I went to the county fair yesterday with the family. The boys had a blast. However, I had the worst episode of my entire life.
I’m still trying to understand what happened. There were thousands of people, but I’ve dealt with that before. My ex-in-laws were there, but I’ve dealt with that before. Things are weird between my ex and I, but I’ve dealt with that before.
As my hands were going numb and my back seized up, all I know is that I wanted to hold my ex tight and not let her go until my anxiety attack subsided.
Oops, forgot. Can’t do that anymore!
Let’s back up a bit…
That word, divorce, has been tossed around the house lately. I was divorced, or rather, divorcing, at the time I met the woman I’m in love with right now, the one I’m also divorced from. I think divorce is more terminal to her than it is to me. I got divorced once, then I met the love of my life. However, the love of my life divorced me for selfless reasons, yet feels all hope is lost between us.
Yeah, you read that right. Selfless reasons. She divorced me as the final act of a desperate lover. She tried everything to convince me I needed therapy, and I blew it off. She had a brilliant plan to divorce, and when I willingly started treatment, she would cancel the petition. That was ruined by the VA giving me medicine that made me paranoid and irrational. The divorce was finalized, and no matter how hard we tried over the years, I think it was always finalized for her.
Back to the Present
I’ve handled situations like this before. I can manage the immense stress without resorting to anger. I might lean on anger every now and then, but it never takes over.
As I stood idle at the County Fair, waiting around for various reasons, everyone kept closing in on me. It was a wall of flesh that kept pushing me. That was when I discovered I now have a new trigger, and it’s the worst one yet. Remorse…
Every time I looked to her for help and security, I started having flashbacks of the terrible things I did and said to her. Every vision and voice that came to me made me want to put a bullet in my head. I could feel every memory of pushing her and my kids away pulling at every muscle fiber like the thread of an old sweater.
I watched as her smile faded away when she realized what I was going through. As soon as she asked me if I was ok, I broke down. My hands were shaking so bad. All I wanted to do was hold her, but I couldn’t. I knew if I touched her, my mind would be spiked with all the past horrors I’ve committed. I would scare her away with my desperation for normality.
She did the right thing last night by keeping my mind occupied on our kids. If I stayed busy, it would keep me grounded in the moment. She got us food to eat, then found a place where I could keep my back against a wall. Knowing there was nobody behind me eased things a good bit.
The feeling returned in my hands and face, and I was able to hold back the tears. After 4 days of having no appetite, I was finally able to eat. I started seeing the good times we had when I looked at her again. I was back to being in love with her, with no visions of that monster in me taking pieces of her away.
What I’ve Learned
When everything started coming back together, I got a song stuck in my head. It’s “Goodbye Forever” by Volbeat. I love all their songs, but when it played in my head, it finally made sense. The chorus goes like this:
The final is a warning, wake up before you go
There’ll be no second chances, that day you’re on your own
Let out the feelings, tomorrow may not come
All alone in the dark, move the curtains for once
See the light life has brought, or goodbye forever
Take the arms that embrace, no more being afraid
Feel the sun on your face, or goodbye forever
Those words finally came together last night. I always thought it was about a guy saying goodbye, and telling those he loved to appreciate everything. My interpretation now is that Michael, the singer-songwriter, is talking directly to me. I have to see the good in the world, or I’ll be lost.
She is the light that life has brought me. She’s the reason I’m not afraid. She’s the sun on my face. I spent so much time focusing on everything wrong in my life, I couldn’t see anything except that I was alone in the dark. I was already lost.
It’s easy to just say that things are good when there is so much wrong today, but it’s so much harder to actually see what’s beautiful. Every day I wake up is a blessing. I get to see the faces of my children. I get to hug them and talk with them. Most days I get to wake up next to the love of my life. It doesn’t matter if she can’t forgive me for what I used to be. She’s still there, trying to understand and help me.
For me, that is true love. It might not be the kind of romantic love I’ve been longing for, but it’s the kind of love I need to survive.
If you ever feel like you can’t go on, please reach out. There is help.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline – (800) 273-8255
Veterans Crisis Line – (800) 273-8255, press 1