I have been asked many times “is there any hope for having a sort of normal life with my veteran?”. The answer is yes. Is it easy? No. Is it impossible? No.
Have you ever said or thought any of these things? I am too exhausted. I am tired of trying and getting nowhere. It works for a few days and he is right back to his old ways. When I try things get worse. There is no point of trying. I guess I am going to spend my life like this forever. I am so overwhelmed where do I start?
I have had these thoughts many times and if the truth be told there are times I still do. Although they are further and further apart. In the beginning I did not know if I could do this. I wasn’t sure where to start or what to do. I knew that something had to change.
I was sure PTSD was ruining my life. Well at least I thought it was. I had to learn a new “language”. Until PTSD I assumed that dates were like a birthday or anniversary. A happy time. I had no idea that date meant something bad. I thought that a trigger was something that you pulled on a gun. I did not know that it was a word or body language that created an explosion. Of course the explosion was in our house.
I never knew that such hateful words could come out of the mouth of the man I loved. The man that had the sweetest most caring heart who promised his love to me had moments that he turned into someone I did not know and I durn sure did not like at times. Just one wrong word, or look, or commercial on the TV and BAM, explosion and change in demeanor. When he exploded, I would scream and yell. I wanted to be heard. I found that during his explosions or “moments”, I could not talk to him. It was like he did not hear anything I had to say. I thought the louder I yelled that he would finally listen. I was wrong.
Our explosions got so bat at times that I honestly did not know if I could do this. I would find myself asking myself, why and what it I do to deserve this? I cried many tears. I apologized for things that I did not even know I was doing, just to try and end a fight. I sat there quietly and just listened as the hateful words and belittlement came out of his mouth for what seemed like hours. He had to make his point and sometimes it took like what seemed like forever. I kept thinking, “are we done yet?”
When I told him that I needed space and a minute and tried to walk away, he would follow me. I just could not get away. All I wanted was some space. A chance to reset. It did not happen. If I wanted to go for a ride, he would take the keys. If I went to another room, he would follow me. This just made things worse.
Once the explosion ended it seemed like there was always something to clean up. At some time during the explosion a picture frame got broken or the bathroom door had a hole in it. Thankfully, he always hit the same door. He even threw and entire pizza across the room. I must admit that with my temper I would throw things too. I once threw a dozen eggs across the kitchen. I will advise you not to throw eggs, they are hard to clean up. He never hit me.
At the worst of it, I felt like I was drowning. How was I supposed to find a starting place? Where did I begin? I knew I could not talk to my family or friends about things or they would think I was in a horrible, abusive relationship. I was not. I was living with a wonderful man that had PTSD. At that time I did not realize that I was triggering a lot of his actions.
I turned to online support groups for support and advice. It was comforting to know I was not alone. There were a lot of other women who were having similar experiences. I did not find many solutions there. I needed more. I wanted a solution. I reached out to the Caregiver support line. The lady on the other end of the line was nice and did listen to me vent. I had experience with PTSD from all my years as a paramedic, but I was not prepared to live with it. She told me that I could get support at a Vet Center or the local VA Hospital. The closest Vet Center was an hour and a half away and the VA hospital two and a half hours away. I was not sure how my veteran would take me talking to someone about what was going on in our lives. He is a very private person.
I still did not have a solution, so I started doing research. I read everything I could find on PTSD. It did not take me long to realize that Combat PTSD is different that other forms of PTSD. Once I figured out how their brain worked, I began to form a plan. I basically had to make my own life raft. The wheels were finally in motion. I finally saw a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
Stay tuned for more of our story.