People talk about veterans and PTSD and how we can help them. I read articles daily about new ways to treat it, new things they’ve discovered about it, and far too often I see social media posts about those who have lost their lives to it. On average 22 veterans submit to their demons everyday by taking their life. That number is ridiculous to comprehend. We have lost more veterans from suicide than we have from combat. I can’t imagine what they go through and I think I have a pretty good understanding of PTSD, at least for someone who has no personal experience with it. I’ve lived with it for the past 8 years. I wasn’t always aware it was there, but it was and it still is.
Often times no one thinks about those living with the veterans. No one considers how their PTSD affects their spouses and children. My husband isn’t the only one living with this. We all are. He had PTSD when I met him, though it was unknown to both of us. It has gradually gotten worse over time though. When it’s gradual, you don’t always notice how bad things have gotten or how much someone has changed until they hit the bottom. Like most veterans in his situation, he has his vices to escape. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t do drugs, instead he plays video games. I understand that he uses the games as his escape. There are times when I want to smash his computer to pieces, but overall, I get it.
“Those who have suffered trauma oftentimes dull their emotions and feel detached from others in a way to distance themselves from thoughts of the traumatic event.” Source
What I have a really hard time with is that he doesn’t like to leave the house as much. He will run occasional errands, but overall he avoids large stores. I want nothing more than for him to run errands with me on a weekend. Go to Target, hit up some other stores, grab some lunch, and do the grocery shopping. Never happens. I’m big on weekend roadtrips. Get in the car on a nice day and drive until you see something interesting or go explore a new area. That has never happened either. I completely understand why he avoids these kind of places and I normally don’t push it. We do have date nights on occasion though, but very rarely do we do anything just us. It used to really bother me. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to spend time alone with me. Then I realized that when we do anything, there is always friends with us who are veterans. He feels safer with somebody who he knows has his back.
It is easy for me to see why so many veterans have failed marriages. There have been numerous times where I could understand why you would leave someone with PTSD. I’m not going to do that. I love him and I just want what is best for him. This may not be the marriage I signed on for, but it’s not a bad marriage by any means and it’s our marriage. We have our moments like any couple, but I have seen women not be able to handle it. We have friends whose wives have left and a lot of it is somehow related to their PTSD. Instead, I have learned to adapt and life goes on.
Do you see what I’ve lost in this process though? It’s not just me either. It’s the kids too. He will go to every school function they have, but he stands in the back of the room to watch. He is there and they know he is there, so I can’t ask for much more. The kids and I go do things on the weekends though. Very rarely does he go with us. All I want is to spend good quality time with my husband. I want to spend quality time as a family, outside the house. I don’t get that though. I know I should be grateful that he is doing as well as he his. We know far too many veterans who are in worse places, but I can’t help hating that his PTSD has in a sense taken him from me.