Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What Happens When the Battles Are Done?

Again, here I sit alone in my room trying to figure out what went wrong in our journey. It's been a while since I blogged last. I don't really know what's prevented me from writing but summer vacation has played havoc with my ability to schedule, find extra time and keeping the "Beast" at bay. I have had a lot on my mind lately and most of it, really isn't about my husband. It's been me. I am probably a psych doctor's dream patient in all reality, because I feel so lost most days. I am starting to question a lot of things, and question much more.

It's been a long journey and as our Federal Recovery reminded me....we are near the finish line. We were notified pretty quickly about the Med Board evaluations and within less than 24 hours, appointments were starting to pile up. I felt relieved but, at the same time I really wanted to reach out and smack someone because they were rushing us. I nicely reminded the lady who set our appointments that we have been waiting on the Army since 2007, and now I am supposed to drop it all to meet their demands? I think the problems I am facing are inside of my muddled mess I call my brain. I never really had time to just breathe in between it all, and haven't really fully taken a deep breathe since 2007. Of course, many hurdles have been jumped....mountains climbed, battles won and some still waging on but I am very weary and burned out. The anger still is in me, the fight yet not gone out of me but just am tired. I am ready to get the Med Board out of the way but at the same time I am a little scared of it all. I haven't the knowledge or my aces stacked for this, no plans for my fail safe- Houdini escape and then I wonder....what will I do after that?

I have fought so hard and for so long, that I know nothing else. Much of the conversation these last few months with my husband has been all the appointments, doctors etc. When I think about it...all we really have in common anymore is fighting back. I am going to be honest and say that I wonder what will hold us together after that? What bond, what fight, will we have to carry on? Right now and for the past couple of months, he has distanced himself from me and doesn't speak to me. It's like the only lifeline I have is the battle we chose to fight. I spoke to a dear friend the other night forever it seemed (literally I used two phone batteries up). Allan and Robin, who run Veteran's Benefits Support, have such a relationship that all of us could and would probably give it all for. I really opened up to him as he is so easy to talk to and talked about my fears, my dreams and my need to fill a void that is still in me. I think I have so much in me to give, so much more that is left of me to fulfill a purpose but I need to focus. A good friend, is one who can really put a boot up your ass and tell you that he loves you at the same time. He and a few others, really really know me and I felt suddenly vulnerable and naked as I explained my fears and concerns. He knows I trust no one, that I am a fighter and that I am passionate about my Veterans and all of you but at the same time, he knows that I slowly burning the candle at both ends. He knows that I am hurting still, even after all these years and still deep down...I miss my husband.

As we spoke, he felt I was still in the "fight or flight" mode. What would happen when it all comes to an end and I no longer have anyone or anything to be angry at he posed to me? Here we were, two friends really talking all through the night and man, what an eye opener did he give me. He was absolutely correct and the more I thought about it...the more I realized that he told me the truth. I am still stuck in a vicious cycle of resentment, anger, frustration and more. His analogy was that of a boiling pot and my fury and resentment that drives me is the stuff inside of the pot. If at full boiling point and left, eventually the liquid will dry up and all you have left is a burned out, sticky black mess. You have to learn, he said, to focus and let yourself simmer. It took all I had to keep from crying because I really don't want to be that burned up mess, a ruined pot, or an angry person forever. My friend told me that I can fight all I want but if they take my heart....then they won after all.

The Mistress really has a lot of things I want to do, and friends who will support and back me up. Some of them say I have a drive that they admire, and what they see I wish I could because I could use a break and a lift of spirits for a change. I keep asking myself what stops me from going after what I want and I find I make excuses. However, my excuses are that of my husband and that I don't know how to remedy. Some is just weariness bringing down my self-confidence. Some of them are based on where I would find the time? I want to make my husband proud, but I want to do what I want to do. I want him happy but I want to be happy too. I want him to acknowledge what others see or even notice me at all and I am not sure that will happen. Right now? All I want to do is run. Run far, far away and just start over. I am trying so hard but there is more than just wars won with the VA, more than a stable income, more than fighting for earned benefits. There is more to me as well and much more I have to give to others. In some ways, I feel I am failing somehow because the one person I need that push from is just simply not there.

Loneliness is a hard battle to wage against. I have tons of friends online, people I probably need to really call more often, and supporters out there. I got an email the other day from a "hater" who told me I should be grateful that my husband came home at all. I normally don't pay much attention as I usually use my middle finger to hit the delete button on those types of emails. That one in particular caught my attention as I will give credit to the asshole who wrote it, that it was well thought out and written. I sat and read it, then looked over at my husband and thought "how the hell am I lucky?". I swear if loneliness could kill you, then I am halfway there with one foot on a grave. I don't know how this person considered me lucky or felt that I should be thrilled that my husband is this way. Conversations include appointment times, what's the latest on Yahoo or what is going on with a TV show. Never before have I seriously considered doing the oddest things with his phone, or the tv...but it would make me ashamed to even write them out. If aliens are out there....I could give them some suggestions and it would go way beyond anal probing. Sex now a days? I probably need to pencil in on the calendar and next to it "pending possible cancellation". If he acknowledges anything, its negative things. If he touches me? It's a pat on the back like he might give to an elderly lady he just met and who wants to drown him in conversation over her arthritis. The only time I see any emotion is that of anger, hate, and sadness.

I don't understand how he can remember his show comes on, or a new season of something another starts but yet can't remember our Anniversary, appointments, or to eat. I wonder how it is that he can talk to his buddies, slap someone on the back and laugh....but yet I receive the cold, the dark, and never see the sun. Of course, its all for show...we all have seen it or notice it. The smile is false and plastered, the eyes are empty and the laughter hollow...but damn right now? I would take it selfishly just because I could use a change. I just wish I could get the support in my home and not have to hear from someone "aren't you getting paid to do this?" or "you have it made". Yep. That's me. Living in the lap of luxury, on Forbes Fortune Five Hundred list, and all the happiness in the world is being handed to me on a silver platter. I know PTSD makes them say things but these are statements that are constantly made. I am on my feet all day, I have to make myself stop for a bite at least once a day and the only person I know not doing anything...is him. I fight, he sits. I work, he sits. I try to encourage him, its a blank stare or one that could literally make you shrivel up. Here lately, laziness has been an issue and now I wondering what the hell therapy is really doing for him. He seems to like the doctor, really likes the therapy he is doing, I know he goes...but is it working really or is he just going through the motions? I don't know how to fix something like that and I don't believe anyone has the answer for it.

I find as the days go by, its a repetitive nightmare. Some days, I no longer even know what day it is and when the day is done....the calls have ended, the calendar is filled, the kids sound asleep; silence is my nightly visitor. We watch the same old shows, he asks me if I read an article on Yahoo three or four times if he asks at all, repeats the same questions a few minutes later, I go take a bath then I go to bed. Every night the same thing. I don't care about the shows he watches, don't want to talk about damn Yahoo articles, or ask me questions about the Army. I just want a little more. Maybe talk about the neighbors, perhaps the weather, hell even politics or religion. Instead, the day drags on and on and I am met with the same silent ending. I wonder if he even knows or cares that I go to bed and miss him like hell. I have tried to talk to him, I have explained that the cold treatment hurts, or sometimes I mention these are things we have to work on. I really don't think he gives a shit about any of it.

I find those talks are becoming repetitive too and that part worries me the most. I find I am a single parent 99% of the time and he has no interest in what they are doing. What is left between us, that one single thread of something in common, is the last battle we face. Once that battle is done? I am scared I will be lost and not know what do anymore. I have become master of words, one who doesn't back down from a fight or shy away from titles and ranks, and one who stands up to point out the wrongs. I just wonder though sometimes when our personal war is done, and we both show fatigue, battle scars....what will happen to us then? I sometimes miss the company and the safety the Army gave us; a foster family that we embraced and we built our lives around. Now it seems that family is slowly dissolving, and all we have to show for it is a hell of a lot of paperwork, and the ghosts of war haunting what was our home that was full of love, laughter and faith. I sometimes feel cheated, often rejected and angry...but do I have any major regrets? I don't think so because it is a chapter in our lives that we can look back upon and know that both of us gave all we could and both of us fought as hard as our bodies, minds and souls could fight. For the first time, I feel like I am suddenly losing my voice and terrified of becoming who I used to be when all I know is the person now.

One chapter closes and others open, I know. We often see that repeated all the time and I believe that's true but sometimes what if its the end of the book? The ending suddenly shows up and leaves you hanging? What if there never comes a sequel? I have come so far, and I don't want to pause but at the same time I can't keep running on anger either. For the first time, I am truly somewhat lost as to who I am anymore, what I am fighting for and what I stand for. I know in my heart there is more, but my biggest fear is losing the one thing that I fought for and that's my husband. Such hate he has towards me, and there is no reason, rhyme or excuse that he has and he truly doesn't know. Other days, he seeks me out and then doesn't know what to say or tries to start but stubbornness gets in the way. Pride prevents him from truly deciding whether he chooses to say I have been injured and that's just a part of me....the other part of finding a purpose keeps him lost. I see the light but he doesn't. I say I love you, he doesn't say it back. Most times I feel I am being punished but not really sure what I did. I am no quitter, but I am running out of aces to play at this late of the game. There really wasn't any victories won, just earned entitlements. There wasn't a war waged that I didn't have him as the primary focus, but somewhere along the way I met some amazing people who feel I have more to offer. Sometimes I wonder if its because of jealousy that causes him to lash out at me because I chose to accept the challenges? Other times, deep inside, I wonder if "hate" is just the way PTSD tells me he is lost too.

It's hard to carry an entire family through all this. Battle weary and tired, some days I don't know where the strength came from to hold my family together through it all. I don't know who is winning now, and if there was anything ever to be won to begin with? I just know there is something I am missing, some part of me as a person that is empty and needs to be filled, and my fire is still simmering but not completely gone out. I am afraid that once its all over.....will my voice disappear or will I simply keep adding to the book?

Sometimes Silence is the Loudest Thing Heard,


  1. I can tell you that this is something I face. You are not alone. It feels a lot of the time that we receive praise, recognition and encouragement from people we barely know, while we are begging for the slightest bit of attention from those we love the most. Don't give up. I am quite positive that you have a purpose. I know, I am just another faceless person who has only ever talked to you in blog comments and email, but giving up is the easy way out. At least it is to me. You will find out who you are, even in the next chapter of your life. The challenges never completely go away, they just change. At least that is true in my case! Hang in there hun!

  2. Hugs Honey, I wish there is any advise I could give you! I know we need to take care of ourselves, it's easier said than done. I am sick of fighting the fight, with nothing in return. I love the way you choose to express yourself, I wish I could do it just like you. You have a lot of friends, you just need to reach out and drop your fears.

    1. My husband was a Sergeant in the NY Army National Guard for 17 years and served at the WTC Ground Zero. We met and married after his service ended but now I am left with trying to deal with the aftermath of the permanent damage it caused in my husbands emotional, physical and financial well being. When the 9-11 attack occurred his NY National Guard troop was activated by the Govenor of NYS and because their activation was not from the President or from Congress my husband has been denied from the VA all medical benefits for his medical injury that occurred from his exposure to the toxic environment at the WTC Ground Zero.
      My husband suffers from PTSD and is on a nebulizer breathing machine 3 times a day.
      Thank you for taking the time in reading my story.

  3. When I read the words you have shared I felt an ache that reached down to the very centre of my being. The details of your story aren't the same but the heart of it is.

    I too feel lost most days like wondering in a thick fog with my hands reaching out wildly in the air. My mind races wondering what will hit me next. I am so use to being on high alert I don't remember how to stop and smell the flowers.

    It has been a long journey and we are near the finish line. My husband's WSIB claim has been allowed. He will receive loss of earnings, treatment and medicine. Yet I cannot feel relief. I am full of anxiety and depression still has a strong hold on me.

    A friend of mine shared a saying with me. He roughly translated it to English. He said, "you are so use to eating shit that when someone places a delicious meal in front of you, you are suspicious and think it too will taste like shit."

    What does this mean? Exactly as I said earlier. I am so use to being on high alert I don't remember how to stop it.

    Every once in a while I force myself to slow down and attempt the tame the beast within. When my mind returns toward the past rehashing the hardships, I immediately stop it. When my mind looks to the future bringing the what if scenarios, I stop it. Most times.

    I try to practice mindfulness. I stop and pay conscious attention to what is happening to me at that very moment. On a hot summer day, I sit back in my chair on the front porch enjoying a nice cold glass of cola. I close my eyes and listen to the birds. I revel in the sensation of the slight breeze brushing across my face. I feel my heart beating slower in my chest and tell myself all is well. Once I do this, I am enclosed in the warmth of well being. It doesn't last forever but it helps.

    That is one way I cope with what has become of my life. My life as dictated by my husband's PTSD. I trained myself to do this. I have come to realize that I have unconsciously protected myself by putting distance between my husband and I. Don't get me wrong. I still love him but I don't let him in completely so he can't hurt me with his spite and anger. I can walk away from him easier and not get sucked up into a fight. I'm not saying it doesn't affect me because it does. But it doesn't hit me hard like the flu. More low like an infection spreading throughout.

    I have nightmares. He's yelling at me and smashing things. He is yelling and hurting everyone I love. Everyone is angry with me. Each way I look, I see hateful faces staring at me.

    Every night I dream of moving out of my home into a decrepit mouse infested apartment. I am crying hysterically because I have uprooted my family to live in this condemned building. I am screaming at my husband for forcing me into this situation. I am scared because the structure is not sound and it could all come tumbling down around us. I don't understand why we can't go home. I feel devastated and abandoned.

    I understand what the dreams mean. I feel like my husband upsets so many people who then look at me to blame. I feel no stability or security in our home. I want my husband to be a source of strength for me but he isn't.

    It's all just so exhausting. I want to lay down and wait for it to all go away but I know that is not going to happen. I have to get up and take care of business. So I drag my sorry ass out of bed again. I work. Clean. Pay the bills. Take care of my family.

  4. You are an inspiration and I love the support I get from just your words.
    I hope you find the missing piece.

  5. my husband's LT was KIA in Iraq. My husband blamed himself for a long time. In an effort to find peace, i found his widow on Facebook and contacted her. We started up a friendship (although her constant declarations that it was most def. NOT my husband's fault hers died fell on deaf ears). She told me once that it has to be harder in a way for me, than it was for her. Her husband died and she had closure. She was able to say goodbye to him at his service and begin the healing process. I can't do that with mine. My husband, the one I married and sent over to Iraq died and what returned is a stranger, a mad, cranky, irritable, scared, ass of a man who is hurting so badly and there's no closure for me. So, i get what she was saying. I get what you're saying....hugs.

  6. My husband was a Sergeant in the NY Army National Guard for 17 years and served at the WTC Ground Zero. We met and married after his service ended but now I am left with trying to deal with the aftermath of the permanent damage it caused in my husbands emotional, physical and financial well being. When the 9-11 attack occurred his NY National Guard troop was activated by the Govenor of NYS and because their activation was not from the President or from Congress my husband has been denied from the VA all medical benefits for his medical injury that occurred from his exposure to the toxic environment at the WTC Ground Zero.
    My husband suffers from PTSD and is on a nebulizer breathing machine 3 times a day.
    Thank you for taking the time in reading my story.


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