Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Power Of Laughter

Today we laughed.  Really laughed.  Not a forced laugh, not a hollow, unfeeling laugh, but a laugh.  It was a laugh that filled our eyes with tears and caused us to lose our breath.  It was a laugh that was so contagious that neither of us could stop; each time we tried, it would fill our lungs again.

I can't remember the last time we laughed like that.  It's been so long since our laughter felt honest.  And it was so needed.  Just that one instance lighted the weight of the air in our house.  It caused a little bit of the stagnant anxiety and stress to dissappate.

I didn't know a laugh could do that.  It was like we had been hold a secret amount of air in our lungs and when it was finally released the force of it cleared the air and we could breath again.  We could breath after having not realized that we were unable to.  I think we all take laughing for granted.  It's not often you go so long without it in life in general.

I don't think anyone realizes the power of laughter until it's gone.  We shuffled through our days not sure why the burden never seemed to lift.  It wasn't even until just a few months ago that I even realized that we don't laugh anymore.  And it wasn't until we laughed today that I realized what a lack of laughter can do to your life, the seriousness that takes over is so subtle.  And sudden you no longer laugh.  And suddenly the air feels thick and sticky.  Suddenly every mundane task of your day seems to take twice the effort, as if the exhaustion from folding laundry might cause you to collapse.  And the longer it goes on, the harder it is to find the strength to pull that hidden air from deep within your lungs to let out the sound that will be loud enough to sooth your household.

Today we laughed.  We laughed for the first time that I can remember in over a year.  We laughed until our cheeks ached and our bodies were tired from the physical effort.  We laughed without care, without thought, without any hidden malice.  We just laughed.  And suddenly, the world seems a little bit easier to take in.


Saturday, April 27, 2013


I went to bed hoping the hurt would be a little less, but broken hearts don’t heal that quickly.  That is something my husband doesn’t understand.  He doesn’t understand why I can’t just sleep it off and feel better in the morning. 

He doesn’t understand this because I do not break his heart.  Each day, I get up more determined than the last to love him.  Each day, I support him and care for him and give him everything I have so that he will not feel unloved.  And each day he takes it for granted.

So, he breaks my heart.  He tells me my dreams are stupid.  He tells me I am not allow to pursue anything that makes me happy because he is not happy.  He tells me that I can never be who I want to be or what I want to be because he said so. 

Sometimes it's just a little heartache.  I can cope with heartache.  I can wake up determined the next day with heartache.  But broken is another thing completely.  When he breaks my heart, the wound is hard to come back from.  


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Love Most Don't Understand

I love my husband in a way that most will never understand.  It's not to say that they will never know love, or even true love, but most people believe that you love someone who loves you back.  You wake up one day and meet someone who is perfect to you.  You laugh, you fall in love and you never look back.  But I love my husband in a way that most will never understand, because he can't love me back.

I do not wake up everyday in the arms of someone who loves me.  I do not get to look back at my marriage and laugh at the good times and think of how they outweigh the bad.  Our good times were so short.  We had so little time for me to have those days.  And now I live for moments that would seem fleeting to outsiders.  I live for days when he talks to me voluntarily.  I live for the moments when he laughs an honest to goodness laugh that isn't forced or fake or hollow.

Most will never understand what it is like to love someone who doesn't love you back.  Not because they have never felt unrequited love, but because they have never married someone who loved them once, but came home one day and no longer did. We did not fall out of love, I did not love a man who didn't know I existed, but rather, the person who used to love me is bound in chains, suffocated by himself.

And he is angry at me.  He is angry that I don't leave.  He is angry that I love him anyway.  He is angry that I am sometimes weak, but more angry that most of the time I am strong.  He is angry that I love him and tries everyday to get me to stop.

Most will never know the pain of loving someone, who used to love you, who wants to love you again, but who can't.  Most do not understand why I keep loving him.  Most do not understand why I would hang onto the love I have for someone who hasn't loved me back in years.  But instead of my love being reciprocated, I have a love that is hopeful and faithful.  I do not love because he loves me too, I love because he doesn't.

I love him because he deserve to be loved and he needs to wake up everyday, angry or not and know that someone does.  And he will continue to punish me for loving him and I will continue to love him anyway because he needs to learn that not loving himself will not stop me.


Monday, April 15, 2013

The Nothing

There are a lot of things that are hard in this world.  There are a lot of emotions that will topple you, there are feelings that will bury you and there are situations that you feel you will never survive.  I have been through a lot as a spouse with a husband who has PTSD.  Nothing compared to him, of course, but enough.

I have been belittled, made to feel unimportant, made to feel stupid.  I have been told that I don't matter, I have been called horrible names for asking simple questions.  I have felt threatened, I have felt scared, I have felt overwhelmed and unsure of what to do or where to turn next.

What has been the worst is the indifference.  The times where there is nothing.

It might not seem like much, someone being indifferent to you.  You go about your day, never bothered, never criticized, never harassed.  But it means you go about your day with nothing at all.

There are not many rewards things in this life.  A laugh that sounds almost like it used to.  A smile where he never did before.  A glimmer of who he once was, who you once were, what your life once was.  It is the little things, the little triumphs that you have to cherish, because not much else will get you through on the days when you have nothing at all.  On the days, the weeks, the months that he is indifferent to you.

I speak to him and he walks away.  I touch him and he recoils.  I look at him with no eye contact.  I lie next to him in bed, every night and we never say a word.  He no longer kisses me goodnight.  He doesn't even tell me if he is going to sleep or going to stay up on his laptop.  Nothing.

He can be like this for weeks, sometimes months.  And there are days when the silence and the loneliness is too much to bear and I would love to have him screaming at me.  There are times when I would rather feel his anger, than nothing.  At least when he is angry he is noticing me. At least it is something.

It's hard to live a life where you don't feel cared for, loved or respected.  And it's hard to live a life where the screaming and the pain is better than the nothing that will follow.

I can feel my heart becoming defeated.  I can feel myself only going through the motions because I am becoming numb.  Because numb is better than the nothing and I never know how long the nothing is going to last.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Is Caregiver A Four Letter Word?

Whenever there is a group of people that someone is trying to reach, they are going to created a term for it.  The term catches on and the next thing you know, the group has a label.  This is not such a bad thing.  I have seen that everyone in the blogging community refers to military spouses as Milspouses.   And PTSD spouse are called Caregivers.

But is Caregivers the best term?

I have used it.  I call myself a Caregiver, as do most of the spouses of those with PTSD that I know or am in contact with.  What is interesting is that my husband hates the term.  He turns a funny shade of red every time I make a reference to being a Caregiver or to the Caregiver community.  He hates the idea that we have coined the phrase and use it to describe our situation.

I can't say that I blame him.  The more and more I use it or think about it, it's kind of an offensive term to my husband and with a valid reason.  The term caregiver denotes a person caring for an invalid.  Someone that can't can't care for themselves and is incapable of doing anything on their own.  If I think about it from a subjective, outside of the community way, I hear the term and think of someone who does hospice care for the elderly or works in some sort of home for those who can't care for themselves.

My husband is a capable man.  He works a job and pays the bills (sort of).  He needs help and support from me, that is true.  He needs me to help him during his cycles and his mood swings.  He needs help talking him down from escalations, but what he is not is an invalid.  He is not someone who can't do anything for himself.

So, looking at it from that standpoint, is "caregiver" really the best name for what I do?  No.

It's tough to find a term or word that encompasses an entire group.  But maybe our community needs to rethink Caregiver.  My husband finds it offensive and I'm sure he's not alone in that feeling and I understand why he feels that way.  Maybe we should consider the term a four letter word and look for something that is a bit more sensitive.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Forever Hopeful

The kind of wonderful thing about having a blog, something that I didn't think about all those months ago when I started this, is that acts as a journal.  This blog was meant to be the chronicle of our journey.  Nothing special, nothing amazing, just life as I see it.

So many have reached out to me and told me of their own struggles and home lives and how they can relate to what I say.  It was not something I foresaw happening, but feel so grateful that it has.  It's amazing to know I'm not alone, but even more so, I feel flattered and blessed that what I am feeling and saying might be helping someone.  I have no amazing pieces of advice most of the time, but to be understood is a pretty powerful thing.

On thing that I know is horribly misunderstood is the concept of why we all stay in these situations with all that happens.  My husband is horribly verbally abuse to me.  He can be cold, distant, indifferent and even cruel when he wants to be.  And yet, here I am.

I can't speak for others.  We all have reason for staying.  But I know that I am hopeful.  I hurt.  My heart aches from the pain that I can't figure out how to help him and fix this.  My pride stings when he picks on me.  When someone you love is the bully, it means that their words hurt twice as much because they can pinpoint your insecurities.  It is not an easy life.  I can't remember the last time my husband touched me out of kindness and fondness for me.

But here I am. I am here because I look into the face of a stranger and see someone that I know loved me once.  I see him laugh and there is a little twinge of who he once was in the tone of it.  I am here because no matter how painful it is to be here, I wake up each day hopeful for those little tiny moments.  We make progress, then we regress, then we progress again.  I live for the days we move forward, no matter how many days we move back.  I live for the moments that I can say that our love for each other is what saw us through, no matter how many years from now it may be.

I stay.  I stay because he deserves a wife who will.  For all that he has lost, he deservers something constant.  It is not easy.  It is lonely and painful and a life filled with so much sadness that some times the weight of it causes me to lose my breath.  But for all that I am going through, all of my loss, pain and sadness, he has given up so much more.  And he is in there... Somewhere.  He may never be who he once was, but he is in there, and I will hold his hand and love him no matter what.  Because when someone can't love themselves, they need someone who loves them more than the entirety of forever to make up for it.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Who Takes Care of the Caregivers?

Maybe you have noticed the absence here.  Maybe not.  I know that I'm not always consistent in posting here.  But we had a rough month last month.  It was a month full of apathy and disinterest.  This rough month that started in March is continuing into April and culminated tonight in a question that I often wonder, but always feel a bit guilty for thinking about.  Who takes care of us?

While there is more information out there about PTSD than ever before, there is surprisingly little about who takes care of the caregiver.  Everything I've read, every event I've been referred to, group discussion, symposium, weekend away, it's all geared towards helping me help him.  It's all about how to help him, make his life easier, support him and understand him.

So, I ask you this, have you ever heard of secondary PTSD?  Probably not.  It's a pretty knew phenomenon we are seeing in the spouses and family members of those who live with PTSD in their homes.  I think of it as whiplash.  I fly backwards in response to his outbursts and escalations and when I whip back forward, BAM a PTSD reaction to a situation full of heightened stress, fear and emotion.  And I completely understand why it's happening and can see where this will soon because the new normal for all of us.  No one is taking care of us, while we are taking care of them.

Tonight, I needed my husband and he told me it was my fault that he didn't follow through.  He told me that I knew I needed him and should have found someone else.  I was very sick and needed his help and he said his failure to support me and help me by picking up some medications I needed was my fault because, "you knew you were sick."

So, while my life is a battlefield full of land mines that are so expertly hidden that I have yet to learn to navigate the field.  While my world is so full of fear and anxiety and stress that I can't sleep...  While I am carrying this terrible burden and secret of our life, behind the passing glances of those who might peak into our windows... Who is going to be there when I am the one in need?

When I am sick, hurt, overwhelmed, emotionally falling apart or just not able to cope, who is going to be the person I can turn to.  Who is going to get my medications and not tell me it's my fault they didn't bring them to me?  Who is going to drive me to a doctors appointment if I am injured?  Who is going to put my needs ahead of their own?

Who is responsible for taking care of the caregivers?


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