A Love Story for the Ages
Welcome to Part 11 of the Blog Series A Love Story for the Ages. This series is the journey my wife and I have taken getting to the great life we enjoy together today. Now the continuation of the story.…
After a few days of relaxing at the house and recovering from the lack of sleep in Afghanistan, I started getting a bit stir crazy. I decided that I wanted to go out and have some “fun” with Harmonie.
At the time, my idea of fun was going out and partying, drinking, and gambling. All of this debauchery is unfortunately practiced by many veterans returning from war zones, including me. I’m not proud of this part of my life, but it’s the reality of what life is like coming home from deployments.
The stress of deployments builds up and when we get home, we find any way to release the stress. The military has many “programs” in place to help, but the stigma surrounding them is so bad that nobody is willing to risk going to them. We all know the consequences on our careers if we’re seen by them. My release happened to be gambling.
It goes back to 2008, before I knew Harmonie when I had won a very large sum of money in a poker tournament. It made me feel like I couldn’t lose. After the tournament, for weeks on end I continued winning at whatever I played.
All this did was fuel the problem.
Fast forward back to 2009, after I got home from Afghanistan.
At first, Harmonie took it all in stride. She believed it to be just a phase from returning home from Afghanistan. For a while, she even came with me to the casino. Eventually, Harmonie’s dislike for gambling kicked in and she asked me to stop. All this did was lead to a lot of arguments.
As gambling remained an issue for us, we still continued to go out and party. We would regularly go out to bars and clubs. The problem was, when we went out, I always wanted to stop at the tables. Typically, I’d be drunk by this point, so it was impossible to reason with me. I just kept doing what I wanted.
I used gambling as my outlet for stress. I had no coping mechanisms in place. I’ve been through a lot and unfortunately I didn’t make wise choices to relieve stress.
The whole time we were going through all this, we were still trying to get to know each other. As tough as it was being apart for the length of the deployment, getting to know each other through my gambling issues was just as difficult.
Obviously, I’ve made a lot of changes in my life. Our lives have completely changed since then. Coming into a relationship with God was the best decision I’ve ever made (followed closely by marrying Harmonie). It made me realize that life is suppose to be about cherishing your loved ones and giving back to humanity.
Well, my family means a lot to me and I plan on giving back any way possible; starting with veterans exposed to burn pits.