Recently I watched the prescreening of a movie called “Indivisible.” Based on a true story, it follows an Army family from pre-deployment to post-deployment.
Deployments are part of our culture in Central Texas. As part of a military community and a military family, we understand the sacrifice of time when soldiers are unable to be home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays. But what many of us never anticipated was the sacrifice we would pay when our soldier returned.
We were there with “Welcome Home” posters. We dressed our children in patriotic outfits and we dressed in our best clothes anxiously standing on the sidelines. We couldn’t wait for the commander to stop talking so we could run and embrace our hero.
We thought the separation was over and our spouse would be home now for the holidays. But for many of us, a new separation had just begun.
In the first days home, things seem good. However, day by day, there is an undeniable void. Our soldier seems distant. We push harder to connect and they only retreat further. The kids notice mommy or daddy is acting strange but we try to make excuses.
Meanwhile our soldier, our hero, is breaking down inside but trying to remain strong. They often feel that to expose their pain is a sign of weakness. Like a dam holding back water, the emotions can only be suppressed for so long before the soldier collapses under the pressure. This is when angry outbursts are common.
As a military spouse, we anticipated the physical distance of deployments. Yet, we never prepared for the emotional distance when our soldier came home. We prayed for physical protection but we never thought to pray for their mind.
To miss our child’s birthday because they are thousands of miles away is one thing, but to be in the room and miss it because they are on their phone trying to mentally detach is another.
We feel helpless, angry, sad, and begin to wonder if we should divorce. Previously miles separated us. Now it’s an internal war.
Thankfully, my dear reading friend, there is hope. There is restoration and forgiveness. I remember feeling like I was done. I remember packing my kids up and going to Dana Peak Park for the day because the environment of our home was toxic.
And you know what else? I remember the day my dear, sweet husband looked into my eyes with defeat on his face in a place of pain and said, “I think I need help.”
That day started a process of healing in both of us. Our road to mental freedom and restoration is paved with tears, joy, small victories and a supportive church family.
Don’t give up. Your soldier needs you, even when he or she tells you otherwise. Seek help from your military community or a church.
Grace Christian Center in Killeen offers free and confidential counseling and guidance as well as marriage classes.
Watching “Indivisible” reminded and encouraged me that even in the darkest hour of my marriage, I was not alone. There are other spouses who can relate. I want to encourage you to watch it when it hits the theaters Oct. 26.
Until next time, be encouraged that your marriage is not hopeless, and remember, restoration is a process.
Kindra Warner is a marriage group facilitator at Grace Christian Center in Killeen and a Herald correspondent.