Friday, March 9, 2012

Forgiving Doesn't Mean Forgetting

I've sat here at my computer much of yesterday and today debating how I could blog about anything. Can't really say things are much better, can't lie and hide my feelings by posting about a recent rant or a new resource I discovered. I simply just can't write but write it ALL out. How do I get my true feelings out without being looked upon as a bad wife? How do I prevent myself from feeling guilty? Would I look like the worst parent in the world? Would I become the worst caregiver to my husband? Then I thought of how would I suffer in silence without saying a word or screaming at the top of my lungs. I don't think I can do that. My heart can't stand the pain anymore. My heart is too heavy and overflowing. I thought the words would easily flow but yet, here I still sit........

(one hour later)

I once read a stupid self-help therapy book that said if you say to yourself, mentally or out loud, or to the person you needed to say it to; that the simple words "I forgive you" would easily take away the pain, bitterness, regrets, hatred, and pent up feelings that fester in a wound that just won't heal. So last weekend, while my husband seemed a little on the irrational side, and I was at my breaking point with "You might be poisoning my night time meds in order to kill me"; I looked at him squarely in the eye and told him "I forgive you".  I forgave him for taking away my life. I forgave him for making our family miserable. I forgave him for all the hurtful words, the verbal assaults he gave me, the drinking, the cheating, the lying and most of all....I forgave him for disappointing and letting me down. I forgave him for robbing any happiness that may come to our family. I forgave him for hating himself so much, that he can't even allow people to love and help him.

As soon as I said it, he looked confused and taken back. He couldn't reply to any of what I said. He just looked at me with his empty, soulless eyes, and said "ok?". I simply woke up that Saturday morning and decided I wasn't going to fight anymore. I am not going to worry about how he is destroying himself. I will not yell, scream or get into a useless, never ending argument that always leaves me walking away with tears soaking my face and my head hung low. I don't know what made me wake up and have a self discovery, but for once, I just got so tired of walking on the edge and so very very weary of battling this on my own. He isn't even trying at all. I realized for the first time on our Wedding Anniversary, that my husband just didn't care enough to fight for us at all.

I felt free. I felt overwhelmingly empty of all of it. I took a deep  breathe and actually felt the release. I made myself a promise that I would never look back again. I felt like I had finally had peace. I was thinking to myself while smiling, that hey, maybe that self-help quack really knows what the hell he is talking about. I firmly believed in what I told my husband. I meant what I said, and I truly just let it all go. There would be no more go-to Rolodex of wrong doings in my memories, tucked away for future battles leaving me unarmed for any war that the PTSD beast could bring upon me. I threw down the white flag saying I let him win. If he wants to fight, I will take the kids and go. I will not engage in an argument, I will not tolerate name calling on his part, or blaming me for something I had nothing to do with. I accepted what was done is done, and there is no going back. All those nights and days wasted, can't be changed nor can they be made up. I told him he would have to find another goat to lay all his troubles on.

I thought I was free.

I laughed this week. Shared conversations with my good friend Brannan at Family of a Vet, who always just knows how it is and has the soothing voice and knowledge to make me realize I am not to blame. She doesn't have the answers either, just like me. In her own world, she has so much on her but never fails to tell me to call anytime no matter what. She is someone I love dearly, respect in the highest manner and damn, am I so proud of her. Her cup, plate and bowls are completely running over and yet, here she is telling me its ok. I have to say, that if I didn't have that woman in my corner, wiping my brow after a boxing match...I am not sure what I would do. I thought yesterday after talking with her, that its been going on six years since I stumbled upon her site when it was the only one out there for PTSD and TBI. I sat and made plans to try and promote her site by volunteering at a few events, hoping to give myself some purpose. To help her to help others while repaying in my own way all the cheering she did from the stands, and giving us wives the courage to keep going. I decided just because my husband hated the world and wanted to punish himself, didn't mean that my children and I had to do the same.

The one thing that bothered me after a four hour talk with him, was that never once did he say "I forgive you". I have never lied to my husband, never let him down, spent or snuck a dime of his money without asking for it or discussing it, never cheated, never been where I wasn't supposed to be. I have always been there for him so I have the most to be upset about. All I can think of now, is that he is angry at me over one burned, twelve year old damned meatloaf, an argument three years ago that he was so nasty and terrifying that I told him we needed to separate, and everything else? All in his head with a combination of his irrational thinking, his paranoia and things he watches on television. Day before yesterday? It was because of cauliflower in a pot of homemade vegetable soup. For years, made the same way, maybe some different vegetables. For whatever reason, this set him off. I will never eat cauliflower again. This morning, I may decide not to even cook for a while.

Since my last blog, it has been somewhat tolerable, albeit up and downs in mood with him. I ignored the downs, blocking out my ears with music which I think irritated him because I didn't let him upset me. I reminded him once more, that as of last weekend...that was it for me. White flag thrown remember? One minute he is laughing, kidding around with the children, cracking jokes even at my expense, and just chit chatty. Another minute, he is obsessed with his smart phone, a fishing rod, the latest news about something in a foreign country and other weird things. When he is in a good mood...I really just want to waller in it like a pig in slop. I want to be happy, overjoyed in the mud of normalcy and laughter because God knows I crave it so much. Yet the past few months have been extremely difficult for us and the good moods? They give me the creeps. They worry me. Why I don't know...I just can't seem to enjoy any of it. I want to so badly, but I can't help that uneasiness creeping up my brain and wondering what the hell has he done now? I end up angry because before I know it, here comes the bad and dammit...I should have enjoyed the moment. They come so few and far between these days. There is no safe place to make me happy anywhere. I think in fairness to myself though, its because its easier to set up defenses than it is to relax and get hurt. I hate that I have become so suspicious and can't enjoy the "few and far betweens". In all fairness though, if it weren't for all of his past behaviors and the damage he caused and still causes...what else am I supposed to believe?

We as family members spend so much time giving it all up to take care of our Veterans. When they speak about the National Debt, the costs of the war, the costs of lives given, no one ever mentions this part of it. Wonder if somewhere on the latest report do they average in how many families are falling apart. Is the cost of therapy for our spouses, family members and children on there somewhere? Do they average out a 3 year old's next 15 years of possible issues? Probably not. Our Veterans don't care or acknowledge how much we give up or how hard we work. They don't care as long as they can keep everyone just as miserable as they are. It can be something so small, or something really important to us and they just rip it away taking it all.

We learn day to day to cope with what we are handed, not knowing from one minute to the next, what the next hour will bring. We learn to minimize our feelings to the point that they are numb and we no longer can feel happiness, joy or to be honest with you....really give a shit anymore. We play the game daily, carefully choosing our pawns to wager against that of our opponent. Sometimes we deal with a strategic move, thinking it through and carefully choosing where to move. The next? We simply close our eyes, take a breath and hope like hell it works while we make our move. We give up what we love, what makes us happy to prevent an argument. We silence our selves so it doesn't upset them because that leads to an argument. It's easier to give up than to deal with so much crap because we fight to hang on to those things. We dance to the symphony of the moods, not understanding where one foot leads to the next, and before you know it.....we are left clumsy, stumbling and leading our partner and family without direction.  After the song has ended, you see his hand slip from yours easily like sand falling through your hands.

I have no direction anymore. I can no longer dance the dance because dammit, the music ended a long time ago. I wonder every day, why am I chosen for all the blame? I used to make myself stronger, believing that the old part of him trusted me and the PTSD beast knows its ok to take it out all on me. Now my armor is wearing thin. My heart is broken in pieces and scattered from the hurtful words he attacked me with. My forgiveness I gave, suddenly all came rushing back and I realized...I don't believe forgiving will always mean forgetting. It amazes me he can throw up in my face ONE burned meatloaf twelve years ago when we first got together, but can't remember other daily tasks. I thought I could forgive and make my mind believe I had forgotten. It's hard when you have someone throwing up tiny, non-monumental, normal screw ups by someone who has done nothing but screw up and doesn't care how it hurts. I really want to say "Hi Kettle, this is pot calling". I thought and hoped I could make myself believe that it didn't hurt every day.

So how does one truly forgive and forget? I don't know if there is a true answer or a correct one. I keep trying. God knows I do. The asinine thing in all of this rambling? I do love him. He still makes my knees go weak. I still see from time to time, my old husband. I thought if I held on tight and didn't let him go, he would eventually be able to stand on his own again.  I wish I could make him turn around and look at me like he did once upon a time. I still every day, keep asking "what have I done that was so wrong?" and trying to debate my moves the past five years.

We are now going in our sixth year of him being home, and he is just getting worse. I've grown weary of it all and still after my mini revelation of forgiveness, I can't forget. I wish I could...I really do. How do you do that when someone is constantly reminding you of their wrong doings? Second chances turn to 30 more, never looking back turns to always watching over your shoulder, being alone is terrifying because you are scared to break down, and loving someone you can't figure out, loves you or not...all will just about drive you insane. I bet that is not on the bottom line of the governments war debt or even on the list of "Maybe we will give a shit later".

I'm not giving up. I have fought too long and come too far, a bulk of it on my own. I just feel like I am torn and confused. I don't know what to do anymore, hold no more aces in my back pocket, and most of all....scared that this will be the rest of my life.

I Still Forgave,


  1. You brought tears to my eyes! I have felt the same way so many times. I wish I had some great advice for you but just know I am sending you TONS of hugs!!

  2. It's amazing the excuses we make for them, to ourselves.
    I've got a vet in my life who will not commit to me, who most days of late leaves me wondering what the hell he keeps me around for if he apparently hates me so much. But then come leaving time he becomes suicidal and can't let me go.
    When did this all become normal life?

    Thank you for your blog. I am so utterly grateful I have come across it.

  3. Good morning. I was searching PTSD and forgiveness and came across your blog - thank you.
    I was never in the military, but was diagnosed with PTSD seven years ago do to significant physical and emotional abuse from birth to about 12. Read all the books, made all the promises and then broke them, therapist after therapist. Just this week my current therapist (an effective one) told me to look out and be mindful of my triggers. And then, remember to whom my anger is truly directed at: my abuser, not my partner. This hit me like a bolt. Now, knowing this, I can no longer blame my partner or friends for my misguided anger. I now have the knowledge and tools, it is totally up to me.
    Also, thank you for describing your feelings around one suffering from PTSD. It is so good for those of us in recovery to read this: we can see the results of our not trying through your eyes.


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