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 something...by God I just say it. I also guarantee you that you aren't alone...trust 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 ones...you 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,