My husband was discharged from active duty on July 28, 2006. It was a Friday, so I was at work and, boy, was I excited!
For the first time in four years, we would be together again! He called me around lunch time to tell me that he was officially done and was about to jump on I-95 North. It’s about an eight-hour drive from Hunter Army Airfield to Arlington, Virginia (where I was living at the time) so I knew I could expect him later on that evening. I don’t even know how I was able to sit still for the rest of the day. At the time I was working as a sales/service representative for an online screen-printing company, and I probably provided the most amazing customer service that day!
The first couple of days of having him at home with me were like being on a honeymoon. Everything seemed perfect. Much like the times we visited each other when he was in the Army, we were inseparable. We showered together, ate together, and went everywhere and anywhere together. Any time we were at home, we were having sex. And sleeping was like one giant snuggle session. But within a month, this all started to change. The first sign that something was not right was with the onset of sudden outbursts.
For those of you who may not know, late summer in Northern Virginia is very hot and rainy. At the time I was still living in a small studio apartment, about three miles from the Pentagon. It was an older building, and the air conditioning unit was the kind that goes in the window. In the time I had lived in that apartment it had rained, but never the kind of torrential downpours that August is known for.
So there we were. A regular August night, and the hubby and I headed to bed. I’m not sure what time it was, but I know I had been asleep for a while when I was woken up by screaming. My husband was on the floor next to the bed, screaming something I could not understand. It was raining really hard outside, and the rain drops falling on the air conditioning unit were REALLY loud. What sounded like loud rain drops to me, sounded like bullets to my husband. At first I thought he was joking, but I quickly realized he wasn’t. He was shaking, and I could tell he really thought we were being attacked! I was able to calm him down a bit, and in about a split second he went from scared for his life to ANGRY. So angry that he ran outside, in his boxers, in the pouring rain, to try to muffle the noise of the rain hitting the air conditioning unit. I was screaming at him from inside the apartment, telling him to get the hell back inside, but he would not listen. He tried to tape a t-shirt onto the top of the air conditioning unit but with all the water, the tape was not doing the trick. He finally gave up and came back inside. He was shaking and soaking wet. I pulled him close to me, and we embraced for what seemed hours.
I quickly dismissed the event, even though it was a classic sign of PTSD, and went about my normal life, thinking everything was just fine and dandy. Little did I know that that was the first of many sleepless nights and many, many outbursts. Oh boy, was I in for a HUGE wake-up call!