The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

GET LIVIN' OR GET DYIN' |

May 25, 2011

Name: Mike T.
Returned from: Afghanistan
Milblog: c/o Bouhammer's Afghan Blog

What I'm about to describe isn’t an isolated episode, it happens every day in America. I know all too many in my close circle that have lived through it and are standing stronger today because of it...

You can never imagine that it would happen, but with one short-sided comment or blaring scream you are there. A slam of the front door, a dropped phone call or the worst of all, that empty feeling that things would never be the same, are signs of an ending relationship. Somehow you promise to be respectful, but with a personality like mine, answers are what I am looking for. For her, it was the yearning for a different life. So how does it happen? I am not really sure, one minute you are toasting each other and the next fighting over the stupidest thing possible. Your anger grows and her despair is ever apparent. Your eyes are opened as if someone split your forehead open with a crowbar, that’s how amazing and dramatic the feelings you have eventually become.

So what’s the point of this whole thing? A year has gone by since I departed my old life, my ex-wife and a life that seems a blur in the rear view mirror. A friend was killed, a war rages and we are still here fighting for whatever we think is important. I walked out that door knowing deep down that I would never return, knowing that much time was wasted by pleading, arguing, negotiating for nothing.

I look back now and know that the decisions made were not easy for either of us. They had to be made regardless though, and now the outcome. What I find amazing is that no matter what, I will say one thing; I didn’t follow the typical path of an ex-husband. I left it, the ink dried and I packed my bags, grabbed the dog and went north. Not knowing what was going to happen, but the point of this is to let you out there know: Get Livin’ or Get Dyin’.

There aren’t any easier answers, but one tool we have in our kit is survival. I went through the bottle; I blamed myself, and everything in between. Without the very close circle of family and friends, I would be DEAD. Yes I said it, DEAD.

No one has the answers for you, I know that now. Whether it was putting a bullet in my own head or getting back on the plane back to Afghanistan, as a dear friend said, ”You’re dead already."

I will admit my mistakes, pay for my sins and most of all, understand I didn’t or wasn’t successful as a husband. I do know though, that was the longest drive to the most unfamiliar place I have ever been to. Home. After many long hours in the middle of the quiet night, I decided to go home. I had to open my heart, my hands and say I am sorry. Saying sorry has never been hard, the hard part is that it seems forgiveness has never come easy for those mistakes.

With all that behind me, we are now in May 2011 and I will admit that every morning I stare into the mirror and an overwhelming amount of pride comes over me. I survived; I wasn’t a causality or a statistic that most thought would become of me. I took all that I learned over the past 13 years and applied it. I got my shit together, identified the immediate threats, worked out courses of action and drove the fuck on!

I hold no ill will; it had to be done. Was it my way? No, but you can’t dictate how life is going to deal those cards, you just got to pony up and hope for the best. You dream that whatever it is inside of you will prevail, it will be positive! So like I said, you really only have one choice. GET LIVIN' OR GET DYIN'.

This is dedicated to all of those who stood vigilant in the night with me, answered the midnight phone calls and offered up sound advice and a good hug. You know who you are.

“What a shame to judge a life you can’t change." Dedicated to all those out there trying to figure it out after so many years of difficult service.

Comments

It wasn't for nothing! Read about how you're making a difference in Afghanistan here:

http://wemeantwell.com/blog/2011/05/25/blah-blah-usaid-project-dies-from-fraud-blah-blah/

Congratulations. I hope your success is an inspiration for others who are facing the same thing.

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