Thursday, October 20, 2011


I sat this morning trying to catch up on emails that so many of you have written in. I will hopefully get done with all that is required for the first step in the Medical Board process and have some more time to write. As I was reading this morning with my Superman Mug in hand, it struck me to the core at how many times one single word was found in a bulk of them. That word? Ashamed.  Many of them are from Veterans in which much of their confessions astounded me but not in a horrible way but just in their forthcoming honesty. I know that many of you just needed an ear, a safe place to voice your issues, problems and maybe a response that someone does understand. Shameful though? No. I don't believe that there is something out there, that hasn't been told to me, shocked me or something I haven't seen in the travels with other bloggers or spouses/veterans. I would like to say first your confessions will always be safe with me, so please know with confidence that unless you tell me it's OK to ask or print, I will always read, respond and then delete. For the families that wrote in, I counted more than ninety-seven times I saw the word ashamed in your letters. 

I wanted to take a few moments this morning to address this common sentiment of shame that you all feel. I know that there are things no one wants to say out loud. Things that either/or wants to keep behind closed doors but what is that really helping? Is it because you don't want others to know or is it just because you don't want to face it yourself? Is it better for you to hide behind the door of shame rather than talking about it? Many of you wrote that when speaking to your therapists or doctors, some subjects are just too shameful to bring up. Alright, I have to shoot straight from the hip here and ask "what the hell you are getting help for then if you are only going for parts of it?" I know such subjects as physical/verbal abuse, drugs, alcoholism, sex or the lack of it/addictions, erectile dysfunction, porn addictions, cheating, excessive spending, among many more are bitter pills to swallow and accept. Hell, it's hard for even me to write about some of these things but one thing I want all of you to remember is that we can't find help or seek the answers unless someone talks about it. 

Out of all my posts on this site, the most popular posts are the ones about sex. That says to me that many of you are experiencing what I went through or worse, and that you are looking for answers. Many of you guys want to talk about problems with it. Sex to me, is just as important as the basic needs of food, water and air. As Humans, we require and will always need that nourishment of touch, love, feelings and intimacy. Speaking about it to your doctors might be hard, but you just got to ask yourself, am I depriving myself of this need? For my spouse, am I depriving her? What if it's something medically related and you are hurting yourself in the long run because you didn't say anything? When you leave the doctor's offices, do you feel any better than what you did when you went in? Many Veterans wrote in that your spouses don't understand, don't get it, are mad because you no longer want to make love to them. Many had the same response "It's not her". The thing you have to realize is that we need to understand what's going on and have the knowledge that its not us. If you aren't telling your spouse it's not them, how else are they supposed to feel or what did you expect them to think?

I have to tell each of you that for a year and a half, I was devastated. I truly thought there was something wrong with me. I wasn't attractive enough, or I wasn't making him happy. It turned out to be medications, and not me. I have to tell you that feeling of relief was enormous after he broke down and confessed...however, my confidence had deflated so long ago that I didn't know how to repair that and is something that I am still working on. I was hurt as well. I thought he could tell me everything and always had in the past. I was so relieved but at the same time, angry because he had put me in the corner for so long and let me think that it was my fault. Veterans, you have to talk to your spouses. You can always email here and tell me anything, but let's try this........

When you feel the need to email me and let the confessions fly because you feel more comfortable, carbon copy your spouse on it. Make an agreement with your spouse as some do on here. They write in with the agreement between the two that there will be no arguments, nothing said until you are ready and that your spouse just read. Spouses, honor that agreement. Some of you guys write so beautifully that it gives this Mistress the cold chills and your heartfelt words laced with honesty, truly does astound and sadden me. I feel like I am depriving your spouse of such words and as many of you know, I always suggest that you copy and send to them. They desperately need to see these words and hear your confessions. I think if you did, it would not only help them tremendously but you help yourself releasing just one of those demons of burden riding your back. 

Addictions such as excessive porn usage is one of those topics that no one really wants to talk about but that's just part of it. Some turn to different things, and pornography is just another outlet. I can see why many spouses and Veterans feel ashamed about this but we have to talk about it. More importantly, you have to talk to your doctors about it. They can't help something they don't know about. If you feel like you can't and aren't comfortable with it, perhaps you can allow your spouse to come in and just talk to the therapist. Spouses, don't be judgmental, hateful or hard to get along with all while letting the flood gates open about everything under the sun. Just take one topic at a time, both of you decide this is what we are going to tackle today and then do it. 

We are running in circles if we don't open up. We have the advantages our warriors before us didn't have and that's the internet and support along with acknowledgment of these disorders and all that goes along with it. When I sit here and think about what I want to write about, there are times when I don't want to talk about something. Then I stop and think to myself of one Vietnam wife who suffered in silence for twenty-five years and who told me "speak up or they won't hear you." I don't want to let our brothers and sisters down, so when I got to say God I just say it. I also guarantee you that you aren't me. I am responding to several emails today to see if I can pair up a couple of spouses with other spouses who are going through the same thing and same issues. Each of you are commenting you must be the only aren't.

Veterans, you have been through hell. No one will ever really know what you went through, what you saw, or what you did for our country. At the same time though, we can't help you go back and change any of it. I wish we could but we could never make it all go away. We can however, help you now on the battlefield at home. It was your brothers and sisters in arms before you that spoke up and who set the standards now. Let's pay it forward by speaking up now because you never know who you might helping. Might be a veteran of the past, a family of now, or a family of the next war. Never let that head hang in shame for the past. Don't be ashamed of what you are going through now as everyone copes differently. Spouses, same thing goes for you. Speak up, don't hide in shame. I want you to remember that every time you hide behind the door... there are five more knocking and looking for you. Open the door.

I am always here. There will always be an "Anonymous" button for the comments and my inbox is private. I do have a Facebook page now that just started with many Veterans and spouses who are looking for answers and have some advice to some of these topics. Stand up and be heard without shame.

I'm Not Ashamed,


  1. Well said...and here is something else to add to your list of things to feel ashamed about. I am ashamed that I am leaving my husband. Our marriage was already weak and his PTSD, results from the TBI, and prescription drug use from another injury have driven me over the edge. I can't do it anymore. He has pushed me away and I am going. As I told him, you can't push someone to the edge over and over and then be surprised when they fall off. It breaks my heart because I know many of his issues are not his fault, but I also know that I have to save myself at some point, since I have failed to save him. I feel like a traitor to my family and even my country, but who holds their hand to a hot stove and doesn't move it when they get burned? I surrender in defeat. This crap beat me.

  2. I got your comment this morning Anonymous...and it has bothered me all day today because I wanted to say the right things to you and have thought about what I could say that made sense. I am saddened to see this, but I do understand. I really REALLY do. I am very glad you brought this up because there are a couple of others who are in the same position. First off, you are NOT a traitor (if you were close I'd smack you upside the head for saying such a thing) or a failure! EVER! I think all of us have been at this point, have gone over the edge and then scrambled to pick up the pieces when we fall. Sometimes we just can't. There are days where I often daydream of my life without him, thought about the lack of stress, what it would be like to have someone normal and have a life. I wonder from time to time why I am still here. You tried, over and over again and as someone once told me, you can't save those who don't want to try in return or try to save themselves. You can't expect to be the martyr and you have to be happy too. I think too many judge us families and its easy to throw stones. I'd like to swap lives with them and let them see how those stones feel. Honey, you have to do what makes you happy. You tried and that's all anyone can ask of you and you held up more than your fair part of the bargain. It can't always be on the spouse to save it all. Don't EVER think you failed him because you didn't. You can be the brightest light pointing the way through the dark, but he has to be the one who takes the help and follow. If he turns the other direction, that is his choice. Even the strongest safety net, after a while, will begin to break. That my dear, has NOTHING to do with you at all. He will have to make his own choices, make his own decisions and then live with them. Do what makes you happy, hold your head up high and know you did your best, and then take the time on your own to heal and do things for yourself to put back the pieces. I think we sacrifice so much, give up so many things and give it all to our Veterans. Somewhere in the process we all lose ourselves and we break. They have got to give something back, and that is one thing you can't make them do. Only he can do do that. You didn't throw the white flag first...he did. He let his wounds take him over and caused the surrender. Don't ever be ashamed for this. If you feel like you did all you could do, you did your best, then walk away knowing that you tried to save him. I am always here if you need a shoulder...take some time for yourself, seriously. Mend your broken heart, spirit and mind and never hang your head low again. ~USM

  3. I love this post. Well I love all of your post. My marriage was perfect to me before he deployed, he was everything I wanted. Then he comes home with PTSD & TBI and some other medical conditions and I don't know where to go from here. We have been dealing with it since November of 09 and still to this day I feel like I am getting no where. He won't talk to me about how he is feeling and he won't open up in counseling. I hold it all in until I loose it every now and then I make everything is done and all the bills are taken care of, make sure his school work is done plus mine. He doesn't help around the house nor do I get any love or affection, the bedroom is boring nothing happens or it is the same thing. I feel helpless and I get lied to a lot. I don't know where to go from here and I feel like I am at a dead end road.

  4. Tiff, I know it sounds cliche...but it will get better as time goes by. It's a long process, it really is. I am four years in and we are having some good days and then really really bad days. I went through almost three years of serious lying, from a man who never held secrets. I think that's what I loved so much about him, his honesty. What happened to it I don't know. I think the lying hurts the worse. Opening up to/in counseling may take time. It's probably something you don't want to hear but its true. My husband was going to the Vet Center, now going to a therapist and still is tighter than a clam. With me? It comes and goes. There are times where he is chatty cathy and opens up a little but is guarded still. There are times where he doesn't say a thing to me for hours on end, even days. Try to do things for just you Tiff. If he doesn't do his school work, he will need to face that decision of do I fail or do I pass? That my dear, is NOT part of your "care". Doing everything for him will actually impend his improvement and the motivation to try. He has got to give some.

  5. If you do everything, it gives him no motivation. The bills I can understand because well, most of us have been through the excessive spending or forgetfulness to pay something. Anything major though like the school work? He needs to do on his own. I don't have all the answers, I wish I did. I can only give you what has happened to me. It takes time to heal, and in the process of healing...we often get hurt, we are often the targets because we are there. Often we pay with our soul only to get back change in return. There are days where I feel there is no end, and God knows three years ago I thought I lost him forever. There isn't an answer to whether there is a happy end to that road...all you can do is decide to travel it and know that there will be hurdles. Some victories will be so small that most "normal" people would laugh but celebrate it! There will be hurdles that you barely make it over the top, and you fall when you land. You have to decide whether you will lay there or will you get up and dust off your kness and try again. Much of the "push" comes from us, but it has to be positive pushing or they will back away from you. Remember that you are not only fighting to get him back, but the many demons he has on his back. Take one at a time. I to this day, still wonder what our outcome will be. There are some whose ending was just that, an end. I can't promise that all will end with a fairytale ending...but I am trying and he is trying now. I pave the walkway for him and let him go.

  6. It's all we can do, and know that you did your best. I learn from my mistakes and his, I hang on to hope and the big man upstairs and his plan for me. I am taking charge on my life and putting myself up front for once and giving myself some attention. On the bedroom stuff, a lot has to play with the meds and libido. If he is still "able" to, try to spice it up a little. I have learned with mine, its has to be an all day prep thing before the main course. Negativity, fussing, anger and such can feed into him. Try to be more positive with him, stroke the ego a little, and do something unusual. I once read on another PTSD spouse page that she occasionally drank orange juice from champagne glasses. lol It's little things like that. Do know that there will be times where effort turns into denial, but it took many tries. Look at your bedroom life now and decide what it is that turns you on. What turns him on? Take a trip to the intimate stores, or rent a movie from the "back room". Some times it works and some times it will end in defeat. I once lit candles, sexy lingerie and much you know what he said to me? "blow those candles out, what are you crazy? You could start a house fire with those". It's hard honey...I know. Just know you aren't alone, although you feel like it. There is no "normal" for us, we just have to take what we have and work with it. I am always here...also on FB if you would like to go there as well. If you are worried about hubbie or anyone else, create a fake account with a different name. Know that if you give your best, that's all that anyone can ask of you Tiff. ((Hugs)) ~USM

  7. I read a few of your posts, and posts from other sites as well, and the thing that keeps hitting me is how similar the stories are... and somehow, I never knew. All this time. going on five years now, I thought my husband was simply an asshole.

    It is comforting now, to know that I am not alone in this hell. Thank you for writing.


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