This post deals with abuse, child loss and PTSD, and might be triggering for some readers.
This is a love story that began when I was 17.
He told me he wanted to serve, and I complied, not knowing what I was complicit in.
I have wished a thousand times over that I knew when I kissed him goodbye, the man I loved so dearly would remain in Afghanistan.
Watch: You can't Ask That - Recent War Veterans. Post continues below.
After Afghanistan, I met him at the airport. I fell into his arms expecting my kindred and met a total stranger. He was too gentle to see what he saw.
Everything unravelled over 6 months.
Silences, rages and night terrors. Retreating one moment, showering me with affection the next. I was on uncertain footing every day, isolated from everyone I loved, and ashamed to tell them that my husband, the veteran hero, was terrifying me more as each day passed.
I remember being thrown against the wall and looking up into his eyes, seeing nothing.
That was the most terrifying aspect, to realise that he had exited the situation and I was alone with sheer, raw, rage. Rage that didn’t reason, and rage that was only fuelled by my pleas.
I came to on the floor, alone. Disoriented, sore, piecing together what had occurred.
I remember thinking I should be screaming, but felt nothing and decided that behaviour would be anti-climactic. I imagine this is how he felt the first time he saw a life lost.
I knew something I loved was broken, and in that moment wanted desperately to fix it.
It was going to be fine because it had only happened once, and could go back to how it was, mere seconds ago. That man who worships the ground you walk on, the one you only dared dream you’d find. The hero.