Wednesday, July 22, 2009


He loved me. I loved him. He punched me in the face during a nightmare after he returned from Vietnam in 1971. He was never the same after that night. He could never trust himself not to hurt me. He didn't get help until the last months of his life in 2008. Gary Trudeau is telling our story and the story of countless couples throughout the history of war. I'm shaken but grateful to see this in the light of day.

I woke up early in the morning of July 19 after a nightmare that had its source in 1971. I'm not going to elaborate on the nightmare, but a thought I had at the end of the nightmare was:

"We ALL need help. We are not getting it."

The nightmare had turned thoughtful. On the other side of fear was insight and love and community.

I still need to ask for help as I go on with my life, knowing that I am not alone and never was.

What Gary Trudeau is inadvertently bringing to light is that although there is help for veterans, girlfriends of troubled veterans may not find the help they need or even know that they need help, too.


Zhoen said...

There are others who know where you are. Indeed, if you haven't gotten help yet, go now. Vet centers have counselors that don't need a lot of translation and explanation to understand your story.

am said...

Thank so much, Zhoen, for your understanding. I did call the local Vet center again today. They told me last year that they couldn't help me because government funding doesn't cover counseling for former girlfriends of veterans who have died. I did get one session last year because they misunderstood me when I called. They thought I was the wife of a veteran who had died. The counselor was kind and understanding.

I have several other sources of emotional support and solace when I come to these rough spots. Writing is one of them. Knowing that I am not alone is another.

R.L.Bourges said...

and/or: writing stories,
talking with friends,
spotting the unexpected slant to it all,

best, am

am said...

Thanks so much for the reminder, R.L.

The true end of war is the return of laughter.

-- Alfred Molano

robin andrea said...

Very powerful stuff, am. We are truly never alone, and certainly not in grief. There we have so much company.

bev said...

As usual, I'm just catching up on reading favourite blogs as I've been so busy this summer. I would extend those who have a hard time getting by to those whose spouses die after a terrible illness. I still have many bad dreams which leave me feeling terrible in the morning. I see things that trigger thoughts that make me sick inside (the sight of cans of Boost in a store can do this to me). Through following the writings on a number of widow's blogs, many whose husbands died from cancer, I see a common thread of people who are trying to carry on after being traumatized. I think the parallels are very strong. We've all been trying to live with death or insanity sitting in the same room with us. In addition to caring for Don through terminal cancer, I cared for my father through cancer so that he could die at home. It took me about 5 years to get mostly over that and I still feel sad at times. I can only begin to guess how many years it will be until I begin to get over Don's death. I will not be too surprised if it takes a decade or more. Anyhow, all that to say that I have a pretty good idea of how long these feelings can persist. We do not walk away from these situations without wounds that are easily re-opened. - bev

am said...

robin andrea -- We are in good company.

bev -- This past year I have often thought of you and the trauma of what you and Don went through during his illness as well as the previous trauma of your father's illness and death. Thank you so much for writing your thoughts here at this post.