Sunday, February 1, 2015

#JimmyFallon and the #TonightShow Saved My Marriage

Dear Jimmy,

I know this is probably a long shot. I’m writing anyway, and sending it off on a wing and prayer. I want you to know how much your light of laughter has meant in my life—more than that, how it was the basis of saving my marriage.

See—my husband served 20 years in the military with multiple combat tours and he suffers not only from PTSD but also from TBI (traumatic brain injury). He just recently retired—June 1, 2014 was his first day as a civilian in 20 years, and this transition has been the most difficult of our lives. I dare say even more difficult than when my first husband was murdered on Christmas Day in 2004.

The transition wasn’t something I was prepared for—and in many ways, I put a lot of pressure on myself, my husband and my children to “keep it together” because we are looked to in the military community as “examples” because of a global movement I started in 2012 to raise awareness about the invisible wounds of war (#PTSD) with one picture (see below) and a pledge. That movement is now known as Battling BARE.

When I posted that picture, I was just angry that my husband was hurting and instead of getting help he was most likely going to get punished for what the Army called “assault” that was truly just a “flashback”.

I didn’t know how to help my husband, but I knew—after sharing my story with other wives—that ours wasn’t the only hurting family…and then suddenly I was in the spotlight and many thought I “had it all together” or “had the answers”, when truly at that point, I was just scraping by day by day—sometimes minute by minute—just trying like heck to hold it together for my family and “be everything to everyone else”…in the process I forgot what it meant to take care of myself and remember to laugh.

Laughter is the basis for healing—laughter is what makes life worth living, and you helped me to remember that.

I remember watching your very first “Tonight Show”—listening to you tell the world your sincere, pure and real intention of just helping everyone to laugh a little before they go to bed because it was a great way to end the day with tears in my eyes--because it was then I realized I'd forgotten to have fun in my life.

I believe you even said something like “because that (laughter and having fun) is what it’s all about”.

My husband and I were sitting silently together in the living room—which was an accomplishment at that point in time. He was on one side of the room and I on the other. We were barely speaking to each other—and something magical started to happen as we tuned in nightly to watch your show…

Our laughing together started opening up conversation… our laughing together progressed to sitting together…and then holding hands…and then getting back in the habit of telling each other "I love you" and kissing each other good night before we fell asleep.


And you created that bright spot for us.

I can never thank you enough, Mr. Fallon, for being such a bright spot in our lives. Your talent for finding humor created a bridge for my husband and I to find each other again, and I am forever grateful for you.

With Humble Awe, Gratitude and Love,

-Ashley E. Wise