Am I Doing This Wrong ?
The hardest part about dealing with someone that has PTSD is the fear that you’re pushing this person too hard. Are the kids triggering it? Is the noise too loud for him? Let me just tell you now that the ‘what if’s’ will stop you. The biggest one – was I ready to hear the stories if he was willing to talk? If so then I needed to be quiet, close my mouth, and open up my ears to what he had to say.
Sharing A Nightmare
His assignment through therapy was to recall one of the most traumatic things that happened to him while he was deployed. Now I had no idea he was given this assignment as this was during his own private PTSD session. He shared it with me once, after all the kids had gone to school. He was out checking for IEDS. In his mind, once he went out that was it. It could always be the last mission. So he had to always look over his shoulder, on alert at all times. They would take on enemy fire as they were putting up the wire. Having to stay always on alert at all times, that stayed with him even when he came back.
The Difference Between Reality & a Flashback
Going on vacation if he got lost, his anxiety would kick in. Mentally, he would automatically go back to Iraq. There, driving on patrol, if you got lost with radio silence, that was it. And here we were driving through Washington so we could get to the airport. We somehow got lost and he started screaming in the car. After he had then told me about the IED assignments, it clicked for me how badly it was for him. I had thought he was losing his mind, when in reality he was having a flashback.
Therapy Is a Process
Since reaching out for help things have gotten better. We are both learning how to communicate better. Not assuming is a hard part for me. Him talking and telling us what he needs is the hardest for him. But instead of shutting down, he is opening up to not only me, but the kids as well.
Telling him that I’m proud of him for sharing with me, has really made him want to change. So saying that out loud to him has made a difference. On the days I’m feeling overwhelmed with the kids, he actually steps in now. He will say, “hey, let’s give momma some time and come with me.” They say you can’t keep a marriage going by yourself. They were right. And it almost feels too good to be true. During those times when our kids can be overly needy, that’s when you should be able to tag your partner in.
The Ongoing Fight
He said it’s hard for him sometimes because he tends to want to stop therapy. At a certain point in his program, once he sees progress, he thinks he can manage without it. Then, sooner or later, he ends up back at square one. I am proud to say that he has stuck with his program for a month. He has not put himself on the back burner, not one time. I’m actually proud of him for speaking up for himself. Taking this seriously and sharing with others about what he is going through helps him. Everyone he talks with helps him. It’s a start to a beginning of having these hard conversations he has avoided.
The Poem Force
After my friend shared this story with me, I thanked her and her husband. After all, these are the types of issues that we should be talking about. It’s an honor and joy to be able to share stories with others. Always remember you are not as alone as it may seem. Thank you for your strength, courage, and most of all, for the inspiration.
Learning to honor myself may be a chore
Stepping up to the plate always is
Aligning myself with integrity and character
Holding myself to a higher standard
Seeing my true potential and holding on to it dearly
Not willing to let go of it and go back to the beginning
Everyday is another victory we claim
Clearing a path and paving the way
Making it safe for others to do the same
Before long just when you thought you were lost
You turn around to find you have become an incredible force
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