Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sometimes I don't know why...

Why did I open this blog?
I thought opening this blog would help me sort through my feelings so that I could approach all this craziness with a clear head, but the truth of the matter is I'M TIRED!  I'm tired of all of the evil that is PTSD + TBI.  I'm tired of talking about this crap.  I want it to all magically go away even though, in reality, I know that's not going to happen.

If you have ever dealt with the monster that is PTSD, you know that this life is exhausting.  You also know that it's very difficult to not lose yourself in all of this, so you can understand how it feels to just not want to do it anymore.  I'm tired of talking and not making any progress, so why would this blog help me?  I don't want to talk about it anymore.   

Why am I still here in this marriage?
Since this mess started, "Fight for what you believe in" is some of the best advice anyone has ever given me.  Those words of wisdom came from a dear friend who has zero experience with PTSD.  She's a very inspirational person, and I still love her even if our busy lives keep us from talking regularly.  I think her advice was her gentle way of encouraging me to say "To HELL with what everyone else thinks!  It's your marriage so you do what you need to."

I think I need to have her advice tattooed to my head because when I don't have those words in the front of my mind, I sometimes forget why I'm still married.  We've been dealing with my husband's problems for 2 1/2 years.  That's a long time to go without much improvement, but then I have to remind myself that we had that lovely Army-sponsored year-long break called "deployment".  I couldn't possibly have expected my husband to be healing himself while surrounded by the environment that was causing his problems especially when he didn't have access to, or the time for, therapy.  

I'm sad that he continued to dig deeper into the pit of despair, but expecting anything more than that would have been an unrealistic expectation on my part.  I couldn't possibly ask him to try to repair himself while his life was in danger on a regular basis.  His survival instincts were at their height, and nothing else mattered to him while deployed.  His only concern was his own life, and the 17 lives of the soldiers he supervised.  It's a painful dose of honesty, but only the strongest of people can accept it for what it is.   

It's completely unrealistic and selfish of me to expect him to have time for therapy while on a combat deployment, so here we stand, 9 months post-deployment, and we are about to take the biggest plunge into repairing our marriage.  Tomorrow starts our marriage counseling that will be tailored to our needs.  Honestly, I think, the only reason I'm still here is because I told him I would leave him if he didn't use every resource available to him for recovery.  Quite possibly I was "done" a few months ago, but our counseling dates are finally here, so I have to keep my end of the promise.  I'm hopeful that this will help us find the road to our recovery, but I'm also realistic at the same time.  There may be no repairing this broken marriage.          
Why haven't I reached my limit of how much crap I can take, and where is that limit?
If you know me, you know that I've been through a lot of crap with my husband.  I look back at some of the stuff I wrote when all of this first started and I think "OMG what the hell is wrong with that girl?" but then I hear "Fight for what you believe in" in my head and that reminds me to stay focused.  There's NOTHING wrong with that girl because she will fight this thing until she has no more fight left in her.  I still believe that the man that I fell in love with is still here, and I still believe that he is a good man.  I just hope that he can find that "good guy" and I hope that he can make the "good guy" take up residence in our home again.   

Sometimes I feel like I'm teetering back and forth between the limits of "I'm done" and "I'm staying".  I've established the physical boundaries of "I'm done" with my husband, but I'm not sure if I can let go of all the pain that he's caused me.  We've seen some truly ugly times together, but at the same time I've had some of the most wonderfully memorable moments too.  Some of those memorable moments have been very recent, and the ugliest ones are in the past.

To the casual observer this all sounds like a typical pattern of an abusive relationship, but if that's what you think, then you know nothing about PTSD or TBI.  You may be sitting here thinking "Just leave him" but if you're dealing with a spouse that has PTSD, you know it's just not that easy.  

The glimmers of hope that come shining through are enough to suck in even the strongest of people.  It has sucked me in, and made me realize that he's still here.  I just need to support him on his journey back to the guy that I fell in love with.  I realize that he will be forever changed, but I truly believe that he can be that amazing man again.  I guess that's what I've been fighting for all this time.  I do believe in him.  


Friday, October 1, 2010

How to tell your wife you didn't miss her in 1 hour or less

Recently I've been reading "The 5 Love Languages" as a way to better understand myself and my husband.  I've discovered that I'm a quality time kind of person.  Looking back on all the squabbles, quarrels, and fights of the last few years I see that quality time is what I've been screaming for all along.  I like quality time.  Quantity means nothing to me if your heart's not in it.  

*SIGH*  Last weekend I went out of town for a Wounded Warrior Wives retreat.  In the time that we've been together, never before have I gone out of town without my husband.  He's always the one leaving for work, and I'm the one who's left home holding down the fort.  This time it was my turn to pack, but my purpose was an escape from the stress, a chance to recharge my batteries, a chance to meet some well-known strangers (I'll write about that in another blog) and to learn something constructive about what's going on with my husband and his injuries.  

After sharing a wonderful weekend with some amazingly beautiful, strong, and powerful women, I felt like I could handle going home, and apply the lessons I learned at my retreat.  Little did I realize that I would be tested immediately upon walking out of the airport doors.

Due to the crappy weather that was moving across the south, my flight home was delayed for a bit.  I was in constant communication with my husband by giving him updates to my estimated arrival time, and I was sure to tell him how long my flight was so that he could be there on time.  I landed 45 minutes late. 

After landing and retrieving our bags, I walked outside with my new friend who also attended the retreat.  We searched for our husbands and their vehicles.  She spotted her husband almost immediately, so we walked in the direction of the small group of vehicles waiting in the pick up area.  My husband's truck is hard to miss, but missing it I was.  

My friend wanted to stay, but I didn't really see the point even though she said she would feel bad if she left me waiting.  Only great friends volunteer to help carry your emotional burden, but honestly there wasn't a thing she could do to cure the ache my heart felt when my husband wasn't on time for my late flight.   I am very grateful for her offering to stay. 

After standing outside for about 5 minutes, I sent a text message to my husband.  "Where are you?" I asked.  "Be there in 5 mins" was the response I got, but 20 minutes later he still wasn't there.  Remembering that we live 30 minutes from the airport (and that he was free from work that day) made me upset that he wasn't there yet.  I could feel the sadness, and anger brewing inside of me.

When he finally showed up, I didn't even want to greet him because the first thing out of his mouth was "Sorry, but there was traffic."  This wasn't an acceptable excuse for me because 1) I can smell BS a mile away, and 2) he checked the airline's website to see my new arrival time, and the arrival was DEAD ON!  

Traffic can be really bad at 4 P.M. here, but I'd love to know how it is that all that "traffic" magically disappeared.  When we were driving home not less than 5 minutes after he finally got to the airport we saw MAYBE 25 cars.  Oh wait, I know!  The traffic knew that I was coming home and it cleared the way for me because I'm just that special.  YEAH RIGHT!

So now I'm home, and I'm stewing about his late arrival, but I'm trying to apply my lessons learned from my weekend retreat.  I am reminding myself that what's done is done, and it's over, and I can't change what happened, so there's no need to blow up about it even though I wanted to beat him with my heavy suitcase.  

The kids were incredibly excited to see me.  They made "welcome home" signs for me, and after showing them off, I got attacked with hugs and kisses.  After they were done with their homecoming presentation, all I could think was 'Well at least someone missed me.' 

We were home less than 10 minutes, and I went upstairs to my bedroom with my suitcase.  My husband helped with bags and followed me up.  I started taking off my shoes, and as I'm getting comfortable, and telling him about my awesome weekend, he sits down at the computer and logs into Facebook so he can go on his Farmville - AS I'M TALKING!  :-|

As much as I want to throw one of my cowboy boots at him I realize there is no point.  I'm tired of begging, and it doesn't do any good, so I just shut my mouth.  I took my hula hoop lesson to heart and applied it well.  I have no control over what's outside of my hula hoop, (even if it is a cowboy boot that accidentally flew out of my hoop :-P) so getting worked up, and blowing up, won't do any good.
The next morning I got on our computer and saw that the day prior he was on it until 3:50 P.M. when he knew that my flight would arrive at 4:15.  Even if he was pulling out of the driveway at 3:50 (which he wasn't) he still wouldn't have made it on time.  

Now don't go away thinking that I didn't say anything about this.  If you know me, you know that I can't keep my mouth shut forever.  I waited a full day until I was completely calm to tell him that he hurt my feelings.  Instead of expecting a response (that I never get anyway) I said "That's all I wanted to say.  I have to start dinner now" and I walked away. 

I think I may have shocked him because normally I ask for some sort of communication from him, but I never get it, so I didn't waste time waiting for something that's not going to happen.   Later that evening as we were cleaning up from dinner I got a heart-felt hug, and a big "I love you".  He held me for longer than usual.  In a way, I think, that was his way of apologizing.  

I wish he could bring himself to say "I'm sorry," but he'll say it when he's ready.  Expecting him to do it immediately is an unrealistic expectation because he doesn't realize that my love language is quality time.  I didn't realize that until I read about it on my flight to the retreat.  When I'm done reading this book, it's his turn.  Maybe then he'll realize why I sound like such a demanding bee-yotch when he's not producing the quality that I desire.