Thursday, June 6, 2013

PTSD Awareness Month: One Spouse Shares Her Experience

Photo by Vince LoPresti

If you told me a year ago that my husband was going to leave me, I would have never believed it. Not with everything we'd been through...multiple deployments, a long distance relationship until we were married, his transition out of the USMC, loss of jobs, tragic loss of family, not us. We were in the 50% that makes it.
Unfortunately it all became a reality one hot June night in 2012 when life as I knew it, ended.
He had come back from Iraq years ago, after losing many lives in his company. He took about 2 weeks to get back into regular life and things seemed "normal."  It wasn't until years later when his temper worsened, the drinking started, and his priories clearly shifted.
I'd like to say it was a slow gradual change, and maybe in some aspects it was. But that's not what it felt like to me. He came home one night and told me he didn't know if he wanted to be married anymore. We started therapy and I was determined to work through it. That’s what you do right? We vowed to stay together forever, not just when things were going great.
The drinking continued to get worse. He occasionally didn't come home. The fighting got worse. Then all of a sudden, over dinner one night, everything changed. He said I was his soul mate. He wanted to work on things. And things got great.  Really great…for about 6 months. Then it all hit me.
I had changed so much, just to please him. All the emotional abuse, the lies, the drinking. I needed it to stop. I turned to our families for support. His family comforted him. He admitted things were not going well and agreed things needed to change. Two days later, he came home from work and told me that he wanted a divorce because I was making him miserable.
People that know me, could not be more shocked by the news.  I'm a care free, easy going person.  I give my all in every situation. How could HE leave me? I've been there for him through everything and this is how he thanks me?
It wasn't until nine months later when it all became clear. I had the privilege to attend a Hope For The Warriors® event and had the opportunity to meet men and women who were suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTS). To say it was eye opening and life changing would be a vast understatement. I learned there was nothing I could do to "get him through it." I realized that I was actually suffering from PTS as well. I also learned how complicated the stress disorder is. 
The ironic part is that he always said he was "fine."  He criticized others for blaming their behavior on PTS. I learned that it was so much easier for him to put all the blame on me and continue to not deal with everything.
I want people to know that it's one thing to support their spouse; but it should not mean that you give up your entire life and change who you are as a person. I'm sure I am not the only spouse to go through something like this and I am sorry that I will not be the last.

Learn more about PTSD.

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