September 3, 2010

My Scream List

I really don't know what is wrong with me this week but, I have been in a foul mood every single morning I wake up. A ton of things are bothering me and I just feel the need to get them out of my head and try to move on. So rather than being long winded and probably boring some of you, I am going to make myself a "Scream List"


  • I am tired, bone tired, and soul weary....So very tired that I can't get my brain to function correctly. I am getting less and less sleep, while my husband has done nothing BUT sleep for the past four days and sleeps all the time. His snoring is driving me insane, his CPAP machine for his unhuman like snoring helps, but now he is mumbling and even humming. Regardless of medications to knock him into a comatose state, he still suffers horribly from night sweats. This in turn makes him toss and turn, which leaves me to the edge of my side of the bed holding on for dear life and HOT. Knowing that he kept me up all night long, and after dealing with the kids and sickness, you would have thought I could have laid down during the day to rest. NOPE.
  • I am sick, two of my kids are sick, and the other is just fussy because his asthma prevents him from going outside to play. They whine, they cry, they scream and just naturally hard to get along with no matter what I do. Dad is no where to be seen or heard from, and if he is here....we get the deer in the headlight look if not the pissiness he gives me because they are, of course, driving him crazy.
  • It's not OK for me to have an angry outburst or be upset over something like having no help with the kids, no help in the house, no help with the bills or laundry, clearing the supper table or helping with homework. It is Ok for him to get angry because he stepped on a toy soldier on the floor which led to a screaming match and an absurd reason to bitch about everything going wrong in his life.
  • He is having stomach problems probably due to half the junk he is eating and more than likely, from all the medicine he is taking. Totally get that and I can be very sympathetic. However, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis which some days, feels like I have someone pounding on my bones with a large sledgehammer. I can tolerate that he does indeed hurt in some places due to being hurt, I can tolerate the whining because hell I am used to it....I can't tolerate no sympathy for me or willingness to help me because I am sick or down.
  • When he constantly forgets...and I forget to remind him, then its OK for him to be pissed at me. When he oversleeps because he won't get up and late for something...its OK to blame me. It's NOT OK for me to remind him because that is considered "nagging" nor is it ok for me to constantly try to rouse him from bed because that has turned into "getting on his back/case".
  • Some days he sleeps until 1:00 p.m. in the daytime, other times he sleeps till noon. I haven't slept in past 7:30 a.m. in 13 years and that was on two occasions. When he is asleep, I keep the kids and house under control. I don't go in there and pester him to get up or ask where such and such is. I do not get the same in return.
  • Being sick and being tired, I haven't been in the mood to have sex and because mostly I am irritated with him so that plays havoc on the "wanna go get naked" moments. I don't complain when he leaves me "sexually stranded" in our bedroom while he sleeps away in his recliner. I don't complain because his PTSD has knocked every ounce of romance out of his body, and when he is not able to "perform", I never belittle or humiliate him in any way. It's obviously NOT ok for me not to be in the mood because then I hear "I am going to order you some female enhancement products" or he gets mad when he suddenly decides he is in the mood during the day when the kids are running around or screaming. Sorry honey, I have the stomach bug and sex right now, is just not making me want to jump up and run with my knickers held high!
  • It's ok for him to leave and run around town....go to a friend's house, or the Volunteer Fire Dept for a monthly local meeting. God help me, if I need to go to the doctor or OBGYN because then I am dragging at least two of my kids with me. Then he wonders why I haven't seen a therapist in a while. Well, it's hard to bear your soul on a long black couch and really focus, when you are trying to keep your kids from yelling "Mommy gooooo, let's go....can we eat at McDonald's?" all through your conversation.
  • It's give give give and never taking for me. It's being robbed of every single opportunity to have ONE freaking happy family moment. It's having every holiday and special occasion stolen from you and being the scapegoat for all that goes wrong in his life. It's listening to my little sister and feeling jealous because her husband wants to take her to Vegas for their anniversary this year when my husband forgot. It's knowing my 35th birthday is coming up and no one acknowledges it. My husband hasn't for two years, nor Mother's Day, or Christmas. It's "I forgot". It's NOT ok for me to be hurt.
  • Some days I am ashamed of myself because although I truly do love him, even when he is absolutely the monster he can be and tests my limits; some days I want to yell, scream and hate him to the very core of my body. I resent him most days, I have absolutely nothing to look forward to in the future, and all he can say is "I can't help I am this way". Yes you can help some of it. You just don't try very hard. You can give a little and not take so much....he is literally sucking me dry to the point I just don't care anymore.
  • I can't look forward to tomorrow because its the same old shit over and over again. I find my children are becoming argumentative, hateful and have angry outbursts, but that's not my husband's fault he says. I don't even want to talk about the future because holy hell, its going to be like this only 20 years later and more freaking gray hair!
So there it is...my scream bloody damn murder list of things that are bothering me this week. I should not be this way, I know I shouldn't. I just can't help it. I just feel sorta...lost. I don't know what's worse, the fighting with him, or the fighting within myself over who I used to be and who I have now become...

Screaming on the Inside,


19 comments:

  1. Powerful stuff USM, it is natural to have these feelings. What is unnatural is the way we as a society deny and shun conversation about negative emotions. In doing so we can become trapped in limbo, torn between our inner world and the outside environment.

    Feel it, to express it is to release it. To hold back in everything is tragic as God's gift of communication was meant to be shared. Shared suffering with others of similar situations is where we find communion and God's work.

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  2. Dear Mistress and Scott,
    Although it is true feelings need to be expressed it is also paramount that wives of men with PTSD need to understand and accept what God is asking them to do and what God is not asking her to do. To waste time, energy, emotion and angst on things one cannot oontrol will destroy the wife which is what is happening to Mistress in front of our reading eyes. Mistress, you have been commissioned by God to be a single parent. Stop right now, expecting parental support from your husband. You are completely capable of nurturing your children by yourself with the help of your community and friends AND without help from their dad. He does not have any more what it takes to be the parent you expect of him. If you need help around the house trade with someone for the help, babysit for it, cook for it, drive for it but leave your husband out of it. Also, you can not be your husband's best friend anymore. His experiences go so far beyond your sphere of life you can not be for him the listener you want to be. Let him find some men to share his angst with. So, what do you have left? You are his God given wife. Your love for him is what will bring healing to both of you. Love is patient, kind.... 1 corinthians chp 13. (or is it 2 corinthians???) You pray each day for God to fill you with enough love to live out each day. Trust this love and let go of all the expectations of how he should be acting. It is a very long haul, but from experience, I can tell you this is the only way to thrive, raise well adjusted happy children and allow each of you to blossom into the perfect human being God has designed for you, your children and your husband. Simplify your thought processes and routines and the go forth with love, these are the only ambitions that will fuel you instead of eat at you. Embrace your higher calling to be God's daughter BEFORE your husband's wife. My husband too has gone out and sought comfort in another woman's arms and it is devasting. I have raised three loving siblings all in their twenties now, PTSD started the first year of our marriage. I KNOW! Please stop and get off the merry go round of what he should be doing and embrace what is. It is the Truth of the matter that will set you free and fill you with the strength and joy to live your God given life. It is lies of misplaced expectations that are killing you right now. I am praying for you and hope I have communicated.
    Joan Marie

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  3. Joan, first I want to say that I am sorry for your loss and pray that you can find healing.

    I know that for some wives and husbands they must leave their Combat PTSD Vets and an unfortunate choice. Which is understandable because we have very little support and the family has none. I also believe it is misguided faith on your part to suggest USM leave her husband. You talk of leaving expectations behind, yet you have so many expectations of others that you fail to see them. You quote the bible on love, patience and kindness, but you tell USM to leave her husband at a critical time.

    Credit where credit is due, this quote I agree with:

    "You are his God given wife. Your love for him is what will bring healing to both of you. Love is patient, kind...(1 corinthians chp 13, or is it 2 Corinthians?) You pray each day for God to fill you with enough love to live out each day. Trust this love and let go of all the expectations of how he should be acting. It is a very long haul, but from experience, I can tell you this is the only way to thrive, raise well adjusted happy children and allow each of you to blossom into the perfect human being God has designed for you, your children and your husband. Simplify your thought processes and routines and the go forth with love, these are the only ambitions that will fuel you instead of eat at you. Embrace your higher calling to be God's daughter before your husband's wife."

    From my Combat PTSD Home Manual:

    Expectations, Intentions & Resentments – The 3 Generals of Chaos (3GC) – This Triad of Chaos wrecks havoc on communication, understanding and empathy; Expectations erects barriers between people, Intentions fortifies those walls and Resentments assails those defensive barriers just because they are there. Reason is absent, logic rules and only applies to those who can wield it with surgical precision that serve righteous indignation, defamation and demoralization. – A false belief system maintains a Defensive State of Mind and creates a culture of aggression; providing the fuel for chaos, discord and strife.

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  4. Dear Scott,

    I am so sorry, I did not communicate. At no point in my writing nor in my thought process did I consider that Mistress should leave her husband. Only that my husband, and I assume other parents suffering from severe PTSD, are unable to fulfill their spouse's expectations in parenting.

    Joan Marie

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  5. Thank you for clarifying, I apologize for being terse. Looking back at your comment through this new perspective I can follow your train of though. It is in the expectations that we place upon others where we find out greatest disappointments.

    Expectations, intentions and resentments represents a defensive state of mind and will wreck havoc and discord upon relationships. It is through recognizing this triad of negative thinking patterns as damaging to self and relationships with others - especially God. If we reside withing this closed way of thinking then we can become slaves to our inner world.

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  6. Exactly!! I have gone into major funks over and over and over again all because I wanted him or her to behave according to my expectations. And when I wasn't satisfied, I made life miserable for everyone. Whereas, when I respect PTSD and my husband's strengths and limitations, life is smooth, NOT how I would have it, but I try to trust that life is how God would have it. Maybe this is the break Mistress begged for in August. Max Ehrmann's Desiderata is a good read on how to correct ones perspective. Please God, help us all.
    Joan Marie

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  7. Joan, I am a full convert! That poem is beautiful; so succinct, efficient use of words and generous in spirit.

    Sounds like you have figured some things out in your life, I applaud your ingenuity and commend you on your faith.

    So, I would be honored if you could tell us more about how your Combat PTSD Home works.

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  8. Works? What an interesting word. One would imagine the coordination of labor towards a common purpose. War destroyed our being in common. While the children were in our home, my goal was their formal and playtime educations. It was necessary for the home to remain quiet during the daytime on the weekends so I took the children away to play as often as possible. Few children were brave enough to come to our house to play very frequently. We had too many rules, too much quiet, not enough toys with bells and whistles and children were not allowed to squabble amongst each other, they were obligated to cooperate, respect and offer up for the others. Interests, though, I always fed with equipment, transport and supervision. All this as long as we kept it out of sight of Mr. PTSD who would put a halt to any fun as soon as he took notice. At night, all hell would break loose, first with loud rocknroll and then alcohol with ranting and raving into the wee hours. I supported the attitude of the children loving their dad but recognizing that his opinions and attitudes were inappropriate or dead wrong which caused dad to feel alienated from the rest of us and created huge communication gaps such that he chose not to talk with our daughter from her age 17 to 24 years. He rarely attended school events and then not in the spirit of parental support. His words were about himself and his view of the world was usually negative and ugly. So, I listened to my kids, emphasized that their relations with their dad were unique and hurtful but that it really wasn't his fault. We didn't have a name for it back then so some years it was alcoholic, some heavy drinker, usually jerk, finally PTSD. Today, these three children and their spouses are very best friends of each other. I live over an ocean away with Mr. PTSD. But, just the other day, he came up to me wide eyed with a revelation and said to me, "you know, I am not as nice as other people..." True. Always, then and now, I watch him with extreme attention ensuring that his emotional needs are met as soon as possible. This brings him peace which gives me quiet without strife. When the children had all left home, I crumbled as they were my best friends and support system. I was left in a foreign country completely alone with only him. I am learning to verbalize, outloud, to him, when he is paying attention to me. I try to communicate how I feel about difficulties and what I think my needs are and how they could be satisfied. He doesn't always understand, sometimes he doesn't listen but deep down he is always trying and I try hard to let him know that I can see that he is trying. It is still really all about him but he is trying more and more to accomodate others while it is all about him. I recently read a book about how the brain works, The DaVinci Method, and this helped me tremendously regain control and stop acting as a victim as well as release myself from the self imposed obligation of fixing every detail that's wrong in the world. This alone is reason to rejoice! Thank you, Scott,for asking. Have I put you to sleep yet? I obviously really needed to put this in writing. Thank you for the opportunity. Joan Marie

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  9. I don't really agree with the comment left here. Reason why: The military makes it impossible for us wives to vent or to be heard. Some are based on husbands still currently in the military and afraid of the aftermath if their wives stories are heard. The other majority is afraid of their husbands being removed from service and then what? Our families, who don't live with our Veterans or understand...can't help or be sympathetic to our needs. If there is no options, like for me, in counseling or therapy...there is no one to talk to to relieve the stress. If you have friends, that are still around even after PTSD has run them off, they have their own problems and again, don't understand what you are going through....so therefore most spouses don't want to talk to them about their problems. The whole point of my blogging is to release, provide self-help therapy, and to reach those other spouses who are reading and saying YES, YES, YES! I understand what she is going through...I feel it every day of my life. For me, there is no help from family because no one is here. To say that I need to get off the merry go round and just pretty much deal, is like saying that we should give up on our husbands. Because they have PTSD or TBI, doesn't mean they still can't be a father figure in their children's lives. There are plenty of success stories in treating PTSD and some are just swimming in this PTSD pool looking for a life preserver. If we, as spouses, simply give up looking for our Veterans...why should they try? I write because this is how I feel. I am not having a mental breakdown or slowly falling apart at the seams...its simply my way of saying "My husband has PTSD. I take care of him full-time. Yes, I know its going to be this way for a long time but I don't have to like it" and I don't. I understand what you are saying and most definitely appreciate your comments because others I am sure are feeling the way you do...but on the other hand, I am still learning and grieving. If I can't help myself, I can't help him....and I refuse to give up on him and count him as MIA. If I allow him to do whatever he wants when he wants, then that is not benefiting him in the long run according to therapy. He needs the structure, he needs to know how he hurts us, and he needs to know that we love him and want him back. My scream list is not a mental breaking point, it is simply echoing hundreds of thousands of other spouses around the world who don't have a way to say it out loud or think that they can. I know that my husband will never be the same...I know that he will always have issues...but it doesn't mean he just gives in completely to PTSD and his family as well...otherwise, PTSD has won and there is no point of anyone trying. It's like saying 'Well my husband has cancer, oh well...I guess we will just sit here and watch it rot you from the inside out and not do anything about it". Again, no way being rude or judgmental in your original comment, it just seemed sorta like you were saying "quit whining and deal with what you have because that's all you got". I am not giving up, but at the same time...this is the main reason why people don't talk about how they feel because everyone expects us to just deal and shut up.

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  10. Dear Mistress, I am so sorry I did not communicate clearly. Please reread Scott's comments. They are the important ones here. My experience is from a completely different era. To be perfectly clear however, I did not mean to say, "quit whining and deal with what you have because that's all you got." What I have learned to do instead is to release myself from Expectations, Intentions & Resentments which frees up energy and time blocks reducing the need to vent. I sincerely apologies again for poorly communicating and leaving room for misinterpretation. Joan Marie

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  11. Dear USM, I am confused. Reading your last post indicates your last two points in your scream list were not to be read at face value, but an exaggeration of your emotions. I had responded to the face value. Is this what you meant in your last post? Scott, please feel free to step in and correct me here, I appear to be not with the general flow. Like I said, I am from a different era and have personally spent time in those two last points and had to find a way out and that's what I wrote about earlier. Confused, Joan Marie

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  12. JM, no apologies necessary. It's very hard to clearly express what we think and how we feel on a blog. Haha! There is a misunderstanding on both our parts....My post is very real as I write nothing but what is just that. I am not losing it mentally as in I am going to take out a walmart or need to be institutionalized...but everyone has bad days where they just want to stomp, pout, scream bloody murder, and yell at the top of their lungs which is what I did. I am sure you have been there and done that. I more than likely did misunderstand your good intentions by your first post as I read it as "shut up and expect less". The issue at hand is our Veterans have to have more than just God and just love. Marriage and any type of relationship has to have much more...you both have to work at it. There has to be some give and take, some faith in each other and trust. There has to be a 50/50. With my husband having TBI, he is supposed to work at his therapy, work on things at home, and he isn't even trying. I think that's the part that frustrates me the most. Yes, I know I can raise my children on my own. I can't count on anyone else because there is no one else. I have no one to talk to except release my frustrations and vent on a blog. My voice and feelings simply echo many like me. We have to grieve for what we lost in our husbands, and I do understand what you are saying...but I am not expecting anything more than I know he is capable of doing from the person he is now. I know the old him is lost forever, but does this mean the new one just simply gives up on everyone including himself? Does this mean he can't try?

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  13. If I can't express my frustrations and anger, then I won't ever be able to move forward because it will weigh me down. The frustration,anger and hurt lies in what he is now and what he is not doing/trying. I understand what I lost, but am trying to save what I have left. Cracks in cement will become bigger with more and more pressure...eventually it has to burst forward just like my scream list has shown. I can't give up on him and say "well, this is it...it isn't going to get better and this is the way it will be every day of my life for the next 50 years". At the same time, I have to be able to express myself and be open and honest or there is no point in my trying. There has to be more and I see more, or I wouldn't expect it from him. As a caregiver to him, and mother to three boys...I am here at home 24 hours a day, seven days a week and have been for the last four years. The last time I took a break was to go and have my haircut two years ago and even then, had to take the two little ones. Everyone needs some time to themselves and I don't have that luxury. I am a good Christian with a good heart, but I can't expect God to take care of it all. God isn't here when he is going ballistic, or is depressed and won't get out of bed for three days. God isn't here when my husband suddenly breaks down and cries because he can't comprehend what he is reading, or understand a simple direction. God isn't here to answer questions from a 13 year old on how to ask a girl out, or teach my younger ones to play baseball. When I pray, I ask for strength and nothing more. I am more than thankful that the IED that hurt my husband didn't kill him...and I don't want to be selfish in praying for God to fix my life because that is not who I am. He has it figured out what he wants me to do, and so far there is a reason for everything. I spend my time praying for others in the world and for other families. I can't rely on God to suddenly turn everything around while I sit back and watch. It just doesn't work that way. You can love someone very much, but you don't have to like them sometimes. That's in anyone. I am still learning about TBI and PTSD. I haven't completely gone through my grieving period mostly because I tried to ignore my own feelings and put everyone first. I am just now being able to open up not just for others but more importantly for me. Recognizing that it's ok to feel frustration, feel weak, and sometimes not like who you are as a person. You can't change things until you realize what it is that needs to be corrected. I hope that clears it up. It's been a bad week here, and more than likely am wearing my heart on my sleeves. Thank you for your comments and hope that this helps clear up any confusion.

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  14. USM, I went there with Joan also. I misinterpreted her words and then just as you did, we came to an understanding. Did you read the poem she suggested? It is awesome, here is the link Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.

    Joan, thank you for having the patience to impart your message, at times it's hard to remain objective when I am in full melt down.

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  15. Full meltdown is the place that only the very bravest go when they come to understand that there is more and they want it. Full meltdown is when the most courageous lay down their reserves, their intentions, their expectations and all those resentments that had been holding them together, binding up the wounds, duck taping all the pieces together as a substitute whole. Full meltdown is seen by those with great fortitude to be absolutely essential because the gear that they had been using is now out-of-date and the new models beckon. Full meltdon is accepted by the ones with real faith who understand that the old ways have to be let go before the new and improved ways of being can be embraced and adopted. Full meltdown is essential to the ones who are most alive because reincarnation can happen over and over again during a single lifetime. Full meltdown hurts beyond feelings but is the beginning of something more beautiful. Welcome to your next chapter Scott.
    Joan Marie

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  16. Holy crap, this is the same shit I tell people, lol. God sure does have a sense of humor...thank you Joan and thank you God!

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  17. It is always so very nice to know that what "comes to me" isn't me, and is the same that comes to you. It's enough to prove the existence of a third party!

    Thank you, Scott! You are a great friend to all of us. I hope we can be there for you while you are waiting for this opportunity to grow. How are you at receiving?

    Joan Marie

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  18. Thank you so much for this post! I came across this blog as I was searching for something along these lines. I could have wrote this one myself. It helped give me a new perspective on my husband. I have a big problem with expectations I am a go getter and sometimes fail to remember my husband is not me. Thank you again!

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  19. This post took my breath away. I saw so much of my own life and my very feelings in each statement. When I started reading the comments I was immediately upset by Joan's suggestions. Then I kept reading and realized that some of what she was saying resonated with me too.

    I was afraid that such bold suggestions would cause an unpleasant uproar and wasn't surprised by Scott's reply. However, I am so pleased to see how this exchange played out. All parties were respectful and mature. Thank you all so much for handling both sides with so much grace.

    Both ladies gave me so much to think about. It's very important to think in terms of where we are in life...a mother in the midst of this nightmare OR the mother who has been there and is sharing what worked for her. So much can be gleaned from both perspectives.

    Thank you again, all of you, for handling this so amicably.

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Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee