As I have been sorting emails and trying to play catch up on some forums, chat boards, Facebook pages and the many other groups I belong to.....the one thing I noticed was that it seems the PTSD Beast is rearing its ugly head all over the U.S as of late. In some sick twisted way, this made me feel better mostly because it meant I am not so alone. It is something that occurs this time of year; some experts claiming its the post holiday blues, the change of the weather, the winds or the tides, chemicals in the water, too many acids in our foods, or some other psychobabble crap they spin. Either way, most of us spouses find that we are trying to keep up with the incoming changes that are bombarding our homes. The invasion often leads to nasty arguments, things said meant or not, then leaving most of us scratching our heads wondering what the hell we did to get all the blame when we were really not at fault.
The past few days here have been really rough. Started with one little thing and before I knew it, it became out of control with curse words, left field accusations, paranoia mixing in with severe delusional thoughts. If my husband had said Elvis was conspiring to take him back to his home planet and a purple monkey was standing at his side....I don't believe I could have been any more shocked than some of the things he said. When he gets like this, there is no way to "redirect his attention and focus" which is a common statement you will see and hear in many books and classes on PTSD and TBI. I have often wondered about those who constantly shove that crap in our faces, if they have actually had to use this technique while being in a stand down with a full blown episode/spell. I really don't think they have and most of them are just out of college, still thumbing through the psychiatric DMV book as they are telling us this. From experience, watching him and knowing how things go....much of his explosions are linked to upcoming stressful events that we are dealing with. It becomes a show down in the house meeting at high noon. Him with the loaded pistol of verbal garbage and crap I have no idea where it comes from and me standing with my eyes closed waiting for the bullet to hit home because I know fighting and arguing back makes it worse.
Just when you think you have everything in routine, paranoid thoughts and delusions somewhat already used to, they begin to change leaving me at least, not understanding or not knowing what the hell to do. In my last post, I mentioned the LT Col who told me I wasn't trying enough and how it made me cry because I couldn't believe someone had the gall to sit there and judge me without knowing the whole story. After the last couple of days? I really would love to tell her what I think of her and where she could shove her bubble gum machine training she received and offer her to pick up the work that I have done. I wonder if I showed up one day and dropped my husband off at her door and said "Here ya go. You know so much and obviously have it all figured out. You deal with him." what would she do? Bet her almighty tone of voice would drop, and she would sing a different tune then.
Still fuming on her words, dealing with all that I have this week with my husband, and reading yesterday of all the other women still picking up the pieces in their home and minds...it made me stop and think about second chances. My mother was a "stand by your man" Southern belle, with a backbone made of steel and a sense of humor that always broke the enormous chunk of silence that would follow a bad argument. My father was no saint and there are still things I am learning about my mom even now after seven years of her being gone. Some days, in my mind, I talk with her and I want so badly to ask her how the hell did she do it? How did she take care of us kids, my father and still maintain happiness and strength? Was my mama truly happy and fulfilled?
I receive emails all the time from spouses asking me what they should do. Stay or leave? Stick it out or file for divorce? Moms asking what they did so wrong. Fathers who can't figure out what they did to get the foul mouthed, yelling screaming son/daughter they are taking care of. I get daily veterans asking me why their wives can't get "it". The truth of the matter is that I can't answer a single one of these questions because like most of you....I am still trying to find my way just like so many of you. This past few days have really made me evaluate a huge part of my life and all that is lost. It's a constant pattern. His fuse gets lit, it begins to slowly crawl towards ignition, then KABOOM there we go. Sometimes it takes a while, sometimes it so sudden you don't even have time to duck and find cover. He just doesn't yell, throw things or scream at the top of the lungs but rather, he goes for the jugular. The beast finds and recognizes every single weakness you have as a person. It is somewhat fascinating because the intellectual person I am, I wonder how it is that my husband can remember such weakenesses and knows where to ambush me where it's going to cut to the core. He doesn't blow up so it's sudden death to the opponent...he wants you to suffer long and make the pain last. Yet, he can't remember to take his medicines, remember what happened during a short conversation on the phone, keep track of time or remember what you said five minutes ago.
After it all goes down, there is anger, sincere and bone deep hurt on my part coupled with a silent scream that just builds and builds. Confusion sets in, questions begin whether I did something or not....and I really have nothing to say to him for a long time. After his blow ups, he acts as if nothing happened and "forgets". When he thinks I am going to surely walk out the door...he says "I'm sorry I vented". Vented? Venting is getting upset and fussing about something in particular. We have the C&P tomorrow for re-evaluation. Yelling at me about that would not have bothered me at all or even bringing it up in the conversation would have made my mind say "He is just scared and worried about this event coming up". Screaming at me and telling me how much he hates me....is another story. Hate is a strong word and I can't remember ever in the almost 13 years we have been together, that I have ever said I hated him. That word just isn't in my vocabulary nor would it be something I would say to someone I love. I hate brussell sprouts, water chestnuts and jello still bothers me to this day...but hating a loved one? No. I have been through so much in my life that I know that life is precious and we have to remember that some things said...we could never ever take back. That was one of those times.The apology he gave me was back handed, half assed but I guess an apology overall because he knew it was what he thought I needed to hear.
I sat yesterday and read all these emails and comments on boards and wondered when do we as the Caregiver and Spouse, give too many second chances? Second chance means just that. One time we overlook something bad, we forgive, we try to forget and move on. We give that person a one time, get out of jail for free card and a chance to redeem themselves. I was raised with the Christian thought of giving, charity, love and being kind to others and that everyone deserves a second chance. As a self revelation yesterday, I realized how many second chances I had given my husband. I lost count, couldn't even think of all the times he had been so mean, nasty, low, cut to the bone hurtful, crude and hateful and yet....I gave him another second chance. I then thought to myself when my sense of humor kicked in that I have now become the "Serial Second Chance" spouse. I can no longer blame PTSD or TBI for his repetitive problems...I can now only say to myself...you gave him too many chances.
Do we give second chances because we know they aren't well and have serious problems? Or are we just allowing them to continue to think that we will always be there to take it and say "aw honey, it's ok. I know you are upset about this or that". If my children had thrown such a fit I would have done a time out, grounded them from something to show I was serious or busted their bottoms. When it comes to care giving for a loved one, how do we draw the boundaries? How do we give them a time out? I love my husband dearly and in sickness and in health I took my vows seriously, but I have to say sometimes my biggest fantasy includes a one way ticket to anywhere and the opportunity to allow myself a second chance. I think what hurts the most is knowing that my husband hates me and tells me so all the time when he is angry. I used to chalk it up to just being angry and the garbage disposal in his mouth and mind was working overtime, but now I am starting to wonder if its the truth. If so, I can't think of a reason why he would hate me so much. Looking back over the years, I can't think of anything I have ever done to hurt him, been dishonest, not been there for him, or anything that could give a such a word to throw at me.
At what point in our lives, do we just say screw it and no more second chances? I wonder why I am trying so hard to keep my family intact all while I am slowly breaking apart, when he won't even give .0005% of trying at all. I shook my head sadly yesterday while I read all these stories, comments and other issues that spouses are dealing with ending with "I feel so alone". No one is alone but I can relate. I know of one spouse in my entire area and there are more than 12,000 of us here. I really wish we could just gather us all up and meet in one location so we could look around and just see. Maybe it would give us strength, courage and the will to keep going. There is always that saying that "Misery Loves Company" but hell in our case, I think we need that company.
I think the biggest thought this week rolling around in my head is, I wonder if my husband would have taken all this crap if the rolls had been reversed. What if the caregivers were the ones who came home like this? Would we have been given any second chances, or would we have seen them walk out the door? I think in my case.....the answer would be no. So I can't help but wonder why I am trying so hard when he isn't?
Blaming my Mood on the Preservatives in My Loaf of Bread,