Sunday, May 30, 2010

Revelations and Rainbows

So it has been a nice few days here at home. My husband has actually been in a good mood, mostly due to a little "hope" finally swung our way! I won't mention the "hope" in fear that if I talk about it that it won't happen. Will just have to wait to see what happens, but keep your fingers crossed dear readers!

Friday we went to counseling, and from the last session...I was really just dreading the trip to the VA, dealing with the therapist and THEN dealing with the aftermath for two weeks until the next one. I dreaded it so much that I contemplated what would be worse? Having my head torn off and be fed to a lake full of alligators or go to marriage counseling? Fortunately for me, my head is still intact and we do not have alligators here in our state. Made it through the first 15 minutes of "rehashing" and bluntly told the counselor I didn't want to be there, saw no point in continuing counseling with my husband and pretty much sulked while he talked and she asked questions. Surprisingly enough, my husband stated that he could have handled the last session differently and that he didn't mean to say that....its just he felt agitated, pressured and felt he needed to throw up the defenses. After a while, the counselor started asking about our relationship and how its been since he has been home. It was then I realized that what was the one thing that bothered me about him and our relationship.

I feel that since he came home, he has not only pushed me away, shut me out but left me as my husband. I feel that since he has been here, and the normal role of husband and wife, as drastically changed to mother and child. I didn't realize how much this was so until counseling made me think about our relationship. Since he has been home, it really has been like having another child. It's been me and FOUR boys rather than just our three. Children take and take because they are self-absorbing individuals learning, taking everything in around's what they do. Mommy and Daddy are always there giving and well, until they get older do they really start to give back as adults. Right now, I feel like rather than being his wife, I am mothering him along with our children. A role I hate to even admit I am in, and one that is constantly challenging me. I feel that my needs are not noticed or met, and that I am the one constantly giving but never on the receiving end.

When asked of my husband what I do for him that makes him feel loved and cared for, or understanding of his PTSD, he flooded with all these answers. I kind of sat there with my mouth hanging open because most of the time, he never tells me this stuff! Things you would never think of that he noticed, he did and felt that it showed love, care and patience. I was pretty astounded over how one session that I was dreading so much really turned out to be a good thing. We didn't leave angry, or me crying. We left with smiles and me feeling like for once...he "got" what I have lost for the first time.

We actually had a date night, first one in YEARS...literally. We had a nice dinner although he really struggled with the crowded Friday night restaurant. We ate, went and purchased my oldest son a birthday present, and then went to a movie. It's been so long since we have seen a movie, that I could not even tell you what we saw last! The movie was great, and we had a great time! After work yesterday, he came home and wanted to go to the flea market and to lunch with me and the kids. We were all so shocked that we really didn't know what to say. It was a great day today but I could tell he was really fidgety, nervous and paranoid about being in such a large crowd. I commended him on not blowing up and freaking out, but we really didn't stay that long. Lunch was driving thru so we could go on home. I figured he'd had about all he could stand. I guess I can't complain.

I looked out the window this evening after a strong thunderstorm and saw a rainbow. That rainbow reminded me that there is a little sunshine after the rain. I sometimes get so lost in all the bad days, that I overlook what little good ones we do have. Maybe it's because I just have more bad days than good ones, and just need to concentrate on the good ones. For a short while this weekend, I had my husband back and that was a wonderful feeling. It was very uplifting and made me realize why I fight so much for him and for everyone. Maybe just maybe, there will be more rainbows and less rain clouds.

Off to enjoy the evening without tension, anger and stress....
Uncle Sam's Mistress

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Back Up and Punt "Anonymous" !

It seems a fellow military spouse feels that my comments about my husband on my blog are unfair to him and if I feel this badly about him, "move on". I "am unpatriotic, selfish and undeserving of a Veteran". My comment of " It would have been easier to have him killed in action/ lose a limb than come home this way with severe PTSD" has really disturbed her.

Well, first off....this is a "self-help" blog set up in "my perspective". Adding myself to Scott's site is in hopes that maybe other wives will read what I have to say and say "Man, so I don't feel like a total horse's ass because look here! Someone else is dealing with it too!" I am not writing about how God helped me through all this, because although a strong God believer, so far he hasn't helped one bit. Before you cast stones, we have been down that route and didn't get much help. I am a firm believer that God has a plan for me, and so far he hasn't let me down in the's just recently I feel like he got busy elsewhere and momentarily forgot us. I am not going to blow smoke up other spouse's asses reading this, because how is that fair to them or make them feel that they aren't alone in probably similar thoughts?

So far 65% of blogs I have read talk about how things get better, how "good" days are absolutely peachy king and bright. How paying for their own psychiatrist out of pocket helped them and how wonderful things are now that their soldier is cured. I know Vietnam Veterans who aren't cured, and it's been 25 years!

I do love my husband and am so proud of him as a soldier, as a husband, and as a man. Does this mean I have to like him most of the days? No. When someone places as much stress on you than any one person can handle, it takes its toll. When you have absolutely no one to talk to, and mostly because your husband has pissed off everyone around you, it takes its toll. When you turn to the military who promised that your soldier would be taken care of and you hear "send them to the VA-That's their benefit" and the main physician there tells you that your husband only needs fish oil and Vitamin D, E, and calcium supplements to cure his PTSD, it tends to make you bitter. A "healthy Bowel Movement cures the body and the soul" is not help with PTSD. So then comes the 9 other medicines he is on that make him dopey, forgetful and a zombie. Trust me, I have been on other blogs, read everyone's success stories and some of it just infuriates me because no one mentions how much crap they had to wade through to get to the point of Bliss. I realized the best help I could give myself was an outlet to let loose and not worry about what others say. Do I want to be so negative? Absolutely not! I wish that I could write about a successful cure all for PTSD and TBI. I wish for sure, my life with my husband was back to "pre-deployment days". Sometimes seeing the truth from someone else, is the reason they step forward to talk about it or get help.

Before anyone knocks me for my comments about not coming home at all, you have to look at our life. Some days are good, a majority of it bad. There are times when the man I love and trust so indefinitely, scares the hell out of me. I don't know who he is anymore, nor do I understand what he is going through. Counseling hasn't helped as all that does is piss him off, and then I end up in "the enemy zone" with him at home and the counselor at the VA because I am not considering the fact he is a veteran with PTSD. If I fuss because he is drinking, or state that I wish my needs as a spouse did not go unnoticed, I am not being supportive. So having to monitor what I say at home, monitor what I have to say in counseling really hasn't helped me at all.

Do I really wish my husband never came home? No. I would have literally shriveled up and died I do believe. The comment was made because my husband after grueling all day appointments at the VA stated it would have been easier losing a leg or an arm than dealing with all the psych crap. Looking at my comment, do I want my husband this angry, this depressed, and having emotional problems? Can I really sit there and say I am "ok" with the fact he can't even comprehend instructions on a toy for my kids? Can I really say that I want my husband to suffer so I can selfishly say well, at least I have him here? It's my point of view, and if that makes me whatever, so be it.

As far as my "patriotism" is concerned, you could not find a person who bleeds more red, white and blue than myself. I run a non-profit for soldiers and their families, a Family Readiness Group Leader for my soldiers at the local unit in which I log a 1000 hours or more every three months of volunteer hours, a member of the military American Red Cross Board, Disabled American Veterans Lady Auxiliary, and know that my husband did his job and a damned good one too. Because I talk about my problems in my home, or wish that I could have one family memory that is good and does not involve my husband freaking out and making all of us cry, doesn't make me unpatriotic.

To be robbed of such joys that are taken over by PTSD does not make me ungrateful, just needy. I need those "moments" and I am sure all of us, soldiers included, want those back too. Who doesn't want to feel wanted or loved by their spouse? My blame lies not on the soldiers or any branch of the military. The blame lies in the ones who sit behind the desk and think it's a good idea to shove PTSD and TBI under the rug. It lies in the ones who decide that educating spouses on these issues more than what they are telling us, isn't as important as talking about change of insurance when they come home. Let's spend two hours advising our spouses of suicide, giving us the high rates of suicide linked with OEF and OIF and a number if it actually works for some, because the military doesn't want any bad light on them. Let's skip over TBI all together and briefly touch up on the subject of PTSD. "Your soldier may come home and suffer from a few nightmares or sleep issues" is not a real big help when you get blindsided from PTSD. Newsflash for everyone....we concentrate on PTSD more, and maybe we would have less suicides or murder-suicides. I blame not my husband, I blame those who don't help give him the "square deal he deserves" after serving his country. Reasoning behind my name? It's a fitting name for me who is someone that has been screwed every which way but sideways by the VA and military. They don't have to worry about the soldier they have or their families, until it's convenient for Uncle Sam and his needs. No commitment just like in a side street affair, making me a mistress. I didn't realize I had to contemplate insulting someone over a pseudonym.

I apologize if I somehow upset you by my truthfulness and honesty....I will not however, say I am sorry for what I wrote. If comments from a blog upset you that are going to have a hard row to hoe seeking help from others. PTSD is not a cold, it doesn't go away on its own or with antibiotics. You need to realize that although you may not agree, that everyone's life doesn't mirror yours. Every soldier has different causes of their PTSD/TBI, and spouses are the same way. In my writing, perhaps a soldier will stop and see what I have wrote and think about his wife and what she goes through. Also, this is the only time my husband really listens to me. Do I say anything behind his back? Absolutely not. He supports my standing in front of half the Army discussing family and soldier issues, as well as me stating the fact of how I feel when he is in one of those days in my blogs. If that is selfish, undeserving, and all this makes me unpatriotic, then label me and then move on.

Until Next Time...Uncle Sam's Mistress

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Still the Same Old Song & Dance

So ever since our counseling session last week, things have been sort of tense. I guess more on my side this time, I will admit it. My point being this, What's the point of going to counseling if the only reason my husband stays in our marriage is because of our kids? I know I know..."not supposed to use what is said in counseling outside of counseling", but she isn't married to my husband! After continuously asking me what's wrong, I finally broke down and told him yesterday that comment really hurt and well, I just don't see a point of wasting either of our time if he doesn't want to be there. He gets upset with me! I am being honest and I was not hateful about why do I feel like I am the one in the wrong?

Staying away from home constantly and never being here when I need him has sincerely left me sorta numb, him talking on the phone with all these other people every single day and not talking to me, has left me really dead inside. I am to the point now I could care less if he comes home or ever speaks to me again, and the sad thing is; I know that he would be happier because I am not "questioning" him. What's wrong with this picture? I mean, sure he is happy and well, so glad someone is! However, I have to contend with my kids seven days a week with no break whatsoever, never have a friend to talk to or even have a decent relationship with my husband. BUT "he loves me, if he didn't, he wouldn't be with me". Really? Show me you love me by spending some time with me, don't make me have to explain to a four year old why dads not home again, and make me feel like you want to be with your family!

All my friends so to speak, don't have any clue about PTSD or what we as spouses go through. The lack of empathy, the coldness and flippant way he acts most of the time, the lack of tenderness, and I really really hate the "I have PTSD" card he pulls out of his sleeve and lays on the table when you are upset with him. I know I didn't serve, probably don't know the whole story of what went on over there and never will.....but why am I being punished? What did I do to deserve all this or my children? He has no care when one of us is sick, has no second thought of my health or stress that is laid on me...but is the first to remind me that "I add extra stress on him". Why? Because I call you and say hey, you coming home for supper you wanted? Five-eight hours later, can't get a hold of him nor does he call.

I feel really bitter towards the military. I mean, they know some of our soldiers come home this why is there not a Plan A and Plan B for us spouses? Because we are not their problem anymore. Send them off to the VA and let's hope for the best! I am sincerely hoping that someone one day will listen to me, or just hear me out. I don't want to give up on my husband, because every once in a blue moon I see the old him come through. But, it disappears just as fast as it appeared. So I throw myself into anything and everything I can to keep busy and keep my head on straight. I think what scares me is that I am getting to the point of not caring anymore. I have never been that way! I am slowly losing concern about my husband that I used to feel so strongly about. I am more like "he doesn't want to come home, fine with me. At least I can have an evening without an argument". In reality, that is one less stressful family moment we all don't have to endure.

My two youngest sons' birthdays are coming up in June and I am already stressing out whether my husband will be rude, snotty and have a "moment". I don't want to invite friends because what if he does flip out? I have to worry about offending friends or upsetting my children. Most parents would worry about having more children on top of theirs at a party, or trying to budget the birthday money out of a paycheck. I am worrying how my husband will be and whether my children will have a good birthday that dad didn't ruin. I have to remember all the past special occasions or holidays where we all went home crying.

I guess I have always been a smart cookie. Well read, educated, and definitely a hands on learner. Just wishing I could understand more of what he feels or what goes on his head. Crack open the old head and take a peek at the works and say "Ah-Ha! Elementary my dear Watson!" I have read and studied on PTSD, most of which is textbook jargon. Stuff reads like stereo instructions. Classes we have taken left me feeling worse and left out as nothing applied to us spouses. Counseling both free and paid for, left us sort of worse for wear I think. Did it really accomplish anything? Not really. I took everything he fussed about which was nothing compared to my complaints, and left him alone...I stopped counted to ten and reminded myself he isn't the same and tried to be more positive. Did he take anything from those sessions? Nope, it's the same old song and dance.

I honestly would not know what a single day of no stress would be like. Really. I can see why some spouses drink every day or end up alcoholics as I have heard in spouse sessions or read. It's very easy to eye that bottle of wine at 9:00 p.m. and think "A few glasses will wind me down and make the hurt go away for just a few hours at least". I must have looked at that new bottle of wine in the fridge every single time I opened the door and longed for it. I finally sucked it up, popped the cork and dumped it down the sink. I think I worried that I would polish off that bottle, and want more and more. I fought it and now still kicking myself in the butt that I tossed it! Haha!

I know that PTSD is an unseen wound, know that it's not acknowledged as it should, never fully understood by the soldiers let alone the spouses. I think sometimes that it would have been easier to have my husband lose a leg, or something like that. The fight for PTSD and TBI is just incredibly long and is there ever an end? Is there a point where the white flag is raised and get back to where we were? I don't mind the fight, but I don't want to fight for someone who doesn't care about anything anymore. There's gotta be a point to soldiers who suffer that they stop and say "Crap, I gotta get myself back together again!" I just wish my husband would acknowledge that he hurts us, gives us the heaviest weight to bear that no one should ever have to deal with, and that we love him or we would not still be here. It's getting harder and harder though to see the silver lining in the clouds, because here lately its been a torrential downpour and no clear days. Maybe one day the sun will break though.

Until Then,

A Desperate Sky Searcher with No Umbrella

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Excuses, Heartbreaks and Peanut Butter Cups

Wow...has it really been three months since I have written? I could probably fill in a whole lot of excuses why, but to be honest, my heart just hasn't been in it. My husband and I decided to take another crack at the whole marriage counseling at the VA. The therapist is really nice, understanding but I feel like an hour every two weeks isn't really cutting the mustard so to speak. We have gone now a couple of times and I really felt like I was made to be the enemy in each session. She sends me this list of books I am supposed to go online and buy, "do my homework", come back and see her in two weeks. How can you spill your guts to a counselor and share the time with your husband in less than hour? Fifteen minutes in the beginning is to rehash last session and to ask us how things are going now. I feel like I am bubbling over the top on the insides, perhaps its because I don't have anyone to talk to about it. The entire time I am supposed to justify why I get so upset with him, when he screws up and never comes home...I am supposed to take a deep breath and count to ten and say "Remember he has issues and emotional problems".....Hmmmm, not really sure how to feel about this. When your husband stays gone all the time, calls and says "I'll be home in five minutes, whats for supper, I am starving?" Then I expect him home in five minutes, to eat supper that I fixed for him and spend time with his family. Instead, he doesn't show up for hours on end with no calls, no explanations, nothing! Now this therapist is telling me that yes I have the right to be hurt, but do I need to be angry over it? Hell yes I do! PTSD or not, I feel I deserve a call to let me know he is not coming home. I deserve to know why!

My youngest son has a peanut allergy and my Mother in law by accident and irresponsibility, allowed him to get in contact with a Reece's Peanut Butter cup. It almost killed him. Scary thought and just thinking about this incident again, makes my heart drop to my stomach. The whole time the ER doctors kept telling us it was an allergic reaction, and she never admitted her error. Three days in the hospital, test results in hand showing he ingested peanuts, and then she says "well he might have gotten into peanut butter". After he is home, after a doctor check up and more medications to put him on and safety measures...after explaining to her that the peanut butter in the PB cup, was what caused him to be so sick...she STILL denies or puts the blame on something or someone else. "Maybe it was the grass and the doctor is wrong", "I don't think I did wrong, the test is wrong". Now I don't think she did it intentionally, and I am not as angry as I probably should be....but when you are wrong, step up to the plate and say "I was wrong, and I am sorry".

Getting down to the point, I think my husband can't step up to the plate. When he is wrong, it's easier to get angry and start attacking back. There again, I walk away thinking what the heck did I do wrong? I can't count on him to be where he is supposed to be, or deserve any attention, but I am wrong? I feel like I am my husband's peanut butter cup. Crazy example I know, but really I feel I can relate. Perhaps he is more like his mom than I originally thought!

The therapist says in order for us to get back to the point of happiness in our marriage, we must first remember why we got together to begin with. God, can I even remember that far back? I am struggling trying to remember those little things, the laughter, and am I really that deprived now that I can't remember those things ever again? It was mentioned that I had considered leaving him for a while. Yes, it was talked about and considered, but we have children together. That throws a wrench in the works. The therapist asked me if I felt like I needed the time away, I answer yes. Then she says "why haven't you gone then?" I answer as honest as I can be, speaking truly from the heart and say " I don't want to give up, I feel if I leave him I am letting him down and right now I am the only stability he has. I married for sickness and in health, and I am keeping to that vow".

Then it's my husband's turn. Same question and he answers "she wants to go then there is the ^%$#^&*$ door, go. The only reason I haven't left is because of my kids and I don't want her to take them to AZ where her sister is" he has said some crappy things, hurt me when he is angry or upset at something, but never have I felt like my heart was truly broken as it was yesterday. I looked at him and said "well at least your honest"....he got mad and said, "well if I didn't love you I would not be here now would I?" All I heard after that was he is only sticking around for the kids sake...not mine. I don't really know why then he is going to counseling if there is no point of him wanting to be in a marriage. I came home and was just literally sick to my stomach. Here I am fighting for not just all soldiers, but my husband. Fighting for more help, more resources for soldiers with PTSD and even more for spouses who are suffering like I am and no one cares! For what? So he can tell me that the only reason he hasn't ended the marriage is because of the kids? I kept thinking that if I kept searching, kept speaking out, kept showing him I was in this for the long run, then perhaps he will see the light so to speak. Guess not. He would not see the light at the end of the tunnel because basically the PTSD is a fast moving train and has already hit him for life.

He was recently diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury. Not sure how to feel about this either. Yes, I feel better knowing that the signs of other non-PTSD things happening to him are really something...but now what? He has been in a mood ever since the diagnosis and doesn't want to talk about it. I am suffering in his silence and so are my kids, and he doesn't care. I really don't think he cares much about anything anymore. Am I fighter truly? Or am I sincerely a fool? These examples I write about...maybe I should copy all these and send to the Army. Perhaps then with all of us who are suffering and sending in letters, maybe they will realize that they just left us out in the cold and no jacket. Do they really care at all what happens when their soldiers come home from war? Why can't they prepare us for all this or have a manual or something? As a military spouse, we served right along side of our husband...where is our VA when we need one?

Anyway, will end this blog for now and will try to write more at least once a week. I know it makes me feel better writing about it and letting my frustrations out, but man....sometimes I feel even more alone than I already am.

Until then,

A permanent peanut butter cup hater