Karie, I love your writing and voice. You’re a gifted storyteller, and reading this brought back strong memories of my own addiction after I was wounded in action. Like your husband, the addiction started small to deal with the pain (Percoset and Lorotabs). Then I began using them as a way to cope with PTSD and Moral Injury. I was sly too because I would go to civilian doctors talking about how I couldn’t get in the VA to get my prescription refilled. Eventually this progressed to Methadone, with near lethal combinations including alcohol. Like your husband, I would pass out in random places. Sometimes as I “studied” for tests. One night I almost OD’ed and spent the next two days vomiting in a shower. I thought I hit rock bottom then, but a few nights later I took more pills and drank—ending up in a drunken slurring rage—only to tear down my girlfriend’s front door as they called the cops. The next day my family staged an intervention and I got help. Back then, no one knew how bad the opioid crisis would get (this was 2004–2005 for me), but I knew. It was so easy to get everyone to feel sorry for me, to blame the war, to blame myself, and talk about the pain. People capitulated.
All this to say, war takes something from us all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to have served and have been a soldier, but wars take. That’s what they do. It creates addicts and widows and I’m so sorry you’ve had to walk through that grief, pain, suffering, and loss. If there is any encouragement I can give you it’s an old saying from Hemingway: “The world breaks everyone, and after… many are strong in the broken places.” Your words and story are strong. Keep sharing them with the world as it encourages and touches the human pieces of us.