The way my husband cycles is pretty predictable in a way. Not that he has a rhythm in the sense of a time frame he always gets into funks, but he has a rhythm when in them. These "funks" as I like to call them, start easy enough. He's a bit grumpy or moody and a little difficult to work with. But he does what all good funky people will do. He makes it worse. He feeds his funks with isolation and alienation. He alienates me by being angry and mean and distant. He can go months without directly speaking to me in a social manner. And when he is speaking to me, he argues with me about everything and his behaviors become so unbearable that I withdraw from him. So, over the years, I have developed hobbies.
These hobbies all involve being home so that I can still offer support and take care of things, but I can dive into them for days or weeks on end and never think twice about entire days spent doing them. And I enjoy it. It's time just for me. It's something I look forward to and it's something that keeps my mind off of the situation we are in. It's helping to heal my anger. I may not be blissful, but I can settle for less broken. But my husband doesn't have anything. He has hobbies, but he gives into the malaise that his funks cause. Video games no longer enthrall him, he doesn't want to see friends, he just sits on the computer diddling around on Facebook and websites that have funny meme's because it requires no effort to do either of those things. Toss in a few beers and he's now unwilling to do much of anything.
He hasn't spoken to me in weeks. And the other night, we got into a huge argument about money. I wanted some extra money to buy some items and he flipped out about how much my hobbies cost. Per usual, his reaction was over the top. And per usual, I was hurt and sensitive, so I argued back instead of walking away. But what came out of this situation was pretty amazing.
I told him that I need my hobbies to cope. I need a reason to get out of bed everyday. I need a means of having time that is not spent constantly worrying about him. It is SOOOO easy to lose yourself in your spouse and their PTSD (and/or TBI) and it's SOOOO important that you don't. This is what I do to make sure I stay separate from his issues. And he looked at me and said, so sadly that it broke my heart, "I don't have anything like that. I don't have a reason to get out of bed. I have nothing."
Then came the anger and the resentment that will always follow envy. He told me that he was envious of my having found blogging and that I have it as an outlet because he doesn't feel he has one. He is reluctant to tell me his feelings and stories and I don't blame him. Not only would I not be able to truly understand, but I would probably be horrified by what he's been through. He prefers to speak to his counselor. And hobbies? Well, he doesn't have anything that holds his attention long enough, and he's
Envy is a dangerous emotion and I worry about that fact that he is so envious. What I have to cope with is not the healthiest way to deal. I'm not speaking to someone, I'm hiding. But it works for me for the time being and that's all he sees. And he's angry and resentful. And that anger and resentment means he doesn't want to speak to me. So where does that put us? I either give up my escape so that he will be less mad at me, but possibly lose myself in the situation without them, or I keep doing them and live with the angry outbursts, the escalations, the emotional neglect and occasional verbal lashing.
I don't know that there is a right answer here. I feel like it's a lose/lose situation. I want to help him, I want to do what is best for him, but I have to weight that, as a caregiver, with my own needs and the priority I need to have to take care of myself as well. And I fail miserable at that.