My story is a long and complicated one. I have gone back and forth for some time over whether or not to post it here, but I thought I can’t be the only one in this situation, so I decided why not?
My husband, Sgt. Daniel Woodcock, and I met in the summer of ‘01. After a short courtship we decided (at the dismay of my parents) to get married. Everything was wonderful that first year, and in December 2002 I found out I was pregnant! Two weeks later he was deployed to Afghanistan. When he came back I was very close to giving birth, so there wasn’t much time for him to ease back into married life. Things with him just seemed a little…off. He never talked about Afghanistan, and refused to answer any questions. When our baby was three months old he moved out, saying that he didn’t know what he wanted, and he needed some time to think. When he found out he was deploying again, to Iraq this time, he came back and asked if I would take him back. I said yes, and during that whole deployment we wrote letters and reaffirmed our love for each other. When he came back from Iraq we bought a house, a dog, and got pregnant with baby #2. Life was so good, or so I thought.
I knew he was wrestling with demons from his deployments, but he hid this from me very well. I started noticing that he was drinking and smoking a lot, and tried to get him to talk about it. He wouldn’t really say much, except that he was having a hard time. I asked him to go talk to a chaplain or someone from mental health, but he said that if he did that he could get kicked out for being mentally unstable, and then how would he support us? In June of ‘05 he started taking Zyban because he was told it would help him quit smoking. All of a sudden he was a new person! So full of life, so loving, it was wonderful. Then two months later (when I was 3 months pregnant) he quit taking the Zyban because it wasn’t helping him quit. No one told him you have to gradually wean yourself from an antidepressant. He became unbearable to be around and eventually he moved out again. I didn’t know it then but he was in such a deep depression that he just couldn’t feel love anymore. And still he wouldn’t seek help because of fear that he would be kicked out. I was angry and hurt. We talked about divorce, but decided to wait until after this next deployment.
This deployment worried me a lot. He spoke several times about what I was to do “if anything happened.” I was still so angry and hurt that I told myself I didn’t care either way. He had broken my heart. I continued to pay his bills, take care of his business while he was away, and grieve for our relationship. I just knew it was over.
Then on the night of March 10, 2007 I couldn’t sleep at all. My hear was beating so fast, I couldn’t figure out why but I was having panic attacks. I didn’t sleep much at all, so when the doorbell rang at 7am the next morning I was pretty out of it. They told me the news, and I almost hit the floor. It was really OVER. No matter how angry I was at him I never wished for this. I never dreamed I would have to tell our son that his dad was dead. I feel so much guilt for ever thinking I wouldn’t care. My heart broke again that day.
Now it’s almost three years later. I have moved on. I am remarried and have another beautiful baby. It has taken me this long to get perspective on everything that happened in our marriage. The anger that I used to direct at him for leaving me is now directed at the Army. They sent those young men overseas without any regard for their mental health. It was right after 9/11, time for quick reactions, and they didn’t worry about what these guys would have to deal with when they got back. He never had ANY mental health counseling, and I understand that it was common knowledge in Bravo Company that if you seek any help you will be labeled a loony and kicked out of the Army. I blame them for taking him away from me before he was taken away from me forever. I do not blame him anymore. I know he is watching over us and I can now see him as a beloved friend and guardian angel.