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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