Thursday, April 9, 2009
Have you ever had to lie to protect yourself? To protect what's left of you?
I thought I was ready to go back to work 3 months after David was killed. I have no particular logic as to why I thought it was time to mingle with the "others" but I assumed if I just refused eye contact I'd be OK.
In my line of work, you see the same people maybe once a month or once every few months, so there's plenty of small talk... "How's the family" "What are you up to" .... When I got to work, I realized no one knew. No one knew what I had just gone through only 3 short months ago, what I still go through every day. They had no idea nor did I think they cared that my soul mate was killed in Iraq.
I kept to myself. Sticking to the plan: NO EYE CONTACT. I had my cell phone in my hand at all times and the moment I felt a conversation heading my direction I used it. But, of course, this plan didn't work all day. An elderly gentleman began a polite conversation with me... He noticed my wedding ring and began the routine:
"Wow. You look so young... Are you really married?" (Blah Blah Blah)
"Yes, I am"
I knew it was coming... the dreaded questions... about David.
"What does you husband do?"
"He's in the military. Army."
"Oh! Where is stationed?"
...... I took a huge deep breath... this was it...
"He was killed in Iraq 3 months ago."
It surprised me how flat the words came out of my mouth. I said them fast, as if ripping a band aid off. But it didn't help, right at that moment I wanted to run away. Run home. Allow my bed to swallow me whole!
He began, "Well, your heart should be healed by now... You're so young... When do you think you'll start dating again?"
Oh, this poor unsuspecting man never saw me coming. I finished this conversation and I finished it well... giving him no chance to interrupt me, I told him exactly what I was thinking. When I walked away from the man (now 5 inches shorter) I felt like collapsing. I was exhausted! It took so much out of me, more than I thought remained, to fight... to defend my love. I realised I couldn't do this all day long.
So when the next innocent person began the routine conversation... "Are you married? What does your husband do? Where is he?".... I'd answer,
"He's in Iraq."
This seemed to go over better then telling the truth. So this is what I did instead. I lied. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't in denial about David... I knew very well that he was gone... not in Iraq. But I couldn't stand the comments, the casualness... the dismissal. I had to protect myself. There were those rare people I entrusted with the truth but I always chose who to tell my story to, our story, very carefully.
This week I found myself in a position to continue my lie or tell them the truth. I hadn't seen this group of people in about a year and last thing I told them was David "was in Iraq." I decided, whoever asked would get an honest answer. They asked. I casually briefed them on the past 15 months of my life. They nodded. Giving a "wow" every now and then. And it was over. Nothing special. No tears, no hugs, no "you poor thing..." I didn't feel particularly ecstatic about their emotionless reaction but... now they knew.
I began this journey scrambling for "support." I was unable to speak the truth, because at the end of the day I was left alone with my thoughts... with their piercing words... with my pain. Now... I can look to the east and west and see... another widow's journey... I could look in front of me and see those ahead in their walk... I could look in back of me, to see those entering the doors I've opened. This among other things gives me strength to tell undeserving ears the truth. Our story is mine to tell, and I reserve the right to withhold it if needed... but I'm less scared at this point to share it with those who can not relate.
The truth is: My gorgeous husband sacrificed his life to protect me and his men... He served this country. Our story? Ask me. I'm proud to share it.