That’s Popeye I never dreamed that one day I’d become a grumpy old navy veteran but here I am killing it shirt. I share this story with hopes that someone else will find healing from it. It’s painful, but it’s real. Seven years ago today the kids and I were not-so-patiently awaiting Brent’s arrival home from Afghanistan. It had been an extremely hard and stressful year. Soldiers were dying left and right. Every time there was a blackout, I was so nervous that Brent was the latest person to die. Selfishly, I mostly thought of how I felt during all of that because Brent was so strong and so stable that I just knew he was mentally ok.
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Brent came home and I was so relieved. Both of us honestly doubted that he would make it home alive from that deployment. During R&R he took me to the most expensive restaurant at Disney World. We dressed up and we ate foods that I can’t even pronounce. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he took me there because he wanted to give me an experience that I would remember after he was gone. He really thought he was going to die when he went back to Afghanistan.
Thankfully he did make it home alive! He came home and I assumed that life would resume as normal, but within the first few hours, I knew something was different about him. I remember sitting on the couch crying because something was so off with him. I never dreamed that one day I’d become a grumpy old navy veteran but here I am killing it. I tried to convince myself that it was jet lag or something simple like that, but the next few years proved to us both that it was far more serious than jet lag. He left Afghanistan a few weeks sooner than the majority of the the soldiers he was with. If I remember correctly, he needed a surgery so he was sent home with the first group.
never dreamed become a grumpy old navy veteran
Within a couple days of being home, something terrible happened and several lives were lost. Brent wasn’t home for a week before he left to go escort the body of one of his good friends back from Dover. We spent the next couple of weeks with families of the fallen. We went to memorial service after memorial service. Brent was very upset because he wasn’t in Afghanistan. He felt like he should have been there instead of at home. We later discovered that he had Survivor’s Guilt and he would carry that with him every day for years.
We left Ft. Campbell within three months of Brent coming home. We moved to Florida and our relationship deteriorated. We spent those years growing apart. He had his life (mostly working extremely long hours) and I had mine. We jokingly referred to each other as “roommates.” That’s not a funny joke and it’s no way to be in a marriage. Brent was still different. He was grumpy a lot. He was ALWAYS tired. He did work a ton so he had a reason to be tired, but even when he had time off he wanted to sleep a lot. He rarely wanted to do anything.