Thursday, September 19, 2013

Broken Promises

I made a promise eight months ago.  I promised to never say divorce, never threaten, never mention, never imply.  A month ago, I broke that promise.  A month ago, my husband and I hit a point where things just couldn't continue without consequences and I was done.  I was ready to leave.

It is not an easy promise to break, but I am not a terrible person lording divorce over my husbands head.  He broke his promises too.  He broke every single one, every day for eight months.  Every. Single. One.

Eight months ago I left.  I left without knowing if I would come back.  But I did.  My husband left my suitcase in our bedroom so that he could remember what was at stake.  He promised we were in it together.  I was to be included in his treatment.  He was to continue treatment and not quite like he threatened to.  We were going to come up with plans on how to handle his triggers together and we were going to work together to figure out what some of his triggers were.

None of those things happened.

I am not being included in any part of his life.  We continued down the same path of denial, exclusion and indifference.  And I broke.  I am broken.

I feel defeated.  I feel lost.  I feel utterly pained that I can't help if he won't allow me and include me, but he refuses.

Broken promises are not things I take lightly and now I have broken a big one.  A massive one.  And he is angry and holding it against me in everything he does.

We will work through this just like anything else.  He understands that he can't continue his pattern if he wants to stay married.  He understands that just saying, "I'll try" isn't good enough anymore.  And he understands that I am trying to help, but can't if he won't let me.

I would like to be optimistic.  I would like to say this is us moving into a whole new place.  But these are promises I've heard before.  And because I've heard them all before, I want to believe, rather than do.

Broken promises are very damaging.  My broke promise has damaged a lot in just that one act.  His have damaged our life after so many years of them.  And now, I am left wondering if this trail of broken promises we seem to be following will ever end.  Will we ever be in a place to be working together?

Can we move forward and finally be partners?  Sometimes I think we have too many broken promises to be able to.


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Unexpected Consequence of Blogging

A year ago, I started a blog.  I needed a safe place to talk about my feelings, away from the prying eyes of those we know.  I needed somewhere I could say what was in my heart, let out my hurt, encourage myself to stick with this life and sometimes, just to feel normal.

In the process, I hoped that others might find comfort in knowing they aren't alone, or even just being able to feel normal too.  I hoped that, by writing about PTSD from my own perspective, instead of regurgitating information, I might be able to show people this secret life so many lead.  Our situation is not so uncommon.

It's not uncommon for spouses to be sworn to secrecy.  It's not so uncommon for service members (or others who might have PTSD related to their duty i.e.: Police Offices, Fire fighters etc) to refuse to seek treatment, or to seek treatment in secret and refuse to tell anyone.  My situation is not so uncommon.  I lose myself in the situation, I forget else care, I live with a great big secret.

But, in the process of hoping someone might find comfort in my words, or understanding in my situation, I forgot one important thing... And it's been a life lesson.

Blog posts are always here.  So, while I might forget how hurt I am today, or I might forget how mad, my blog doesn't.  And it means that I get emails someone tweeted something, tagged me in something or generally shared something I wrote and I have to look.  I want to see what resonated with them.

Then I cry.

I cry remembering the pain.
I cry remembering the hope.
I cry realizing I am still in the same place, in a worse place, or that things were ever that bad.

The unexpected consequence of blogging is that your blog never forgets.  And when your blog is painfully personal, and is a place for you to release your feelings and the truth of your life, sometimes, what you need is a short memory.


Friday, September 13, 2013

What is Secondary PTSD?

Secondary PTSD is when a family member or spouse living with a person with PTSD begins to mirror their symptoms.  It is characterized by similar issues with anger, insomnia, depression, and other common traits of PTSD.  Lately, it seems that the new diagnosis for military spouses is Secondary PTSD.

However there are major differences between Caregiver Fatigue (as it's called) and true Secondary PTSD.  Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted and even crying constantly are common with fatigue but do not necessarily denote SPTSD.

One of the biggest differences is issues sleeping.  Spouses often begin having trouble sleeping and experiencing nightmares.  The nightmares are commonly described as being about a traumatic event that involves their service member, but that is not the only nightmare many describe having.

Some researches claim that as many of 40% of spouses have symptoms or signs of Secondary PTSD, but hardly any ever seek treatment.  Other studies suggest that it is being over diagnosed and that nearly half of those currently diagnosed are, in fact, suffering from Caregiver Fatigue instead.  With figures varying in such a large degree it's difficult to say how common or uncommon it is.  But one thing seems apparent to me:  We are seeing it more and there is more and more information available every day.

We are no longer in this fight alone.  The medical profession is beginning to see and understand that their can be tolls on the family that may need to be treated.  So, I still suggest that people be aware that it is out there.  Be aware that living in this situation can have long term damage and watch for it.

Just as we care for our service member, we must care for ourselves.  If you are experiencing Caregiver Fatigue or think you might have the signs of Secondary PTSD, I urge you to talk to someone.  Be sure that you are being supportive and are taking care of you.  We so easily get lost in the world that surrounds our service member, we often forget our own.

If you are having difficulty sleeping, nightmares, are exhausted, depressed, emotionally spent, and feeling like you can't hope and are overwhelmed.  Call someone. is available and offers free counseling.  Keep in mind that they do require some personal information. offers free counseling to vets and their families. if a group for spouses of wounded warriors and offers support groups as well as retreats.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

One Day in a Million Days: Sept 11th, 12 years later

There isn't much to say about today that everyone else isn't already saying.

Not a day goes by when I am not reminded, when looking into my husbands eyes, that that one day changed so much more than I ever thought possible.

One day.

One day, in a million days.

One morning, in a million mornings.

Our life has been directly affected by that one day, that one morning, 12 years ago.

I pray for peace for those who are still seeking it.  I pray for healing for our nation, for those who suffered losses, for those still fighting in the war and for those who have lost everything.

I hope that some day, today will not be a painful reminder.  A tear soaked day that I can't help but wish were just another day.  Just another day, in a million days, that didn't have such a tearful pain linked to it.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Secondary PTSD

Secondary PTSD is todays latest buzz word.  Where a few years ago it was unheard of, today, it's becoming more and more common for spouses and children or other loved ones to develop.

A year ago, I hadn't even heard of it. The next thing I know, I've agreed to go on a radio show to talk about what it is like to live with someone with PTSD from a spouses perspective.  The person who was on the show first was discussing it in part.  I listened and understood.  It made sense to me.  We are fighting a different battle at home, but a battle none the less.

The stress of living in this environment is one I have trouble explaining.  I often feel I am fighting a losing battle.  I am in a no win situation.  I am on egg shells, I am tiptoeing around not sure what will set him off today.

This evening, my husband and I began to fight.  It's a fight we've been having off and on for a few weeks.  I talk and he doesn't even acknowledge I spoke, he walks away like I'm not there.  He is having memory issues, which is common with PTSD.  But he won't admit it.  He won't admit that he forgets in mid movement what he was doing to begin with.  So we fight.

We fight because he changes the rules right when I think I have them figured out.  Because he forgot he changed the rules and is mad I'm doing something different.  Or simply because he is angry today.  He bullies, he belittles, he tells me he understands what I'm saying while simultaneously glaring and showing me that he is mad I dared speak up.

When you live in a house filled with land mines, it's no wonder spouse and children are developing a form of PTSD related to living with a service member.

Many of the symptoms are the same as PTSD.  And I can't help but wonder if, after all these years living in this environment, if I don't have some of the symptoms.  I've been noticing little things.  But I can only guess.  And even if I did, what am I going to do?

Sadly, the environment will be like this for a lot longer still.  And me talking to someone has always been a source of my husbands wrath.  It seems hipocritical of me to tell you to watch for signs in yourself and your family, when I myself and not following through.

But I will say it anyway.  Watch your family.  Watch for signs that they (or you) might be being effected by your situation.  And seek help if you notice anything.  Anything at all.

Secondary PTSD is becoming more and more common.  Don't be surprised if you start seeing more and more groups talking about it, or even advocates urging you to get help.  And really, I'm not surprised considering what many of us are living with.

(I am in the process of writing another bit about Secondary PTSD and what to look for)


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I was recently contacted by a group wanting me to write a post for them and their site.  They told me they were drawn to me by the honesty in my writing about this crazy, messed up life I lead.

It's not the first time someone has requested to work with me for that reason and I am beyond flattered.

This blog is just a place for me to anonymously dump my word vomit.  It's a place for me to express my feelings without it causing a fight, or having to treat lightly.  It has turned into a sanctuary of sorts when things get really crazy and a place I hide from when I feel ashamed of what I'm feeling.  But I always come back and share those feelings anyway.

I don't want anyone, caregiver, spouse, significant other, parent, friend or other to ever feel they are on their journey alone.  I spent years wondering what was wrong with me to have such a messed up marriage.  Then I spent ages pretending I didn't see what was going on.  Then I allowed my husband to act like nothing was wrong for longer than I should have.  And I felt utterly alone every step of the way. I had no one to talk to, I had no one to understand and I am still not allowed to tell people.

I never want anyone to feel alone.  And if just one person reads this blog one time and says, "I feel that way too."  And can do so while feeling relived that someone else not only feels that way, but understands completely, then it will all be worth pouring my heart out here.

Sometimes I think I share too much.  Other times, not enough.  But over all, I pledged to be honest with myself when I started this blog.  And I'm flattered to see that that honestly is drawing people in and making them want to work with me.  And I truly hope that being SO honest might help someone out there who just needs someone to understand the secret life they are living with their significant other behind closed doors.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Would We Still be Married if He Didn't Have PTSD?

I truly believe that we all have times in our life where we wonder if things were different, if our marriages would still be standing.  I know that it’s not popular to discuss troubled marriages, or even the times when we look at our partner and think, “What the heck? How did we end up here?”  Living with someone who has PTSD means that you probably ask yourself that question more than most. It’s the nature of what we cope with. 

It’s a constant state of wondering.  If things were different would we still be married? There is never an easy answer.  And sometimes, the easy answer is more painful to admit than the reality.

Yes, if my husband had never come home with PTSD, we would still be married.  We’d be laughing and happy and content.  But he didn’t come home like that and what I have instead is a man who sometimes makes me question why I stay.  Everyone has different reasons.  We all have little things that make us wake up everyday and live this life.  And sometimes the reasons we stay are just as shameful as the reasons we want to, or in some cases have to leave.

I stay because my heart has to believe we can get through this.  Through the silent tears and the calm control over every fight I have to take with myself, I have to believe that we will come out the other side.  Maybe not whole, maybe not the same, but we can do it.

Others stay because they feel honor bound to.  I’ll admit that I do too.  I feel a sense of duty to my husband.  It’s not shameful in my opinion.  Wanting to honor your marriage vows and honor a man who gave up everything for an honorable reason is never shameful.  But it often feels like is it.  It feels like my dirty little secret that I feel like I owe it to him.  But he deserves a woman who will be here day in and day out.  Even when things are the way they are currently.

I have thought about leaving. I have stayed in hotels. I have even met with a divorce lawyer.  But I stay.

Through the months of yelling and months of silence I stay.  After so many years, I am beginning to feel defeated.  I’m exhausted and just worn down.  But I stay.  But when I’m so tired from holding our world together alone, those little thoughts trickle in.  Would we still be together?  What will be our breaking point?  Who would we be?  Who are we now? When does it end? 


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