Sometimes, a lot of the time, I get all wrapped up in my own stuff and forget that there are women out there who have it way worse than I do. Yeah, I have marriage trouble, but we’re both healthy and relatively happy.
When I step back and look at it like that I feel silly. It seems like it should be so easy, this marriage thing. Especially when my situation is compared to the stuff military wives have to go through. Not only do they have to spend long stretches of time raising families on their own while worrying if their husbands will make it through the day, but in many cases soldiers (as many as 20% of all soldiers) return home from Iraq or Afghanistan with serious cases of PTSD or other mental health problems. The results on families can be devastating; PTSD has ruined thousands of lives.
But one military wife is doing something about it. Something that hundreds and possibly thousands of other wives find comforting and inspirational during a time when it must feel like their entire lives are turned upside down. When they finally have their husbands home but may not even recognize who these men are anymore.
Military wife, Ash Wise wanted to do something about that. Didn’t want to watch her marriage slip through her fingers. Didn’t want to leave the man she loves during the worst time of his life. That’s how Battling Bare came about. The founder and president says that, among other things, Battling Bare was created out of loneliness, frustration, hurt, anger, and despair. But she wanted to take all the negative energy and focus it on something positive. A friend’s husband ended his own life around the same time Wise’s own husband hit a wall after hearing a former platoon mate snapped in Afghanistan. Here’s a bit from the Battling Bare about page:
…many wives were living in a state of despair — not knowing what else to do to help their husbands who were tormented by the memories of combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wives didn’t want to quit on their marriages or walk away from the man that they had pledged to love and stand beside until death parted them.
You see the thought of giving up on my marriage and walking away had plagued my mind over and over. I was accused of fighting a losing battle, being codependent — or just plain crazy for staying with a man that didn’t like going into public places, didn’t communicate, was angry much of the time, and a total jerk to be around. I am a Christian — though Battling BARE, Inc. isn’t about religion or “converting” people, I share this because it is just part of my story — so, I prayed and felt that the answer was this:
I could leave but I had to pick from two options for my reasoning —
#1 I lacked the faith to believe in miracles
#2 I lacked the patience to wait for a miracle
Both options were unacceptable to me because I firmly believe that when your eyes are opened to recognize a problem/issue, you inherently are taking responsibility to at least try to fix the issue. So, I stayed — took time physically away from my husband, but remained married…knowing that I just couldn’t give up on him…on us…on our love. The man I fell in love with was somewhere inside the protective shell of anger and isolation. I became obsessed on finding that man again.
After learning that my story was repeated over and over and over again within the military community, the drive to do something became so strong, I literally felt on fire. Tempted to “streak” the 101st Airborne Division’s command building in the hope of gaining the attention of the Commanding General so that SOMEONE would hear, I instead created the picture and our beautiful pledge.
We are here for those that love a soldier with PTSD. We want them to know that they are NOT ALONE, there is support out there from people who GET IT and feel the same way.
We’ll keep at it and hope that you will join us, bravely Battling BARE. Until every soldier is WHOLE.