Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Looking to the Stars

The past few weeks have been extremely rough and I am not sure where the PTSD Beast exactly stepped off the bus from Paranoia Town, but its been trying for sure. For most of the five years he has been home, I have learned much is caused from outside stressors, or say having sick kids in the house who cry and scream. Hell, just having the kids here at home seems to be setting him off. I have self taught myself to side step and two step with PTSD but really not getting anywhere and the dance never ends. I have mastered the move of soothing my children whose feelings are hurt, apologizing to others for his behavior and making up for all that goes wrong all without really healing or soothing myself. I am tired. The one person who stayed with him and stuck by his side, even at his darkest moments, now has become his worst enemy he says. I am still hurting from all the painful things he has said out of anger the last couple of days and weeks. I am still reeling from how his behavior, his paranoia and much more....suddenly turned into being my fault.

I took my share of having everything dumped on me and cleaning up his messes. I sucked it up and fought back, by trying to get my husband help. I blogged hoping to ease the loneliness and to liven up the silence and bad behavior he issued me. I am not perfect, but I never did anything to hurt him. No matter what I say, its not the right words or it comes out as "bitching" he says. My children look at me like dad has gone off the deep end when he suddenly lashes out at me for "constantly nagging" when I asked him to pour the kids some juice or "hey come eat your supper, its ready". He may have disabilities but he isn't dead. If my hands are full and I need some help, what makes it so wrong to ask for that help? After a while, you start to wonder if its really you.

I watch my children who gather around and try to get his attention to no prevail. Because there are three of them, that's more competition to see who can gain his attention first to show the latest dinosaur just drawn, a Lego creation, or an ROTC Rifle team score and the latest test score. The desperation of approval is so saddening to see. You want to turn your head as if you know the train is coming and going to jump the lines, but you can't help but watch the wreck. I suddenly realized, my children and I will always be there trying to gain that attention and approval that is gone. He just simply no longer cares anymore. He only wants to see the bad in all of us, not any of the good. Some of it, never even happened. I don't know where some of this stuff is coming from.

I was there to catch him when he stumbled and fell, but I know in my mind now he will never be there to support me or to even reach out should I stumble. He places the weight of the world on my shoulders and acts as if I am "supposed" to be doing this stuff because I get a caregiver stipend. I am eternally grateful for that program, I really am. It has helped tremendously to get bills off our backs, to get through the month and I thought for a while, boosted my self-esteem because I felt acknowledged and had something coming that said "yes, we know what you do". It seems though since that money started, his resentment grew. It is jealousy because I am earning a paycheck and reminds him how he isn't normal anymore he tells me. Instead of being grateful, he has turned against me because I am trying to put normalcy back into our lives. I am expected to work 24 hours a day, with no breaks except to sleep and then he holds that over my head as if I don't do anything like when I had three days downtime for my surgery. I was supposed to have two weeks and am now paying for that. I think with all that I do with three kids, him, a home and mountains of paperwork...how does he think it all gets done? I think this part hurts the worst because all I have given and done...was for him.

Do I want an award? A cookie? Expect him to suddenly change back to the old him? Of course not. I just want him to understand his actions; how his words can hurt just as much as if he had sucker punched me. Why is it for us spouses, that asking for respect is so wrong? Why is appreciation wrong for us to want? Why is it so hard for him to talk to me, when he can talk to others? Why is giving me a hug a terrible thing to crave? What's wrong with expecting him to try rather than give up?

He thinks we need a separation. "Cut and run" he says. "Walk away and let him fall apart". He seems to think he didn't hit rock bottom last year with his attempted suicide. I feel somehow I failed although in my mind I know its him and he just wants to push us all away. The other part of me wants to throw the towel in and just run without looking back. It's just been a mess....when its like this I just really don't know what to do. Then I become angry at the military, the VA and the war. Just another social security number and statistic to all of them. No one cares about what really goes on with the families who are still paying with their lives and their whole beings. I am watching my family grieve as I watch my husband slip further away from us. I don't even have the strength to tell him it will be all ok. I don't even know how to soothe the worries my children have as I am just as worried.

I don't know what to do right now. I am hurt....so hurt and I have tried so hard. Did it even matter at all to him? I just want to have something in my life that the affects of war doesn't have its dirty hands in. Seems like my entire existence right now is based solely on him and his problems and I am sick of it. Most of all...I am sick of him tearing me apart. Things were going with only minor bumps in the road but nothing major until his friend came home from deployment. After his arrival, he just went all to hell. I want to blame his friend, but that's not fair. Mostly I blame my husband because he is giving up without a fight. He says he is too tired to fight back but when has he ever really tried? He hasn't. I have done it all and took it all away only to have him turn on me.

No, it's not fair to blame anyone but it sure makes us feel better doesn't it? I haven't even been on Facebook that much just because it stirs up a hornets nest with him. I can't call my friends because he doesn't want me to vent at all. Hell, I even stopped talking to the therapist I had. The days are getting longer and longer to endure but in it all? I still, even as mad as I am, worry about him. He may not love us, but we all love him. I just wish that we could make it through one year without a meltdown. Just one. One with good memories, laughter and love. I am lost right now and not sure where to turn to. I pray but sometimes I wonder if God is testing me all over again. I keep asking him why all the tests? Haven't I proved myself enough? Haven't I carried everyone's burdens long enough? When will my debt be paid? I really miss my old husband dammit. Most of all I miss myself.

My husband once told me while in Iraq when I said how much I desperately missed him, to look up at the stars every night. When I do that, know that on the other side of the world....he was looking at the same stars and missing the hell out of me. I always remembered that as it was the last phone call I got with my husband before he started to lose himself to the hands of war. Since then, I keep looking at the stars every single night and although he is just in the next room...I wonder if he knows how much I still desperately miss him and that it still feels as if he is there. It's hard to pretend nothing is wrong, placing a smile when all you want to do is scream and cry and most of all...its hard to love someone who doesn't want to be loved.

Just needed to write it out this morning, 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Room to Breathe

Wow, I am really falling behind these days! Where is the time going? With doctor's appointments and such, its been hectic, extremely tiresome and well me? I am just all over the place! Seems like things are piling high on my desk, my email accounts and my two Facebook accounts. Things have been really hard here at home. Some of it, I can honestly say, I have had my buttons pushed to the limit with my husband. I don't know why I am really surprised...this comes every year at this time. I try not to engage in a battle because I know no matter what, I always seem to lose out and always am to blame for all that goes wrong. I haven't been doing good health wise, so that has played heavily not only on my mental health but physical health for sure! I think most of all...I am still hurt over words that he has said and it dawned on me that over the past five years? I haven't forgotten much of what he has yelled at me. I don't think I have ever forgiven him either.

This last argument in the past couple of times, I laid it all out there and more than likely hurt him too. For that, I feel ashamed but not sorry for what I said. I was always raised on "careful what you wish for" and " Watch your words cause one day you might just have to eat them". I said things I shouldn't have but so did he and his words hurt much worse. I thought I would feel better but the good person inside me feels shame and no better than before. A person can only take so much and I think after five years, I was long over due for a complete melt down. I have cried and cried for the past four days. I didn't realize until they started, how long it had been since I have broken down. 

I feel restless although I have so much to do. I just can't seem to get motivated to do much of it because most of it is for him and I am angry and hurt. I want to buck against him and therefore not do a damn thing.  I am really exhausted but can't seem to get enough sleep. Doctor says its because I am still healing from major surgery and just haven't had the down time I needed to recuperate. I know much of it has been stress and his attitude towards me. I have been trying to take it easy and make myself slow down, but its hard when you are on your own and a family to depend on you with no help. I know much of it is because the months of Oct-Feb are bad for my husband and I know by now my heart should be hardened enough to know better than to expect any emotional response...so why is it I am so damn hurt? All we have done is argue and I am sick of it. I hate the snide remarks, the dirty looks and I swear some days it looks like he gives me looks like I disgust him. That part bothers me the most. I can reach for the stars for him, I can try to fight as far as I can go...but I know one thing I can't do is win him back. I think really, for the first time, the last three weeks has resulted in this Mistress feeling defeated.

I feel like a voyeur going to Walmart and watching a couple hold hands, or a family passing by with the dad and his son on top of his shoulders shouting out or smiling. I admit that sometimes to ease the loneliness that I window ship for normalcy. I hate taking my children with me because my smaller ones always stare at such things especially when the daddies are doing things with their kids. I hate the question "Mommy, how come daddy didn't come?" or worse yet "Why doesn't daddy do that with me?". There isn't an answer out there that a five or three year old could understand.

This Valentine's Day is pretty much like every other one since he has been home, but I realized a few years ago I really sort of hated this over rated holiday and never expect anything or have anything planned. Yesterday though, it somewhat bothered me about this stupid Cupid crap when I was coming back from the doctor's and got behind a couple who were kissing at the red light. It was such a silly thing, but I started to cry because I couldn't remember the last time my husband had really kissed me like that. It seriously was one of those moments that normally I would think in my head "jeez get a room people" but I so envied the both of them. I cried all the way home and then chided myself because dammit, I am stronger than this!  I guess a part of me is just all over the place. I am in pieces, trying to patch up what's left and still searching for parts I can't find. I just feel like I have no purpose and damn, I am really really lonely.

Late last night, after a bad day at the doctor's, the ride home riddled tears and old memories, my husband came in and handed me a new pair of really nice pajamas. I was kind of surprised because he hasn't said much but I guess he knew since my surgery, some of my nicer pairs got ruined. He was so worried they wouldn't fit or he bought the wrong size, holding them up against me and fiddling with them while muttering he could take them back if they didn't fit. It was almost like a kid trying to explain to the teacher why and how his dog supposedly ate his homework. I wanted so badly to throw my arms around him and say its all right, all is forgiven. I teared up though because I guess he really did listen to me when I sat down and cried because my stitches and staples had opened causing me to bleed profusely, ruining my favorite jammies. It wasn't candy, flowers, diamonds or anything romantic...but it made me feel like he cared a little and in some small way, it was probably his way of saying I am really sorry. 

So why didn't I throw my arms around him? I really don't know the answer to that. I could have and should have done a million things but it caught me off guard. Earlier he wouldn't even look at me. Now I wish I could have that moment back again because maybe he needed that. Maybe I needed that. It makes me literally sick to my stomach to fight and argue with him, makes me feel out of whack when he isn't talking to me or I to him. Foolish we are and what a waste of three weeks that can never be gained back.  Words said I am afraid I can't forgive him for or ever forget. I am trying though and trying to be understanding of what he is going through this time of year, but damn its hard. I do worry though that one day he will tear me apart and I won't be able to pick up the pieces and move on. I think I am at the point now, I am not sure where our relationship stands as a husband and wife, or hell, if he even loves me at all.

We've come so far, and lord knows we have fought it all the way....but here this year already its starting all over again and I swear, I just don't think I have any more in me to fight. I am so lost and confused in much of this PEB stuff and then Social Security sent us a lovely Valentine's day letter of denial again. Not that it wasn't expected, but never the less, a surprise to someone who just can't seem to fully understand how the system works (my husband). I worry more, that he blames me because I am the one doing all the paperwork. He seems to blame me for a lot these days and that's what bothers me the most. I am questioning myself and second guessing my moves on this chessboard of life we are playing with the military and the VA. It's a shame any of us have to be in this position.

I need to get with friends, well...actually make some friends. I think if I had people I could physically visit and talk to, I could rebuild my strength. I snickered to myself thinking I should write up a want ad for friends on Craig's list or the local paper. Imagine the weirdos that probably would answer! It's not that I don't have online friends, I have many and ones who care...but they are so far away. Many of you readers email all the time but its just not the same is it? It's different when you get be in someone's company and laugh, rather than typing messages out on forums, emails or facebook.

I am hoping that things will smooth out and I can get back on track. Just seems overwhelming right now and no one really understands. I will be glad when all this military stuff is done and over with, because at least that will be one less fight to worry about. Am trying to step back a little and give myself some place to breathe and allow myself to cry.....I figure that's the first place to start. Hoping this finds all of you hugging one another on this Valentine's Day night...if not, well count me as your Valentine's and sending lots of love and hugs to each of you.

Really Missing My Old Self,


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Confession of a Serial Second Chancer

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,