Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Ties That Bind Us

There are days when I read about others situations and I feel ashamed.

Some come home with PTSD, some with TBI, some with both.  Some have flash backs, others are violent, some drink, some fight, some withdraw.  The point is that we spouses are all seeing a change in our spouses that wasn't there prior to the deployment.

My husband came home and withdrew.  He didn't want to talk, he didn't want to see friends.  Groups of people made him panic.  He started having beer at 11am.  He started having trouble sleeping.  I said, "It's readjustment,"  "He missed having beer,"  "He just needs time to himself for a while."  What I should have said was, "This is NOT normal.  This is not my husband."

But I didn't.  Because we, as spouses, don't.  And for three years I made excuses.  For three years I fought a losing battle because I was fighting something that wasn't there.  I was fighting a man who didn't live in my house anymore. But I kept doing it.  In my heart, I knew the truth.  This wasn't my husband.  This man who needs to have multiple beers before bed to "help him sleep" is not the man I married.  The man who struggles to go to the mall, the man who tosses and turns, the man who refuses to talk to me... This is not the man I married.

What I struggle with is the idea that so many have it worse.  I hear the stories.  He just snapped one day and the next thing I knew he had hit me, our kid, he pulled a gun, he threw a chair, or whatever the case may be.  My husband has never done that. But what he has done... breaks my heart.

My husband has made me feel worthless.  He tells me with his actions and words that I am a failure as a wife, that everything is my responsibility and it's my fault if he fails to do something.  He tells me that I'm never going to be good enough.  He is not an alcoholic, but when he drinks too much, he comes home verbally abusive.  He refuses to take responsibility for his actions, but instead, turns everything on me.

I remember one night, I was upset for him breaking his word to follow through on something really important.  He told me that I failed too.  When I asked what I failed at, he replied that I had forgotten to take the garbage cans out a week before and that makes me a failure and a promise breaker.  He says things like this to me a lot.  It's much worse his bad days.

He had a particularly bad day the other week and spent 30 minutes trolling my FB page and his own email to find everything I had done wrong in the last few years.  He saves any emails he sends to me or that I send to him, so that if I don't quote him or myself exactly, he can bring them up and throw it in my face.

I spend my life walking on eggshells. I never know what is going to set him off.  I never know what thing I do today will be seen as a failure in his eyes.  I never know if today is going to be a day we laugh at something that went wrong, or I go to bed crying.

I guess my point is that we all have something we are going through.  I shouldn't feel ashamed of how my situation is different than others.  It doesn't change the fact that he came home with PTSD.  It doesn't change the fact that I am navigating murky waters with no map and no clue what to do next.  It doesn't change that I feel alone in this journey, just like everyone else often does.

This is not a game of one upmanship.  It's a life that we all have in common.  It's the differences in situation that make us who we are, but it's the one very similar thing we have in common that binds us together. 

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