She held a weapon given to her by a stranger to end her own life. Except the stranger was her husband, a former war hero of Operation Iraqi Freedom who had somehow lost himself to an illness she did not understand. How would she carry on? Would she survive? The War That Came Home is one spouse's journey to face the lingering effects of war. Facing many obstacles as the battles escalate throughout her harrowing account, author Andrea Carlile walks toward an uncertain future while recollecting a colorful past. Through her tale, she represents the battered woman, the veteran's spouse, and the wife and mother in marriage. Each is vividly brought to life as she engages in the war that enters her home. Through her discovery, she finds her heavenly Father and the hope to overcome her own hell. Her story is an example to any who need the inspiration to face their own personal battles with the wars faced in life—to the battered, the broken, the veteran, and the spouse. Take the journey and discover your own feelings of hope and strength. This story of Andrea and Wes Carlile will be featured in the documentary When War Comes Home, by the Emmy award winning producer and director, Michael W. King. For more information on this Tallwood documentary please visit http://whenwarcomeshome.org/.
I stared at the weapon lying in my hand in disbelief. I could not grasp the situation I was now facing. My surroundings seemed foggy, like a movie where time is slowed and the sound disappears. I was in my bedroom, but it was if I was somewhere else. The gun seemed so foreign to me, cold, heavy, and unnerving. The bullet in the chamber and the cocking sound were ominous. The effects of a simple pull could end this nightmare. My hand shook and sweat beaded on my forehead. I tried to make sense of what was happening. Attempting to think things through, I fell into a surreal world blurred between reality and horror. Slow the events down. Sort out what to do next. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and then opened them again. The man lying on the bed was a stranger to me, though we had shared a life for thirteen years. I thought of pointing the weapon at him, shooting him in the knee, or scaring him. Did it matter? My own thoughts were terrifying me. I stared at the gun. Surely, he had the safety on, or maybe there were no bullets. He could not possibly really want me gone, could he? Two children, he loved me, didn't he? These horrifying endings happen, like the movies, lifetime movies, crimes of passion. Things change in an instant. I glared at him as he played a terrible game that I could not understand. My head throbbed; my thoughts were hazy. I lifted the 45 mm Glock and pressed it against my skull, the cold metal making it wickedly clear that this was no dream. I carefully put my finger on the trigger.., closed my eyes.., the world disappearing around me. I imagined what it would do, paralyze or kill me. Would I go to hell? Would I be left unrecognizable? God, where are you? In a matter of seconds, my life flashed before me. Memories sped across my mind at a torrential speed, our wedding, our life in Germany, hug and embraces over the years. Thoughts of my two children floated to the surface; their births, their impish smiles, contagious laughter. Suddenly, I awoke from this foggy state like being wakened from a dream. I took my finger off the trigger and laid down the gun, upset that I had contemplated carrying out his request. I had to stay for my girls; protect them from this man who had lost who he was. I glared at him. He rocked his leg loosely, back and forth, over the other, entertaining himself with his phone. “See,” he quipped, “I knew you wouldn't do it.” I stood stunned and broken to the core, attempting to process his indifference. In a twisted stream of pervasive thoughts, I believed that I had failed him; I lacked the courage to pull the trigger. I shook my head in disbelief of my own thoughts. Teetering on the edge of insanity, how would I move forward? I felt like I could no longer breathe. Blindly voyaging through some kind of hell, I was dancing with the devil. God had forsaken me. My husband was still fiddling with his phone, as if we were merely interacting in a normal manner. He seemed to have no care, fear, or confusion of the request that he had asked of me. This weighed on me with such force that it felt as though he had already killed me; there was no need to pull the trigger. I had died inside. I remember the first day I met Wes. We were both eighteen, young and full of life. I had just started working at Target. There was attractiveness about him that I had never encountered. He had blonde hair that was neatly cut, a golden tan, and a muscular build that indicated athletic ability. His face was soft and tender with a chiseled jaw that slightly jutted forward. A pool of colors, blue, green, and brown danced in his vibrant eyes. He wore a red shirt, khaki pants, and a cross necklace which dangled from his thick, strong neck. The silver cross drew my attention, and I peeked at him from my register. His determination appealed to me as he moved about the registers cleaning, training, and offering friendly service to customers. He came over to introduce himself and offer his help with any questions. My attraction may have been easily perceived, although I was not outwardly attempting to flirt. I had just gotten out of a destructive relationship with another guy and was not looking for anything serious. Yet, this guy seemed different, and I found myself thinking about him, watching him throughout my shift that evening. I knew nothing about him. How old was he? Was he in a relationship? Was he in college? My next day of work, my questions would soon be answered as he asked me out on a date. My heart raced. I accepted, attempting to appear more resistant to the offer than I felt. I had prayed that if this guy was for me and it was God's will, he would approach me. As he did just that, I was more excited than I had been in my entire, young life. We agreed he would pick me up at the apartment I shared with a friend. I felt as though I was floating.
Andrea Carlile is the spouse of a twelve-year military veteran and received her Master's Degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. She speaks at universities, conferences, military events, and community forums in hopes of inspiring others with her story and raising awareness about PTSD. She currently works as the Resource Development Director at Dove Harbor, a transitional shelter for women and children in crisis and instructs at Ivy Tech's School of Business. Andrea lives in Anderson, Indiana, with her husband and two daughters.