The ups and downs of a Navy SEAL's experience in Afghanistan are written down, candid and raw.
The Greenville father wrote a book based on tidbits of daily life and lessons that he wrote to his wife while he was deployed, things he wanted to pass on to his children if he didn't make it home.
The book is called Unbreakable and is written by Thom Shea. His family explained that even the photo on the front is representative of their experience.
With Thom Shea and his wife Stacy hugging in the middle of the shot, Thom is in uniform, his family on the right and a fellow SEAL on the left. He said there's always a constant pull between the two sides of his life.
Thom Shea's 16 year-old daughter, Autumn, said that he is just dad to her, with goofy hugs and affection. She said she sometimes takes for granted that she and her brother Chance's dad has a way with words.
"To the point where it's like, OK, I asked you how to do a problem in math, I didn't ask for a life lesson," Autumn said.
Thom Shea is now known for sharing what he's learned as a Navy SEAL with different groups across the country.
"There's a dialogue that happens in human beings called, This isn't for me. I want out.' Humans have the ability to put a new one in that goes, 'I'm going to make it through no matter what,'" said Thom Shea.
In the book, he spells out 13 lessons, from things for the kids to do to go out and beginning to learn to listening to the language that happens inside their head and taking action on it.
It's a kind of self-talk, the kind he learned from 23 years serving as a SEAL. It is what he needed to get through his tours in Iraq and then Afghanistan, with a baby boy and two older children at home.
"When I met him, I thought he was so strong and so admirable, and just a committed father and husband and able to accomplish overwhelming odds," said Stacy Shea.
She was the one who demanded he commit to writing to her about his daily life, but also the things he would want to teach his children through life.
"I just thought, ‘I can't possibly preserve all the things about him that I want them to know if he doesn't make it home. Only he can do that,'" said Stacy Shea.
She said she tried to keep life for her kids as normal as possible, and she tried to be brave so that her children wouldn't be afraid of what could have happened to their father.
Thom Shea said his issue when he returned, though, was getting back into the combat mentality to write.
"The moment I left Afghanistan. Afghanistan was over. It was over," he said. "It was a catharsis to leave, to fly out and to finally let your guard down, don't care, don't care to talk about it. It's over. Recapturing that was tough because I'd already moved on from it."
But now, even his 16-year-old's friends are impacted by his words. Autumn said she hasn't brought herself to read the whole thing yet and that she cries each time she starts it.
"Those things he had to think about while I was at school playing, and he was at work doing his job, defending our country. To think of him not being around scares me," said Autumn.
Unbreakable is about the Sheas, but Stacy Shea said their story is not unique. She explained that, "Every wife who stays at home, every husband who stays home waiting, they're all sacrificing. They're all warriors. "
The Sheas moved to Greenville when Thom Shea retired. They made friends who lived here, who helped him get his memoir going.
The book is currently available on the Kindle and Nook. Read more about the memoir here.
Its official release date is May 26, but the Sheas are having a launch party for it on May 13. It will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Poinsett Club on East Washington Street in Greenville.
This story was written by Dana Wachler of Fox Carolina, WHNS-TV.
Copyright 2014 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All Rights Reserved.