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I used to be a wife.

That seems like a lifetime ago but he was my first true love and when I was 19 my childhood dreams came true: we were married in the back room of a church in Vernon Parish, Louisiana.

Our first year together was great.

In October, he came home from the National Guard a couple of weeks before our first son was born to start our civilian life together. The day we brought our son, Nick, home I didn’t think life could get better. We spent weekends with friends, had our own place, he had a good job and life was good. In 2003 we extended our little family by one more, a little girl. We were complete.

In 2004, we got word that life was going to change when his guard unit got called to Active Duty. We weren’t sure exactly when he was leaving but we started preparing the kids for it. We mounted a world map on the wall to show them where daddy was going. We made countdown calendars and drew pictures. Alone, we prepared for the worst.

That cold day in November, we bundled up our 3 babies and headed for his departure. Friends and families were everywhere, but I was still in denial. I didn’t want to say goodbye and I didn’t want to lose my husband. I tried to hold it together because I didn’t want him to see me like that. So we just hugged and kissed and said that we’d see each other soon. We waved until we couldn’t see the plane in the sky anymore and then I went home and cried – a lot.

I saw him once before they shipped out to Iraq when I drove with two boys and two girls -strangers- to see our soldiers in New Jersey for Thanksgiving. It was fun, but it was a sad trip. I knew that there was a chance I would never see my husband -my best friend- again, and in some ways that is exactly what happened.

He arrived in Kuwait on our 5 year anniversary so he had a friend bring me flowers and a card. I still have that card somewhere, I think. We talked a lot while he was ‘in country’ through the phone or the internet. I’d turn up the speakers on my computer so that I’d never miss his call, and if I did, I’d spend the day crying.

I heard that other soldier’s wives and girlfriends cheated and it baffled me. How is that true love? I took my vows seriously, for better or for worse, and this was my version of the worst. It never even crossed my mind to stray, but it got into his head that I cheated on him. It was impossible. It broke my heart.

He came home right before our anniversary in January of 2006. He was nothing short of a celebrity among our family and friends and for awhile things were great.

Then, the issues started. He was quieter and wouldn’t talk to me. That summer, we separated. I couldn’t tell you for how long or what I did during that time because I don’t really know. I started talking to another guy for awhile but realized I needed to focus on my marriage so I moved back home.

In January 2007, we separated again, this time it was for good. He’d been cheating. And maybe that was why he believed that I was – because he was trying to rationalize his actions. I really don’t know. A few months later, I started talking to the guy I had met the year before, partly because he was a good guy and partly because I really wanted to hurt my husband the way he hurt me.

After my divorce, I moved in with the guy and shortly after became pregnant. At the same time my now-ex-husband was busy getting remarried and having a baby of his own. The guy and I didn’t work out. I moved out and began my life as a single mom.

And that is the end of that story. This is just one chapter in our lives and through my tears, I am working on writing the next one.