Today, my husband made a plan for us, but failed to share it with me. When he finally did, I wasn't as enthusiastic as he had hoped... Though this in it's self didn't cause a problem, a few minutes later, I asked an simple question....
This simple question turned into a tantrum of how rude I am, how horrible I am, how dare I. When I got angry, which I know I shouldn't have, I told him that wasn't fair. He began to scream at me, "How was I telling you were were horrible?" Each time I attempted to speak, he would close ground on me and scream his question again. I don't know why I did it, but I threw a cup into the sink out of frustration. It was plastic, no damage done physically, but exactly the opposite of the appropriate behavior to exhibit when your emotionally escalating husband, suffering from PTSD, is yelling at you.
Keep in mind, that by the time I threw the cup, I had tried three times to calmly walk away from the situation. I told him I wasn't going to talk to him if he was acting that way and talking to me that way. I told him I wasn't going to spend time with him if he was going to behave that way towards me. Each time I tried to walk away, he refused to let me, pursuing me and continuing to argue and yell at me. So, I threw a cup. I threw my hands up in the air in frustration. I turned quickly to face him, hands in the air...
A normal woman would have grabbed his shirt or hand and said, "Why are you doing this!?" But in that split second... I saw it. The flash. I had thrown a cup that cause a loud clatter. I had moved swiftly and turned quickly. I had, in that moment, hands raised in the air... And he was going to hit me. The look in his eyes, was one of steely determination. I was a foe to be subdued. I was a threat to be neutralized.
I immediately took steps back. I stopped my yelling in frustration. I had heard my voice crying, "Listen to me! Listen to me! Let me talk, let me explain!" But in that moment, the noise, the quick and unexpected movement and close proximity were nothing more than an enemy encroaching.
I told him, as calmly as I could, that I would no longer discuss this with him and that I was done. I walked for the stairs and quickly put distance between us. He told me if I wasn't going to talk to him, then he wanted a divorce. I told him that was his choice, but it was quite a large leap to make in the situation. I calmly did my best to explain that I had not said anything wrong, but that he had perceived a threat and had escalated and that I was not going to continue to escalate the situation.
He began to grow angry again. He rushed to the stairs where I was and pushed past me and stormed to the top. I stayed at the bottom and continued to try to talk him down and talk him through what had ACTUALLY happened. I discussed the fear I felt. He told me, quite honestly and still very much so amped up and escalating, that he thought I was going to get physical with him and that he was prepared to subdue me in that moment we had had. His words: Subdue. He was fully prepared to subdue the threat, neutralize it, and move on.
We were able to talk. We were able to discuss the origin of this escalation (my inability to meet the expectations he had set forth), and how it had escalated. We were able to calmly talk, and work back to a deescalated point and move on with our day.
But the fact is, that was the fastest escalation from perceived threat to unable to communicate EVER. That was the first time I actually felt physically threatened. That was the first time I was able to look back and see that for the last few weeks, we have had a pattern of behavior that I had no recognized. And for the past few weeks, he has been having fewer outbursts, but the ones he does have, are much worse than they ever have been.