Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When Forgiveness Carries a Debt

I was raised to do the right things like not lie because eventually the truth will catch up to you. To treat others with respect, and forgive when you are able to. It's not only the Christian thing to do but a Southern belle thing my mama tried to instill in us girls. My mama used to tell me sometimes though, it was easier to forgive than to forget and occasionally she would remind us that often she forgave but she never forgot something wrong someone had done. I never really understood that until I got seriously involved with relationships and then married. I didn't want to think like that and really didn't want to carry such baggage as not forgiving and forgetting. That baggage of a "rewind" button, can become very heavy. My 2012 list of erroneous New Year's resolution was to say out loud to my husband and to myself, repeatedly, that I forgive him. I had forgiven him for many many things like all the hell he has put me through, and I forgave him for giving up. So many things that I had this instant index card that scrolled through my mind at times I was angry and hurt that I tore up and threw it all away. I instantly did feel better and really haven't had a thought about past crap, or dwell upon things that he has done because I forgave him and that was the deal I cut with myself. I have accepted finally, I think, what is and what will be and that nothing is going to change. I may not like it, I may be miserable on some days, but there are good days where things happen and it lights up your life. Others though...can come down on you and it burns up the stress free zone that you finally just got yourself in. Suddenly forgiveness turns to remembering, and once again I am pissed off all over again for not just that particular moment but for the past five years. In counseling, this is one of those things that I am trying to work on because I feel like its eating me up. I try really hard, but its just one of those demons you must battle especially when you have the opposite team member shoving it in your face all the time.

We have had a rough month this May, there is no denying that one. I don't know what's going on with my husband except that I do know I can do no right. The Social Security hearing tore us all up mostly because this was the first time I didn't have a safety net in place, no aces up the sleeves, and definitely had no idea what the hell to expect. As in my last post, our attorney we worried about, did ok and the judge who we were prepped to expect to be bombarded with questions...never asked a single thing. I had to check to see several times if the Vocational Rehabilitation Expert who sits in these hearings and asks questions then suggests jobs for disabled people; to see what he was doodling was anything interesting and a couple of see if he was still awake. After our lawyer asked my husband if he had homicidal and suicidal tendencies, and his response was truthful that yes he did, but he didn't act upon them (which is normal for all of our Veterans); the Voc Rehab guy started packing his stuff up. I guess the last resort of "He can always get a job as a Walmart Door Greeter" went right out the window on those last questions. Twenty minutes turned to an hour and a half but it was over and done with, with a comment of "We will make our decision within 30 days". I held my husband's hand through it all, I softly patted his back when he started to get upset, I calmly explained anything he couldn't get out due to nerves and when he froze. Once it was over, we felt like we had been put through the ringer literally. With all this, his new therapy which he seems to really like and the med board paperwork is done and sent in. We got our tax return in finally which was a good surprise and other than the kids ending up their school year? That is pretty much it except for some much needed maintenance around the house.

For some reason, he just can't find anything to be happy about. If he does, then he counteracts it with something to be pissed off. It's like there are two people inside of him leveling out the playing field. This week and last, he has done nothing but pick on me, yell, scream and find things to be mad at me about. I know that stress and out of routine/structure "field trips" as I call them, can set him off and upset him. One incident recalled our relationship 12 years ago when I didn't marry him within three months of dating. He is still angry about this and I asked "Seriously? Is this the best you can come up with? We are married now and have been a long why are you mad?" If it's raining, it's my fault. If it's too hot, its my fault. I have to say this past two weeks have literally exhausted me to the point I can't even sleep or think straight. I clean the house once a week, and in between days and sometimes every day...I dust, sweep up crumbs, run the vacuum, laundry, cook and deal with my children. The kids alone take most of my time because with three boys there is always one who needs scolding, one who needs holding and one who needs advice on girls or school. There are fights, there are times where they are rowdy, and they are just boys. There isn't enough hours in my day to get it all done, so what's left goes on tomorrow's list. Last Wednesday before the hearing I cleaned so much that I have to admit I did things with an old toothbrush that someone would be shocked to hear. I only wanted to clean to wear myself out to sleep due to nerves and hopefully stay out of his way and his yelling because I knew it was coming due to stress. The house is cleaned, the laundry is done accept for a few odd and ends, paperwork is done, the kids have all their stuff completed, and things are scheduled.

In part of my "Saving My Sanity" plan, was to start allowing him to do more of his paperwork and to be more involved with his caseworkers. There were times where I didn't want to deal with it anymore and asked desperately, "Please, talk with them today. They are YOUR caseworkers and you need to be a part of this" only to get a blank stare and "You can take care of it". So I did and I did the best I could, always keeping his best interests in the number one slot. I thought if I could let him be more involved, step back a little and let him see what I have been doing; it would reduce the level of paranoia and the chronic weird comments he comes up with in regards to me. It didn't help and I have to say that some's defeating. He is angry now because he is having to do this stuff and I am not doing it all. I am always there to help but sometimes he needs to be a part of this or he has no right to yell at me. I didn't ask to be put in this position, I didn't ask to give up my life to care for him, I didn't ask for the stress or having no rock to lean on....but I did it and I did it alone. He isn't dead, and yes, he is capable of filling out paperwork but instead of just trying with me helping...he blew his top. Yesterday, he had to fill some of his Med Board paperwork out and just completely lost it over having to do it on his own. A bulk of it was already filled in. He yelled at me and said "Aren't you getting paid to do all this for me?" referring to the Caregiver program.

I have to say, it was a slap in the face. This comment has been brought up many many times and I know this is a statement that many of us have probably heard. If I am not doing something all day long and night, then I get reminded I am getting paid to do such things. He reminded me yesterday that I was easily replaceable and he didn't need my help. I felt sorry for him because of his behavior although I was extremely hurt, pissed off and confused why he was so upset. He wanted more involvement, I gave it to him and now he is mad. I took on the fight because he wanted me to, and he was mad about that. It's like no matter what....nothing is good enough. He just kept going on yesterday about crap that happened years ago. I once got a speeding ticket the first year we were together, I once bounced a check and was mortified although it was the bank's fault and not mine, and I once burned a dinner the first year of marriage. Out of all the years, out of all my hard work....that's it.

I realized yesterday that although my forgive and forget was an issue with me, I wasn't carrying anymore miles with me. His though? His will always have a debt with it. A debt so large, an enemy target painted on my chest so huge that there is no place to keep from being hit. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I fight...I will always be in the wrong. I stood my ground with him yesterday and told him calmly he needed to listen to what he is saying, walk away and then come back to the paperwork. That turned into all my hard work in filing, prepping, and indexing his binders for the Army and the VA (which there is so much paper that we probably are responsible for half of the tree losses in the US) wasn't good enough and I should have done it a different way. I should have "been smarter than that". All because he didn't want to fill out three forms.

All those hours working. All those hours reading, highlighting, putting in order by date and in specific ways determined by the Army and with no help from him at all. Not even a glance over. Not even a thank you, or an offer to help. He did sit down one day after hours of punching holes and my hands swollen, to punch the last few remaining pages. He never once offered to help me with the house while all the fighting with the VA and the Army...nothing. All the stress I carried for my entire family. All the times I had to figure things out on my own because I refused to be a quitter. I just sat yesterday at the table and the tears came. I cried most of the morning yesterday and just was so disappointed in him. I recently heard the news that a friend of my Army Wife community got the casualty notification of her husband. Her son's face always lit up my Facebook page with his grin and his "mini-me" looks of his father. Their pictures graced my screen and the look of love, happiness and togetherness always made me smile. My heart was breaking for her and here my husband was yelling at me for something so stupid and looking for reasons to again, give up. Her husband wanted to come home and I was dealing with a grown up child throwing a temper tantrum because he "just woke up that way" with the weekly reminders of how he didn't want to come home. It's a very big, hard, and bitter pill to swallow. You can judge me how you want to, but that's the honest truth. It's hard to think about that "knock" on the door because I remember every single day of deployment looking out the blinds at the front stoop. How my heart would stop when an unmarked black car would come up our street. When there were weeks that went by with no word from him and the call that I got when there were  wounded, but didn't tell us families who they were for almost a week. I was there on the other end of the phone, a million miles away from each other, with a hollow sounding man telling me he didn't want to come home from Iraq. For five years, I have been reminded we weren't important enough for him to come home to or to stay alive for. I cried in the tub for my friend, because I felt horribly guilty and for the sorrow I felt. I think for the first time in my life...I really felt ashamed. I know that sounds horrible, but its the truth and how I feel. I wish it didn't happen to their family but it infuriates me that my husband can't be happy that he is home.

All I can think is if the house is cleaned, he has no reason to be angry. If we can win just one more battle, he will be happy. If I can keep the kids quiet, the laundry done, the cooking to be perfect, his appointments running on time, and everything goes his way...then he has no reason to be mad at me. It doesn't work like that though because he will always find a reason to be angry at me. When he told me yesterday that I could be easily replaced, I told him he didn't have to fire me...I quit. "Good luck in finding someone else who will do what I have done for you in the past 13 years". So he huffed, he sighed and slammed the pen around. Then it was "Are you going to help me or not". Yes, when you can have respect for me and ask me nicely. Rather than choosing to ask me nicely, he said "Well I will do it and if its screwed up, it will all be all your fault". I just walked away.......

Eventually he calmed down, but I haven't. I went to bed early after a hot bath and another good cry. I wanted him to come to me and just say "I'm sorry" but I can't even tell you how many of those I have heard or even count them on my hands. I understand that he has issues, I have accepted his disabilities, and I know that he will never be the same man I married. However, I feel there is still a degree of responsibility of control and the facing of consequences. Just because they have PTSD and/or TBI doesn't mean they can act like an ass and then its excused.  I think what hurts is I just keep trying and he isn't at all. Yet, I have the most debt to carry in his eyes that will never be paid up. How does one determine which part is PTSD, what part is TBI, and what part is just being an asshole? How does one make up or try to combat things that I have no control over or ever did? How does one repay a debt when you don't even know what you owe it for? I can't make the battlefields greener, I can't take away the dreams, I can't make it any better....but God knows I have tried and have always been there to support him. I wish just once, he could see how fortunate he is, how loved he is by his family, and most of all....that his closest ally and biggest fan, he has hurt the most.

Hurting More Than You Could Ever Know,


  1. You say all the things I have lost the ability to express. You are not alone.

  2. wow. I truly feel that we live the same life! I can't tell you how many times I have thought so many of the things you said. I'm proud of you for being honest, and standing by your man. it definitely isn't something everyone could do if put in your place. you are an awesome person. it's okay to cry, to get it out...and to be angry. anyone in their right mind can see how hard it is. xoxo

  3. i m so sorry for your son who is 34 has a tbi from a s horrible how they can act but their executive function of their brains have been damaged....they can t help it....keep reminding yourself that....can you get some respite hours ,get away,take care of yourself a little.....hang tough

  4. I "hear" and "feel" everything you have said! My situation is a little different. My husband was in Germany when he had his TBI, I was in the States. It has been a horrible year and a half! I've been blamed for everything under the sun and then am told that he never said it! Very tough times. I am determined, I will stay, I will not quit, I will not walk away!

    1. Amen!! Sometimes the hardest thing to hear from them is, "I never said that." Especially after such things said that cause pain for days at a time. I can't believe I am reading exactly what I live daily. I have kept all of this in because the first time I told someone they told me it was just an excuse for bad behavior. My family has no clue to what goes on, as we don't visit much nor dare I tell my mom how much I cry because of his anger towards me for no reason. Thank you for your honesty in your post!!! I have been racing out in desperate attempt to understand and relate for a while now. Makes me sad and happy at the same time, for all of us, to have someone that understands. Ty!

  5. Thank you for this incredibly honest post.
    My husband got back from Iraq which was a year long deployment just right after 7 months in Afghanistan in March 2005. Within a week I had the thought that this guy the Army sent me truly wasn't the guy who left.
    A year went by and his addictions were piling up.
    frivolous spending
    adrenaline junky
    a mean streak a mile long
    abusive language
    abusive behavior
    anger anger anger
    then the infidelity (that's when I experienced trauma and developed PTSD)
    then the rock bottom
    then the separation
    and second rock bottom

    Now, 7 years later, 3 kids later, we are making it day by day. He's still mean, ungrateful and hateful toward me but I finally understand he is sick and can't control it.

    It's so hard and I never would have chosen this life, but we manage and I focus on the kids so they have as many healthy experiences as possible.
    I feel your pain and I am so sorry.

  6. When one of your sons acts up, do you let him or do you tell him that that is not the right way to act? If and when one of your children has yelled back at you or thrown a tantrum for getting their way, you calmly tell them that they are wrong.
    Maybe, since your husband is acting so like a child, he needs to be told the same thing.
    I'm not saying he's going to like it, but look at yourself in a few years. What do you see? Because the way things are going, he isn't getting better. He (and therefore your whole household) will be the same, if not worse.
    He may not become who you married again, but you are probably not the same either. You have sacrificed a ton, as has he. However, he needs to see that this isn't okay. PTSD is not an excuse for him to treat you like a worthless robot, no matter what he thinks or feels. I know it is indescribably hard for both of you, but you're already doing More than your part.
    And hidden parts of him are there. They are smothered by hate and memories that will not go away. But he's there. He just needs to bring it out. You have already set the stage, I think you should tell him that it's time for him to grow.

  7. I have been a lurker for a while. My relationship with someone suffering from PTSD/TBIs has just recently ended and I am here looking for some support. I can relate to everything you have said here as I have gone through the same emotions. It's a hard life when you are never good enough and the person you are supposed to depend on the most can hardly ever support you. I am looking for an email/chat buddy if anyone is interested, especially for someone that has come out of a relationship like this. It hurts that he walked out on me and I feel like he is just having another spell (like always) but he is off dating other women and that is something that I just can't accept. I know it is best to move on but it is hard when you have put so much effort and love into someone and they leave you with nothing.

  8. I don't know if my earlier comment went through (first time posting here but long time lurker) but I am looking for an email/chat buddy to get over my recent breakup with someone suffering from PTSD/TBIs. I can relate to everything you have said here and it really hits close to home. It hurts when you love someone but they just don't treat you that way back.

  9. I cried in my office today as I read this & thought to myself...this woman is the only person I've hear before that knows how I feel. Thank you for being so honest...My husband has recently told me he's going to divorce me because I'm basicly too much in his personal business. I love my husband and miss the man I married. He suffered a TBI his first of 3 deployments to Iraq & is currently in Afghanistan. I will fight for this man because I know this is not who he is....I'm just exhaused...and now I have to sit and wait and be non confrontational until he is home safely. You're blog ment a lot to me...thank you.


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