Monday, December 24, 2012

So this is Christmas?

Being that this is a PTSD blog, I feel compelled to spend my whole time writing about PTSD.  And given that my husband is very concerned about what I share publicly, not that I blame him, I have been reluctant to share much about my job.  But, this holiday season, my job has played a big part in our little PTSD universe.  You see, like so many other spouses of service members with combat related PTSD, my boss doesn't understand. 

It's not an easy thing to talk about to people without sharing intimate details, so I often try to glance over it.  But when my boss asked me exactly what PTSD was and why my husband needed so much support, I told her about his forgetfulness, how I have to hold our life together and how I had to remind him of things and make sure things got done.  She told me her husband was like that too (a civilian with no PTSD history, mind you).  I'm not under any dillusion that she was trying to be a jerk, but it was insensitive.  But this is how she is.  She doesn't seem to understand. 

So, when I approached my boss about changing my work schedule a few months ago, she didn't understand why I needed it.  And when I brought it up again, she still doesn't, even though there is a different position open that I am more than qualified for. 

There's not much I can do to change this.  It just sucks to feel so misunderstood.  It sucks that just before Christmas, my husband and I had to have a chat about my future at my job, which I love.  It sucks that we even have to feel like we have to choose between my job and his needs.  I know that I can't make the world understand PTSD.  I know that some people are never going to really understand, but it's hard to think that we have to make this kind of choice. 

I don't have any advice for how to deal with an employer like mine.  I love my job, but I can't keep putting their needs before my family.  My husband needs me and when put in a corner, I will choose my family every time, even if that means having to look for other work.  I just wish their was a way to help employers see why it can be so difficult to balance work and home, and why schedules sometimes have to be adjusted.  I feel reluctant to talk too deeply about it though, because I don't want my employer judging my husband and I don't want HIM to feel judged.  He feels enough of that already. 

Just such a terrible thing to have to be worried about around the holidays.  Like they aren't stressful enough already.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Some days I lie awake in bed unsure of how I feel.  I guess helpless would be the word.  But hopeful is not too far away from the thoughts that are flittering through my head.

I can't force change and I can't force things to get better.  Sometimes I wish I could just scream at the world the way you would scold a child for doing something wrong.  I want to scream at the universe and tell them that what has been done to my husband is wrong.  The pain he is suffering is wrong. The hurt I know he is trying to hide is wrong.

How can you make someone who doesn't like himself understand that you love him?  He wakes up everyday and looks into the mirror at a person he doesn't think deserves life or love.  But I love him.  I wish I could make him see the world around him the way it truly is.  It can be a beautiful place, even when it's been scarred.  He is still a wonderful man, even with the scars he has.

But the Universe is not fair.  Life is not fair.  Good things happen to bad people, or so the cliche goes.  And that means that sometimes, we have to adapt to the challenges we face.  Adapt and Overcome is the motto in our house, not just in the Marine Corps.  And sometimes, you have to make have to make the world beautiful, because it's not always so on it's own.


Monday, December 3, 2012

When Do I Leave?

In the short time since I’ve started my blog, I’ve had a number of people reach out to me.  It’s hard to feel alone and we all need a little understanding.  But so far, the most common question I get asked is, “how do I know when to leave?”

I don’t know that I have an answer for that question.

This blog is really just a collection of my pent up frustrations, my overwhelming emotional outbursts, all sprinkled with anything I can offer to others who might not have anyone to turn to.  

But here’s how I feel about leaving:  I think about doing it all the time.  I really do.  I think we probably all do.  We fell taken for granted.  We feel ignored, isolated, lonely and sad.  Our whole existence has become taking care of someone who hates us for doing it.  How to you wake up each day and keep loving someone who pushes you away?  I guess you just do.  I mean, we do, don’t we?

I think the decision to leave your spouse is so beyond personal.  But if you are waking up still wanting to stay and help most of the time, then it’s probably not time for you to give up.  If you are unsafe, or you have hit the maximum of what you can emotionally endure, then it’s a good time to reevaluate your situation. 

You will never hear me judge someone for staying or leaving.  It’s such a personal choice that is dependent on so many factors.  I encourage everyone to seek counseling if you can, both personal and marriage.  I encourage you to continually evaluate the situation and know that there is no shame in feeling defeated.  There is no shame in staying or leaving. 

I know that I had to make a choice and my choice was to stick this out to the bitter end, but we all reach our crossroad at different points.  And when you do, the choice of which way to turn can only be decided by you.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Contact Me

I have had a number of people request that I contact them.  The trouble is that almost all of them do so through commenting on this blog.

Though I do have it set up that I can email people via comments, most people who comment on my blog have their settings set to "No-reply Comment"  Which means that I cannot reply to your comments.

If you do not know how to change this, please note that I have an email address listed in my profile.  You are welcome to contact me via that route.

I honestly want to email people back regarding their questions, concerns or other. 


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Learning the Hard Way

I will never understand why everything seems to feel like learning to walk again.  I hear that it’s pretty common for spouses to be forbidden to talk about PTSD.  My husband has gone so far as to forbid me from joining support groups too.  That means that everything I know is learned that absolute hardest way possible.  Everything I share here, every lesson I apply to our life, it’s all from walking into disaster and then making it worse. 

I’m sharing this because I need you all to know that it’s not easy.  They are angry, they don’t like themselves, which means they can’t like you  either and they probably have no idea what triggers any of their outbursts.  This means that the spouse is the one left to care for everything and also to figure out what to do to diffuse the situation.  This means that it’s been up to me to figure out what triggers his different behaviors, what works to stop an escalation and what doesn’t and it means that I’ve learned it all by doing it wrong a few times.

Whoever you are out there who might be reading this, I’m in this with you.  I understand what it’s like to feel like you are blindfolded in a field of landmines.  I know what it feels like to have no idea what you did this time to start a fight, nor what you are doing to make it worse. 

I have grown incredibly frustrated with websites.  They are full of invaluable resources, but so often, it feels to me like they make it look so easy.  “All you have to do is work full time, take care of your kids and/or pets, pay all the bills, keep your whole life running, and create a plan that helps your spouse. “  I want to shout,”Oh, Is that ALL?”  If I could, I would love to throw something.

It’s not easy.  It’s not easy to feel like you have to hold it together, keep your chin up, be strong, and also take care of every detail of your collective life while also doing everything in your power to help your spouse.  In fact, it’s the opposite of easy.  I would equate it to walking over hot coals while trying to balance a tea pot full of hot tea on your head without using your hands and not being allowed to spill a drop.  See, doesn’t that sound soooo easy?

Here’s what I can tell you about it all of these suggestions you will read on the various PTSD websites:  They are worth your consideration.  No, it’s not going to be easy adding one more task to your life, but when you do find those triggers, when you do find what works, that will be an even bigger stress that is now managed.  It’s worth a try at least. 

My husband didn’t respond to the various lists I created to remind him of things and he never checks the emails I send him, so I still don’t have anything to help him remember to clean the shower.  But I did find what works to help keep him from escalating when he is angry.  And I discovered that it often takes at least 12 hours before he will be ready to talk about the situation.  That’s progress.

So don’t give up yet.  I know that every day is a crap shoot.  I know that some days I’m optimistic about things and some days I feel utterly hopeless.  But I wake up each day and I keep trying.  It’s not a short process, but it’s a process none the less and one without any quick fixes available. 


Monday, November 26, 2012

After The War

 Background Flag used courtesy of
After the war, life was never the same.

For some strange reason, everyone thinks that the war ending and the troops being pulled out means that life just magically returns to normal.  Like there was never a war to begin with.  But there was a war.  It lasted 10+ years (depending on who you ask).  We may not, as a nation, have ever officially declared war, but troops deployed, bullets were fired, people died and lives were forever changed.

After the war, if you want to say it's over now, nothing changed for us.

Why must people insist on saying things like, "Well, you can rest easy now, hun?"  No, I can't.  It's true that not many people in our life know what we are dealing with.  Who wants to have to tell everyone they know that they break out in cold sweats because of something on the TV?  I understand why my husband wants us to keep this a secret.  But none the less, secret or not, the war ending doesn't fix things.

Lives were altered.  Not just ours, but for thousands.  Thousands of people, families, friends, spouses lives were forever changed when this war began.  This never ending war that feels like it's just quietly being fought these days.  There are still people deploying.  Even if you don't want to hear about it.  There are still those who are never coming home again, even if you weren't paying attention.

And then there's us.

After the war, life was never the same.  The man I married is gone forever.  The girl I was, or at least thought I was, is gone.  The girl who took her place is a hardened, often sad, woman (because I am officially a woman now), who doesn't recognize her own husband, let alone her self.   The man in my house is an angry shadow of who he once was.

But wars must be fought, freedoms defended and sacrifices made.  But some sacrifices feel like heavier burdens than other.  Giving up my husband for a year was nothing, but he gave up so much more...  And the war ending cannot give it back to him.  The war ending cannot undo what he has been through and the battle we are still fighting at home. 

After the war, life just isn't the same. 


Thursday, November 22, 2012


This Thanksgiving, I hope you will remember those who are not able to be with their families.  Whether it be military service or other forces that keep them apart, think of them while you are gathering with your loved ones and send them good thoughts.

Missed holidays are very common place in this military life, but that doesn't make them any easier. 

I feel blessed that I will get to see my husband for a short time today, but my thoughts will be with all of those still serving overseas, who will not be so fortunate.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Real Love

Real love is the thing of myths surrounded by clouds of romanticized ideas.  We spend so much time reading quotes about the perfect person for us.  We hear cautionary tales of about who not to trust your heart to.  We spend years and lifetimes yearning for the man who holds a boom box in the air outside of our bedroom window to tell us they love us.

But real love, not the kind where true loves first kiss awakens the princess, but real, honest, raw and sometimes painful love is none of these things.  It is running into the arms of someone who isn’t always perfect, never says the right thing and wondering if what you have will glow brightly for all to see, or burn in flames.

So much of love is what we are told we should want, we should expect and what we think we are supposed to feel.  But I’m not a romantic at heart, I’ve just spent my whole life being told that my lover should do romantic things.  But what I've got instead is a man who secretly fixes the closet door that has been sticking for years.  He takes the garbage out every week, so that I can sleep in.  
There are no large romantic gestures, perfectly placed words or intensely tender moments.  But I have real love.  I have a love that looks into the face of the man I married knowing that the face I’m staring at is the face of a stranger.  I love him, even when he can’t love me back.  I love him through his anger at the world, his frustration and his pain.

I love him through isolation.  My carefully chosen words when talking about work, life, my frustrations and irritations are all so that I do not trigger pain in my husbands mind.  It often means that I can’t tell him about what I really do for a living and much of our discussions and connections are on a very superficial level. 

But, you see, my love is not based on always apologizing with roses, or even holding hands at sunset.  We don’t take long walks in the park, or have candle lit dinners.  There are no surprise gifts for me, no kisses in the rain .  But there is love.  Real love.  There is the kind of love that aches because I can’t take his pain away.  The kind of love that leaves me wishing I could take his place so that he can stop hurting.  
We may go days without talking, he may be angry for months, but I still look at the empty space in my life and know that he will fill it back up again someday.  I look at him and know that someday, I will know this man as well as I knew the man I married.  Because the kind of love I have, is the patient kind.

I will continue to love and continue to wait.  I will continue to hurt and continue to feel lonely. I will be here, no matter what, because the kind of love we have is real love.  It’s not the stuff of myths and legends.  It’s not shrouded in romantic ideals or flowing, well places words.  It simply is.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Letter to Myself

Dear You, yes, you going through that deployment,

I can’t promise you that it works out the way you lay in bed dreaming about.  In fact, this deployment will change a lot more than you ever imagined.  I know you have spent night after night crawling in bed at 5:30pm just to avoid the time of day that you miss him most.  When he comes home, sometimes you will look at the empty spot he sleeps in and wonder why you still feel like you are waiting.

But please know this, please know that when he smiles at you, even though it’s not quite the same, you will see that little bit of who he was before he left.   Please know, that through it all, he will survive, and so you will you.  Please know, that the perfect life you had planned will never happen, but what you will end up with is a life that you appreciate more than you will ever truly realize.

I know you have spent time fighting while he has been gone.  I don’t know why some couples do that, but they do.  And I know that some days you would rather fight with him and be angry than not hear from him at all, because every second he is on the phone with you is a moment that you know for sure, at least for now, that he is alive.  And I know that the days, sometimes weeks, in between those seconds feel like an eternity, during which you might go mad. 

You tell yourself, “If I can survive this, I can survive anything,” and I wish that were true.  I wish I could reach back in time and tell you that surviving the deployment is only half the battle.  I wish I could shout that into the universe so that every military spouse can hear my words and understand that waking up each day struggling to get out of bed until he is home again will not compare to the battle to be fought at home.  Not everyone will have to fight that battle, but the simple truth is that you will.

This deployment, for all its terrible pain and heartache, will give you some of the strength that you will need in the days to come.  But you are so much stronger than you think and it’s time that you start to rely on that strength, because the coming days will be tough.  But in the end, though the life you planned on having will be no where to be seen, the one you have will be worth fighting for. The life you have will be a life together, and no matter how bad things get, you will still wake up everyday thankful that at the very least, you’ve got that.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What is "normal"

I can't tell you much about why my husband is going through.  I can only tell you what I see and how I feel.  I am finding more and more that everything out there is about your spouse.  How he feels, what he thinks and what you should be doing in response.  But what about how we spouses feel?  What about what we go through as a result?

I understand my job is to be strong and stand by him.  I get that I have to help him.  But what is normal to be feeling?  No one seems to be able to tell me.  There probably isn't a "normal" way to feel, so much as a common way that many people feel.  But I'm tired of wondering if this is "normal" or common.

I say all of this because it seems to me that I am having a hard time coping with my responses to my husband almost as much as I am having a hard time helping him.  He is not interested in fixing things.  When I try to talk to him, he gets this blank, arrogant stare.  He patronizes me.  He crosses his arms and gets a smirk on his face like I don't know anything.  He constantly treats me like I should just take whatever he dishes out.  I don't know what to say, but I often feel like he is owning his diagnosis in a way that says, "I'm the one with PTSD, you don't know shit about it.  Nothing you can say matters because my diagnosis gives me the ability to behave however I want."

Any time I try to talk to him, he gets that arrogant smirk and shuts me out.

After we have those days, I shut down.  I have given up a lot to help this man that I love and when he behaves that way, all I can do is sit on my couch and do nothing.  As in, I lack the motivation to do anything.  The aftermath of our altercations, our fights, our "discussions," our lack of communication is horrible.  I just sit and can't cope.

What do I do? I don't know.  I don't know if this weird, arrogant behavior is common.  I don't know if it's "normal" for them to behave this way. I don't know if it's common for me to sit on my couch the next day unable to find the proper motivation to do anything.  I just don't know.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Roller Coaster

This crazy life we lead is a roller coaster.  A dated metaphor, I'll admit, but I lack a better term.  Maybe it's like trying to ride the wave of a tsunami.  Sometimes it feels like I'm just surfing towards the shore and other times it's like trying to stay afloat while a wild wave is crashing every which way I turn, threatening to drown me.

What this all means is that I often have times that I can't control my emotions any better than my husband can control his.  It means that we had a period of fighting and anger at the world that lasted over two months and here I am feeling so defeated that I don't know what to do... But the last two days have been fine.  I consider it a form of emotional whiplash.  I swing one way to find safety and stability and can't control the whipping motion that my emotions are forced into when I start to swing the other way.

Two months is such a long period of time to be struggling, fighting, hurting, anger, sadness, hopelessness, hopefulness, and the whole spectrum of emotions in between.  So when, without warning, the barrage of emotions that I have been deflecting suddenly stops, it's like I don't know how to feel anymore.  Or, on the flip side, all the things that I was feeling but had to be in tight control of to prevent the situation from becoming worse all seem to be washing up next to me as the remnants of the tsunami are washing up around me.

I have no idea what to do about this.   I busy myself.  I try to find ways to heal.  I try to do a lot, but mostly, I sit, unsure of what to do in my own skin.

This is one of those situations that I have no advice for.  I have no idea how to fix it, make it better, or lessen the effects of it. I can only hope that time will give me some insight, but for now, I'm sitting on my couch feeling crumby.


Monday, October 29, 2012

The Best Advice I've Ever Gotten

There are more websites about PTSD than I have time to sort through.  There are more tips for what to look for if you think your spouse might be suffering from PTSD than I ever thought could exist.  There are more "Do This, Not That" type lists, and resource lists and lists about all of these lists that a compulsive list maker like me ever feels overwhelmed. So, how do you sort through it all?  Slowly.

But in Googling things and reading and finding new information, I finally stumbled upon a piece of advice that not only hit me in the nose like a square punch in the face should, but made me realize that of all the things I will ever read, know, learn, question and apply to our life, this is the ONE AND ONLY thing that will make all the difference.


It's that simply folks.  Either you are in this and fighting for your service member, or you're not.  There is no halfway in this territory.  You can't have one foot out the door and still think that you are truly trying to make this work.

We ALL think about leaving.  We ALL hit our fill and wonder why we are here.  We ALL wonder if life would be easier if we just walked away.  And you know what? It probably would be. But if you are really going to be the support your spouse needs, you are here, 100%, every day, no matter what.

I'm not telling you to stay if you are in danger.  I'm not going to judge you if you don't stay.  I'm not here to say that everyone should always stay married no matter what.  You will never get anything but support from me, no matter how you feel about your life, your spouse or need/desire to leave.

But what I do know is that I hit my fill.  I wonder if it would be easier to just walk away. I think about leaving.  And I packed my bags, I loaded my car and I headed out the door.  My husband didn't understand.  He didn't understand that this was it.  I was gone.  And it made me stop and realize that he doesn't always get it.  We have our good days and bad days.  Sometimes they are a lot of bad days in a row and it feels like we will never get out of this alive.  My husband wasn't in this with me.  He's been trying to fight alone for a long time and he wouldn't stop to hear that this is causing me pain too.  It affects my life and my heart too.  He sees that now.

It doesn't mean that he doesn't still ignore me sometimes.  It doesn't mean we don't fight, it doesn't mean that I learned to stop being angry and he learned to love himself enough to love me too.  It means that he knows that I'm here now.  I'm not here unless I get too angry.  I'm not here, but kind of plotting my escape.  I'm here.  And I will be here tomorrow and the next day, even if he ignores me, even if he is angry, sad, yelling or silent for days on end. I'm here.

Sometimes what we need to hear doesn't register on our ears until we are in the worst place emotionally.  I heard this advice and thought, "Crap. That's me they're talking about." It doesn't mean that life gets easier all of the sudden, but it means that you aren't giving up.  And our spouses need to know that.  My husband needs to know that when he's too tired to fight, it's ok, because I'm next to him and I'll keep fighting for him.  He needs to know that when he doesn't know who he is, it's ok, because I know who he was, and I know that he will find himself again.  He needs to know that when it's too dark for him to see, my voice will be there to help guide him through back to the light, because I'm not giving up on him.

Divorce is not a threat you give when you are mad.  It's not something you yell when you need to be heard.  It should be a word that you roll around in your mouth and swallow back down unless you truly mean it.  So be cautious with it.  And if you are finding yourself wanting to leave, that's ok.  It's normal to feel that way, but take a pause and ask yourself, "Do I want to leave because it's tough right now, or am I truly ready to call it quits."  If you aren't, then it might be a good time to reach out to someone for a chat and some support so that you can recollect yourself and be read to fight again in the morning.

We all need a break sometimes.  We all need to get away.  Just be sure that you call it what it is.  And don't be afraid to reach out to others to help you sort through your feelings if you aren't really sure.  This is a tough situation for all involved.


Friday, October 26, 2012

How Do You Balance Life With PTSD?

Finding a balance in life is hard, regardless of what you do for a living, your stresses or any other factor that might cause things to spin of kilter.  But when someone in your life suffers from PTSD, finding a solid balance can be an even larger struggle.  How do you deal with the stress of being a caregiver, the stress of life, your job, kids if you have them, and everything else when you home is no longer your sanctuary?

I work a job that is, by it's very nature, stressful.  There is nothing I can do to alleviate that stress short of quitting.  Trust me, the thought has crossed my mind.  But leaving a job I love and my co-workers and friends hardly seems like the best option.  The fact is, not everyone is able to have a single income, and if your spouse is unable to work due to PTSD, leaving your job is even less so an option.

My job is my escape, stress or not, it's a place I can go and be good at what I do.  I don't have to deal with my angry husband or any of the other stresses at home.  My home is not a sanctuary, it's not a place I can go to get away, there are no bubble baths in my day and no time to read a book alone in my room.  So I have a job. But that job is interfering in my ability to support my husband and something is going to give.

I had applied to change shifts, but didn't get it.  We had been relying on that shift change to be something to help our present circumstances.  We had hoped that it would give us the time we need to continue to work on things.  But now, I am staying where I am at and we are having to face this off balance life with no plan.

There is no one solution that will work for everyone.  But what I know is that when your spouse has PTSD, it often feels like your whole world is clouded by it.  The place that was once your quite, safe place in the universe becomes a battle ground, and suddenly work, friends, and generally being away from that home turns into the only way to distance yourself.  But if you aren't careful, that will imbalance your life even more.

I love my job.  I have strived to not leave it.  I don't want to give up all the hard work I've done.  But at some point, I have to find a way to balance this place that has turned into my escape with the need to be home supporting my husband.

The most important advice I can offer is to communicate.  When I told my husband I didn't get the position, he shut down.  He was disappointed.  He didn't want to talk to me.  But we HAVE to talk about it.  Life is full of disappointments and things you have no control over.  The most important thing to come back together and create a new plan.  Discuss the needs you both have.  It's ok to need to be out of the house, it's ok to need an outlet and it's ok that he needs you there.  Whatever the needs you both have, talk about them, prioritize them, make sure that you are both aware of what is most important to each of you.  Then create a new plan.  A lot of this life is trial and error.  You think this might work and it doesn't, so you move on to a new plan.  The same goes for balance.

Communicating what you both need and discussing the options and ideas to ensure everyone is getting their needs met is the only way to continue to strive for the so called balanced life.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What We Should Do Is Give Thanks

If you haven’t read the article, you soon will.  It’s making waves and in the short time after I saw it posted on Facebook, the page that had posted it had over 40 comments and counting.

The piece is simple.  A young college student doesn’t believe that military service members and their families deserve the military discounts that so many retailers offer. Her reasoning may have been sound, but no one will ever know because her writing came across so offensively to so many that it was hard to hear what her basis truly was through the belittling of the sacrifices made by military service members and their families.

She is quoted as having said that simply seeing that a retailer offers such a discount sends a wave of “indignation” through her. She says it creates a hierarchy within our society that discredits others (such as middle school counselors) for the “service” they provide.  She also advocates the broadening of the definition of service to anyone who provides a service or product for others.

Let’s ignore her word choice, let’s pretend that her definition of “service” wouldn't literally include anyone, seeing as anyone who has a job is providing a service to someone, even if it’s just their employer.  Let’s ignore her belief that everyone should receive a discount for simply having a job, which by definition requires retailers to lower their prices 10% which would be easier than continuously ringing up a 10% discount that applies to anyone with a pulse.  I’ll even encourage you to over look her use of the all too common attitude of “they signed up for it.” Forgive her obvious belief that supporting the military means we support war in general. Let’s look at the large factor she is over looking:

Our military services members do not just have a dangerous job.  They don’t just make sacrifices.  They lay their life on the line.  They sign a contract that says they will defend this nation and the freedoms not just of the US citizens that live within it, but any person anywhere in the world who may need assistance.  They sign that contract with the understanding that the very nature of that commitment means they must be willing to pay with their own life if necessary.  But some don’t, instead they pay with individual body parts, with the loss of their brothers in arms while giving up the ability to grieve because there is no time for that in war.  They pay with their family life, and sometimes with the loss of their family all together.  And many, come home physically whole, but have paid with their emotional stability and soul.

It takes a fair amount of persistent effort to offend me, I can take just about anything with a grain of salt, but her article offended me.  You see, three years ago, my husband come home with PTSD and he paid the price that she is so ready to announce as just the price of doing business.  Per her belief, my husband doesn’t deserve to be thanked by our society through military discounts because he volunteer for a dangerous job, so it’s his own fault.  By her logic, my own heartache and pain associated with waking up everyday unable to help the man I love, unable to share his pain, and unable to lessen it, is the price I pay for having fallen in love with a Marine and marrying him.  I do not feel I need or deserve pity or even a 10% discount, but I take offense at the notion that that my husbands sacrifice can be so easily dismissed as simply “an individuals willingness to volunteer for one job instead of another.”

Businesses are not offering these discounts because they want the world to know that they support war.  Nor are they expressing that no one else is worthy of any recognition.  They are simply trying to say “thank you” in the only way they know how.  The same way others donate to Fisher House, or even stop to shake my husbands hand when he is in uniform.  And isn’t the job he does a job that deserves thanks?

He absolutely did volunteer to join the military, he did “insist” on having that dangerous job.  But I have to wonder, if he hadn’t, is she the person who was going to fill his billet? Our military is 100% voluntary, and I, for one, thank my lucky stars each day for every service member, past or present, who was willing to risk everything so that I don’t have to.  I am so thankful to live in a country where so many are so willing to sacrifice everything for people they don’t know, many of whom will never give that sacrifice a second thought, many of whom, like this young lady, not only don’t give it a second thought, but do not appreciate it at all.

She has every right to her opinions.  And my husbands felt so strongly that people like her should have that right, and the write to express them, and her freedom of press, that he was willing to fracture his soul to give it to her.  And so many others gladly gave their lives, and I feel that that is something we very much so should be thankful for.


Monday, October 22, 2012


Do you ever have days where you just feel like something is missing? Something completely intangible is just not there, but you can’t put a finger of what it might be?

I tend to have this feeling when I’m really productive at home.  I’ll wake up and get moving right away and get a lot of stuff done and suddenly, I’m sitting on my couch unsure of what is missing from my life.

I’ve always had the vague feeling that my never ending To-do list, to which I add more things daily, is what gives me a sense of purpose.  Constantly feeling like I’m busy and have a million things to do seems to distract me from this odd feeling of intangible emptiness.

It’s possible I fill my days with miscellaneous tasks to keep from feeling lonely or sad, or it’s possible that I truly lack the ability to have time not filled with something (which is what my friends accuse me of).  Either way, when that To-Do list gets too short, I find myself sitting alone in my house wondering what this strange feeling is, and more importantly how to make it go away.

Usually, I just toss a few more random items on my list and find something to keep busy doing.

I wonder if I’ll ever really understand what this feeling is.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Sometimes You Have to Learn to Dance in the Rain

Life doesn’t always go the way you plan.  I did not look at who I might be and think, “I hope that someday I’m married to a man in the military who comes home with PTSD.” No one plans on their life having those kinds of challenges.  We dream of marrying for love, we plan on having a great career, but we don’t plan, desire or dream of a life turned upside down by war.

I look at my husband and think, “Why am I still here?”  He can go weeks without speaking to me.  He gets angry, but never happy.  He is struggling to understand who he is, who he has become and what is going on.  He lives in a world of flashbacks and pain and I can’t live there with him.  This is a journey we are on together that he refuses to include me in.

I wake up all the time wondering who I am.  I used to be the loving wife of a handsome Marine.  I used to be the girl who cleaned his house and folded his laundry.  I used to find meaning in the scent of his pillow and the brush of his skin and it made me feel like my life was whole. If I am not that person, who am I?  I am the wife of a man with combat related PTSD, and that is not something that I want to define me.

Sometimes if feels like my life has been shaded a hazy color of grey that is clouding my ability to see a future. Sometimes if feels like life is raining on us and that we will never see the sun again. Can we navigate this stormy weather to find a place of calm? I don’t know.  I don’t know what will happen in the future anymore.  I don’t know what our plan is, or if we even have one.  I don’t know how our dreams will change because it feels like we don’t have any anymore. But I do know that even if this rain never lets up, life is what you make of it.

Sometimes, the rain will come down so hard that you fear your life is flooding and that you might drown.  Sometimes, it’s hard to know if it will ever let up.  Sometimes, all you know is that it has been raining for so long, you are not sure if the sun will ever come.  Sometimes all you can do is learn to dance in the rain, just in case it never does.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

PTSD Can't Be Fought Alone

This journey has been a long one.  Three years ago, my husband came home with PTSD.

After his first deployment, he admitted to me that he had thought about suicide and had a hard time coming home and adjusting back into life.  This time around, he came and refused to speak at all about what was in his thoughts... And just like that, the man I loved was gone.

I reached out to him, but he has shut me out.  This is a battle he is trying to win alone.  And in that process, he is forcing me to fight alone.  He has refused to let me tell our friends, family or anyone I know.  He has refused to let me talk to other spouses, join support groups that want my real name, or even talk to him about my feelings and emotions.  But this is not something that can be done alone.

He cannot expect our marriage to stay together and our life to keep functioning if he is going to insist that we fight individually.  I cannot keep our life together and keep my sanity if I continue on the track I am on in this isolated exsistence.

Each day I can feel the void between us growing wider as we each seek ways to conquer this alone. 

PTSD is not a problem that effects only one person, but the whole family unit.  While my husbands inner turmoil is his own, the outward manifestation of that struggle bleeds into every aspect of his life, whether he wants it to or not.  This means that, while I am not the one diagnosed with PTSD, I am having to struggle with it and fight it right along side him. It is not a battle that can be fought alone because it's not a battle between just one person and the diagnosis.  While I am trying to find ways to understand and cope, so is my husband, but we need to be finding ways to understand and cope together.

He worries that he doesn't know who he is and thus cannot know who I am.  I feel the same way in reverse, but while we are trying to figure out who we are individually, who we are as a married couple is being neglected.  It's quite possible that if he would try to listen to who I am, and who he is to me, that he might begin to find who he is in the process.  Who he is in relation to me just might be what gives him the clue to who he is to himself. 

The point is that while this journey is a hard one, and while a war rages inside of your thoughts, ultimately this is not a journey that effects only one person.  Trying to understand PTSD, how it manifests in your individual service member, how it will change your life and thinking are all things that must be worked on together as a family.

A spouse, you may need to seek understanding and support from other individuals and that's OK, just as he might need to seek the same.  But what matters is that you are coming back together and working mutually towards the goal of besting your common foe and finding ways to cope.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Honest Conversations

Having an honest conversation with my husband is a struggle.  It is not because I have a hard time being honest, but because he has a hard time listening and responding honestly to me.  He tends to hide his feelings, shut me out and refuse to look at our life square in the face and accept how things are.

The reality is that I have thought about leaving.  The reality is that if he doesn't start accepting that I am a part of this fight and this journey, there is nothing more I can do.  It is not realistic for him to expect that he can spend his time figuring things out and that I will sit by and wait for him to decide he's ready to part of OUR life again.

The past two weeks have been awful.  Beyond horrible.  It was so painful when I tried to speak with him about the apathy that I could feel developing in my heart towards our situation.  It was even worse when he ignored me and I didn't even have the energy to fight to be heard.  He has been unbearable, but not because of temper tantrums or arguing or rage, because for two weeks I have ceased to exist in his life.  He literally fell asleep while I was trying to tell him some very honest and painful things I was feeling in my heart.

5 days ago, I gave up.  I whole heartedly stopped trying.  I didn't bother to make the effort to talk to him, I didn't get angry when he didn't listen to me, I didn't even really care when he walked away while I was speaking to him.  Emotionally, I threw my hands up in defeat and surrendered to what our life had become.

Today, an honest conversation was forced at his feet when I told him that I didn't care if we stayed married and that I was likely going to pack up and leave one day very soon.  Not likely to pack up as a threat, but I honestly haven't been able to get the thought out of my head to just throw my clothes in a bag, walk out the door and never look back.

He had to listen.  He had to finally admit what was going on: He cannot feel.  He is apathetic towards himself and thus cannot be a part of my life.  He doesn't know who he is, he doesn't know who I am and he doesn't know how to be angry, sad, happy or outraged.  All he knows is that life is a struggle to not relive every horrible thing he's seen each day when he opens his eyes.

Honest conversations do not happen often in our house.  Hopefully today's honest look at our life is going to be a jumping point for him to face some of the things he doesn't want to...


Friday, October 12, 2012


When things get particularly hard, I find that it becomes necessary for me to try to be thankful.

This is not the easiest task and with all that has been going on lately, it's become impossible to remind myself to do this on a regular basis.  But it's something that must be done.

So, in light of the apathy that is creeping into my feelings about my marriage, the stress I've been under, that pains in my soul and the general malaise that I've been feeling about everything, I think now is a good time to work on being thankful for the things that could have been.

I am thankful my husband came home in one physical piece.  Though at times it seems that his soul is fractured, his body is not.  We were lucky.

I am thankful that he has yet to act on his violent urges.  He has come close to hitting me a few times, but I have been able to prevent it and move out of harms ways, thus saving him from making that choice.

I am thankful that he is able to work.  Not all who suffer from PTSD are in a place that they can hold a job and my husband is managing to do that well.  This means that we are able to deal with the financial challenges slightly better.

I'm thankful that I have always been a very insular person.  I have never been much for needing to leave my house all the time and take quite well to solitude... Which is all my life is made up of lately.  Lucky for me, reading a good book, sewing, crafting, and other hobbies tend to do well to keep me busy.

I'm thankful on most days that no one in our life knows what is going on.  Though I would love to have someone to talk to on bad days, or even just be able to be honest with people in certain circumstances, I understand that stigma and know that it could make many things in our life very awkward.

And the big one... The one I try to remind myself of everyday, especially on the hard days:

I'm thankful he is alive.  Though there are times that I feel it would have been less painful to have lost him over there, I'm thankful he didn't.  Trading the one pain for the other is never a conflict I want someone to have to feel in their heart.  But I know that we are lucky he came home.

Today, I'm going to work on being thankful.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Problem Is...

I'm sitting here, at nearly midnight, in front of my computer with a pain so deep in my chest that I am unsure if it is coming from within me or being done to me.

I'm sitting here, writing this because for the first time ever, the thoughts I have of leaving him are not out of frustration, an argument or even anger... They are out of pure sadness and defeat.

Slowly, over the course of three years I have watched my marriage strain, then twist, then bend against pressure.  I have watched all I hold dear crumble, I have watched the man I love dissolve into someone I don't know.  I have watched the life I fought so hard for chip away slowly at the hands of an invisible wound that I don't fully understand.

I have spent three years screaming silently for anyone to know me well enough to know that we are not ok.  That I am not ok.  I have spent three years clawing at things that are not there in hopes of finding a foothold to grasp onto.  I have scoured the internet for information about what is happening to our life.  I have prayed that this would not be all we ever know.  I have feared a man that I never thought could hurt me, I have cried when I thought I had no energy left to produce tears, and I have buckled under the burden of carrying all of this.

Last week, I was doing laundry when I realized that all of MY clothes were clean.  I could just pack up and leave.  It was not spiteful, it was not furious, it just simply was.  There will be no long, drawn out argument.  There will be no lists of what I would like to take with me.  There will be no terms.  There will be no empty dog crates meeting him when he gets home from work.  It will be as simple as if I had stepped out to buy milk.  I will simply not be there, and the only lasting impression that will be left behind on the trail of my heels will be the empty space in the closet where my clothing was once hung.

I'm writing this, at nearly midnight, alone in my living room because tonight, while lying in bed, the thought of simply leaving and never looking back came flittering back into my mind as I stared blankly at the television, not truly absorbing what was on.  It occurred to me that, were it not midnight right now, I actually would have gotten out of bed, packed my clothes and left.

An act so simply that it would take no time at all to complete, but so meaningful, that it would be impossible for him to ignore it.

The problem is that I had the thought at all.  And that when I did have the thought, it was neither angering, nor painful... It just was.

The problem is that I can see myself doing it.  Daydreaming in bed, waiting to grow tired from three years of pain and isolation, of waking up in the morning, going to a doctors appointment and then just never coming back.

The problem is that I don't know how much longer those thoughts will stay locked away from action before I simply wake up, as if I'm still dreaming, and pack a bag and leave.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Someday, Probably Someday Soon

We got married and had less than a year together before my husband deployed.  That means that for the bulk of my marriage, more than half of my married life, we have been struggling with PTSD.  It means that I never really got the chance to have a happy marriage, a successful marriage, or even a peaceful marriage.

Spending all those months gearing up for a deployment meant stress and fighting.  Spending all those months planning a wedding alone, while my husband worked, meant stress and fighting.  And now, all these years later, we have had nothing but stress and fighting.

Since returning home, I have tried.  I have tried harder than most to keep us together and I have tried harder than most would to stay with my husband.  I have tried to be his support system, however flawed that might be.  I have tried and tried.

But my husband doesn't seem to be trying at all.  He has spent the last three years rolling over and falling asleep while I am talking.  Even when it's something super important.  Even when I really need him to listen to me.  Even when I really need someone. Even when I really need him.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me sitting here wondering how many more years he is going to take all I have to give and give me nothing I have in return.  It makes me wonder how long he expects me to support him and be there for him, when he doesn't do the same for me.

It pains me to think about the last three years and how lonely it's been.  How can the man I married not think that sometimes I need someone too? Sometimes I need to be able to come home and know the person waiting for me is always going to be there.  Instead, I have been living life alone.  And it scares me because I get better at it everyday and someday, probably someday soon, the reason I needed my husband isn't going to be there anymore.  Someday, probably some day soon, I will be self sufficient.

I'm already learning what I can accomplish without his help.  I've already started to live my own life without him.  I have my own friends, I have my social life and hobbies.  I'm realizing that he doesn't know anything about me anymore... He is so all consumed with his own issues that he is failing to see that I sometimes have things going on in my life too.

And someday, probably someday soon, I'm going to wake up and realize that I can live life without him.  Someday, probably someday soon, I'm not going to feel compelled to stay.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lend Me Your Darkest Hole

I just want to crawl into a hole never to come back out.

That's all.  Nothing profound to say about my feelings.


Thursday, October 4, 2012


Apathy is a dangerous emotion.  It does more damage than rage, it hurts more than sadness, it’s more isolating than loniless.  Apathy, more than anything is the downfall of everything.

Apathy causes good men to do nothing, it causes great people to never achieve what they could and it causes love to die.

That last one.  That is the worst.  That is why I truly believe that apathy is what will be the downfall of everything.  Even when we are hurt, we can still love someone, even when we are the ones doing the hurting.  We can love through rage, anger, frustration, loneliness and fear.  We can not love through apathy.  Don’t believe me?  Try it. 

Try to love someone deeply and keep a relationship with them when they are apathetic about that love and relationship.  Try to love someone when you are the one who feels apathetic.  Try to love someone who has hurt you so much that you feel that way about them. 

Apathy may be the most dangerous feeling we can have.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rough Month

This last month has been tough.  Especially tough.  I have tried to keep my distances, but for some reason, that isn't working.  Talking isn't working. Pleading, crying, nothing is working...

I found a journal from high school.  I used to write a lot.  Not like a diary, but a collection of poems and thoughts and things I felt in a non-linear form. I noticed a striking similarity to my thoughts then and now. I was lonely then.  I won't go into why.  Who I was in high school is not important at this moment, but it struck me that so much of my life I have been lonely.  Am I married to my husband because some part of me knew this would be my life? Is it true that people are doomed to repeat the same patterns over and over?  Is that why this is so hard?

I don't know.  Seems silly to think that somehow I created this mess in a subconscious way...

This all seems so stupid to think of, but I don't know what else to think.  He is no different today than he was three years ago or last year or yesterday.  We are not in any better a place and at some point I feel like I must be deluding myself to think that we are moving forward.

Sometimes I don't know why I stay.  I don't know why I'm still here.  I feel defeated, what else is new? But I guess this new defeated feeling is the feeling that I will stay not because things are improving, but because I don't care enough to leave.  Am I that person? Am I the person who stays purely because she doesn't care enough to leave?

Maybe it's just the toll of having such a long period of time that has been so hard.  A month is a long time to be going through this.


Monday, October 1, 2012

No One To Turn To

It’s always been an interesting phenomenon, the idea of no one to turn to.  It’s amazing how often we hear that from someone we love.  Someone we want to think would have wanted to trust in us.  But how often do you feel that yourself?

I feel alone all the time.  Right now in fact.  While basking in the glow of an amazing triumph in my life, I’m feeling very alone.  Alone because all those people who said they would be there, who never were, have suddenly come out of the woodwork.  Suddenly they want to talk to me and be there for me.  But where were they when I was trying to get to where I am at now? Your guess is as good as mine.

And now I find myself sitting here, alone, with a heavy heart.  In spite of this major triumph, I have a mind that is weighed down with thoughts of loneliness.  It’s the kind of loneliness I imagine success must usually bring.  Because while everyone wants to pat you on the back when you win, who is going to be there to hug you and offer a hand to pick you back up when you lose?

That is the spot I’m in.  Looking into the faces of those who have used me over the years as shoulder to cry one, a hand to hold, a friend to talk to, but who have all failed to be there when I needed those things.  People seem so quick to use up what you have to offer, and offer nothing in return.  And they are beyond quick to join in your limelight, to share in your glory, but want nothing to do with getting you there.

I’m feeling tired of having no one to turn to.  I have few people in my life that I would consider a true friend, let alone people I would actually trust to be there for me.  I have few people that I feel I can turn to when I need a shoulder to lean on.

When the world feels like it’s too much to bear, who is going to be the person to help you remember that you are not alone? I don’t know that I have anyone in my life that I truly feel that way about.

I guess that is really the definition of “no one to turn to.”


Friday, September 28, 2012


There’s a funny thing about me that most will never have the privy to know.  But, being that I started this blog to be honest about who I am and the struggles my husband and I are facing, it’s time I share something with you that may well be something no one will ever know.

I’m a deeply sensitive person.  “Deeply’” is not even a strong enough word, “profoundly” maybe more accurate.

The odd thing about admitting that is that by all outward appearance, I am not.  To my friends and family, to those I socialize with, I’m funny, I’m thoughtful, I’m empathetic, but I’m not sensitive.  I’m sensitive to the plight of others, that goes along with my innate ability to empathize, but I’m not sensitive to the criticisms of others, nor do I care what they may think of me.  I am who I am.  I’m not callous, or mean, I’m friendly, but most people never see the softer side of Annie.

That softer side didn’t used to be there, which may actually be the reason it’s such a closely guarded secret.  Crying was viewed as weakness when I was growing up.  The world was a tough world, and I was expected to handle it like an adult, and adults don’t cry, they suck it up and find a solution.   I grew up in a tough household and was expected to be tough as well. 

I am a problem solver, I am an understanding shoulder to lean on, I am a fierce protector of my friends, a loyal companion, I am strong in character and in spirit, and I am the pillar which holds up the life I have and that my friends have to come to rely on when they have no one to hold them up any longer.  I am not soft, I am not weak, I do not crumble.

But behind closed doors, I am aching.  I only cry when no one is looking, including my own husband.  And even then, I limit it to short bursts of emotion that I view as unavoidable, rather than a release.

This change, even the fact that I have tears to be shed at all, all stems from the deployment that changed our life and nearly broke us.  I have found that post-deployment, I am quick to tear up at things that I never would have given a second though to prior.  I find deeper meaning in words of inspiration, thoughts of the pain of others, and suddenly find that considering the losses suffered from this war is more than my mind is able to cope with at any one moment. 

I am deeply affected by the words of others, I am easily wounded, easily pained and easily set into a motion of hiding which had never really been something I had done before.  I’ve never been confrontational, just diplomatic in my handling of things, but now I find that I avoid rather than face things that I might have been more willing to deal with head on in the past. 

But most of all, I cry. 

This strange thing feels like it alone makes me the most sensitive person in the world.  Objectively, I can look at myself and say that I’m carrying a heavy burden.  I’m holding up the life of two people, I’m constantly putting up a front to the outside world, I’m alone, I often feel like I have no one to turn to and no support and am facing a man that I don’t recognize on a daily basis in a situation that can go from serene to volatile and threatening in an instant, without warning.  Objectively, that is a lot for any one person to try to cope with alone.  Objectively, that would make even the most hardened of military spouses lose her sh** every now and then.  (pardon the expression), but I look in the mirror and all I see is a women who cries at the drop of a hat.  Who is sensitive to the perceived slights of others that three years ago wouldn’t have even registered at her level of notice.   

All I see is a sensitive girl, scared of what is happening to her life, growing increasingly afraid of her husband, a man she used to trust her life to, and unsure of where to go.   All I see is a problem solver without a solution, and a once strong woman who is unsure of why she is crying today, but is unable to stop. 


Thursday, September 27, 2012


It's been 10 days since my last post.  Give or take.  I really wish it was because we had had a great week.  For some reason, I will never understand, the last three weeks in general have been terrible.  I'm resorted to keeping my distance.

This is not to say that things are worse than ever, I have just found that when he is in these funks that he just can't get out of, the best thing to do is for us to go our separate ways for a while.  This means that we largely spend time doing our own thing until he is back into a better frame of mind.

I saw a good friend, who did not know the diagnosis, but has known we have had trouble for a long time.  She asked how we were.  A while back, I simply stopped talking about it to people.  Not in the sense that people knew what was really going on, but I simply stopped calling to talk to people I used to.  The truth is I had grown weary of being constantly mad, hurt, or angry and I was positive that that means others had gown tired of it too.  But she asked anyway.

I looked at her and said, "He's still in his funk."  She seemed to understand.  I told her the truth.  Probably the only person who I knew in my heart I should not tell the truth too that I have.  The reason is her direct relationship with us as a married couple.  The very few others I have told are people who are not close to us as a couple, but are friends of mine only, or were on a need to know basis.  But I told her, and I told her that we are currently in one of our avoidance periods.  I did not elaborate, but simply told her that he now seems to improve in one area, only to begin suffering worse in another.  And lately, that has meant a couple of situations that have become "unsafe" and which I had to walk away from for that reason.  I'm sure she clearly understood.

But she looked at me with the love of a good friend and someone who understands and said, "But you are sticking by him, and that counts for something.  At least for the moment, you are giving it your best."

So, for now, I will keep my distance until his funk is lifted and we can talk again.  And I will remember that I am sticking by him, and giving it my best, and hopefully that will be enough.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I have been forced into a state I call "wordless."  It is not the same thing as being speechless.  I have well rehearsed speeches I use at work, with my family, with my friends, our neighbors and everyone else in our life.  I am wordless.

Each day I take care of a man who refuses to let me talk to people about my life. - Wordless
Each day, I cannot say how I really feel. - Wordless
Each day, I am forbidden to speak the truth about my feelings. - Wordless

But most of all, my wordlessness comes from being in love someone who couldn't care less about my existence.

I lie in bed at night, unable to sleep because the loneliness is choking my own sense of self.  I desperately want to be loved.  I want someone, anyone, to care how I feel, to care how I'm doing, to care about my day, my life, my thoughts, my existence.

I just want to talk and be heard.  Or simply responded to.  What must it be like to live with someone who actually replies to your statements, who answers your questions, who tells you the information you need to continue to make their life function.

I am wordless.  Because to have words, to speak them to people, means that someone must be able to hear them. I am left to think my thoughts, but never allowed to voice them.  I spend my time in a world so silent, that I fear I am losing the ability to communicate.  Soon, the wordless state I've been forced into will be all I know...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I do not need to remember 9/11, I live with the aftermath every day in my house...

Please remember all those lives lost, and those who continue to serve on this day.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


There are days when I wake up exhausted.  Not from a lack of sleep, but from the very thought of what is around me that I must now take on.

My husband was asked to dust.  He has been home a number of days this week due to the holiday, but I have had to work.  All I did was ask him to dust and pick up a little.  I told him that the sheets were clean, but needed to be put on the bed, I told him that the dishwasher was dirty and thus could be loaded.

Today, I saw that he dusted one end table.  He dusted half of the dinning room table, but opted to not move the items on the other side of our table to dust.  So, the dust remains on half the table.  He dusted no other items or objects in the house.  The dishes remained in the sink, the sheets remained unfolded and not put on the bed.  His shirt is still on the couch, the blankets remain unfolded, his clothes still on the bedroom floor.

I am breathing deeply to keep from crying.  I'm breathing deeply to keep from screaming.  I'm breathing deeply to put one foot in front of the other.  To meet one corner of the blanket to the other and gently crease the middle.  I'm breathing deeply to keep from crawling back in bed in a fit of depression.

I must not give in.  I must trade the frustration for patience.  He will begin speaking to me again in a few days, I'm sure.  He will remember to dust the entire table next time, I'm positive.  He will not walk out of the house for military related duty, to be gone for an extended period of time, and leave me with days worth of work to accomplish after asking me if I really need to see my friend while he is gone.

I will take a deep breath and say, "The dishes can wait, because I do need to see my friend. I need time away from the mess that is in my house, and my head, to just laugh at nothing and enjoy the sunshine."  I will repeat this everyday, to remind myself that breathing, patience and time away is something that will help me remember that these are things that cannot always be helped. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Slaughterhouse Five

This book was always special to me.  It always spoke to me.  In recent times it's been sung as a phenomenal look at what PTSD is like for our warriors coming home.  

Kurt Vonnegut wrote it as a means of sorting through his own experiences.  I have always wondered if he realized how it would come to be a voice for those unable to express the turmoil in their minds.  I have always wondered if after writing it, he sat and thought, "This is my own experience, but one others are going through too." 

After I heard he wrote it about his own experience, I thoughtfully looked back at a book that had long since been thought of as a classic in literature and realized the interesting prose, unusual plot line and the idea of being "unstuck in time" were all a means trying to make sense of the mess that was jumbled and locked away in his own mind.  I had no idea that years later, this book would be my primary way of relating to my husband, a man I had yet to meet when I first read it.  

There are a million books out there about PTSD.  Books to cope, books to explain, books to show you as a spouse how to understand, ones that help you see what symptoms to watch for, but none of them so poetically and lyrically take a very real experience and show you how if must FEEL for your spouse to be so "unstuck in time."

Of course, this is just my own opinion.  But I have to say, dealing with what we are in our personal life, in the privacy of our home, I read quotes from this book and realize how strongly they help me see the pain, the fear, and the utter incomprehension of what they must sometimes be feeling.  It's almost hard for me to read this book now, because I see Billy Pilgrim as my own husband, struggling to stay in one moment long enough to feel it, love it and know that it is real.  Sometimes wishing he was not in the moment he is in, and sometimes wishing he could hold on to one just a little bit longer... But always afraid that it might change at any moment, because he never knows where in his life he will end up next. 

Friday, August 31, 2012


Today, I have become overwhelmingly sad.

I don't know why.

I'm sure this is just part of the roller coaster of emotions that I should expect to feel.  But I don't usually drop to overwhelming sadness and a lack of hope.  I don't lack hope or faith in my husband.  I don't lack hope in his ability to keep fighting... I lack hope in myself.

Today, I looked in the mirror and saw a failure.  A failure who hasn't achieved very many life goals that have substance.  I've done some cute ones.  But my real dreams?  They have been on hold for longer than I want to admit.  They have been on hold since I met my husband.

At first I gladly placed them to the side to make room for another goal in my heart.  My heart wanted nothing more than to look at his face forever.  I replaced dreams of further schooling, careers, and what my life was supposed to be, with dreams of folding his cammies and taking care of a man who's mere presence in a room made me feel safe.

I looked at this man and he was my goal.  Not to marry him, to love him and care for him.

Today, I looked in the mirror and saw a woman who never pursued further schooling, who gave up her life long determination to pursue the career of her dreams and who has so failed at fulfilling the new goals that had replaced them, it brought tears to my eyes.

I want so desperately to be the woman he deserves.  One who is not quick to self pity and anger.  One who doesn't look at each day with pain, but as a new day to be conquered and another step closer to healing.  I want to be a woman who can bravely say, "My husband has PTSD, but it is not all he is or all we are." I want to stand tall each day and know that he loves me deep inside, and I can help him through this to find that love...

I'm hopeless.  I have lost hope in myself as a spouse who can truly support her husband through the battle for his life.  I have lost hope that I can ever be that person.  I have no hope that I can be who he needs right now.

I woke up sad, without the ability to see how today I was going to be better, when I wasn't any better yesterday.  Because I wake up everyday and will him to be better than he was yesterday, be less quick to anger, to be more understanding, to gain the tools he needs to work through the demons he is facing... But I have done none of those things.

I still wake up angry at the world for doing this to him... I wake up angry at the world for doing this to me, for shattering the dreams I had, for taking away the man I love and making it so hard to find him again. I wake up hurting because of what we are going through and feeling selfish that I even include myself when I say that.  It's what he is going through.  I feel guilty that I worry about myself and my pain and my confusion and anger at all.  And I feel like a failure, when I can't set those feelings aside to be a better support to my husband.

I am overwhelmingly sad today... Because I'm a failure at life, as a wife, and as a caregiver to a brave US Marine suffering from Combat Related PTSD.  Because I never made much of myself and now, I feel like I will never be much of a wife.  That girl who set aside her goals for the new, more powerful goal of loving and taking care of her husband, is failing at doing just that.

I guess what I'm most sad about, what pains me the most, what is causing the feelings of hopelessness and that I have no faith that I can be that person.

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