Monday, October 29, 2012

The Best Advice I've Ever Gotten

There are more websites about PTSD than I have time to sort through.  There are more tips for what to look for if you think your spouse might be suffering from PTSD than I ever thought could exist.  There are more "Do This, Not That" type lists, and resource lists and lists about all of these lists that a compulsive list maker like me ever feels overwhelmed. So, how do you sort through it all?  Slowly.

But in Googling things and reading and finding new information, I finally stumbled upon a piece of advice that not only hit me in the nose like a square punch in the face should, but made me realize that of all the things I will ever read, know, learn, question and apply to our life, this is the ONE AND ONLY thing that will make all the difference.


It's that simply folks.  Either you are in this and fighting for your service member, or you're not.  There is no halfway in this territory.  You can't have one foot out the door and still think that you are truly trying to make this work.

We ALL think about leaving.  We ALL hit our fill and wonder why we are here.  We ALL wonder if life would be easier if we just walked away.  And you know what? It probably would be. But if you are really going to be the support your spouse needs, you are here, 100%, every day, no matter what.

I'm not telling you to stay if you are in danger.  I'm not going to judge you if you don't stay.  I'm not here to say that everyone should always stay married no matter what.  You will never get anything but support from me, no matter how you feel about your life, your spouse or need/desire to leave.

But what I do know is that I hit my fill.  I wonder if it would be easier to just walk away. I think about leaving.  And I packed my bags, I loaded my car and I headed out the door.  My husband didn't understand.  He didn't understand that this was it.  I was gone.  And it made me stop and realize that he doesn't always get it.  We have our good days and bad days.  Sometimes they are a lot of bad days in a row and it feels like we will never get out of this alive.  My husband wasn't in this with me.  He's been trying to fight alone for a long time and he wouldn't stop to hear that this is causing me pain too.  It affects my life and my heart too.  He sees that now.

It doesn't mean that he doesn't still ignore me sometimes.  It doesn't mean we don't fight, it doesn't mean that I learned to stop being angry and he learned to love himself enough to love me too.  It means that he knows that I'm here now.  I'm not here unless I get too angry.  I'm not here, but kind of plotting my escape.  I'm here.  And I will be here tomorrow and the next day, even if he ignores me, even if he is angry, sad, yelling or silent for days on end. I'm here.

Sometimes what we need to hear doesn't register on our ears until we are in the worst place emotionally.  I heard this advice and thought, "Crap. That's me they're talking about." It doesn't mean that life gets easier all of the sudden, but it means that you aren't giving up.  And our spouses need to know that.  My husband needs to know that when he's too tired to fight, it's ok, because I'm next to him and I'll keep fighting for him.  He needs to know that when he doesn't know who he is, it's ok, because I know who he was, and I know that he will find himself again.  He needs to know that when it's too dark for him to see, my voice will be there to help guide him through back to the light, because I'm not giving up on him.

Divorce is not a threat you give when you are mad.  It's not something you yell when you need to be heard.  It should be a word that you roll around in your mouth and swallow back down unless you truly mean it.  So be cautious with it.  And if you are finding yourself wanting to leave, that's ok.  It's normal to feel that way, but take a pause and ask yourself, "Do I want to leave because it's tough right now, or am I truly ready to call it quits."  If you aren't, then it might be a good time to reach out to someone for a chat and some support so that you can recollect yourself and be read to fight again in the morning.

We all need a break sometimes.  We all need to get away.  Just be sure that you call it what it is.  And don't be afraid to reach out to others to help you sort through your feelings if you aren't really sure.  This is a tough situation for all involved.


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