Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Outsiders, Insiders and The Harsh Reality Of It All

A few days ago, I received a few emails and one comment I published in regards to my last post. The comment stated "And, PTSD or not, no one should ever be treated like a non-entity or made to feel worthless! I think you definitely need to start thinking about doing what's best for YOU now. I'm glad you've had these times in Las Vegas and NYC in recent months-- but it feels as if your happiest moments (your only truly happy moments!) are when you are WITHOUT your husband. While I admire your conviction, sticking with him for so long, I also hope you can be happy yourself. And it may not be possible, if you are still playing caretaker to someone who, deep down, doesn't even appreciate your worth. No matter what you decide, though, I wish you the best". It was a good comment and I appreciate this person's open and honest opinion. "Playing Caretaker" was sort of unfair when what I am is a caregiver providing a service that an otherwise disabled Veteran would be unable to do. Another email stated "I don't know why you put up with all his shit then whine about it in a blog for others to see. PTSD is just an excuse, trust me I know from my first ex who was a Gulf War Vet. You aren't being supportive to other families or wives when you don't show positivity. My husband (now) has cancer but, that's a medical condition and I wouldn't leave him because that's different. I write but I show God's plan and ways to reach others in a positive manner. PTSD is just a bullshit way of saying I served but, I am now lazy".


So in between the painters, the kids and my husband's up and down moods; I focused on these two particular comments to keep myself mentally busy and really think about what they said.  When I started this blog, I wanted it to be a place where I could say what I wanted, say what or how I felt at the time of my writing, and share our family's story in the nitty gritty. Whether positive influence or not, sometimes that's just not the way life is in some of our cases. I won't make blanket statements because there are many who are showing improvements. Sure, I could say a lot of things positive and never really talk about the bad stuff. However, I feel this is where some are going wrong and in the process, losing soooo many others out there who are afraid to speak up, not understanding what's going on or maybe even just feeling alone. There are times where I focus on things that I am going through that day or an issue I am trying to work out in my head. Doesn't mean there aren't any positives that happen at all, they are just slim. That's the point of this blog. There are many blogs where I have pointed out encouraging things, sweet little things he has done, hope, gains and losses. I bared it all. It is the most difficult life to live especially when the outsiders don't "get it" and you no longer fit in. The "insiders" (meaning family and relatives/friends) are struggling to understand and cope. Sure I could spin some positivity on a whole lot of things but, would that really be the God's honest truth?

I don't get the chance to write everything out. I wish I could. After thinking about the first comment, perhaps I need to include more positive things that my husband does. Not out of defense because of the comment but, because the comment made me think that perhaps I was being unfair by just concentrating on my own feelings and point of view. The negative things I write it all out, and then cut it loose like a balloon. This is my therapy and a way for me to express what so many others are thinking or going through. It is a way to make me happy and have the ability to read and find answers within my own questions. Sometimes I think by not having that bouncing board in my husband may lead me to think I have no self worth. Or maybe his lack of attention and his distance, makes me feel less of a person. I am working on that. I do agree though that maybe I am wrong by not stating "Hey, he made it to the VA and back without getting into a pissing match with someone". Sometimes when I can't talk things out in my head or with anyone, I focus that on my writing. I try to be open but, I haven't really been fair to my husband and need to say some more of the little things. So for instance, this Mother's Day was my first holiday that he really tried. It was the best one EVER and the nicest since he has been home. He made a big to do on the invite to my favorite restaurant. Wouldn't let me order because he knew what I wanted, ordered for me and we talked for a long time. Since we are working together on our home and starting over fresh, all while agreeing that each thing we do; we cut some emotional baggage loose in the process. Our new motto with my entire family currently is "LET IT GO". We spent four hours in Home Depot getting ideas, choosing tile and just shooting the crap. I forgot to blog and with no internet until this morning, it's kind of hard to get on here all the time.

Yes, I have, like most military born children...the "wander lust" when it comes to travel. New smells, things, sights, the whole nine yards. Am I happy for that break? Hell yes! Do I feel happier when I am alone? Yes and no. Yes, I need the break and a change from the same old thing day after day. Does it mean that I don't wish my husband with me there? No. I called my husband every step of the way and sent pictures by phone. He said he wanted me to have this break and be happy but, I missed him every single step I took. I don't know sometimes honestly (to the person who left the first comment on the blog) whether it's just coming home to him, or if it's coming home to stress, worries, Army paperwork, and the same routine over and over. Conviction in staying with him is my decision because I do see some light at the end of the tunnel on some days, we have good times albeit rare but, there are things I couldn't walk away from with him. I didn't think that comment was fair but then perhaps, maybe I am not being fair in my writing so I am glad this was said. There is a difference between conviction and wanting to move forward and change the same old routine up just a bit.

On the other, I am really very very sorry to hear your husband has cancer. I will keep your family in my prayers along with many others. I am not going to get into a pissing contest over who has it worse than others, because to me that's like comparing taxi cabs to airplanes. It just can't be done. PTSD I do believe you need to educate yourself on and maybe understand some more. Then you have to add in the Traumatic Brain Injury before you start throwing the first stones. I have been around some patients with medical conditions that ended up killing them. My mother's untimely death was due to cancer. Towards the last six months? She called me every name in the book, cussed like a sailor, and was so mean that I swear that wasn't my mom. She was angry. Not ready to let go. Didn't want to accept this was it. I didn't get to hear "I love you, or I know you are going to be ok and it's my time to go". Nope. In some ways, I see my mother in my husband some days. I didn't leave her then, so how is this any different? My husband is not willing to accept, let go and understand that this is our life. Brain and Spinal Cord Injury specialists explain that he is not able to accept it because his brain is in just one set mode. That portion I must come to terms with. I don't understand why outsiders think that TBI and PTSD is not an illness/injury and the first thing they say is "leave him/her".  So you are saying sticking with it  should only be reserved for those in other circumstances? So I am not positive enough, not giving the people who live our lives enough positivity, I get it. But, if I left my husband with cancer, everyone would be horrified. If he had a heart attack...God forbid. With this....this is one of the most common statements we ALL hear when living with PTSD and TBI.

I feel damned if I do and damned if I don't here on this subject which is why I am writing this one out. If I share my experiences, positive or not, people think I am just trying to become a martyr and putting myself in a precarious situation. "I need to leave and get out before it sucks me in". I got sucked in a long time ago but, there are a lot of things I don't write about like setting boundaries with my husband. He doesn't acknowledge me but, he doesn't acknowledge anyone else either. His sensitivity or lack of, is not just towards's pretty much towards everyone. It's not for lack of effort, it's just the way his brain now works and because no one did anything about it? The specialist said that he will continue to be this way and get worse. There is no implants, no chemo, no radiation, no magic pills to take it away. Why do any of us stay with this?

Because we still hold on to hope that the war will end at home and they will come home.
Because like you, you have hope they will get better. 

Silly notion.


Still... hope is what keeps us alive and we see those sparks like suddenly out of nowhere wrapping his arms around you. Or on a good day, filling my head with stories and funny comments. There are days where I don't want to move because I am afraid it will take away that single moment, that I will loose that one bright flicker I have at that very moment; a single glimpse standing still in time. It's not conviction, it's love. It's hope. It's fighting for what we believe in and I have three boys who look to me for so much more than just being mom. That few minutes? Makes it worth it. Reality setting in these last couple of days, I think if he wanted to be gone. He would be gone. If he didn't somewhere love me, he would have left a long time ago. Everyone has issues when you live with someone, especially in marriages. I don't think anyone has a "perfect" picture postcard even without any problems hitting their relationship.

Maybe it won't work out. Maybe it's not meant to be. Maybe I am setting myself up to failure but, it doesn't mean I still can't keep trying though and hanging on to hope. Doesn't mean I still can't go for days to see that one smile or hear his laughter. I just need to write more about it and will do so. I won't give up on him but, I also haven't forgotten myself either. This year major changes have been made and I have dug my heels in. This has led to other issues but, it's for my happiness and it's my time. It is also one of the most difficult things to learn how to do in this life now and one I am trying to teach myself. I am moving forward with my children with or without him BUT, I see some sparks coming to the surface and I hope that by leading....he will find his way to follow. If he doesn't? Doesn't mean I can't. I appreciate the comments because it gave me a few good reasons to stop and think about a few things.

There are still parts of us that I don't let all out in the public to see,

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tug of War

Since my last blog, if anyone read it; It's been mayhem around here as far as life goes. The stomach flu hit the house with the kids and "the Beast" reared it's head a few times. Spring cleaning for me, was much needed in more than a few ways. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our Veteran's lives that we really don't get to see much accomplishments made by ourselves other than what we do for them. While that still counts, I wanted to do a few things for just me. I have been spending some time cutting some baggage loose from the past, letting go of some old regrets and cutting loose some harbored boats of resentment I had been holding on to. I cleaned out the cobwebs but, at the same seems I really don't feel any better. Cleaning and scouring, made me feel like I had time to think, get my game plan together and try to figure out how to make sense of our crazy lives.

Our home is starting to come together but as we all know, family and love makes a home. So right now, I feel like I am working on a home but, am homeless. Things between my husband and I are...civil. I show my poker face and cover up the hurt, the tears and the anger I feel. He shows indifference, no acknowledgement of anything going on and we have had a few arguments which is a massive improvement from where we were before but God, I hate fighting with him. I make sure he is taken damn good care of, and I deal with all in between. Last night, it was another word argument and it just felt like I couldn't talk to him without a smart ass remark, a blame back on me, or figuring out ways to avoid. I didn't confront, didn't blame, didn't accuse...just wanted him to know how I felt. Yes, yes, and yes....I know that I will get comments or emails letting me know that we need marriage counseling, we need to try this latest pill to cure all or that we need to find another therapy process. While I appreciate all comments, I want to clarify to all that we have tried it all. I know often, new people come along and read the blog that is the latest or perhaps pick one from the "most popular" list and then give advice on how they worked things out or tell me what we need to do. However, when you don't read from the start and keep going, in all fairness, it's hard to say try this, try that when that's all we have try.

I know much of this is his injuries and PTSD but, no matter how much I educate myself it doesn't help heal the wounds, only band aids them. I don't want to give up on him but, it seems he has given up on everything including me. I asked him last night, if he asked himself these questions (Can I call my wife and she be there? Does my wife love me no matter what I have done? Does she back me up when I am right or wrong? Does she care about me and worry? Do I know that she would be there when I am sick, and take care of him?) what would his answers be? It would be a yes on all. On my end of the rope of this endless tug of war game? I can only answer "no" and "I don't know". There are days where I look into the eyes of a stranger and things that I used to know about him, suddenly has changed so much that I really don't know who my husband is anymore.

We all change. That comes with age, experience (good or bad), wins and losses, and all the lessons learned along the way. When you tie in all this, our life, it just makes it that much harder and sometimes we become jaded, bitter, leery and very cynical. I just wanted this year to get back to me. To be that person in Vegas who was singing as loud as I could and jumping on the bed. I have held my ground on the changes made and wanting to move forward. It just seems that I am wrong with wanting these changes. My children complain because of things being moved or having to help, my oldest son is in that girl phase with the goo-goo eyes and his head up his ass so I get the eye rolling and the huffing. Even Gunny, my husband's service dog, is upset with me over the movement of things in the home especially the cookbook shelving unit that held his beloved snack jar. You know it's pretty bad when the dog is pissed off at you.

I am trying so hard here because we have spent the last five years frozen in hell and lost in the shuffle. When we finally move, its a little forwards, then backwards and before we know it? We are in a full out tailspin.I just wanted to finally move on. No more looking back in the rear view mirrors, no over the shoulder, no waiting to cap our hands over our asses. Retirement is coming up soon, (guessing this year in the Fall if all goes well) and well, it's just time to cut some of this stuff that is toxic from our lives. I want to be able to breathe and for some just feels like I am more suffocated now than I ever was.

Since being diagnosed with PTSD myself, I have learned to walk away from things that are overwhelming. I know some of this is just my issues that I must learn to overcome on my own. However, wanting to move forward and not settling for this life we are living now, shouldn't be anything bad or unwanted. I would think it would be welcomed and with open arms. I don't know if its just because for five years, the tug of war we have been stuck in, has just become a normal for us? When I painted? I felt accomplished although I sucked at it. When I taught myself to caulk? Yeah, I was grinning from ear to ear although I had it all over me and my hair. It was just something different and new. New beginnings, which is what I wanted. I had hoped that if I led forward, then the others will follow. So I am just confused, little hurt and feel like I am on my own.

I am trying so hard to not give up but I just wish I could see one sign in my husband.

There are times where he touches me that it still gives me the butterflies. Times where he says something or does something small that warms my heart and makes me love him that much more. I am a woman though and I am one of those whose feelings are worn on my sleeve and one that yearns for that communication, touch and love in my relationship. My husband has always known this about me, still does. So when you spend weeks and weeks on end with silence, it just bothers me. Doesn't seem to bother him at all and that part I just don't understand. You would think by now, with all these books, with all the education, with all the work with other families, I would have at least a freaking clue on how all this works. The truth of the matter is, I don't know shit. That's the truth. I do know that time is slipping by, my kids getting older, and ahem, I am getting older. I don't want life to slip by and die with so many regrets on my last breath. Nothing wrong with a little excitement, nothing wrong with breaking a few rules and definitely nothing wrong with wanting to know my husband loves me. So why do I feel like I am always in the wrong and always the one to blame?

I'm just tired of being on the end of the rope that is slipping but dammit, still holding on......