September 7, 2011

Advice Given to Caregiver Uncle Sam's Mistress: Fight for Him

Uncle Sam's Mistress over at Living with PTSD and TBI: An Army Wife's POV wrote this incredible article about meeting a Vietnam Veteran on the streets of New York and the advice he gave her. I think everyone who has a veteran in their life should read this.
I asked him "Do you have any advice for me about my husband?" He sat a minute and said "yeah 'a do. Have patience. It's hard, but he's in there somewhere. It's murky, its dark and there are demons riding his back all day...but he is still there. Love him no matter how much he pushes you away because he is only trying to punish himself. He depends on you cause you are all he has left. You got the only light on to show him the way and a part of him knows that. Fight for him, because he doesn't have the strength to keep going some days. When he gets stubborn or won't help himself? Stick a boot up his ass and let him know you aren't going to give up on him but you're not gonna tolerate his giving up either. If he is going to the VA and taking his meds? It means he is trying and probably just for you and your kids. Remember that. Lot you don't know, doll, about what goes on in war.... but a lot he doesn't know what you go through either. Both of you are just two lost people trying to hang on tight and not lose your way. One day, he will find his way as you will too. Have faith in God, cause he may take you for a ride but there's a reason. It's not your plan, it's his and he will let you know as you go along. Sometimes you just miss the message".

9 comments:

  1. This is incredibly helpful. Thank you.

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  2. Your are welcome, keep coming back

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  3. I wish I had read this about a month ago. He shut down and pushed me away but I wasn't patient with him. And now its just a big huge mess because I couldn't handle it. I have no idea if there's anything wrong with him, he won't tell me anything. I'm hoping for the best that it's not PTSD and just normal deployment behavior.

    really helpful though. now I know.

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  4. We can handle what we are prepared for most of the time, but being unprepared for a significant other with Combat PTSD is maddening I'm told. You are not at fault for that, now you have his perspective and that could become a bridge. Secondary traumatization is a major factor in families of combat veterans.

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  5. Crying my eyes out. So powerful. God Bless all soldiers and their loved ones.

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    1. You are welcome, keep coming back, ask questions that you need answered and I will do my best.

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  6. Thank you for posting this. I have been patient and trying and we were getting strong again. Then all of a suddent we lost it all and I couldnt understand what was happening to him. I will be patient but I cant help but keep thinking will we make it.

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  7. anony1 - We appreciate your acknowledgment and prayers.

    anony2 - Reach out to other spouses in your area or online to help educate and support one another. There are many benefits you can apply for today such as the Caregiver Benefit of service-connected veterans. An organization I highly recommend is Family of a Vet, you can find their link on the upper right hand of this blog.

    When things between you two become confusing it is due to his perception of reality has been profoundly shaken. Everything he thought of himself has been shattered to the core including his spirit. I often speak of coming home in body starting as we disembark the aircraft to our home soil. Coming home in mind is a completely different experience and mine happened when I was able to be present all day without dissociating or loosing time to spacing out. This happened in 2010 twenty years after my combat experience. I still loose time, in the last several months my stress level has risen and remained constant and my dissociative features of Combat PTSD have been kicking.

    Know that when his reality has been high-jacked, you are the means of his reality testing. When this other reality bleeds over into yours, it is real in his mind. Knowing this will help you communicate with him, his comments or behavior can give you clues to his mental state and in what reality his mind thinks its in.

    When my kids where around and I was having hallucinations I included them sometimes as combat operations. To them they were playing war with dad, to me the intensity was dulled. I was able to tether myself to my kids and not succumb to the all encompassing flashbacks where the reality of today disappears as the horror of yesteryear rains.

    He is in there and will come home in mind when he is ready, his mind trying to sort out the absurdity and brutality of war. It is a long process. I want to thank you for your spirit and knowledge seeking to understand your veteran, you are important to him if he doesn't say it. That's that part of him that cannot reconcile war, killing and the sacrifices your family experiences daily. This part of him is broken, how can we use something effectually rendered inoperable?

    You are in my prayers.

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