(shaking my head)
Has it really been over a month?
Apparently it has.
Things have been somewhat a fast and furious pace with lots of ups and downs along the way but, we are sort of used to that by now. I have been steadfast on my whole new motto of "Move Forward and Let it Go" but, it has had it's challenges of course. Mostly, its been challenging to keep at it and not lose my patience at the same time. However, with this Summer test theory of mine, I have seen some small changes; enough to make it worth the while. I make a step forward, I see him show interest. I make a bigger step, he inches forward just a tad. There are days where the leaps I make are quite huge and self rewarding but, he takes three steps back. So I have drawn the lines; keeping my stance and pace to the forward position. I am pretty damned stubborn, got a house full of stubborn boys/men and armed with plenty of time.
I found that by finding my own way, the rest is following and God knows its been far too long that everyone has been attached to my hip. I did realize in my break, that there is never really a thing as starting over. I think after five years as a Wounded Warrior Wife and caregiver, that is one major thing I learned. There are days where the past can be burned up mentally with the ashes scattered to the wind. With that, comes peace, calmness and somewhat a remedy to broken hearts, dreams and losses. Other days, its like looking in the side mirror of the car and seeing crap coming at you, larger than life and, you think "No shit!" while looking at the "Objects may appear closer than they seem" written at the bottom.
Now even with the Mistress drawing her battling grounds, mapping out her next moves, there were and always will be some days where I envision that joining the circus may become a possibility or simply running away. Starting over really shouldn't be in our word vocabulary with our PTSD and TBI Veterans. I think the only thing you can do is just keep going. I have learned that while there is no real "do-over" there is forgiveness but, that can often be a double edged sword when it comes to wielding it in a battle against the irrational behavior of my Veteran. There comes a point where you want to word vomit yourself especially when he has no battles to be fought, so chooses to fight you. Even when you have the retreat flag flown, mortar fire comes from all sides and there is no refuge. I have learned though that fighting back is pointless because that just gives him more ammunition and so I have learned to just walk away. Blow ups have been few these days but, when they do boy are they doozies. Then the rest of the evening you battle the tears and keep them from flowing, plaster a smile on the face for the kids so at least they aren't totally screwed up when they get older and just remind yourself that tomorrow is another day with a new beginning. It's extremely hard sticking to that move forward motto on days like this because you want to turn around and look. You want to look for anything and everything to defend yourself but, if you keep re-reading the same chapters of a book over and over again, you never get to the end. There are days where forgiveness is one of the most challenging things to learn how to pick yourself up off the floor and dust off your ass for the next day to come. Fighting off the shadows of resentment and heartache, one of the biggest battles to fight. After all, he isn't the only one fighting demons on his own.
Since I used my hair as hostage negotiations from isolating myself, I found that this method was really working for me. My stylist says its becoming quite the rage in my area and that's what they call it now, "hostage hair" after I gave my explanation. My kids call it super hero hair and you know, maybe they are right. I do feel like I have a boost of confidence and strength. (Now if I can just get the Wonder Woman Tiara I'd be set) After the mailman dropped off a package for me from Amazon, he asked my son whether I ever left the house. I was rather embarrassed and while I was leaving some, perhaps not enough if getting questioned by the postal service! I then decided since the purple highlights in my hair was once a month touch up, why not venture out and paint my toenails too. So I did. I have done it twice now, and I have to admit that it makes me feel better. I get the most outrageous color (currently sporting hot neon pink with black and silver polka dots) and it reminds me that not ALL of me is a complete loss. I still got some spunk in my cranky old ass! Too, I feel better when I get out and have a reason to look forward to going out that is just for me and me only. Going twice a month to the store to spend money on groceries with three kids in tow, isn't really much of a good time.
I will admit that I have taken some time off on the blog and Facebook, gosh, I am really behind. However, I have done some super and MAJOR changes in my home. I really never was bothered by the Caregiver Home Visits other than the foul mood for the day it leaves my husband, but this time? I am rather excited to see what she says in the changes. I feel a sense of accomplishment, I felt purpose and a desire to see what more I could learn and do on my own. Thank God for You Tube how to videos! I realized too, that although I love my fellow caregivers and wounded Veterans; it was seriously bringing on a huge flood of compassion fatigue. I was talking with someone the other day and he said "you have to learn to not get personal". Well, that's not me. I cry when others cry. I am a visual person so when someone shares their story, I literally see it in my mind. Unfortunately, many stories these days are so similar to mine that its like one of those cameras in your field of vision, constantly flipping my own memories of bad times that I try not to think about. I knew nothing else but to run away and, just take a break and figure things out. My husband used to tell me he saw pictures in his mind that were so clear they seemed real. Sometimes even a smell reminded him of something else in Iraq and there he was, mentally there. I now can fully appreciate his description and accuracy in it because it was becoming the same. In some of the caregiver groups online, and stories, it was becoming so hard for me to deal with that I couldn't shake much of my past burdens without them creeping right back up. Everything that I had burned in my mind, seemed to replace itself. That anger and resentment came calling and with a vengeance. So I just stopped and took my time to read some long overdue books, watched some old and new movies, played some cards, rearranged and cleaned, redecorated and re-purposed; just a whole lot of things that you think "Man, I have got to do this" but you never do.
I feel like a new person with a new home and that self accomplishment feels great. I know it takes time to get to this point especially for you newer spouses just going through this and I don't know if there really is such a thing as "hope" in the sense that many look at that term. I do know though that the saying of "Misery loves company" can be detrimental to the caregiver. It can also be detrimental to your Veteran as well. What do I mean about all this? Well, let's say you are on Facebook and some other caregiver makes a smart assed remark or perhaps another Veteran. Before you know it, you are angry and upset. Your mood directly affects your Veterans mood. Then when all is said and done, you are both pissed off and not really knowing why or how it all started! I have had to learn to overlook, not get involved in drama, and find my own peace in my own way and on my own terms. I didn't need therapy to find that or attend a class, I think you just get to that point where you are done.
This brings me to another point. I was talking to a new and dear friend of mine. I realized that my husband wants to stay in his dark pit and he is ok with everyone being in that dark pit with him. Been that way since he came off that plane in 2007. I wasn't ok with it then and am not now. Matter a fact, I think that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I was sick of drowning with him. No matter what I did to save him, he just kept pulling us all down with him. Hence, the move forward meltdown. In that though, I saw that if I was smiling, I would see just a bit of a smile on him. If I was working on something, he would pitch in or offer an idea. Little things. She made some valid points to me that really struck a chord. Since I decided to stop wallowing in the safety net of darkness,climbed out and moved on; it was really an option for him to stay behind on his own or peek out and see what it was that I was doing. I will take the peeking over the hiding any time. I see that as one tiny improvement and while not a vast monumental improvement, I see that as hope.
I think each of us have to stop for our own sanity and look around at what is toxic in our lives and how that can impact. Try little changes, cut some things out and test that theory. I wonder sometimes while reading some caregiver's stories whether they know that sometimes they can be just as impending to their wounded Veteran just like any other thing. Maybe that will piss some off but, it's the truth and while it won't improve all of it; it's enough baggage off of you to allow you to breathe. School will be starting in eleven days so gearing up for that. I am working on a few more projects I hope to complete by that time and then it will be back to my regular schedule. This August I plan to be more organized and not so last minute, blog regularly by setting a certain day devoted to nothing but pc work and hopefully, the PEB will finally come to a close by this year. I am ready now to close this chapter of our lives minus my husband's CAB and rightful retirement which seems to be not an issue so far on retirement. As always though, have to see it to believe it! Right now though? Time for an early bedtime and back to work on the house tomorrow. It's been a long day and bad night for the man. Thinking must be the rain and storms, so calling it quits for today.
Wishing I could remove the side mirrors off my car,