Thursday, October 29, 2015

Welcome.... Home?

I haven't always done my best in making sure Michael was welcomed home. Of course I was happy to have him back and on the edge of my seat every second that lead to his return. But did my actions and attitude really welcome him? 

The first week is always the exciting phase. I'm relieved that he has returned to us safely. They kids are happy that daddy is home. He is happy to be around us and family again because he has missed us all. By the second week, I think I become less accommodating. I go back into my freakish work schedule. For anyone who doesn't know me personally, I work multiple jobs. Not all of them are full time. I have multiple part-time and PRN positions to accommodate the crazy life we live. I may only work 1-2 shifts per job, per week, if even that. I need flexibility. I also homeschool our kids. Previously, the kids were in private school and I was 85% responsible for shuttling them to and from school. The other 14% went to my best friends who would drop off or pick up the kids for me from time to time and 1% went to the fat chance that Michael had at being able to do it. I would also give up on making sure the house was sparkly clean and inviting. He's home now. This messy house is what I've been dealing with the entirety of his deployment!

At this point, I'm also less accommodating with the way I feel toward him. I don't feel as if I have to be extra super specially nice anymore. This is reality! I'm exhausted! But without fail, he comes home with a mopey look on his face and plops right into his worn out recliner. The kids run to him and want to share exciting news or show off art projects or good grades. He gets mad because he's just gotten home. Please!!! Where was my minute to just plop down on the couch and close out the world! I don't have that! I rarely get to have a "screw it!" moment because I'm so busy making sure everything and everyone is okay.

What I have come to realize is that mentally and emotionally, I've become stronger than him. My heart is more resilient. His mental and emotional well-being have been broken down and are under attack. Physically, he is just as strong as before, if not stronger. He is the baddest jar opener around! But after he has returned to work, he loses that will to survive and goes into a will of automation. He doesn't try extra hard to make sure he makes it out of there alive where as that was his daily goal while down range. His goal now is to not be noticed, don't flip out on his superiors, and ride the clock until they get released.then he comes home to find solace in his chair and a warm meal on the stove. Oh yeah, and the wife and kids. Heaven forbid we actually have plans or I spark a random outing on him! He gets mad when I decide things last minute. He needs time to mentally prepare for it. If you ask him how his day went, be ready for whatever answer that comes out of his mouth. Don't counter it with, "well, do you know what I had to deal with today?!" That isn't going to help and will make matters worse. Simply say "I'm sorry it was so rough for you. Is there anything I/we can do to make the rest of it any better?" 

You may be feeling as if the above advice is a little on the subservient side. My feelings on that are, you're a little right. But my goal is to make my husband feel welcomed home. You've already welcomed him home when he set foot on  Anerican soil (besides layovers in other states). Now it is time to make sure he is welcomed home again and again. Wouldn't the same feelings and emotions of excitement and joy from his initial homecoming be awesome every day? I'm not saying every day will be this big, joyful event. I'm only saying, find and bring joy into your daily lives that may not have been present before. 

My thoughts: Now, I'm not saying "let the man get away with being a blob!" Give him a moment to gather himself and turn off "work mode" in his brain. Try to let him know if you have plans as a family ahead of time so he can ready himself, however that may be. Slowly integrate him back into the hustle and bustle you call daily life. Yes, it's work, but it helps in lowering the chances of arguments and misunderstandings. 
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, my patience is being tested and I need he strength to remain firm yet accommodating. I know he can't help the way he feels. Help me to understand his thoughts and know his needs so that I may help meet those needs or find a way to get them met. Help our family to be mindful of each other as You have been to us. In your name, I pray, amen. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How did I not know?

When you met your significant other, did he already have PTSD? Mine did.

I never truly knew how severe it was until our 2nd week of attending Reboot Combat Recovery course. He divulged to me that he thought about suicide almost daily. How on earth did I not know?! How did I not even have the slightest clue? We have a house, jobs, children, material possessions. Does he think this life is that bad? Is it me? Am I not good enough? Did I let myself go?

That right there is a little bit of false guilt going on. He was happy with me and the children. He could care less about whether we were homeless or not as long as we were together. Yet, why does he have these suicidal thoughts if I've done nothing wrong?

Because PTSD sucks. His trauma haunted him and discussing it with people who aren't willing to listen without judgment makes it worse. Then to make matters even more worse, I, his wife, appeared unwilling to listen. When he comes down with a cold, the phrases "Suck it up!" or "Get the heck over it!" flow freely until he stops sniffling. If my remarks are so callous over a cold, imagine what they would be like if he tells me his trauma is negatively affecting him.

 It wasn't just the trauma either. He lost his sense of purpose and worth. His ETS date is soon approaching and the thought of figuring out how to be the provider of our family scared him half to death. I, on the other hand, have been raised to fend for myself and be independent. I have been working steadily and figured I would just pick up his slack. But that isn't what it's all about. The Army has been guiding his every move since he was 18 and here he is, 30, and about to be "thrown to the wolves."

Going to Reboot really helped Michael find a purpose. Reboot equipped him with the knowledge on how to pray his was through his issues or seek the necessary help. Reboot gave him enough hope to rid him of his suicidal thoughts. I'm not saying Reboot is the fix-all, end-all. But it's a start....

My thoughts:
-Be available to talk to... and no, not just physically present. Are you mentally and emotionally there, too? This doesn't mean be 100% available for his every beck and call. If he wants to vent or complain about his day, are your responses thoughtful or harsh? I know, I know, it seems like he's whining and groaning. Take one for the team (or rather, the sake of both your sanity) and let the man have a moment. You never know... that one "vent session" could be the tip of an ice burg.

-Pray about it. You may not be aware that your significant other feels this way. Ask God to shine His light on his life and His love into his heart.

All together now:

Dear God, Thank you for blessing me with my {insert title here}. I know he has been through a lot in combat and I ask that you safeguard his heart, mind, and soul. Help me to listen and show him that I am here for him and that he can depend on me. I ask that you give us both the strength to make it through these trying times. In your blessed name, I pray, Amen.

**Signs of suicidal behavior, click here. **

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

And so, you've found me...

What brought you here to my blog? 

Ah, I know.

You know someone who has PTSD.

And chances are you love them.

A lot.

Maybe you're married to this fella!

Or you are in a really committed relationship!

Quite possibly, you just really care about someone struggling with PTSD.

If you agreed with any of the above statements, you're in the right place. 

My name is Crystal. I am married to a man with PTSD. It hasn't been easy and there are times where our marriage has come close to ending.. But by the grace of God, we are still married and very much in love with each other. My hope is that you will find comfort and strength in the things I will be sharing or can relate and tell yourself "wow, I'm not alone."