Sunday, July 1, 2012

Brutal Honesty

I'm going to say something that may upset a lot of people.  It's going to upset A LOT of people.  Please keep in mind that I'm a human being with thoughts and feelings.  Please also keep in mind that this is a sentiment often felt by spouses of those suffering from PTSD.  I will do my best to explain it.

When your husband comes home and is told (or you see it) that he has PTSD, it's scary.  It's terrifying.  It's awful, earth shattering, painful, angering and indescribable.

The first thing that most people ask when you tell them that your husband has PTSD is this:

"Are you safe at home?"

Yes, I am safe.  The reason they ask this is because the face of PTSD is a wife beating drunk.  That is what Dr. Phil tells the world.  That is what TV shows and headlines tell the world.  He is a violent, volatile man who creates fear and chaos everywhere he goes.

This is not the case.  The truth is PTSD is something much more intangible.  At least, it is in my household.  It is the man who doesn't speak to you.   It's the man who takes an aggressive, angry posture anytime you speak to him.  It's the man you love, who used to love you, being a stranger who shares your bed.

The brutal honesty is this:

Sometimes, it would be easier if he hadn't come home at all.

I understand how I am supposed to wake up everyday and feel lucky.  I'm here to tell you that I wake up everyday and look at the face of my husband, lined from aging a lifetime in a year, trying to sleep when I know his mind won't let him truly rest, and I know that I am more than fortunate.  He came home.  Twice.

But the struggle I face everyday, the pain of rejection when he pulls his hand away from mine.... The utter despair I feel that this is a life I never would have chosen for us and that I have no idea if either of us will come out the other side whole... We are broken, he and I, both as a couple and individually. He is broken in a way that words cannot explain and I cannot make him whole again, though I wake up everyday hoping we are moving closer to that point.  I am broken, from years of fighting, from years of rejection and pain.  Not just my heartbreak over his treatment of me, but the fracture in my soul I feel when I look in his face and know that I am unable to ease his pain.

I look at this man, this beautiful man, who I still adore more than life, and fear where this life is headed. He is not whole.  We are not whole.  Having to lay witness to his struggle, to his inability to put words to what he is going through, to his effort for two years to pretend it wasn't there, to the pain of having to watch the life I tried to build be pulled apart, it's too much to bear sometimes.  Somedays, I can't even remember the life we used to have.  Somedays, I struggle to recall the smile he used to have... To remember the smile I used to have.

I look at pictures of the day we got married and don't even recognize us.  Who are those two people laughing so whole heartedly at something just off camera, not a worry about the future, fearing nothing, facing a deployment without any concern of what it might bring?  It's hard to think that that was just four years ago.  And now, I have to watch, and wait, and know that there is nothing I can do, but keep trying.

Sometimes, the nightmare we live is so much more terrible than I could have ever imagined... And I know that if he were not here, I would simply be trading one nightmare for another.  One heartbreak, one sorrow, one grief and one life of loneliness for another.

I don't mean it, I don't, but some days...

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