This is Part two of a post called Transition, you can read part one of Transition here
The next few days were odd. I flip flopped back and forth between relief that it was finally settled and now I could move forward with healing and feeling utterly devastated. I still loved this man so much. I began to force myself to imagine moving back to my home state where my family lives and just being happy. I spent a lot of time thinking of all the good things that would come from being close to the people who loved me and how my children would flourish there. More and more, I felt at peace with the thought of leaving but still my love for him never wavered, never dwindled. I knew that secretly, deep down, I was hoping for a hail Mary. Maybe with some distance between us, he would snap out of this. During this time, we spoke on the phone a few times and interestingly enough, we were able to be normal with each other. I guess with the decision made, it cleared the path of emotion and allowed us to just be human beings and be kinder to one another. By the time he came back from his business trip, our guards were lowered and the dynamic had changed considerably. I couldn’t read him very well, though. It seemed like he was having a change of heart. If I brought up the last counseling session and tried to discuss our plans at all, he would ask me for a little time. He would say that we didn’t need to rush into anything. I was confused. Didn’t we decide to separate and weren’t there decisions to be made regarding the house and children? I was finally ready to get down to the hard stuff and now he was dragging his feet. He had gotten a job while he was away in Virginia so our daily life shifted a bit. Now, instead of being around each other all day, every day he was leaving to go in to the office and the next thing I knew, we fell into a routine just like a normal, married couple. My family would call to check on me and ask how things were and I honestly didn’t know what to tell them. For all intents and purposes, it seemed like we were back together yet we hadn’t talked about it once. This went on for a couple of months. We approached and passed the agreed upon deadline to tell the children and for him to move out of the home. Slowly, everyone around us figured we had worked whatever it was out and quit asking how things were going. We got through the holidays and rounded a corner, or so I thought.
By late January, whatever tenuous grasp on normalcy we had, fell completely apart. It was as if someone flipped a switch overnight. I think I knew all along that we were just pretending to be okay. We wanted to bury our heads in the sand and hope like hell that everything would work out on its own. His behavior became very erratic. He started to behave in ways that I had never seen from him. His friends pulled away and more and more he seemed hostile anytime their names were brought up. It was during this time that we had the worst, most chilling argument I have ever been involved in. It will likely haunt me for decades. I had taken advice from a friend to snoop through his text messages and of course, didn’t like what I found. I woke him up before the alarm to have it out before the kids woke up for school. I confronted him about the messages I had read between him and a male friend and he became enraged. As I read the texts to him, he suddenly jumped up and started physically wrestling the phone from my hands. I resisted for a few seconds but it became obvious that he was not his normal self at all and I actually feared what he might do to me if I didn’t give up the phone. Keep in mind that I have never, ever feared my husband before. I was stunned. I burst into tears, which is out of character for me, and kept asking why was he being this way towards me? I repeated it several times just out of sheer disbelief and he suddenly exploded from his chair and yelled right in my face that it was because he didn’t give a fuck. Through tears, I asked did he not give a fuck about me? He replied that he didn’t give a fuck about anything, not me, not anything. He went on to say that the day before when he was flying home from California, the plane hit turbulence and people were scared and nervous but he just laughed because he hoped the plane would go down and take him with it. I couldn’t believe he meant that, how could he want to leave us? He answered that he was so tired of it all. He just wanted to rest. We sat there until past time to get on with the day, with him telling me just how badly he wanted to die. He couldn’t take the pain on my face anymore, knowing it was because of him. He didn’t feel anything anymore. Eventually, we just sort of ended the conversation and moved on with waking the kids and getting ready for work. I don’t know how I got through that morning.
Obviously, this was the turning point for me. After having the man I love who had always been gentle towards me, yell in my face that he didn’t want to live and couldn’t feel anything for me or his children, I knew this was more than I could fix just out of sheer stubbornness. I googled every combination of PTSD and marriage, PTSD and divorce, PTSD and husband wants to die that I could think of hoping to find some help. I came up empty. The stories I found online didn’t line up with what we had been living for the past year. There were no stories like mine out there. I confided in a girlfriend about the argument and my suspicion that he had PTSD and she completely shot me down. She dismissed the thought with a wave of her hand telling me that her husband was fine. If my husband had it then they all would have it since they had been through the same things on deployment. I felt foolish. I worried that people felt sorry for me. Maybe they thought I was pitiful for grasping at straws to try and explain away his behavior instead of just realizing that this man wanted out of his marriage. Simple as that. He didn’t love me anymore and I was too stupid to just accept it.
We sat our children down and gently explained to them that mommy and daddy were going to live apart. We said we still love each other but just aren’t happy together anymore. That was the most brutal thing I have ever done. Tears streamed down their faces and they asked the expected questions. Who would they live with? When would they see their Dad? Who would take the dogs? Our pre-teen just got up and went to her room and shut the door, without a word to us. Our youngest ran to her room, wailing and crying. We sat there at the table, looking at each other and feeling like we had just been in an awful, tragic wreck. I felt like my core was hollowed out and all that was left was a shell.
A week later, the girls went with their grandmother for summer break and I prepared to fly home to my family to look for a house and a job. Since telling the kids, my husband and I had been softer with each other. So ironic that it took all this chaos to get us to connect on a tender level again. He mentioned a few times that he worried we were making a mistake. I would just remind him of the things he had said and how he didn’t want this life with us. I told him there was no room to negotiate that anymore for me. I needed more; I deserved more. Overall, I was completely at peace. I accepted that it was over and gone. More than that, I craved new horizons. It had been a year and a half of living in this hell and I was ready to be happy again. I spent a month in my home state, planning our move and trying to figure out the school system. Contact with my husband was brief and rare. I was ready to cut ties so there was no reason to dwell on it. When we would speak, he would ask that I spend the final week of summer vacation with him and the girls. He wanted to come pick me up on his way down to Florida to be reunited with the kids. By the end of the fourth week apart, I agreed to go with him. What I didn’t know was that he had finally sought help from the VA and had been diagnosed with PTSD and TBI. Just getting that diagnosis and seeing it in writing changed everything for him. I don’t want to gloss over all that has occurred since the summer but we have experienced a complete turn around. Once we were reunited in July, we both felt that we still had some fight left in us. Our love was still there and was worth fighting for. Those first months of him getting on medication and learning to live with PTSD were somewhat challenging but nothing like what we had been living through. The main difference was that the commitment to our marriage was slowly coming back into focus. No matter how crappy his sleep was or what he was feeling, he was committed to me and to our family. No more pushing us away, and that resonated with me. I saw his commitment and matched it with my own. I accepted that the man I was married to before might never come back but that was okay. After a few months, he started to see cracks forming in his friends. It sparked a conversation between us about PTSD and how he saw it affecting his friends now, too. The more we talked about it, the less power it had over us. It became less of a shameful thing for him once he saw my unwavering acceptance.
It’s now been 9 months since our summer “break”. I am happy to report that our relationship is stronger than ever before. If I had the choice to go back in time to before PTSD or keep what I have now, I would overwhelmingly choose the now. This struggle forged a bond so deep between us that I can’t even imagine what it would take to break it. I wanted to share my story because I remember how desperate and alone I felt before I knew what PTSD can look like and how it behaves in a loved one. I would have given anything to have just one story that mirrored my own and I hope someone out there benefits from me sharing this experience.
Transition – is written by a MARSOC spouse, she hopes that the next spouse digging on the internet to find a story that resonated with them will find hers as well. One more voice to share, one more story that may reach out to another.The Raider Weekly RSS
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