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. 

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