In 2010, I had just gotten out of a four-year relationship that I was miserable in. Cue Tom* — handsome, funny, caring, and smart. He had plans for his life, and this drove me to him.
We met in June; the following April, he would be leaving for basic training. I was torn about starting a relationship; I had never done the long-distance thing, and I hadn't written a letter since middle school. How was I going to survive four months without even a phone call?
Against all my fears, I did it. I received letters every day and wrote him every day. We professed our love to each other and talked about the future.
At his graduation in July of 2011, he proposed. I said yes. He was everything I was looking for in a person, and, as they say, when you know, you know. There was some backlash from friends and family since we had only dated for year. But I loved him. I still do.
A year later, he was my husband, and we were living together at his first duty station, and I was pregnant. Our son was due in August, and Tom's first deployment was scheduled shortly after his due date. We were terrified that he would miss the birth of his first child, but lo and behold, our son decided to be one of the few babies that made his entrance on his actual due date. We were ecstatic. My husband and son could bond for a month before he left.
It was a wonderful and emotional four weeks. Then, he was gone.
For the months he was deployed, I went back home to my family. I was a first-time mom who was doing everything by herself, and I didn't want to be 3000 miles away from support. The months flew by, including the holidays (which helped us stay busy), and before we knew it, he was coming back.
But from the day he got home, I could tell the war had changed my husband.
We fought over everything, from changing diapers to doing the dishes. Don't get me wrong — we still had good days, and I was very much in love with my husband because that caring, funny guy was still there, deep down, and he would make an appearance every so often. But something was off.
His contract was up shortly after his deployment. With no plans to reenlist, we began packing to move into a new place. I begged my husband to not rush things once we were home, but he wanted more and more: better car, bigger house, better job. I pleaded with him to take is slow and work his way back into civilian life.
The fights got worse, and one day, he left with no intention of coming back. I was devastated.
It took a long time for me to come to terms with this separation, but to also realize that it wasn't only my fault.
One day, after a court hearing, Tom texted me asking to talk. I hesitantly agreed and told him to come to my house. He broke down and cried, saying he made a mistake and missed me. He promised to work through this.
It was at this time that I found out he cheated on me during our marriage, twice. Furthermore, a month after we split, he moved in with another girl, from whom he mistakenly thought he had contracted an STD.
He promised me the world and that if I took him back, he would never hurt me again. Naive me wanted our family to be back together. It took a few more months of talking to finally, officially get back together.
But a week after we moved back in together, I caught him having an inappropriate conversation with a female coworker. We talked through it, he deleted her off every social media account, and we moved on. I wasn't about to get up and leave, although I thought about it. But we had just signed a year-long lease that neither of us could afford alone, our son loved having us together, and we were both just settling back into the married life. I wasn't too nervous about it because he got a promotion that allowed him to work from home, so he was never in the office to see this girl.
Four months later, I found myself on the kitchen floor, begging him to change his mind. He had just told me that he didn't want to be together — again. It was at that point that I hit rock-bottom. It was like he was a completely different person, and nothing he had said to me before his deployment mattered, like it never happened.
So I packed enough of my and my son's stuff to get us through a few days, and I went back to my mom's place. I was slowly moving my stuff out, and he was not helping, even though he was very persistent on knowing when I would be fully moved out. He was so mean to me, like I had done something wrong. Most of my family was so mad at him that they refused to come help if he was home, and because of his job, he was always home.
Before all my stuff was even moved out, he was dating the girl from his job.
I don't blame him for a lot of the fighting that happened when he returned home from the war. He was in really bad shape. It was something us wives who stayed home were warned about. We are told there's nothing you can do about it other than encourage them to get help.
He eventually did get help, and I hope he's doing well, for his sake and our son's sake. Our son deserves the best version of his father.
As for me, I am putting one foot in front of the other and trying to move forward. It's a long ways away until things are going to be normal for us. There's no telling what may come my way next. I can swear until I am blue in the face that I hate him, but I really don't. He gave me the best thing ever: our soon to be 4-year-old little boy. He has taught me more about love and happiness than anyone has ever taught me. It's a beautiful thing, and I am going to hold on to that for as long as I can.