Juicy Couture, Nightmares, and Guilt

I woke up this morning feeling on edge. Then I remembered the dream I just had.

I dreamt that my husband was home. He was yelling at the top of his lungs and holding shopping bags, waving them in my face. I hung my head in shame and sulked. Busted. Caught red-handed.

I have a shopping addiction. I admit it. It’s managed by Nordstrom Half Yearly sales and staying out of the mall altogether.

I remember looking up at him in my dream as he reached into one of those shopping bags and pulled out a new baby blue Juicy Couture handbag (one of those trendy, fancy schmancy brands for those who are not in the know). He read the price tag to see how much the purse cost and I saw the vein in his forehead pulse in slow motion.

The whole time I’m thinking in my dream I thought I cut the tag off that new purse, why did I keep secrets from my husband? We’ve never done it before and ten years into the marriage, why start now?

My husband has always been honest with me. When I have a sneaking suspicion that a dress or outfit doesn’t look right on me (bloated, slight weight gain, whatever), I ask him if he thinks a dress is unflattering. He won’t tell me that I look like a fat cow but he won’t lie to me and say something looks good when I kinda knew it didn’t.

And I’ve been honest with him. When I was pregnant with L, R was home for Thanksgiving and went all out. Beautiful turkey baked to perfection with bacon dressing. Cranberry sauce. Homemade garlic mashed potatoes and gravy. But I didn’t want it. I didn’t want any of it.

“You don’t want to try my turkey?”

“Um, no.”

“Why not?” he asked. “It’s Thanksgiving!”

“I know,” I said. “But… um, it doesn’t smell good. I’m feeling kind of nauseous. I think the baby wants something different.”

“Oh… Okay,” he said. “What does the baby want?”

In the smallest voice to mankind, I said, “Chinese food.”

To this day, he won’t ever let me forget that I chose beef and broccoli over his turkey. On Thanksgiving.

But this is the kind of relationship we have. We tell each other everything.

Until now.

You see, I started this blog with the intention of sorting through the last year. I cannot recall how difficult it’s been for me until something triggers a memory. Little things send me back to a time when I’d wander aimlessly through the hospital, waiting to hear updates on the nine hour surgery to put the pieces of his pelvis back together. This chocolate croissant in my belly in front of me reminds me of the pastries I sampled at the different cafes at NNMC Bethesda. I see my husband’s ID band from the hospital every morning and every night. I keep it in the drawer next to my toothpaste.

I never told my husband I started writing about what happened. In the past few days, I’ve felt this inexplicable release and relief with every post I upload. I write about emotions and experiences that I’ve either minimized or never shared with anyone, let alone my own husband. I should have told him from Day 1.

I called him this afternoon to tell him about the blog and he was actually very encouraging. He’s read a few of my manuscripts in the past and I respect his critiques. He told me that he was proud of me. Then he told me that he had to tell me something too.

I wasn’t the only one with a secret.

He said, “I’m actually feeling really guilty right now. I feel like I should have been injured more.”

Huh?

It dawned on me that he was thinking about our phone call yesterday. I gave him updates about two guys who were in the polytrauma wing at VA Palo Alto. They were in two separate serious accidents with their wives and are still recovering. [To read more about these brave men and their awesome wives, see the Blogroll for the Ryes and Darlings.]

He went on, "Here I am, bitching about what I'm going through when those guys are going through all that. I feel like a little bitch."

I said, "But comparing all of these injuries you've seen is like comparing apples and oranges. You can't pick and choose your injuries. No one had a choice on how they were hurt."

He listened but I know he didn't hear me. He was only one month into his six month deployment to Iraq when his car rolled over. He knows that someone, one of his friends no less, had to take his place after he left. He is not allowed to deploy anymore but feels like he can do one more before his retirement in two years. On top of all that, he did not earn a Purple Heart for his injuries because the accident was noncombat related.

I know this guilt consumes him at times but I really try not to say very much, with the exception of today’s conversation and maybe a few other times just sayin’. I cannot disagree with him, be his conscience, or tell him how to feel.

And frankly, I don't want to. He’s a grown man. A Wounded Warrior. I may never fully understand how and why he feels the way he does. He may never either.

But I also don't want his guilt to define him.

So for now, I'll just be there for him and listen. We’ll share what we’re feeling and what we’re doing without judgment, without fear of being ridiculed, and without shame.

No secrets, remember?

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4 thoughts on “Juicy Couture, Nightmares, and Guilt

  1. Well, coming from one of the two stories you listed…as the wife, I was in the room across from you guys. You had the hospital stays, the appointments, the nurses, the sleepless nights, the therapy, the …! You guys have your battle as we have ours. No less of an injured warrior then my man! Love you guys!

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