I almost thanked you for teaching me something about survival. Then I remembered the ocean never handed me the gift of swimming. I GAVE IT TO MYSELF!

Loving him was the destruction of my soul. Saving him from his demons took over my daily life. And fear became my companion. While I wish I could say this has changed, it truly hasn’t.

How do you ever stop worrying about someone you shared 12 years with?

How do you stop worrying about the father of your children?

I don’t think you ever do. This is often when the guilt rolls in, once a marriage is over that person is no longer your responsibility. They are no longer your “problem”, for those out there like me… They know that is never the case. It becomes nearly impossible to go from being the person who comforted them from their fears, held their hand, and stood next to them no matter how hard life was…..to nothing. When I made the decision to diovrce him I had every intention of making him part of my past, never looking back. Instead I still find myself helping when necessary, benefits, VA claims, heart to heart conversations. The constant, he will probably never admit it, but I am still his stability. While many say “you’re a god send. And the best ex-wife anyone could have” I feel like a jackass. Like most, I struggle to define those boundaries and it has been a process.

I guess I have my own version of survivor’s guilt. While he didn’t die, we lost him too. And there is a part of me that struggles every time I find myself doing well. As if somehow I don’t deserve it because I left the man I vowed to be with. At times I feel guilty because he should be here by my side celebrating my successes. Other times I find myself being harder on myself because if I chose to leave him, to break up my family then it has to be for something great. So I work hard, I study harder, and I strive to be the most stable mom I can be. I am my children’s only stability. And lord knows I would give up anything and everything if I could find a magical cure for him so my children could have an emotionally stable dad. Yet; looking back, I did give up everything and like many of you out there it wasn’t enough. None of us are capable of resorting a human, hell we’re barely capable of fully restoring ourselves. The road to healing has been ever so difficult. I have never felt so alone, so afraid, so empty. As if I gave him the best parts of me, and I no longer have those to give myself.

But there is always progress if you work hard enough at it. I am about to hit 2 years without anti-depressants & anxiety medication. My daily reminder is to try and be at least half as kind to myself as I was to him. He deals with severe trauma and PTSD, but guess what?

So do I,

SO DO WE!!!

 

You are never alone,

-A

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Dear White Bus,

In my younger years I had a love hate relationship with those white busses. On one hand I hated them because they would take what was most valuable to me. Yet; on the other hand it was those same busses that would return what I loved the most. Like I said, this was in my younger years. Back when I was still naïve. In these days homecomings were the romantic part of a Nicholas Sparks novel, the 3 doors down song playing on the radio…. “I’m here without you” …they were the news channels reporting on homecomings. Like I said, naïve. The truth is I didn’t expect the return of the buses to represent nights full of paranoia, lack of sleep, night sweats, screams for no reason, and fists through walls. No one told us about that side of the homecoming. No one told us the deployment would enter our homes. Or maybe they did, and we refused to believe it. Again, naïve. As the years passed, my relationship with these buses began to evolve from hate-love, to love-fear, to fear- fear, and now simply to hate-hate.

The fear turned into hatred when I began to realize that every time these busses would take something I cared about they would return it different, tormented, and broken. And with time, the eyes I used to love to look into became lifeless. And he was always living in that twilight area, somewhere between here with us, and there with his brothers…. The ones that weren’t so lucky, the ones he couldn’t save. Enter survivor’s guilt. Me and his children a constant reminder of how underserving he was to have lived, to have a family, to be happy. At times it felt as if we were at fault for the pain he was feeling, we were a constant reminder that he was alive, and without knowing it, we killed him more from the inside.

The fantasy of these busses was short lived. And this is why to this day the sight of them, makes me want to vomit.

Love,

Your most tortured fanatic.

-A

I like storms. They let me know that even the sky SCREAMS SOMETIMES

Thank you for all the amazing feedback, shares, and emails about PTSD following my last blog.  I received the same questions multiple times “How did you keep calm? Did you ever feel angry? or just sad?” So here you go dear readers.

I WAS PISSED! Not always at my ex-husband, sometimes at life, god, the Marine Corps. So I’m gonna say what many of us women married to men who served in combat and struggle with PTSD find it hard to say. I was pissed off too! I felt cheated and resentful. Yes, wearing the uniform comes with a sacrifice, NO SHIT! No one knows this more than the families, the ones left behind. But we did it, I did it. I watched him pack up his bags time after time, and each time I waited for the man I swore to stand beside. You know what the problem was with that? That the man I fell in love with 10 years prior was no longer that man, every time he came back he was different. It was like we were losing him each time a little more. With each day that passed, he became more detached…. more reckless… he drank more, he became angry all the time, irritable… paranoid. He looked like the man I fell in love with, he smelled like him, he smiled like him, and every now and then he would come back just long enough to remind me why I loved him. And as quickly as he came back to us, he was gone again. Mentally and emotionally gone… tortured. Anger, yes. That is what I felt. How dare you take a man who means the world to us and send him back like this! Empty and soulless… angry.  And after a while the anger consumes you too. How? simple you are no longer normal. You too are damaged, wounded, paranoid, scared. Your own fears become irrational. I recall one sunny afternoon the door bell rang, and when I opened the door to our brand new house there was a package with his name on it. The so called “problem with this package” was there was no return label on it. While most of us would open the box… life wasn’t that simple. Life was now scary and dangerous. I remember the sound of his voice, angry… “Get the fuck away from the box! Don’t fucking touch it!” I remember looking at him and saying “just open the box”. His response… “NO. stay inside the house!” after what seemed like ages, he carefully and meticulously opened the box. Inside it…. Brownies! from out Real Estate Agent along with a congratulations note. Brownies. It was a fucking baked good! His reaction to him was justified. “What if I didn’t burn my mail all the way and they have our address! What if they know who my family is?” Well dear ex-husband… WHO THE FUCK WERE THEY!!???!! And why are you so fucking crazy! God there were so many times when I wanted to shake him and say “Snap out of it! you are a fucking retard! there is nothing to be scared of”. And yet, I would silently stare at him and nod my head. I knew better than to ask questions about it, he’s been clear before. “I don’t want to think about the things I’ve seen, so why the hell would I tell you? why put those thoughts in your head”. They were his secrets. The secrets I longed so badly for, why couldn’t he fucking tell ME! and his friends or shall we call them “his brothers” they knew it all. I was envious, jealous, I began to dislike them. How do they know more about the man I married then I do? Why am I the one tortured and left with no answers? Great, you all have this club, you know everything about what you went through over there. But guess what? While you all had each other, I WAS ALONE!. Shit I’m still alone. See what happens is, as time goes by and he gets help…. he talks about the things he saw, he did, he lived though. But what about me? who helps me deal with thoughts and memories that weren’t even mine to begin with.I carry these, silently… like weights tied to my heart, engraved in every part of my soul. And there are times when I curse his fucking name, and I hate him for all he was put on me, for contaminating me with his world of shit, with his fucking sickness. And then there are times when I just cry, and mourn the man I married. I mourn the life of my best friend, the man I used to know…. a man who is now just an empty shell. An empty shell that once contained, life, laughter, promises, and so much love. The man that gave me a ring, and promised to be my everything. That man…. who is now just of shell, a shell that holds, broken dreams, hurt, loss, and a shit ton of anger. So readers, the answer is yes, Yes I have been angry, shit who am I kidding…. I’M STILL FUCKING PISSED.

Love you all

-A

“The problem with having a problem… is that someone always has it worse”

PTSD is something that happens to service members that go off to war…. Right? The ones that deal with the constant stress, the loss of loved ones, the constant fear, and most of all the aftermath. They are our “heroes”! The ones that sacrifice it all so that we may live free! So when they return we try our hardest to take care of them. The ones that seek help at least, to those that finally break down enough and know there is no other choice. Men like my ex-husband. Men that are so broken, so wounded, so ridden by survivor’s guilt that they contemplate taking their own life daily. I remember my therapist telling me months ago “You have PTSD” and I remember laughing and thinking “No, no…. that’s my EX not ME! Reread your file lady” I remember thinking, I suffer from Anxiety, NOT PTSD. I’ve never suffered trauma like that, I was a lucky child and young adult.

FAST FORWARD-A week after this conversation, I recall being woken up at 3am, covered in sweat, screaming….. the look on my boyfriend’s face….. Startled, confused, and worried. It was then he asked “what were you dreaming about?” my response… “I don’t know just a nightmare.”  The truth…. I was having a nightmare like the ones I’ve had many times before… My Ex-husband…. Dead. Him giving up on life, survivors guilt won… he’s lying on the floor of the bathroom… shot. Only this time, in this dream, he decided to take my boys with him. But how could I tell him that? How do you tell someone who loves you that you are so far gone and crazy and scared of the dark thoughts in your head for no reason. Or worse…. You now fear that this plague that has caused the loss of your entire family has now plagued you as well. Where does this end? When does the fear go away? I return the next week and tell my therapist, I’ve been having nightmares, but I minimize it. Because denial is a nice place to be, it’s comfortable here. So how do you develop PTSD without ever going through trauma of your own? Easy. 7 months go by, you answer ever phone call, you watch the news, you mail packages, and you spend day and night worried you will get a visit or a phone call saying “He’s gone…” And then when he finally comes home, relief right? HELL NO. This is the beginning of your nightmare. Now you will spend your every night listening for his every move. When he gets up, when he checks the doors, windows, when he checks on your kids. Every movement means DANGER. And when once you had no fear, the world is now a scary place. If the man who is your family’s protector, your rock, your place to lean on, is scared of the world… then I guess I should be scared to. So he “prepares you” he teaches you how to shoot a gun, how to come up with a safety plan in case something happens…. How to load and reload quickly…. And most important “DON’T YOU DARE MISS YOUR TARGET” but wait….. What am I scared of? Hell at this point you don’t even know anymore. And so your life begins to change….. Ever watch a loved one slowly die? Well imagine living every day thinking this is your husbands last day on earth, and tonight or tomorrow you will have to tell his children that they no longer have a father. So you begin to prep your speech… and his obituary. Only the day never comes. So you live day to day waiting for your loved one to take their last breath…. Can you imagine that?

And that is how. That is how you catch this plague called PTSD.

Love you all,

-A