Here is the video I made for my husband.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been silent on Facebook, and generally the internet. Between sick kids, school, work, my husband, and being sick myself, I honestly needed a “break” from the page. As much as I love the page, and it is in a way, a therapy for me, at times, it can be a lot, taking in others issues, along with my own.
The past few weeks havent been the smoothest at home either. My husband has been moodier, shorter patience, and all around refusing to deal with doctors or any more doctor appointments. To be honest, everything has left me feeling raw, with that insecurity feeling creeping back in, along with self doubt, and questing my ability to handle a backslide from my husband should it happen. This is a feeling I hate, that leaves me a feeling of helplessness, and an opening for a downward spiral for my self into an avoidance, and depression.
I often suggest to other spouses to make sure they get into counseling for themselves, but this is a suggestion I have yet to do for myself. I’ve been in counseling before, but due to time, are no longer making sure my mental health is taken care of. It is in part for having to go down a road of bringing up old memories, and hurts, and dealing with them. It is also in part because of time between school, work, kids, husband, and household. When I do have time, I try to relax and just savor the moment with my kids and husband, but with everything going on, that is rarely the case. As a result, I get frustrated, and I get bitchy. That bitchyness, I am ashamed to say, gets taken out on my family at times. I bitch about the house, because most times, things only get done if I do them.
I think at times, I do so much and keep so busy, so I dont have to think about things, or mull over could of, should of, would of, or the wrong turns I took when PTSD came into our lives. I still dont always make the best decision or know the right answer. Often enough, I am flying by the seat of my pants. No one has said “this is how you do it, this is how you deal with it.”
As frustrating as things can get for me, I imagine them that much worse for my husband. I know he is tired of doctors visits, and me making him go, but I want us to grow old together. Anyone could understand that, right? So why doesnt he seem to get that? Why cant he see that I want him to grow old with me, watching our kids grow, graduate from school/college, get married and have kids of their own?
I think that is the most frustrating part of it all…about our story with PTSD. The fact that he isnt always able to see these things. To focus on that. The fact that most of the time, he rarely shares with me what is going on with him, when he used to always share. I could ask him what he was thinking, and he would tell me. Now I get the proverbial “nothing” or when I ask how he is doing, its “Im fine,” even though I know he isnt fine. It is frustrating to no end at times.
That being said, Im thankful. I am thankful for all he does. I’m thankful he isnt where he once was, in that extremely dark place that he couldnt get out of. The fear is still there we will backslide to that place, but in part I try to not focus on that. I mean I cant right? If I do, then how can I enjoy life, constantly waiting for that other shoe to drop, but still, it is always at the back of my mind.
Here is a great link that has some tips with living with PTSD and/or TBI. Remember that it is all a learning process. You have to learn what works for you and your family. Try to find yourself through all of this. Find the strength, and courage from this all.
This is very well written, and very insightful. Food for thought about love and relationships.
I’m sure it may come as a shock to some people, but I let my wife go. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but it was the right thing for the both of us.
No, we’re not getting a divorce and no, we’re not separating. Truth be told, the practice of “letting go” has actually brought us closer together. But in order to understand what I mean by “letting go,” you must first understand that Kim and I are two very different people.
In fact, the differences between us were Kim’s primary concern with us getting married. “Seth, a fish may love a bird,” she said. “But where would they live?”*
I smiled at the comparison because it’s fairly accurate.
Kim and I are incredibly different people. She’s the oldest in her family; I’m the youngest in mine. She’s very responsible; I’m…very much not. She…
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I often see questions from civilians who do not have a loved one that is a vet or a service member, what can they do to show they support the troop by more than simply saying it.
As the spouse of a veteran with PTSD, here are some of my suggestions.
Get involved – Many communities are creating organizations to touch on military and veterans issues.
If you are in a church, find a way to create programs to help vets and their families. For example, create a children’s night. Have a safe place the parents can drop the kids off, knowing they are safe, to give the kids a chance to play with other kids, and a chance for mommy and daddy to reconnect.
If you are a pastor, educate yourself on PTSD, and get training so you can help those in your congregation that may be suffering.
If you own a business, hire a vet.
If you are a professional (Dr., psychologist, therapist, lawyer), offer pro bono work to veteran’s and their families. Many vets and their families are going without healthcare. Many need a lawyer because they have gotten themself in trouble, or they have family issues, or need help with appeals, ssi or initial filing.
Find ways to help them. Find out what their needs are. Sometimes they just need someone to talk to. Be there for them. Some are coming home to no help or loved ones. Try to become a friend to them. There are many ways people can help. When you say we support our troops, don’t just say it, but mean it.
The last suggestion I have is, educate yourself on invisible wounds. Help us raise awareness, and join us in fighting for them. Write your congressman and senators, demanding action. Demanding more help, and for them to start showing their appreciation for our vets. Find out which politicians are against veteran’s benefits, and NO MATTER WHAT PARTY THEY ARE IN, VOTE THEM OUT. We do not need politicians up there who want to take away the little benefits that our veterans do get. They have no business in Washington. I dont care what party they are in.
Here is an interview my husband and I sat down to last year whenever I was first starting the local peer to peer support group. We stepped out in faith and outside our comfort zone.
We met with Laurie, from Channel 3 here in Hampton Roads, to participate in an interview to raise awareness and inform those in our area about the support group I am starting, PTSD, and its effects on the Veteran and their family.
In doing this interview, it was not easy for either of us. When you put yourselves out there, you are worried about judgment from other people. Hesitation is what the devil wants. The devil will try to hold us back as much as he can. I realize this is not about us, but helping others through what we have gone through. I do not want any other spouse to feel as alone as I did. We had to step out of our comfort zone, and step out on faith, in hopes of helping others who are going through what we have gone through.
Something I have found myself doing as of lately, is telling my husband what to do, instead of asking him. After the behavioral issues we have dealt with over the past few years, I have found myself treating him as though he is my third child, and at times, it doesnt help things. In fact, it can hurt. I know for myself that I dont like being told what to do, like I am a child. Why should my husband be any different?
One of the important things I am finding and having to remember is he is still an adult. It is a hard balance going between behavioral issues, back to good, and having to learn to trust his abilities again. I can honestly say I dont know that I will ever get back to not having questions about behavior, or decision making, but for the sake of our marriage, I have to learn not to treat him like a child, and TELL him what to do. Asking him to do something goes a long way, along with a please and thank you thrown in there. It comes down to respect, and I respect my husband
Do you ever feel like you have switched placed with your spouse? Somehow, someway, you have completely switched rolls, and in some ways, personality.
My husband and I simply put, have switched roles. My husband at one time was the take charge, take the lead type of guy. He would make sure business got taken care of, no matter how uncomfortable it was. Thoughtful and decisive, he made decisions. If there were bills that needed to be paid, he paid them, even if it meant not having money left over. He was ambitious, and dreamed of the future. He was positive, and upbeat, always having a laugh or a smile for someone. An impeccable memory, he was able to remember the smallest detail. Anyone could tell you that my husband could also talk forever. He loved to talk. It was his “thing.” Above all he loved to talk to new people, and travel, experiencing a new place, new people, and new adventures. I was complete opposite of that. My memory was horrible, although I love to talk, I wasnt one who met friends easily, being more reserved and quiet. Suffering from anxiety, there were times I stayed at home, not wanting to go out. Avoidance was a big thing for me, avoiding anything that was difficult, and having little ambition, or dreams.
Now, today, he and I are completely opposite of the way we once were. He hangs back, lets me take the lead and take charge. He waits for me to make a decision, or is hesitant in making his own. Conversations we have are forgotten days later. Medical appointments, dental appointments, are now up to me to make, and go with him so they are remembered/kept. I’ve had to help become his memory. We avoid crowds, and stay home a lot. When old friends are seen, my husband is now more quiet, more reserved, almost seemingly deep in his own thoughts. The laughter comes occasionally, but not like it once did. Some days, he spends his time in our bedroom, away from the world. Those are the bad days. Sometimes they come several days in a row, sometimes they dont. Plans are rarely made, for fear of them being broken. Invites are politely declined, to the point they are now rarely asked. Very few understand.
This isnt to say there arent good days. I see a smile, hear a laugh, and we actually venture out into the world. He works 5 days a week, which helps with consistency, and purpose. He takes care of the kids, giving him routine, and there again purpose. There are days, that I see he needs sleep or help. I help get our daughter to out the door to school and take our son to school to help him out, even though I will be late to work. Days where I have had to take off, in helping him, just by being there. Some days the kids and I have to go out without him, and some days he joins us. At times, we have several good days in a row.
With all these changes, I’m learning to find a new normal. Settling into new ways. Over the past few years, things have been chaotic and all over the place to say the least. The past year however, since my husband has gotten on a new medication, has been better, and we are settling in a “new normal.” Our new normal isn’t what I ever envisioned, but then again, life never is. I know some days I have to pick up the slack, and on most things take the lead in getting them done. It isn’t to say he does nothing. He tries every day. He tries for us, and some days I can see it is a struggle for him. It isn’t something I can describe. Those days if we are able, I leave him alone, and let him sleep. The kids, they keep him grounded, give him a purpose, and help him through “the darkness.” I’ve learned (although, don’t always abide by) how I communicate with him,, and when to communicate something, and when to wait. This is the beginning to our new “normal” life that we are still figuring out.
Code words. This is something my husband and I found that works for us.
We came up with a word that was totally random that we could use when he would begin to get into his angry rantings. This was used to diffuse the situation, and for him to know he needed to chill out. He would walk away and cool off. The word we use is acorn. We haven’t had to use it in a while. As the rages slowly went away, we would use it in other ways, if one of us were to go off into a drawn out rant about one thing or another and needed to cool out. Lately we haven’t found the need to use this code word, as we are both learning to communicate again. Please note that is an everyday process, and we still don’t have all the answers.
Another word we use is “noted.” We use it when I am saying something he doesn’t necessarily want to hear, which is usually about getting back into therapy or something to do with his health. So I know he hears me and understands, but doesn’t want to talk about it, he says noted. This way I back off, but I’ve at least said what I needed to. In doing this particular code word, I’ve also had to gage his moods, and know when I can approach certain subjects and when I can’t.
It has all been a learning curve, figuring out what works for us, and what doesnt. I’m still learning, and at times, adjusting. I don’t claim to know everything. In fact I know very little. I only know what we have gone through, what we have tried, what works and doesn’t work for us. Everyday it takes hard work. Sometimes when life is moving so fast you can’t catch your breath, it is easy to forget. I’m human and I make mistakes. But the key to that is learning from those mistakes, and changing it so I don’t do it again.
My parents always told me, in life, nothing comes easy. I never understood that until going through all that we have. Life isn’t a fairy tale, and it isn’t happily ever after. Life is about learning and hard work. Relationships take both. Love isn’t always enough. Learning to work together, instead of against one another has helped us. But it is one day at a time, one step at a time, taken together. I know there will be misteps, but it is taking from those misteps to try and make sure they don’t happen again.
There are so many times, that I have things I want to write about, experiences I want to share.
When I sit down to write, it is as if a wall goes up, blocking my thoughts. I am unable to write down my thoughts, get out the past, and express my fears.
I am not allowing myself to touch these thoughts when I want, not allowing myself to express them. I can only imagine, how it is for my husband, not wanting to touch what is on his mind.
Consciously or sub-consciously, we sometimes don’t allow our mind to remember the bad, to remember the negative, to remember the nightmares.
I can never imagine what my husband and other veterans have been through, but I can somewhat understand why my husband avoids, why he blocks it away.
Although it doesn’t compare, when I reflect over what we have gone through over the past two years, it is like pulling off a scab, letting it bleed all over again. This is why I don’t push, and I don’t pry for my husband to talk. He will talk on his on time, own his own terms. All I can do, is be there for him, when he is ready. There are so many times, that I have things I want to write about, experiences I want to share. When I sit down to write, it is as if a wall goes up, blocking my thoughts. I am unable to write down my thoughts, get out the past, and express my fears. I am not allowing myself to touch these thoughts when I want, not allowing myself to express them. I can only imagine, how it is for my husban…d, not wanting to touch what is on his mind. Consciously or sub-consciously, we sometimes don’t allow our mind to remember the bad, to remember the negative, to remember the nightmares. I can never imagine what my husband and other veterans have been through, but I can somewhat understand why my husband avoids, why he blocks it away. Although it doesn’t compare, when I reflect over what we have gone through over the past two years, it is like pulling off a scab, letting it bleed all over again. This is why I don’t push, and I don’t pry for my husband to talk. He will talk on his on time, own his own terms. All I can do, is be there for him, when he is ready.