Friday, June 21, 2013

A Standstill

I'm sad lately.  I'm in my room all the time.  I'm not sleeping the day away or even lacking productivity in my day, I just seem to want to be in my room.  It's safe.  It's comfortable.  For whatever reason, the rest of my house doesn't feel that way anymore.

I know they say not to compare yourself to others.  But we all know, even with our best efforts, it's hard not to sometimes.  In the time since I've started this blog I've found a few PTSD spouse forums and support groups.  And while I often feel comforted to know I'm not alone, I'm also painfully aware that we are not making progress.

We don't fight that much anymore.  Sitting here, right now, I can't even actually remember our last fight.  But that's because it's hard to fight when you don't talk.  I speak to my husband everyday.  I tell him what I cleaned.  I ask him to take the garbage out.  He tells me about his busy day at work.  And then he goes downstairs and watches TV and plays video games and I sit in our room watching TV and reading.

I know I have often spoken of the pain this life has.  It's painful to see him in pain, it's painful to have him always yelling and angry and telling me that I'm terrible.  But now we have nothing.  I never thought I would miss the pain.  I guess it's really just a different sort of pain now.  But it's almost like we both hit a point of not being able to cope with the inability to find a medium ground, so we both retreated to our corners.  It was some sort of unspoken agreement.

I fear this means our marriage is over.  I hate to say that.  I'm not leaving him.  He's not telling me he wants to leave.  But what kind of marriage do we have right now?  When we fought I was at least registering on his mental radar.  It wasn't an easy way to have a relationship, but what we have now is absent of that kind of burning pain because it's absent of any form of meaningful connection.

I see the people talking about the bad stuff, but also talking about the progress their spouse is making.  They talk about their life and the steps they are making that moves them forward, no matter how slowly.  And I see that we are not doing that.  We may not be living that constant battle of me against his PTSD, but we are not moving forward either.  He might be healing, but he is doing it without including me.  And I'm not any better because at some point I just stopped trying to be included.  I don't know when or why or how, but I see now that for weeks I have just not tried.

What kind of person does that make me?  What kind of wife?

I haven't given up on him.  Maybe I just hit a point where mentally I had to withdraw for a while.  I don't know.  But I'm sad and keeping to the only place in my life that feels even remotely comfortable or safe.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

PTSD Awareness Month

I don't know why, but I am still so surprised by the misconceptions about PTSD, even within the military community.  I'm always so surprised when people reach out to me and want to talk to me about PTSD and then I discover how much they don't understand.

I suppose it's easy to misunderstand.

There is the media portrayal of what PTSD is in the movies and on TV.  A bunch of drug users and alcoholics beating their wives.  There's what the military community views it as, which is most often as a weakness that makes you less than your counterparts and then there is what it really is.  And even what it really is so varied and so vastly different from one person to the next.

My husband doesn't "flashback," he disconnects.  It's not the same thing really.  He is no longer present in the moment, but isn't acting out some scenario that is only playing in his head either.  And he is mean, and a bully, but he doesn't hit me and never has.  And he drinks more than he used to, but it by no means an alcoholic.

But I know those who have spouses who do have flashbacks and violent outbursts and then there are those who suffer memory lapses, or memory loss.  There are those who are sensitive to sound, where my husband has a hard time in crowds because of the people VS the noise.  There are about a million different combinations of symptoms that can manifest.

But what my husband is not is weak.  He might be the strongest man I know.  And what he is not is broken.  He has a fracture in his mind, that is true, but it doesn't make him incapable.  And our life is not perfect.  In fact, I know I have days where I feel like we are living in a private hell.  But we are doing the best we can.

June is PTSD awareness month and I encourage you to think long and hard about what you know about PTSD and whether or not you have actually learned it as fact or if it's what you saw on TV or at the movies.  Even the news sensationalizes what is a very real, very hard life for service members and their families.  Be educated.

Do not ask service members if they have killed someone.
Do not tell them they deserve whatever comes to them.
Do not assume every military person has PTSD.
Do not assume anything about the ones that do.
Do not tell them they are just fine or over reacting.
Do not tell them or their families that they just have to try harder.

An average of 22 service members commit suicide every day in this country.  Many of them have never seen combat.  But all of their lives should be mourned, and if any part of understanding PTSD can help, I hope that our nation can work together to foster a better community of support.  And I hope that people will choose to get educated.

I have a list of resources on my site, there are more out there.  Please educate yourself about PTSD.  You never know if your spouse is going to be the one that comes home with it.  And you never know when you will be the first one to notice symptoms in a friend or colleague and that might be what saves their life and gets them to seek help.


Monday, June 17, 2013

A Constant Tug Of War

So often I find that our life feels like a game of tug of war.  We fight so hard to tug in one direction but it means that our rope becomes shorter on the other side.  Every time we improve in one area, it seems that a different area suffers and becomes the problem.  We are constantly moving around our life trying to find a balance that feels unobtainable.

We are speaking and have been for quite some time which is good.  But other parts of our life suffer now.  And our communication isn't meaningful.  I often feel like I'm asking too much of my husband, of our life and of myself.  I feel like I shout, "I just wish he would talk to me!"  And when he does, I say that our conversation isn't meaning full.  Maybe that is why nothing ever finds balance.  I'm not sure.

But while our life is still very superficial, we are talking and that is something.  That is more than something.  I wish we could really talk.  I wish i could tell him about my fears and my hopes and my dreams.  I wish he would tell me his.  But we are not to that point yet.  Our relationship is still precarious and our life is not ready to be mutual just yet.

It sounds terrible to say that.  And when I said it to my counselor he was upset.  I found that I felt like I was yet again facing someone who just doesn't understand this life.  It seems I always feel that way.  Most of my life is made up of the little victories and I will take superficial conversation over none.  Or better yet, over being yelled at and berated.

But now we have issues in other areas.  He is back to not listening to mean when I have something important to talk about.  I am back to feeling angry again.  And maybe I feel angry because of the strange calm in our home.  When things are crazy and unsure, I tend to close off to protect myself from the wrath that is coming, but when things are calm, I have no reason to do so, so I am allowed to feel my anger.

It is just a constant tug of war.  We are constantly pulling to work on one thing, but it often means taking from a different area as a result.  I often wonder if we will ever find that balance, but I know we will keep trying.


Monday, June 10, 2013


I know that I am limited in my experience of PTSD.  I'm limited in that I know my husband and a few others, but I only live with my husband.  If others with PTSD are as good at hiding many of their symptoms, which I assume they are sometimes, it means that I can't speak for what I see in those we know.  I have no idea what they might be hiding.

So, when I speak about what's going on right now, please no that I am not trying to insinuate that everyone is like this.  I'm simply telling you what I've seen in my own spouse.

And what I'm seeing is arrogance.

I'm an internet lurker.  I like to read, but rarely comment.  This is true for other blogs and true for websites in general.  But I've been seeing a lot about the spouses bullying other spouses and Facebook pages bullying spouses.  I've seen Ketchupgate and all of those others things directed at military families.  But whenever I speak to my husband about these things he rolls his eyes.

It's actually quite painful when he does.  He rolls them and gives me the arrogant look of a man who agrees that I'm not allowed to have opinions on military matters because I'm not a service member.  But what he doesn't understand is that these issues affect me through him.

While I may not be the service member and I did not sign my name on a contract, each decision the USMC makes for him affects me.  He may be the one deployed, but I am deeply affected by it, as is my whole life.  And I get so tired of him treating me like I am not allow to feel hurt or offended when others do not take that seriously.

I once said something about "going through a deployment" and got the coldest stare I've ever gotten.  I get it, the word choice isn't great, but in this life, the other options are so wordy and when talking to civilians it's too hard to explain it all and when talking to other spouses, they understand exactly what I mean.  We all say it.  "Our unit" "been through a deployment" etc the list goes on.

I've tried very hard to get in the habit of saying "my husbands unit," but really, I don't think I deserve this treatment from him.  I understand the difference in our situations.  I get that what happened to him did not happen to me directly, but I have been directly affected by it.  And I've grown weary of being treated like I don't know anything and am not entitled to feel anything about our life, the military dictating my life even though I am not the service member and the world revolving around my husband, his PTSD and the USMC.

I don't know what has caused this shift, but a few weeks ago, he started strutting around the house and acting like I don't know a thing about life in the real world.  Somehow, his diagnosis makes him superior to me.

I kind of wish he would go back to not speaking to me...


Friday, June 7, 2013

The True Cost of Military Benefits

I'm sure by now you have all heard of Ketchupgate.  It was the response to a Washington Post article describing the militaries lavish benefits and why it's not big deal to cut them.  And while I understand cuts need to be made, that's is not what upset me about the article.

What upset me was the idea that military families are some sort of burden to the US public and that our service members have not earned the benefits they have in the same way others might at their jobs.  The only real difference to me is that no one seems to remember what paid for these "lavish" benefits military families have.  And that is a price that civilians aren't willing to pay.

While you can complain that your tax dollars paid for someones healthcare, consider what earned those benefits.  Someone woke up one day and pledged their LIFE to their country.  Their life.  Not 20 years for some healthcare.  Not a few extra days away from their families for cheaper groceries.  The benefits our military families are receiving have a heavy price tag indeed, it's not financial.

Consider that for a moment.  My husband agreed to pay with his life.  Up to and including the blood that beats through his heart.  And while he did come home alive, at what cost?  What cost did he pay for his nation?  So I read the article in the Washington Post and I have to ask the author: What are you willing to give for healthcare?  For 14 types of ketchup and a steady paycheck?

My husband knew the cost of his choice.  I knew the cost of mine when I married him.  But does that negate the actual cost?  Does knowing you might die mean you have no right to feel that the cost might be too high?  Does knowing your life is what you might give up for others mean that your nation has no need to take care of you?

If we can care for the sick and the tired and the poor, why not the valiant and the honorable and the widows and the retirees?  There are people screaming at the idea of cutting welfare and WIC benefits, but who is advocating for our military?  Who is shouting that the price they pay and their families pay is more than enough?

My husband gave up so much.  He lost so much.  And while this journalist is crying about the benefits he receives, he is not considering the cost.  The true cost.  The actual cost that our military pays every generation, as a debt to a nation that doesn't seem to care.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I'm Sorry

For whatever reason, my brain hasn't been functioning for days now.  Weeks really.  As most of you know, this life can be a bit unpredictable and rolling with the punches has been particularly hard as of late.

For those of you who have been reading for a while, you may well remember when I spoke about retreating to my bedroom.  I have done that again and have not been doing very well at life in general.  I still need to pick a giveaway winner, which shows me that I probably should not do giveaways anymore.  I feel terrible that I have let everyone down on that front.

The truth is that I love that I can be so open and honest here, but I am not liking who it seems to have made me become.  I'm a whiner.  I get emails commending me for my honesty, but I'm doing nothing that is all that wonderful.  I feel like I log on here wanting to just write about our life, but it seems to be that I end up just writing about pain and sadness.  I don't want to be that person.  I don't want to feel like that is all my life is.

It's not.

But as a result, I have done what I've done in the past: Logged on a 100 times, each time failing to write anything because I am unsure of what to say.

The ups and downs are still rolling in and out far to fast and the moods are still hard to predict.  We laugh more, but I feel like I cry more too and I"m not sure if the laughter is worth that price.  I have found myself back in my bedroom, hiding from the world.  I have found that I am afraid to log onto my blog.  Though it's a place that I can work through things emotionally, it also means that I have to confront those things and right now, I just can't.  I want to, but I just can't.

I'm deeply saddened by who is seems that I have become.  My head knows that this is all very normal in PTSD land, but my heart just breaks when I look into the mirror.  I know that I am more than the sadness that I have, but I don't seem to be able to find that girl again.  And my whole life has been consumed for so long with finding my husband, somewhere in there, somewhere buried deep inside of him that I can't always find the time to find myself.  I have done what I have spent months warning you all not to do.  I have allowed myself to be consumed by my husbands diagnosis and I no longer know who I am.

All I am is the wife of a man with PTSD.  All I am is the person who takes care of him.  I am no longer me. And I'm sorry.  It has prevented me from being a source of comfort, laughter or even just the blogger who tells the truth.  With all that we have had going on as of late, I was sucked so slowly into the danger zone that I didn't even see it happening until I was too far gone.

I hope to be back out of my room and back to the real world soon.


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