My male cat jumps on the side of the bed to wake me. If hitting the side of the bed does not do the trick, he jumps on the bed and walks over me, meowing, just in case, I didn’t feel him, I could now hear him. I throw back the warmth of my comforter and get up to either feed him or put him out, still half asleep, I am not sure which it is. I stop short at the end of the hall because there is my husband, playing his new video game…he has not been to bed and it is now five in the morning.
I have not figured out why Christmas is a tough time for veterans. I get a little insight each year since we have been married, that I go thorough the holidays and watch my husband’s routine and sleep patterns alter. He told me early on he didn’t “do” Christmas and we made a compromise, because I do “do” Christmas, it is not only a religious celebration for me, it is a defining time with family for me.
Something a young veteran said to a group of us at lunch this last week. He said society does not make a place for “warriors” to just “be” when they return from war. Society wants returning warriors to assimilate into every day life and in essence, fade away. We don’t ask any other group in our society to give up their identity and fade away, why would we do that to those that protect our freedoms, fight
for their lives in lands 95% of us have never seen? This comment did more for me in understanding my father and my husband, than anything I
had read in PTSD articles. Why would our veterans, who are conditioned to hunt the enemy and kill, be touchy-feely about the holidays? I
have watched my husband say nothing when he brings my totes of decorations from our shed, but the look on his face speaks volumes. I
stopped being offended because he expresses his appreciation for how
the house looks once the decorations are up, but his initial response
is irritation. How could I expect it to be otherwise? His memories
of Christmas during wartime are ones of duress and incredulity. We ask our teenaged and young men to kill in the name of God and Country and then we ask the to sit quietly in church and sing “O Come All Ye Faithful”.
As a wife of the PTSD veteran, I learned early on in my marriage, it does not matter how many years have passed since my husband was in conflict, it is as fresh and clear to him today as it was when he was nineteen. The process of PTSD is that thee recollections, emotions and memories are brought to the surface every year he survived his conflict. My husband has refined his coping tools to deal with these feelings and emotions that come every year. This makes a difference for him in how he processed his emotions twenty years ago, and how he processes them today. He is a warrior, he will always be a warrior, and he has not ever faded or assimilated into society’s preceived corner for him and others like him. It is as it should be. Semper Fideles…always faithful. Makes sense to me. Semper Fi, Babe.