A Shocking Realization

I’ve known this for a while, but I have a very disturbing obsession with tragically losing my husband or my son. It is quite disturbing to such and extent that I cannot dwell on it at all or it will consume me. I know why, I know how to deal with it, but it does effect how I parent my toddler.

Five years ago this Christmas, my best friend was murdered. I was serving my second tour in Iraq, and she was my life line to the good ole US of A. She mailed me cards, gifts, and emailed regularly. I even spoke with her on the phone hours before she was killed. Iraq is roughly about 15 hours ahead of Central Standard Time, so at 4am when her boyfriend had her by the hair with a gun to her head, I was on the other side of the world driving around the living areas in the middle of the night keeping everyone safe. And like that, she was gone. Forever. In retrospect, there were hints. She never told me out right. But she had mentioned that she was going to leave him after Christmas for good. I told her to go ahead and chuck his shot out the door into the yard. She wanted to wait because of the kids (between the two of them, they had nine kids. Five hers, Three his, and one they shared together.

Aside from losing my bestie, my husband’s unit in Afghanistan took on many casualties. Some of our friends never came home. It was a shitty year. I fell into a deep depression, lost too much weight, and got sick. I recovered. My husband was the strongest, putting up with my crazy insecurities unwavering. He put up with so much of my shit, and still does. He’s amazing, and the only way I recovered.

Today, that depression creeps back in every now and then. Usually accompanies the death of another close friend or family member. Last year it was my very good friend Chris and another friend Rob, they died within 48 hours of each other on very opposite sides of the world from very different things. This year it was the death of the matriarch of my father’s family and a miscarriage, again within days of each other. Sometimes I wonder if someone can sense the death around me. I’m sure others have it worse, but now that I see it in writing kind of puts it into perspective.

My husband has a fairly dangerous job. Though we are no longer in the military, people die everyday from ridiculous freak accidents. His job multiplies this many times over. The first night I was alone in our new house in Denver, I kept thinking of ways it could go so wrong. I can’t call him when he’s working, so these insecurities are insatiable. The only defense I have is to not think about it at all. Well, duh, right? Here’s where it gets tricky.

My toddler son is all boy. He climbs, he eats things off the floor, he climbs all over our beagle and pulls his ears and tail. He climbs stairs by himself, he runs too fast down the driveway, he can open doors. Dear lawd the dangers are endless. But I cannot hover over him at all. If I worried about anything, it would completely consume me. It makes me physically sick with stress at the simple thought of “What if that had turned out badly?”

Dacia, these are normal stresses of being a parent…

So something that roots from being at war is hyper-vigilance. It’s the premeditated decision to fight rather than flight in an emergency. Further, its is planning exactly what to do in a very specific event. Every time I drive over a bridge that runs over a body of water, I figure out how and in what order I would release my seatbelt, undo my son’s five point harness, escape the vehicle and swim to safety. Or if someone were to break into our house, what order would I call 911, grab the gun, fire a round over the balcony while I run to my son’s room (its a balcony overlooking the living room. They’d see me regardless)

This b!*** is crazy. Yeah. Life will do that to you. If a friend posts  a link to a news story about some sort of disgusting thing that happened to a child, my heart rate will go up, I will feel sick and I will unfollow their feed. I personalize it. It could happen to my son. My son could have been that little boy that sleep walked out of the house and into highway traffic. Its terrifying.

One can over come PTSD, but its a daily gig. Its exhausting sometimes. I take necessary steps to protect my son, but I’m a fairly hands-off/ figure it out for yourself mom. I will not smother his childhood because of some sick obsession. I won’t smother my husband because I’m scared to death he wont come home from work every time he leaves. Its likely, it could happen tomorrow, but I won’t let it effect our happiness. Because at the end of the day, was I happy or was I psychotic? It’s an easy choice.


Dacia Arnold is an author that struggles to find a balance of work, motherhood, marriage, writing, and the occasional craft. Her first full length novel, Apparent Power, is in the works to be released December 2018. Dacia served 10 years in the U.S. Army as a combat medic and deployed twice to Iraq and often incorporates these experiences into her writings both fiction and non-fiction. She currently lives in Denver, Co with her husband, two children, and a fat beagle named Watson.

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