Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Penis Envy

Well, it's been an uneventful last two days for me since I last posted. I spent some time off line and not really doing much of anything. I sort of felt like after Sunday, that I really didn't have any interest at all in helping my husband. His words just constantly bombarded me in my head, so it's been rough trying to shake all the nasty things he said. While my head says, all of that on Sunday wasn't directed towards me, and the comfort of knowing I am not alone in dealing with all of really didn't help the hurt to go away. We haven't said a whole lot to each other and I have to admit....I have been awfully withdrawn and indifferent towards him. I don't mean to be but, I just am really sort of broken after Sunday if that makes any sense. This morning I came across another blog for Veteran Caregivers which is fairly new it looks like. This, even though I have been there and done that, reminded me again that whatever the hell that was on Sunday....wasn't my husband. It kind of gave me a little bit more sense of belonging and gained my focus back. However, the hurt is still there and he hasn't said anything about it.

My husband's shows were on last night and it was Top Shot on History Channel. I sat and watched it because although I would adamantly say the show sucks to my husband...I secretly want to be able to shoot like those competitors do. Yes, the Mistress would like to be a legendary gun slinger or Amazonian female warrior. However, admittance of such a thing would probably excite him and there we go back to having guns in the home. This would lead to buying my own gun because I know my husband and he would obsess over my not having one. After January, I don't want any type of weapons in the home which was also heavily advised upon from doctors and such.

Out of nowhere, he starts talking about this Veteran Group meetings he was thrusted into right out of the gate upon his completion of the PTSD rehab he was in. As you know, this didn't help him at all and really...only made him worse. I listened to his ranting and raving of course, figuring this would allow him to vent and get it off his chest. This particular first meeting had set him off in a number of ways..and I have to agree that it's not really making him all warm and fuzzy being there or helping him. That conversation led into being strapped for money, which led into us discussing the possibility of tightening the budget.....which led him into discussing his issues. Although he was somewhat hateful, snarky and angry...he complained he hated not being his old self and then started complaining about his buddies. He complained about the men in the commercials driving the cars, and then he started in on the competitors on Top Shot. I wasn't really upset, I wasn't really anything...I was just there and trying to grasp why he was so mad at these strangers on tv.

I listened, commented, tried to be understanding and then he just got quiet as if suddenly, someone just threw the circuit breaker on his fuses. Here I was kind of on the edge of my seat thinking any minute now, I will see the exact scene from the movie the Exorcist where her head starts spinning around, and all hell is going to explode in my living room. He just stopped. He was watching Top Shot with such deep interest, that I could have walked in the room completely naked with 50 other men and he wouldn't have even noticed. I realized husband is suffering from a form of penis envy of the "normal" guys.

Ok, now I know I am going to get some emails stating psychology facts and what they have learned in school or while getting a clinical psychology degree about the term Penis Envy and "do you know who Sigmund Freud is?". Save your breath because this gal is a little educated too and yes, I did refer to my husband having a form of penis envy...not that he is suffering from Freud's exact definition of it. Let's just say this is the Mistress's definition from our "The Things You Learn From Living with PTSD and TBI" dictionary. So you are probably asking yourself "what does she mean when she is talking about penis envy"? It's simple. From the conversation last night and his complaints, my PTSD Combat Veteran doesn't bang on his chest anymore. He feels like he has had everything taken away from him, and I have been forced to take on so much because of him and for him. He is not allowed to have his guns, which for manly like taking their testicles. He has to have someone help him with basic necessities, basic needs like reminding him about bathing or medicines. He has a time limit of how much time he can go out and when he is expected home, is not able to drive or perform normal every day tasks like he used to be able to. He struggles with reading, with normal every day tasks and is constantly fighting off the demons in his head at the same time. My husband was a McGuiver, give him a tool and duct tape...the man could fix anything. Now he struggles with simple tasks like changing the guts out of the toilet, something he could have done blindfolded.

I realized he wasn't angry or his complaints were without merit, just that he envied being a normal guy. He kept saying "You don't understand what it's like. I can't explain it. I have had everything in my life taken away from me. My job. My lifestyle, my body and hell, I can't even have sex without help from pills." I wanted to argue on all of this but I kept my mouth shut about it. I just listened. I realized last night when I went to bed and thought some on his conversation with me, that he felt like he didn't belong anywhere with the old crowd. He doesn't feel normal beside them, can't seem to find his place with any of his old buddies, and is envious that they are normal. It isn't envy of body,muscles,how much money they have, jobs or cars...its the fact that they are just normal and don't struggle with simple tasks. They can come and go, not get lost, and can perform like a man.

I told him that sex wasn't a serious issue with me. It really isn't. Not that it was bad, or he has serious troubles with that department downstairs. He says he has problems, I say it's fine...he says "No the hell it isn't. It's not fine with me!". He was given a prescription for Cialis, which I was concerned about since he has a long family history of heart problems and the possibility of it counteracting with his regular PTSD meds. However, I felt if it makes him bang on his chest a little, and it was safe, so be it. I don't want him thinking I am unhappy and worried that he was going to all this trouble just for me...but mostly it was just for him. To feel normal once again, somewhere...anywhere.

I felt sorry for him. I really really did. Not so much pity, but genuine sympathy for him because yes, I do understand. We as the caregivers of our Veterans find ourselves outcast-ed unintentionally by our friends and well, society in its whole. THEN you feel like an outcast or leper in your marriage. I may not know what it's like to have to depend on someone like he does, but I do envy other women. I don't fit in anywhere anymore. We as families of PTSD really kind of fall into our own category and we are constantly on the search for people like us so we do fit in. When we finally do find that someone, we don't care about who they are or what they's all about "getting" it. Now I have non-PTSD friends, but sometimes I feel like they really don't get me or perhaps they really don't understand.

I also lost too. Maybe not in the sense that he has but loss is still loss no matter how you look at it. I find that I struggle finding my place not only on the outside, but here at home. I am constantly waging a battle with myself trying to figure out whether I am wife, caregiver or the evil mama who won't let him spend every dime we have, or let him go out and "play". He has his demons, I have mine. He wants to be normal, and so do I. Somewhere between all of this...I need to find a way to help him "belong" somewhere. Too I realized, I need to find a place too. I can totally understand his longing, his envy and the battles he is enduring.

I tried letting up on some of the control and allow him to do things on his own...but sometimes that backfires on us and it turns into one huge mess. I try to be supportive, encouraging and allow him room to strut those feathers...but it's not what he needs. He needs to feel that on the outside with his friends or society. I know one time he told me that it wasn't the outside that scared him, keeping him freaked out or scared all the time of getting attacked. It was the people. When he feels not-so paranoid, he feels like people are staring at him or judging him because he is sweaty, nervous, jumpy and has outbursts. I really don't know how to fix all that. The VA doesn't give us manuals on how to help in these departments and in the last four years, never really heard anyone refer to these self-esteem type of issues.

So I guess the purpose of this blog is to find out what all of you are doing to combat "penis envy" with our Veterans. Anyone else finding themselves in this situation? From the men, what could the women do to help you to make you feel more manly? Lots of questions for this Wednesday I know.  I wish sometimes that we were equipped with a magic go to guide for all of this. There isn't anything I can do to protect him or anything I can say to make it any better in this area of jealousy that he has. I don't want him to shut himself off from the few friends he has left just because he feels like he doesn't fit in. I am afraid this will cause an increase in the already high amounts of depression he has. I so hope that we can eventually find a family like ours, and perhaps feel like "normals" again. Who would have ever thought four years post-war, we would find ourselves jealous of those on the outside who are normal with no issues and longing to be anyone else besides ourselves. We were totally happy with who we were and what we had......


  1. Miss, I have been following for a while and I have PTSD. Am a SGT in the Army and served proudly injured in 2009 I wanted to comment cause I havent before but this made me think this mornin. I am jealous of my freinds and family members. They act normal and take it for granted. They dont care what they say, they dont care what I go through and that makes me mad. What I wouldnt give to have my old life back. They bitch all the time about theirs. I keep thinking here I am and if they only knew. It pisses me off. I stop going around people. I know i have lost some due to this too. I come to think that if they were true buddies, they would take me for who I was and who I am now. Some do. Some dont. You are doing a hell of a job and wish my wife was here so I could show her your site. We seperated last year. Dont stop writing cause you are my voice and my wifes. Only thing I can think of as for helping was let me do some things on my own. If i did badly or fucked it up, dont make a big deal out of it. Tell me what I did wrong and help me find the right solution. If I do something right, dont over do it like I am some dog. I have PTSD but am not stupid. I know your husband has to know how much you love him and thats all that matters. That will keep him going. I may have lost things but nothing compares to losing my wife over it. Keep going. I may not comment all the time but am reading. I look forward to seeing what you write each week.

  2. Having been struggling with PTSD for a few decades I have totally given up any hope of getting the old life back. I believe that you have really hit home (for me at least) on one of the toughest things to adjust to once you accept that you have a serious problem. It hard not to be envious of people who seem to fit in where ever they are; especially when you were once able to fit in pretty well.
    A few years ago I started following some of the blogs and I find them invaluable, I no longer feel as isolated. Patience Mason's works hammered home to me that PTSD is a normal reaction to war. I accept that now and I think that was a great step in the right direction for me. I view PTSD as a condition much like my cancer was and my coronary problems are. I get down sometimes because I really would like to fit in more places but I don't go off about it anymore and I get over it rather quickly.
    As you well know this condition is extremely complex and I don't intend to imply that I have an answer for it, I just want to point out that for me I spent a long time thinking I was hopelessly crazy. When I started thinking of myself as a normal person who had a condition caused by abnormal experiences it helped me to gain some measure of control.

    Please believe me when I say that the more I read on your blog and others like it the more blessed I feel for having a wife that has stuck with me for nearly 44 years. I am only just beginning to imagine what you women and kids have had to go through.

  3. I don't have any answers (because I'm asking the same questions mostly), but I want to say thank you for blogging like you do. So many times when I read your posts I think "I know exactly what she means," because we're dealing with a lot of the same issues. They're not quite as bad, but you're the only person I "know" who even acknowledges issues like the ones we face. So thank you, and please know that your family is in my thoughts & prayers.

  4. Thank you guys and gal for the comments! I appreciate you guys coming forward and talking about it. Biblio, I try and tackle topics I question myself and can't find even if it's embarrassing or shameful, I write about it. I don't have the answers either, but am learning along the way. Anonymous, sorry to hear about your wife. Thank you for sharing your story with us and the tip on the screw ups vs job well done.

    I think having jealousy of others is an OK thing to have and Dust was absolutely correct when saying its half the battle trying to find your place and fit in. Some of our newer Veterans think they are crazy and I think once it sinks in that its a condition and not craziness...the better they will be. I think the same goes for spouses too. Sometimes I struggle with it because the out of the blue blow ups, but that part of me says "that's not my husband and he can't help it". We are all learning together and if nothing else, at least we ALL aren't alone when dealing with this, whether it be Veterans or Spouses.

  5. As the family member of someone with PTSD, and also the suffered of PTSD from previous domestic violence, I find myself often being VERY aware of sounds I make, words I say, and the way I approach those who suffer from PTSD. I know that I am extremely sensitive to those, so try my best not to be the cause of onset of symptoms for others who have it. I always ask before turning on certain TV shows and when there has been flashbacks, I talk him calmly through it. We have learned that a soft, calm and pleasant voice has been the key for my Veteran. Soft touches to the hand and reassurance that I am here NO MATTER WHAT is what he says gets him through those times. I have a son currently on his second Afghan deployment, and I am sure at some point everything that I have learned about my own PTSD and my friend's will help get us through if, or when, my son starts having issues.

    Thank you Mistress for all your straight forward, honest words of wisdom to all! You have surely touched more people than you know!


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