to handle the situation at hand. You can either run from it, trying your hardest to escape the problem, you can pretend that it doesn’t exist and hope that it never slaps you in the face, or you can face it and gain strength from it all. You end up gaining nothing from the first two except second guessing the choices you have made, yet with the later, by facing the trying situations in life, you become a stronger person. In this life that we live following our spouses time overseas in combat, it takes strength to survive. It takes willpower and determination to fight for our marriages and the battles that occur on the homefront after the redeployment transition.
Once the war inside stirs and never seems to rest, we find ourselves fighting a battle that we were never warned about, but fighting it with all we have beside the ones that we love unconditionally. When my husband first came home from Iraq (both deployments), there was a part of me that was ready to walk away from it all because I felt helpless in taking on so much and I felt angry because even though he was home, he didn’t return the man he left. I felt like I was missing out in a sense because even though the deployments were over, the demons were still here and in full force. To this day, they still are. Somehow, through the dark days, I learned how to fight for my husband, our marriage, and family. For five years now, I have been going nonstop, caring for this man that I fell in love with over twelve years ago. Our lives were disrupted by what combat left us with, but I made the choice to face it head on and be the love and support I have known my husband needs.
After adjusting the best that I could and accepting my husband’s injuries, I have learned that I find my own strength by not only caring for him and our children, but by also reaching out to other veterans and their families. By doing this, helping them and advocating on all of our behalf’s, I have found a strength that I never knew existed. I have found more of a positive perspective and outlook in things. Helping them helps me. I have learned that love doesn’t give up because of injuries and changes and the truths behind the vows that I made years ago. When I said “in sickness and in health” on our wedding day, the naïve me then thought of things like the flu or at worst, cancer. It never crossed my mind of changes in the brain or injuries sustained in war.
When a service member returns from war as hurt as my husband did, vows take on a whole new meaning. Life takes on an entirely new meaning, because the small things don’t matter as they did before and the simple things in life begin to mean the world. The seldom glimpses of who he used to be get me through the days now and encourage me to never give up, just as my faith does. This new strength I have found since my husband’s return has now defined the person I am today and the decisions I make. I never thought I would say this, but my husband’s deployments, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other injuries have made me a better person and have taught me just how short life really is and how to cherish the time that we have here. We never know what the future holds, so enjoy and hold on to the moments that you have right now and remember, if your spouse has been injured, it’s not their fault that they now have daily struggles.
Take the experiences you have been through and allow yourself to grow with them. Allow these experiences to show you what you are made of and the strength you possess within.
Brittney Biddle is a mother of three and wife/caregiver of a wounded combat veteran, who also faces medical issues of her own. She is an avid blogger at Southern Girl Stand , Biddle Buzz and has been blogging for over eight years now. Originally from GA, Brittney and her family have traveled the world while living the army life, moving to a small western town in Arkansas throughout the transition period of Kevin’s medical retirement. The Biddle Family are now in the process of moving back to Georgia, just south of Atlanta to be closer to their families and back to their home state.
In her spare time, Brittney is the Communications Liaison for Family of a Vet, Inc, a Non-Profit Organization reaching out to educate and provide resources to veterans and their families. Brittney is actively involved in trying to reach out to society to give people a better understanding in the silent wounds of war.
Everyday is a struggle with the wounds that Kevin has been left with, internally and externally. Yet, with every passing day, Brittney and the Biddle children find comfort in knowing that Kevin is home with them and are very grateful for all that they do have.
Outside of this, Brittney loves music, reading, photography, and marketing.