Saturday, June 30, 2012


For over two years I had a secret.  I had a deep secret that my home life was a battlefield.  It was a constant fight to keep my life together.  A constant struggle to smile out in public, with our friends, or at  work.  For two years, I had been told that I couldn't talk about what was going on, and my husband was just a bad husband.

I knew the truth.
Deep down in my heart, I knew what was really going on.

But my husband was in denial.  He came home and was told he had PTSD, but he chose to ignore it.  They were wrong.  I was not to speak of it.  We were not to talk about it.  It was not there.  So, he pretended the giant elephant in the room was not there.  I tiptoed around in hopes to convince myself it was not there.

But it was.  It was a giant, 500 ton elephant with bright pink polka dots that could take down a city in one stomp.

So, I fought against the grain.  I pushed and screamed and struggled against something I couldn't control, let alone fight.  I spent years battling a foe on the wrong terrain.

A few weeks ago, I sat my husband down.  I had hit my breaking point.  He didn't care that we were facing a divorce.  He didn't seem to care that I had a divorce lawyer lined up, or that I told him I was going to move out.  I sat him down and I told he had to admit what was going on and get help.  I am willing to do what it takes to help him, but he has to admit that this is the problem.

He entered treatment.

No, things aren't perfect.  But a funny thing happened.  He still won't use the term PTSD for what is going on, but he has admitted that he has "some stuff" to work through.  And my attitude changed.  I can look at him now and be less angry (though still angry a little).  I see him and know that he is trying, but he is struggling.  I can't expect him to be the man I married, that man is gone, and now I can move forward with trying to learn about the man I have now.  I don't have to fight to make him the man he used to be anymore.

Suddenly, I can move forward.  We have been stuck for two years.  We have been stuck in an un-winnable battle, unable to move forward in our life.  I have felt stuck swimming against the tide, exhausted and unable to get anywhere, fearing that I will be swallowed whole by the abyss that I was struggling to stay afloat in.  But now, I can swim with the tide and see where this life takes us.

It doesn't mean life is not struggle, or that this life is not a struggle.  But now, I can have compassion, instead of frustration.  I can look at my husband and know that this is his battle, not mine.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Good Days... And Bad

I have my good days and bad days, just like anyone else.

Yesterday, I was have a horrible day.  I was getting weepy at just about everything and feeling like I just couldn't cope.  My three dogs were barking at the gardeners our HOA have hired to come on Thursdays and I just about lost it.  They ended up in their crates and I ended up wandering aimlessly online trying to do anything but have to think about my day... or my life.

Bad days are hard because sometimes they happen on the same day that my husband is having a bad day and our house turns into WWIII and it feels like this is all our life will ever be.  Sadly, when my bad days (or his) don't happen at the same time, the only difference is the WWIII part.  It still feels like we will never make it through.

My heart breaks on those days.  Anyone married to a man with PTSD will tell you that she has thought about leaving.  That is the cold heart truth.  She will probably also tell you that she has felt horrible for feeling that way.  But really, what would you do if you were in our shoes?  When life is a battle every day just to make it to bedtime, the weariness you feel can become all consuming.

Four years ago I stood up, in a private ceremony with just my husband, our parents and our wedding party (secretly getting married at our rehearsal) and vowed to love this man no matter what.  I vowed to love him through deployments and all that might come our way.  I actually wrote our vows and put the military stuff in their to show him that nothing, not even this topsy turvy live we lead as military families, would waver my devotion as his wife.  I truly meant it.

I still want to mean it.

I want to wake up everyday and have compassion.  This is not his fault.  It is not something he is doing TO me.  He has a battle in his mind that I can't help him fight. But some days are harder than others to feel that way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Word Vomit

I have some things that I need to get out in a bit of a rambling manner.

When my husband came home he was told he had PTSD (both times).  He told me this, then immediately took it back and insisted we live life like everything was ok.  He then barely spoke to me for two years.  When I finally got fed up, I told him he had to admit what was going on and deal with it.  

He entered treatment a few weeks ago... 

He doesn't know I started this blog.  I will tell him, but I need to a place to speak about what we are going through honestly.  I can't keep telling the world I'm ok.  I can't live in his paranoid world that everyone I will ever meet has the potential to know every single person in our life and will share our secret.  I can't sit around the house, crying over stupid things because I'm carrying the burden of this secret life.  

I can't tell my family, they are sort of jerks anyway.  I can't tell our friends.  No one.  I've been forbidden.  Even before he admitted this was the issue, I wasn't allowed to discuss the problems in our life.  

But I am grieving the loss of my husband as I am starting to realize that the man I married is never coming back.  I'm struggling to learn about the man who is in my life now.  That is a tough thing to do.  How do you look at the same face, but tell yourself it's a different person?

I don't know.  

I have no idea how to begin over again.  I struggle to remind myself that I can't hold him to the same standards I used to because that was someone else.  We are living a completely different life now.  And how would I explain that to the people in my life?  I can't.  I can't even begin to explain the frustration I feel everyday, the deep resentment and anger I feel towards to the world.  I'm mad that others are happy and moving forward after the deployment and we are stuck.  We've been stuck for two years in the same place having the same battles, fighting the same fights, screaming the same things.  I'm so angry that others are happy and laughing when I haven't laughed in so long.  

It's hard to look at someone who looks so familiar and not be angry.  Angry that he isn't the same, angry and frustrated that he doesn't listen, that he ignores me, frustrated that no matter how hard I try I will never have that other man back.  

I'm grieving the loss of a man I loved, while trying to love him for the stranger he is now.  I'm battling every day to not compare him to the other man, to not hold him to the same standards.   It's a fight everyday to hold us together, when our life feels so fractured. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Treading Water

For too long now I have been so focused on treading water that I have forgotten that I love to swim.

When you spend so long trying to keep your head above water because you feel like you are drowning and no one is throwing you a life line. You are so exhausted that the joy of the water, the bobbing up and down, begins to become part of the struggle.  You can long longer feel refreshed and light as the water encourages your buoyancy, instead all you can see are potential wave caps around you threatening to take you under.  

Right now, one of the focuses of my life has become trying to just enjoy the little things.  I'm stressed, overwhelmed, angry at the world, angry at my husband and grieving the loss of a man I hardly had the chance to get to know as a partner life.  What I need are little victories that keep me swimming forward.  If that means some days I do nothing, then so be it, I will not (well I will TRY not to) feel guilty. 

Everyone needs to have a chance to enjoy the coolness of the water around them and how refreshing it can be to just swim, and not focus so much on the worry that you will drown if you stop treading water. 

Before and After

My life can be divided into two separate pieces:  Before and After.

In 2008 I married a man I adored, who adored me.  I had never wanted to be married... Ever, but he won me over.  We walked down the aisle and straight into a deployment.  Fairy tale weddings do not prevent deployments, they do not prevent what deployments can cause or the aftermath you might face.

The beginning of the end of my Before started 2008.  A young (ish) newly wed facing a new life without the man she started it with.  But we were full of hope and excitement for the future and just knew that if we could survive a deployment we could survive anything.  We joked about having to do our first year of marriage twice, since he would leave before our first anniversary.  We laughed at the life we had planned.  We giggled at the things we would do when he returned, and we resumed life together, with a childish glee of those ignorant of what the other side would be like.

My After started in late 2009.  The man I knew never returned.  The boyish grin who loved my sass and sang me love songs he made up on the spot never came back.

This blog is going to be the story of my After.

For 2 1/2 years I have been living with a stranger who looks a lot like the man I married, who used to love me.  We have lived a secret life, away from the glances of those who might not understand.  He has pretended the problem is not there, I have been forbidden to speak of.  For 2 1/2 years, I have struggled to come to terms with what was happening to our life as I watched it crumble before my eyes no matter how desperately I tried to cling to the pieces.  For 2 1/2 years, we have been living in our own private battlefield.

2 1/2 years ago, my husband came home with PTSD.  Our world was forever changed and our life divided into the Before and After.

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