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Hello - Husband a Vet With PTSD

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Sherry1014, May 29, 2007.

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  1. Sherry1014

    Sherry1014 New Member

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    I am new to this board, but not new to PTSD. My husband was in Viet Nam in 1966-1967, but, of course he's really never come back from there. We have been married 30 years. We have 4 children, all grown. I am having difficulty understanding why he is able to be so tender and compassionate with complete and near complete strangers and still so detached from his family. It hurts to see him interact with others in a seemingly effortless manner when his relations with myself and his children are strained. We know he loves us, but he sure has a weird way of showing it. I was raised in an abusive home and this hits all my buttons on so many levels. He is a good man and would never hurt us intentionally, but in many ways, even after 30 years, he remains a mystery. Anyway, that's my story. :crazy-eye
     
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  3. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    Welcome to the forum. Those near strangers are easier to be with as there is not the same emotional tie as those close to you. If something bad were to happen he would not be as upset. Those you love when not in treatment or PTSD controlled you keep at a safe distance trying to make sure your worst fear does not hit home too hard. It is fear.
     
  4. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Hi Sherry, welcome to the forum. Basically his approach has a lot to do with those he actually feels comfortable with, compared to those he does not. A stranger he is not comfortable with, hence he will present a mask of himself, the person he wants to be, or be seen as, but not his true reflection of his current mental self. To you, your family, the people he loves and is comfortable with, he is himself, the mentally messed man that is struggling to live day to day, and at times you certainly wouldn't recognise. With that comes guilt, his guilt, a guilt of the way he treats those he loves yet doesn't understand why he does it. He does it because he is comfortable with you all, loves you all, but doesn't understand the impact, and when he does, then feels guilty about it. Revolving door basically.... or a cycle for a better term.

    I'm sure you've heard the term, "to break the cycle" or "break a link in the chain"... same thing.
     
  5. Sherry1014

    Sherry1014 New Member

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    But how to break the cycle? I would like to think that there is a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. Any suggestions?
     
  6. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    Drag him into some form of counseling that is familiar with PTSD. I went in with my husband and also had sessions alone. We still do that. I think it is the best thing you can do as a good therapist will never feel like he is doing "wrong", but there are other approaches.

    Your hardest task will most likely be getting him to a doc. (I remember claw marks on the door as I was dragged) figuratively. There is light is he wants it but he must want it. You by the sounds of it could hang on a couple more years it takes for counsel to work. But there is no magic button. Maybe refer him here too?
     
  7. WarHippy1%

    WarHippy1% Active Member

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    To add to what Anthony was saying, we let ourselves get close to other people in the past. Too many of them died and left us feeling empty inside. He probably keeps distant with his family because he remembers the feeling of loss well enough that he winds up in avoidance of letting his feelings open up and maybe have to deal with that kind of hurt again. Either way, the impact would be the same because he Loves his family even if he cannot find the way to express it. His mind tells him if he doesn't get close, nothing bad will happen to you. From personal experience, I'd say, even if he won't admit it, it bothers him way more than anyone else in your family, because he knows that he is the reason he can't get close like he would like to. To me, that is one of the worst symptoms of PTSD, people who don't understand eventually go away, and many times we sit there lonely, sometimes for the remainder of our lives, wanting to Love and be Loved, but incapable of changing it, for fear of someone getting hurt because we chose to get close. Aquaintances are a different story, we can be buddy buddy with them, up to a point. When we start caring for someone, the shields go up, to protect both of us. I know this is probably of no comfort to you, except that his distance is a pretty good indicator of how much you are Loved by him. When people say they are envious of me because I don't work and the government gives me a check each month, I tell them, "I'll gladly swap lives and incomes with you, as long as I get to live in your mind and you take over mine". The people who know me never say another word about how I got it made. I hope this has helped you understand that he's not cold, just sick.
    Respectfully,
    WarHippy1%
    PS: '66 and '67 were very bad years to be in-country, be happy that he survived it.
     
    permban0077 likes this.
  8. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    Well put hippy.
     
  9. Sherry1014

    Sherry1014 New Member

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    WarHippy 1%,
    Thank you for your eloquent reply. I can see now that it is a protective mechanism. My husband does not want to hurt us in any way. I have always "known" this, but your explanation made it make sense for the first time.
    However, when I see my husband interacting with other people's children in ways he was never able to with our own children, it tears my heart out.
    One of our sons put it in perspective when he said "We've never known it any other way." This deeply saddens me. Seeing their father "buddy-buddy" with other kids cannot help but to have been hurtful to my children. My heart bled for them everytime I saw this. How in the world would you explain something like that to a child?
    Because my children are now adults, I can help them to understand all of this; BUT their childhood was with an "absent, though present, father." My own mother always treated other peoples' kids better than us, so this is a tender issue for me. What will keep my own children from repeating this pattern?
    Because of the social isolation that goes along with PTSD, their experience with other families was limited. I know that I contributed to that by not wanting to expose them, and myself, to the discrepency of treatment by my husband. He could be warm and witty with other people's wives, too. I didn't understand why, but I know I felt hurt and betrayed many times at social gatherings. Because my husband (a very good man) has at times been particularly adept at embarrassing me in front of others, we've avoided social activities over the years.
    I avoided confronting these issues for many years because I wanted to create a stable home for our kids, but now that they are all grown, I would like to have a real and intimate relationship with my husband. Please tell me that this will eventualy be possible! And please tell me it is not too late for my husband to have rich and rewarding relationships with his children!
    And while you are at it, I'll take an order of "moon with a side of stars!"
     
  10. WarHippy1%

    WarHippy1% Active Member

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    Sherry,
    All your wishes are valid and possible, except maybe the moon and the stars. I think you have to put an application in with God for those, as quite a long waiting list has existed before you.
    Knowledge is the key to open any door. I was raised in an environment so similar to your children that I can not only relate, but suggest a course of action. My Father always told me he was just a truck driver in WWII, fighting the Japanese. After he passed away, I discovered he was awarded three Bronze Stars during that time. I was only awarded one, so I can't even imagine what he must have encountered to earn the 2nd and 3rd. All I saw were the results, and wondered why he didn't Love me like other Dads Loved their children. The answer, I realize now, is that he had very severe PTSD symptoms, and couldn't, for the reasons I stated in the last post. I NEVER heard him say, "I Love you Larry", til the last time I hugged him goodbye, when I went back to say goodbye to him because he was dying of bone cancer. PTSD was in it's infancy at that time. He died, not knowing why he could not express his Love til that last act of desperation allowed him the freedom to vocalize. I never saw him cry until he told me that. We are in full awareness of our lack of emotion toward our Loved ones. Until we find out WHY we are different, we just beat ourselves up for being "less than" everyone around us. I am a Patriot, as I'm sure your husband is, or was. I volunteered for Vietnam because I believed that if my country was fighting a war there, it was for good reasons. I was never offered a disclaimer that informed me that, "If you participate, you will most likely develop PTSD, which will, at the very least retard your social graces, alienate your Loved ones from you, and at some time in your life, because you will have determined that you are just a piece of shit, the world would be better off without you, you will commit the act of suicide. Or, the symptoms may get worse.". This has been happening since the first warrior came home from the first battle. Warriors usually die alone, and wondering why they couldn't be like everyone else around them. When the war is over for the Loved ones and they feel safe once more, the War is just beginning for the warrior, and it takes place inside his mind, attempting to justify the actions that needed to take place to ensure the safety of his Loved ones. When a warrior says, "I'd kill anyone who tried to harm you", he means that quite literally, unaware that another, deeper part of his mind is gonna torment him because he acted against the part that contains his morals.
    If you made it through the "why" of PTSD successfully, here's the Rx. All of your family, who care about this issue, need to get therapy to understand and deal with the symptoms. The warrior has fought alone as long as he can. It's time for the Loved ones to join the fight. Winning this war doesn't cause scars like the original war did, but it might enable your Loved one, your Warrior, to finally return home from his war victorious. He deserves it, he has devoted his whole life to your safety. There is no other way for him to come home, except to show him that you not only understand WHY he went to war, but that you are grateful that he made that choice, that sometimes the means justify the ends and he's not a monster, and you need him to come home now because you are safe and you've missed him. It all takes time, and hard work, and sometimes you'll feel the goal isn't worth the effort. But remember, he's still fighting those battles for you. The evidence happens at night, while he sleeps. Imagine the scariest thing that's ever happened to you, then imagine that when you close your eyes and drift off, it happens again. And again. And again. And again. He's protecting you, but at what cost to himself.
    I pray that you and your family are as strong as your Husband, because, unless he's a maniac, he deserves strength in his support.
    God Bless You for hanging in there,
    WarHippy1%
    PS: Vietnam claimed over 58,000 of America's young men. As of the year 2000, over three times that number of returned Vets had committed the act of suicide, because they saw no light at the end of the tunnel anymore. They died because nobody ever went to war for them. They eventually surrendered.
     
  11. Sherry1014

    Sherry1014 New Member

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    Dear WarHippy1%,
    Thank you for serving. Thank you for continuing to serve by sharing your story. I finally understand.

    Blessed Peace and Love

    "Welcome Home"
     
  12. Grama-Herc

    Grama-Herc I'm a VIP

    Sheri.

    If you ever need another side of the PTSD I am a female with PTSD. I am not a veteren and have never served but this incidious disease comes in lots of forms and reasons. If I can help you just let me know
     
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