Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are You Making A Difference?

I think one of the most common things in life is to want to know that what you do in life matters.  I'm sure it's one of those emotional crisis that we all face at some time or another and last night I found myself wondering just that.

How do you know if you are making a difference in this world, or in somebody's life?  I sort of an oblivious person, so I imagine someone would have to drop something large and heavy on me for me to see it.  But what am I really doing in this life that makes all that much of a difference?  Probably not much to be honest.

It's a weird thought process to have.  So many people reach out to me via this blog, I've done web video discussions, I've done a radio show and answered countless emails offering my understanding and support.  But what am I really doing for any of those people?  Not much.  I suppose we all need to feel understood at times, but I'm not able to truly be there to support anyone in person.  And goodness knows my husband doesn't always see any value in what I am doing to support him.

I have friends who work for amazing non-profits and I've been following the Milspouse of The Year voting process pretty closely.  A gal who was nominated (but didn't advance) was someone who was trying to gain awareness for wounded warriors and I was really hoping she would win.  But I look at her and these other amazing military spouses and then look at my life in a stark comparison of someone who is bettering the world and me.  Just little ol' me. 

I'm not founding non-profits, I'm not raising awareness, I'm not out there helping others.  Heck, I can barely get out of bed and moving most mornings and I feel so overwhelmed with everyday life that I couldn't imagine trying to add anything on top of that.  I just wish I knew that I had some purpose in this life that was more than sitting at home and fighting this private battle.

Sometimes I just wish I were doing something more.  I just have no idea what that would be...


Monday, February 25, 2013

A Way of Looking at Carrying a Burden

I'm sure many of you can relate to the feeling of carrying a burden.  I'm positive that many of you have felt like your load was too much to bear. So, when I read this, I thought to myself, this is something that should be shared.  

You may have seen this floating around the internet and various versions of it, but I think it's still a good lesson to take to heart.  Burdens feel heavier the longer we carry them and it's important that we remember to set that burden down, even if just for a moment, so that we can take care of ourselves. 

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked,

"How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.
The lecturer replied,
"The absolute weight doesn't matter.
It depends on how long you try to hold it.
"If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.
If I hold it for an hour,
I'll have an ache in my right arm.
If I hold it for a day,
you'll have to call an ambulance.
"In each case, it's the same weight,
but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes. "
He continued,
"And that's the way it is with stress management.
If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later,
as the burden becomes increasingly heavy,
we won't be able to carry on. "
"As with the glass of water,
you have to put it down for a while
and rest before holding it again.
When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden. "
"So, before you return home tonight,
put the burden of work down.
Don't carry it home.
You can pick it up tomorrow.
Whatever burdens you're carrying now,
let them down for a moment if you can. "
"Relax; pick them up later after you've rested.
Life is short.
Enjoy it!

And then he shared some ways of dealing with the burdens of life:
* Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
* Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
* Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
* Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
* Never buy a car you can't push.
* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
* Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
* The second mouse gets the cheese.
* When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
* We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.


Friday, February 22, 2013

A Double Life

Our life isn't all bad.  I know that by reading what I write in this blog you must assume that I am nothing but heartbroken and sad all the time.  You must be assuming that all my husband and I do is fight or not talk or a mixture of the two.  It's not all bad.  No, we don't have the relationship that your standard, non-PTSD couple has, but we have devotion and that is something.

Even at his worst, I am devoted to my husband.  And even when he hates me, he is devoted to me.  It might be the one and only thing that we have in common at this point.  In fact, I'm almost positive it is.  But we could have a worse foundation to be trying to build upon.

And the one thing that keeps me going is a positive outlook on life.  You wouldn't know it from what you read here, but I'm optimistic to a point of absurdity.  Sometimes, it's almost sad.  But I can't help what I am and I have always been a terrible Debbie Downer who is determined to look in the bright side.  Which sounds impossible, but it's not.  It is entirely possible to be a realist and sad while still wishing with your entire body for things to be better in the future.  And I am like this in every aspect of my life.  I give second, third and 100th chances to people who probably don't deserve it, I always try to understand even the meanest of people, and I find it hard to believe that anyone is a horrible person just because.

So one thing this, let's call it "interesting", life that I lead is that it is a double life.  While with family, friends or at work, I am Annie, girl extraordinaire who is perky, friendly and nice, and who rarely has a cross word to say.  And while I am at home with my husband, I am Annie, caregiver, secret keeper, part therapist, part crisis negotiator and always, ALWAYS stressed and worn out.

It is exhausting to keep up both lives and damn near impossible at times.  One life always suffers at the hands of the other and I'm sad to say that it's usually the life in which Annie is happy.  I liken it to being a double agent.  Your loyalty may seem to lie with both parties, but in secret you can only truly be loyal to one.

But ever the optimist I will yet again look on the bright side.  No one will ever be able to accuse me of lacking loyalty or devotion.  And if I can keep up this insane double life, imagine what else I might be able to balance.

Being a double agent, leading a double life is not easy and I can only hope that the skills of lying, smiling when you don't want to and being able to maintain a life that is a huge secret from the rest of the world are valuable skills to have somewhere other than espionage.  Though, I bet the CIA pays well.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Are you a no-reply commenter?

I like to try to reply to the comments I get on this blog.  I want to reach out to those of you who are reaching out to me.  But I have not be able to connect with very many people because they were listed as "no-reply" commenters.  This means that their comments don't show their email address when they reach my email inbox so there is no way for me to reply to them.

I just discovered that I am also a no-reply commenter!!!!

Check out this blog post from Newlywed Moments to see how I fixed this problem and how you can too: Are Bloggers Ignoring You?

I have fixed it for my blog and I hope you all will look at your profiles and see if you might be having this issue too.  I'd love to be able to connect with more of you, so please double check if you are a no-reply commenter.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Strange Journey

Whatever that funk I was in was, it seems to have lifted... Mostly because I looked back at the last few months worth of posts and had to admit that I have been a sad sap.  If you weren't depressed when you started to read, you probably are now.

But you know, it comes in waves, just like everything in this life.  We have waves of good and waves of bad, ups and downs.  And I have waves of strength and waves of sadness wash over my life.  It's to be expected.  This is a strange journey to be on.  Not strange because it's sad, overwhelming or heartbreaking, though it is all of those things.  The journey is strange because it's misunderstood.

How do you explain what it's like to wake up each day and have to try to re-learn who your husband is?  How do you tell people what it's like to have been married for as long as we have, yet you don't know each other at all?  It's strange to look into the mirror and realize that the person looking back at you is someone you never thought you'd be and that you are married to a man who looks a lot like someone you used to know.

Our journey has no set path, even though others have ventured forward before us.  It has no markers to tell us we are going the right direction and we often get lost in the fog.  My husband and I are not on the same page most of the time.  While he is angry, so am I, but not for the same reasons or at the same things.  As a result, it often feels like you are on different journeys, and maybe we are.  Different journeys both heading to the same place.

Like I said, strange.  But I suppose the point is that we are both heading towards the same end goal, even if we aren't necessarily doing it together every step of the way. And there seems to be so much of this journey that I can't help him with, so many times that he must go it alone or times that he wants to.

But I have made a resolution of sorts.  A resolution to stop being a sad sack of potatoes and keep moving on.  Not to say that I won't get sad and sullen and blog endlessly about it in the future, but for now, I am working on being positive and optimistic.  You're probably going to be seeing a lot of posts about strength.  But only because sometimes I have to have a mantra and writing about the strength I need helps me feel that I have it.

So here's to our strange journey and the strength we will need to moving forward. 


Monday, February 18, 2013


Trust is always being held in a very delicate balance when your spouse has PTSD.  I know that I often find myself not able or willing to trust my husband.  I don't trust him because he doesn't always give me the full story until it's too late.  I don't trust him because even when he does tell me the full story, he often goes and does the opposite of what we agreed behind my back.  And I don't trust him because it's very hard to trust a person who shuts you out and can't or won't support you.

My husband doesn't trust me.  He doesn't trust me because he doesn't think he can be himself around me.  He doesn't trust me because three years ago I was angry at him and wasn't in a position emotionally to be the support he wanted.

There are a lot of very valid reason why we don't trust each other.  Three years ago, he came home, but didn't come home.  How do you trust someone who isn't really here?  And his reasons for not thinking he can be himself around me are just as valid.

Trust is always a very delicate thing that is not easy to maintain when PTSD is involved.  Trust is a two way street, but even when one of us is trying to trust the other, the other is always on guard to be let down.  It becomes a cycle that can't be broken.  My husband shuts me out, so I don't trust him and can't share with him, I can't share with him so I withdraw and I withdraw so he shuts me out.  There are about 100 different ways that we repeat this cycle in the various areas of our life that we can't trust each other in.

The sad part is that not trusting someone begets not trusting them.  My inability to trust him makes him not trust me, and every time I don't trust him, I am less likely to want to try in the future.  But at the same time, it is painful when you try to open up to someone and trust them and they do stuff behind your back, they lie by omission, or generally dismiss you and your feelings.  So we each have a wall built around us.  This wall has become a way to survive for both of us, we are both aware of that.  But how do you break down that wall and learn to trust again?

The only way to gain trust is to give it.  My husband is likely to break my heart time and time again, but it's not likely to stop me from continuing to try.  I may be more cautious each time, and my trust is often trust with a hint of pessimism, but I do keep trying.  My husband needs to try, but he is not ready and I have to accept that.  That is just this life sometimes.

It is hard, and it's not what I want, but it is likely that I will have to be the one holding us together for a long time.  I will be the one continuing to try to trust, I will continue to try to communicate and I will continue to fight for us.  But I know that that wears me down and lends a hand into why I don't trust.  This whole situation feels like a giant cycle of defeat.  All I can do is trust that he is working as hard as his therapist wants.  I have to trust that he is going to eventually try to break down his wall.  I have to trust that someday, it won't hurt when I try to trust him.

You earn trust.  He doesn't trust me.  And I know that it will be a long journey of me putting myself and my heart on the line to trust him so that, someday, he can work towards trusting me again.  And I just have to pray that I can continue to work towards trusting him wholeheartedly again, not trust with pessimism, not trust with a backup plan, but honest to goodness trust in him. 


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Let's Talk About Sex

Sex.  Now there's a loaded word.  The reason is muti-fold and it just gets all the more complicated when PTSD is involved.  Why?  Because sex means different things to both sexes.

You see, women have an emotional connection with sex and men tend not to.  Before you start telling me I'm accusing men of being robots, I'm not.  It's a biological thing.  Men do not tend to need an emotional connection with someone, nor does sex foster one for them.  But women tend to be wired the other way.  We do tend to need an emotional connection and sex tends to help foster one.  What does all that mean for couples where someone has PTSD?


Is that a thing?  Maybe not.  But it's what happens.

No one wants to talk about sex, but it's the reality of a marriage.  But it's also a reality that marriages afflicted with PTSD tend to have long periods of no sex intermixed with periods of normal amounts or even more often.  It doesn't make anyone broken.  If your spouse is a male, then he is just as likely to not be interested in sex as the wife who feels disconnected from him.  This is not scientific fact, this is my personal observation based on chats with others.

But regardless of how often you are being physically intimate with your spouse, it's ok.  It's ok if you haven't had sex in years and it's ok if sex is the only thing that seems to not be broken in your life.  Just like everything else, I've found there is no right or wrong way to be in this life.  But I have found that more admit there is not much sex in their life than those who feel they are doing alright in that department.

I have often been accused of (and I mean it in a nice way) talking about the things no one else wants to talk about.  And I've also been told that it's nice that I'm honest.  With all of that, I felt it was time I cover this topic.  I'll probably cover it again and again because so few talk about sex in a normal setting, let alone the topsy turvy life we lead.

Sex.  It's ok if you aren't in the mood.  And it's ok if he's not.  His lack of desire to be physically intimate with you is not a reflection on you, your attractiveness or even your relationship.  As my husband once said, "I couldn't have an affair, I barely have the energy to live the normal life I have." So, try not to feel too insecure if that department seems to be being neglected.  Chances are, he feels the disconnect just as strongly as you do.  And chances are, he isn't in the mood that often either.  And that's ok.  You will get there.  And it's ok if you reconnect and then disconnect again.  Just like the moods and the good times and bad, there is no definitely fix or time frame for things to get back to normal-ish.  And if that is the one thing you two don't have an issue with, then all the better. 


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Maybe We Wouldn't Be Here

I have these days, when I'm alone, especially when my husband is gone off doing military things that I can't know anything about, when I feel guilty.  In the past I have talked of feeling guilty for my anger, or feeling guilty because I can't help him, but this guilt is different.  It's almost like a survivors guilt. 

If I'm going to be honest, and of all places in my life, this is the one place where I am at least that, I often blame myself for what is happening in our life.  If I'm going to be honest, I knew in my heart that he came home not right. But I never said anything. 

He came home and told me his unit had brought in a person to talk with each of them individually and I never asked why.  I never once asked what had happened that his unit would do that.  And now it's too late to ask and now he doesn't want to tell me and he is angry that I never asked.

He came home and that person told him he had all the markers of a man with combat related PTSD and I chose to follow his lead and shrug it off.  I never asked what the markers were.  I never asked if he thought he had it, or if he thought he needed help.  I told myself that he missed beer and that is why he started his morning with one.  I told myself that he was having a hard time with severe jetlag and that is why he couldn't sleep for days and then slept for days on end.  I let my husband down because I was too naive and I honestly believed he would tell me if something was wrong. 

But things were wrong.  He was wrong.  We were wrong.  Nothing in our life was right anymore.  Nothing was right...

And I fought him.  I fought the current of our life. I tried to push a river to flow in the other direction.  I tried to make him into the husband he was supposed to be to me.  I tried to force him into a life he couldn't live.  I was angry at him for being a bad husband, a neglectful husband and a disinterested husband.  And I told him, in not so many words, that that is exactly what he was.  But in my heart, was a voice whispering so silently that it was easy to ignore.  It was whispering to me that he wasn't right.  It was telling me that I couldn't make him right. 

I wish it had screamed. 

Maybe if it had screamed, or I had tried to listen more closely, we would not be where we are.  Maybe if I had not wanted him to fit back into the life we had planned so desperately, we would not be here.  Maybe, instead of me trying to force him to be this man he was supposed to be, that I wanted him to be, that he used to be, I should have been the wife that he deserved.  And maybe, if I had been that wife, we would not be here.

I couldn't make him right and in my heart, I knew that.  In my heart, I knew.  But I tried anyway.  For three years I tried.  Maybe he wouldn't have PTSD the way he does, maybe he would be better now, maybe he never would have gotten so bad if I had been the wife that he deserved to have. 

He deserves better and maybe we wouldn't be in the broken state if I had been a better wife.  A less selfish wife.  If I had been the wife he deserves the last three years wouldn't have happened and he couldn't have gotten the help he couldn't admit he needed for the problem that I couldn't admit was there.  


Monday, February 11, 2013

Deep In My Soul There Is A Sadness

Deep in my soul, in my heart, in the core of who I am, there is an intense sadness.  I don't know exactly what this sadness is.  I imagine it is the pain that happens when I know I can't help him.  I imagine it's is an accumulation of all of the times I have looked in his face and wished I could trade him places, just for a moment, just to give him a chance to see him the way I see him.  I imagine I have this sadness, this ache in the core of who I am, because every fiber that makes up who I am knows that he is a good man, even if sometimes he does bad things.

I see it.  I see it in his face when we talk about the pain in our life.  He knows that he is the source of much of it.  He knows that the fracture in our life happened when he came home and I know that he blames himself for all that we are going through.

I wish, so desparately, so fervishly, that I could make him understand that these things happen.  That life happens.  That what has happened to us, to our life and to him is no more his fault than it is the suns fault that the earth rotates around it.  It is something that just is.  It is something that we may spend a life time investigating and may still never truly understand exactly why.

I can't imagine the burden he must bear.  The burden of what he has seen, what he is going through and the burden of knowing that his inner turmoil, his inner pain, is the source of much of what we are battling.  What a horrible thing to have to live with.

And in my soul there is a sadness.  A sadness for the burden that my husband carries each day.  A sadness that I cannot shoulder that burden for him, to lighten what he must carry, even if just for a little while.  It is a sadness that fills my whole body and aches in the middle of the night when I can hear him talking in his sleep, something he never did before our After.  I want to reach out and comfort him, but I know that my cool hand on his face does nothing to stop what invades his dreams.

This sadness... This pain... It is the pain of a woman who looks at the man she loves and feels helpless.  It is the hurt of a wife who cannot not help her husband.  It is an all consuming ache because I want my love to save him, but I know that it won't.


Friday, February 8, 2013

What Do You Do When YOU Are The Problem?

What do you do when you are the current problem in the situation?  That's an excellent question that I do not have an excellent answer for.

Right now, I'm pretty sure that I am the problem.  We had this amazing talk about things and he has been crawling in bed to eat dinner with me if I'm in bed early.  He has been holding my hand when we are sitting next to each other.  He's been doing those little things that help us reconnect.


I've been getting in bed at 3pm.  I'm back in the "shut the world out" mode.  I'm back in the "the sadness is overwhelming" mode.  Get help.  I can hear all of you thinking that.  But you see, I have a therapist I see.  But our insurance only covers 50% of the visits.  This has caused more than one fight and I'm afraid to schedule an appointment for fear that he will yell at me and tell me he's tired of paying my medical bills.

I can't call Military One Source or any place like that because they require my name.

I'm the problem now.  I feel the sadness building a wall.  It's a wall of resentment and anger and irritation.  I don't want this though.  I want to hold his hand and eat dinner with him.  I want to give us the chance to reconnect.  Why must this always happen?  Why do I seem to get sad and angry and depressed when he wants to try to reconnect?

What am I supposed to do when I am the problem and don't know how to fix it?


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My name is Annie, and I am angry.

My name is Annie, and I am angry.

I am angry at the world, I am angry at the universe and I am angry at my husband.  But not always in that order.

I think it's probably normal to feel angry, just as it's normal to feel sad in these situations, but sometimes, I feel guilty that I feel angry.  I don't know that my anger is properly placed.

I am angry at my husband, which I know isn't fair.  It's not his fault, but that doesn't stop me from blaming him.  I don't blame him to his face, because my mind knows that it's not his fault and that my anger is not right.  But I'm angry at him.  I'm angry at him for deploying, I'm angry at him for not coming home the man I married and I'm angry that I don't know how to help him and he won't always tell me.

I am angry at the universe.  Again, probably not a fair place to put my anger, but I am.  Why our life?  Why our family?  Why us?  When there are so many already suffering, why do more have to?  Why did our life have to fall apart, when we hadn't even had the chance to live it as husband and wife?  Why were we chosen for this?  Why do we have to give up all of our hopes and dreams because we can't even count on our day to day?

And I am angry at the world.  I am angry that others came home and didn't come home with PTSD.  I am angry that others who did realized it sooner and got help faster.  I am angry that others seem to be able to talk when my husband just shuts me out.  I am angry that there are people in this world who are happy and love each other and can have a good time without ever wondering how long it will last.


I am angry because the sadness, the grief and the feeling of being utterly lost in my own life and marriage are too much to feel at once.  So, instead, I am angry.  Because anger is a singular emotion that can encompass all that I have going on.


Saturday, February 2, 2013


You will see a lot on this blog about strength.  Each day I have to wake up and take a deep breath and steady myself for the days to come, the storm that may or may not be building in my living room.  Each day I find myself digging deeper and deeper to find that voice inside me that helps me know that this is not forever, it's just for now.

What I do does not make me a super hero.  I am not any more than you average wife, trying to support her husband through a difficult time.  What I do is love.  I love under the worst conditions because my marriage vows said I would.  And I meant it.

But what I am going to tell you now, is about the darker side of our life.  Sure we fight.  Of course he has a hard time loving me.  He is angry at the world and has rage built up inside that will just suddenly burst... But, all that aside, he can be very abusive.  That is the cold hard truth.

I do not wake up everyday to a man that hits me and then sends me flowers to say he's sorry.  It's not even all that often that he lashes out at me at all.  But what I do have is a man, who hangs out with his friends and has a few too many then tells me that I am worthless.

The other night I got off of work early to find him playing video games in the living room with a friend.  Not such an abnormal sight at all...  Until I saw how intoxicated he was.  I came up stairs (2 hours early) and he didn't even acknowledge that I was there.  I tried to tell him, without taking too much attention away from his game, that work was slow and I got off early.  Again, no response.  I tried to tell him about an important email I had gotten so that he would know we needed to talk about it later, again, no response.  He didn't even glace in my direction.  He hasn't spoke directly too me in days anyway.  But he does this a lot when we have company.  He belittles me in front of his friends (our friends) or flat ignores me.  I can see how visibly uncomfortable people are when they come over and I suppose it's why we don't have people over anymore.

But after our friend left, I asked my husband to think about his behavior and his behavior over the last few days.  He seems to think he can be mean and cruel, and that when he wakes up a few days later and he is over that, that I should be too.

This turned into a fight, during which I made a comment on his drinking and he implied that I am the reason he drinks, with a "Gee, I wonder why I drink." Statement.  When I told him it was unacceptable for him to drink and become verbally abusive to me, he told me that I was the abusive one. The whole situation turned into the same things it always does.  I'm mean, I'm abusive, all I do is yell at him and I do nothing for him.

I held my calm ground and said, "I will not let you make me feel bad or guilty for your behavior.  It's not my fault you drink, you are self medicating and I will not let you make it my responsibility."  He then said the most hurtful thing he has said in a long time:

"I don't care about your feelings.  I didn't say anything to try to make you feel bad because I don't care if you feel bad, because I don't care about you at all.  So why would I care about your feelings?"

Done.  That was it.  I don't care about you at all. 

In a few days time, he will be back to thinking I'm an amazing wife.  He will come home and tell me that he's so lucky to have me.  He will thank me for all that I do for him and for our life and home.  And then a few days later, he will have one too many and tell me he doesn't love me and tell me that I'm a horrible person and tell me that I'm a failure as a wife, and then he will tell me that he doesn't care if he hurts me because he doesn't care about me at all.

And I just have to live with it.  I have to wake up the next day and tell myself that he doesn't mean those things.  That sometimes he doesn't know what he's doing.  It's not meant to be the excuse of a battered woman.  It is meant to be the understanding of a wife to a man with PTSD.  But sometimes, I can't tell those two things apart.  Because sometimes, I'm a whore for asking him to bring me something from the fridge while he's in there grabbing a juice.  Sometimes, I'm a terrible human being because I don't feel up to going to the store.  Sometimes I'm lazy because I didn't dust today.  Sometimes, he doesn't care about me at all and feels that he can spew hateful things at me free of any repercussions they may have.  And I'm just supposed to take it.


You might also enjoy:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...