Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Sadist Masochist Relationship of PTSD

As promised to myself, while my husband was away, I needed to take this time to "heal" myself. After talking with a resource for mental health help for myself in the forms of counseling, it was mentioned that "Yet you still stay and keep taking the punishments for nothing". Although pissed at the time and well, rather defensive.....It got me to thinking; Is living with PTSD and TBI somewhat of a Sadist Masochistic relationship? Are we as caregivers, destined to take out the punishment for the rest of our marriages with our Invisible Wounded? I know it's very easy for outsiders looking in, to miss the big picture as a whole. Especially if they aren't military or have knowledge of what it's like. They don't have the opportunity to have those precious times where normal reigned in your relationship and there were no problems besides just the standard ones. It's very easy to miss that and not know or understand why we as Caregivers keep going.

So I wonder....are we victims of post war issues or volunteers for staying on and dealing with all that we go through? We take whatever abuse is handed out, not willingly most times...but yet we still stand in. Is our love blinded when it comes to our wounded warriors, accepting the Masochistic role of taking any attention at all we can receive from our Vets? Often, I have suddenly stopped and wondered why I don't leave and take my children...but that love in my heart makes me stop and reminds my brain to remember that I didn't want my husband to become another statistic written on paper. What keeps us holding on to nothing at times?

Most of the time, I truly feel like I am tied to the proverbial whipping post. The counselor "specialist" I spoke to yesterday, made the comment of "Well you are an inspiration for many and you are so strong". I don't feel that way at all. Looking back over the past four years, how the hell have I stayed so strong through it all? It's one of life's curious voids where our brains just automatically start numbing to the pain that has occurred. Some days I feel like my husband who shows no emotions but only that of anger, hatred and pure the Sadist of our relationship. Causing and inflicting pain on our family seems to be a common occurring theme with him whether it be intentional or not. Any special plans or certain appointments, often he will sabotage by either pulling a disappearing act or act out so it upsets everyone around him. It's like he can't help it. When you confront him about the sabotage, his face goes blank. He shuts down and there is just nothing there. We keep giving and giving to the point of not being able to give anymore...and yet here we are. Still somehow finding more and more to give.

When you think about Sadist and Masochistic can really somewhat relate that type of interaction living with PTSD and TBI. Now before you think the Mistress has gone all whips and chains on you, dear readers....this idea popped into my head while watching one of those documentaries on tv about the "History of Sex". As I semi-watched and was thinking about my husband being gone....I realized how much I was truly the recipient of the sadistic side of PTSD. This show documented the history of sex and the "darker side" of it. There were active sadists and masochists talking about what makes them tick, what makes them enjoy such temptations in the bedroom, how they weren't any different than the rest of society (or so they say).

I started thinking about what they were saying and it wasn't too much different than our lives as spouses of the PTSD Vet. My love for him and the hope that one day my "real" husband will come back has literally tied my hands behind my back. Often my shame or embarrassment of talking about all that goes on, has silenced me just the same as the black leather bindings across the face. You become so desperate for attention, love and just that simple sign of will take whatever you can get and hope that it only gets better. After a while, you simply get used to the idea of "this is it". You quit arguing, you stop fighting back because it makes your Veteran simply give in and take what you can get. What little joy you can derive from the "good" days, keeps you driving on looking for a way to fulfill that insatiable thirst for more. PTSD becomes the lashes on your back, the verbal outbursts become so embedded in your mind that you can't help but to expect it. Some times it feels like the only attention I get from my husband is often negative, so does this make us similar to those Masochists who derive pleasure from the pain received? How long does it take to finally break free from the whips and chains of PTSD and actually lead a normal life. Is it even possible anymore?

My husband will be in an inpatient program for acute PTSD for many many weeks. Even with the knowledge of him being gone, I still awoke and awaited the back lashes of PTSD this morning. How twisted and damaged have we become as the caregivers of our PTSD Veterans? Will we eventually break the pattern ourselves, or will it become habitual for us to expect nothing more than what we are getting now?

Whips and Chains Do Not Excite Me, 


  1. You put it into words that I could never find to describe the way I feel and hit the nail on the head yet again. I don't think I'm strong, I just think I've learned to hide things well enough to get by.

  2. I can totally identify with what you wrote. I have a different perspective, though. I came into this relationship 4 years ago, after my husband was already injured. I had been through a horrible marriage already. I stayed in that one because of my children, but got out at as soon as I could. This one is hard, but in different ways. The one difference I note is that I stay in this one for love. It is really that simple. Greater love has no one than he that lays down his life. Our heros were willing to lay down their lives for others, now we wives must lay down our lives for them. I could leave, and have tried hard to do so. But then realized that I couldn't ever be truly happy without my husband. I think we have a love some people only dream about. But you have to take the good with the bad.

  3. I love what you wrote. I can identify on many levels. The only thing is I am the one with PTSD since I was 11 and my husband is the one with a TBI which has altered his personality 4 years ago. It is hard to be in a marriage with a man who use to be the kindest most compassionate man I had ever met. Now he is very short tempered. He likes quite and rolls his eyes if I talk about my triggers. The one thing that holds us together like the rest of the posts is Love! I love him. He has been there for me for almost 30 years now. It's my time to be there for him. Thank you so much for the post it was elegantly written. I hope you do not mind if I join your group. I am a Navy reservist wife.

  4. Come on aboard Dear Navy Reservist wide! It will be nice to have your perspective since we as as the caregivers of PTSD can be slightly jaded and looking at things in a different light.

  5. It is true you have a huge heart, but you needn't suffer. You need to assert yourself more & get those fulfilled; learn to set boundaries for YOUR health; never forget or neglect You. That is self love. I believe if you both find ways to work on your issues, it can be a perfectly wonderful relationship, or at the very least, answer a lot of your questions/unburden you.


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