Friday, July 28, 2017

PTSD coupled with Narcissism: How To Love Enough?

My husband and I met four years ago and immediately had a magnetic connection that neither of us had experienced before. He had 3 children from two different women and I had 1 child from my previous marriage. We jumped right into life together, blended our families pretty much right away and within 4 months we were expecting our son. We were very excited about having a blended family and building a life together. 

Throughout our first year together, it became noticeable that I was taking care of all the responsibilities in the house and with the children. Not to mention that he had never taken care of any visitation agreement through the court for his children, so there were extensive boundary issues with his exes. He did tell me that he had PTSD and how he would meditate or workout to work through it, but I really didn't quite understand how much the PTSD was affecting his life. 

Quickly I learned that at any point in time, in any conversation (especially when challenged in any way), he would snap and be on attack mode, to include: yelling, running up to scream in my face, getting angry in front of the children, swearing and saying awful things to me as if I was the enemy. This behavior persisted no matter what I did to try to change the conversation, evade the conversation, leave the room or even leave the house. I begged for him to change this because I couldn't handle it. This made me feel like I was always walking on eggshells trying to make sure I didn't offend him. This stopped me from feeling comfortable sharing my feelings with him and left me feeling completely abandoned.  It also made my already somewhat codependent behaviors horribly worse. 

Along with these behaviors was also an immense Narcissistic image that he portrayed where he has an insatiable desire for attention especially from women, would remind me that I should be lucky to be with him because he could have any woman, and seemed to have a severe lack of empathy as to how any of this affected me, even while I sat beside him in bed and sobbed while he acted like he couldn't even hear me. 

All of this time, he hadn't been seeking help for the PTSD because he had had an awful experience with the VA when he first returned home from the USMC. I continued to let him know that I felt like he had an emotional barrier that he never let me in and was pushing me away. These behaviors persisted with constant conflict until I decided to separate from the marriage in February. I couldn't let my two little boys watch their mom be treated like this anymore. 

Since I'm a Christian, I really didn't want to get divorced, but instead knew we needed a break from the conflict to be able to evaluate what truly matters. I went to a Christian therapist and after she met with my husband, she advised me to focus on praying for his health and to recognize these behaviors and to allow for God to work through his heart, rather than looking for reconciliation at that point. I did this for 2 months and gave up complete control to God. I asked God to help me work on releasing the bitterness and resentment I was carrying for him and truly forgive him.  A few weeks ago, he confessed to me and acknowledged that all of these behaviors are wrong and apologized for neglecting me in our marriage. This was a big step for him. Since then we have been talking about our needs and feelings with each other. 

As of yesterday, we attended counseling together to begin our journey of reconciliation. We have a lot of work to do, but both know that our marriage can be saved if God is at the center. My husband accepted Jesus into his life and has been putting in work in his faith journey. In the past 3 weeks, he is literally acting like a different man. I feel so blessed to be given this second chance to thrive in our marriage. I'm so thankful for sites like these that help to support families of veterans with PTSD. I am really trying to learn more about how to help and support him with his PTSD, instead of allowing it to cripple me and internalize all of it myself. 

Thank you for the resources you offer to families like ours. 

God Bless, 

Ssgt Wife

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Love Letter Campaign ~ Third, Last, and Final Love




Dear Joe,

It's November 14, 2016 and it's been 9 months since I've seen or spoken to you. Very much like the first time you walked out my life. The saying goes: "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me." But I could see myself being fooled thrice. Why?

Because I love you! I have experienced what I consider to be hell on earth these past couple of months trying to wrap my head around what's going on and why. Constantly bombarded with people telling me to move on and why I should move on. I remember you saying once: "We'll see how stubborn you are?" And you are right. We will. 

Why do I love you? That's a great question, I feel the answers are limitless. I didn't know love was suppose to be logical. Let's start with how you make me feel invincible like I can take on the world. I get that it is preferred that I already feel/think that way without you present. And I think over these past few months I've come to that place...painfully. 

I love you for the memories we made and hope they will carry me though the life I have yet to live. I love you for the way I got butterflies from your texts. I love you for making me feel like a woman even when I was being boyish. I love you for the poems you gave me. I love you for the words of encouragement to do more, pursue more because I am "smart". I love you for making me NOT think. That was probably one of my most favorite things about you, I couldn't think straight with you around so I thought about things less. I love that you taught my daughter her directions she loves to call out "Never Eat Shredded Wheat" while on the road. I love that you cooked when you visited. I love that you took me out to the nice restaurant while you were sick. There are a lot of I love you moments that I remember from the day we met until the last. I didn't know I was going to fall in love with a first kiss. 

I remember there was one night while in Panam you held me as I fell asleep and felt utterly safe from the world, like nothing could harm me not even death itself. And then days later everything changed. You may be the devil himself but I am going to love you anyways. Because that's who I am. I love unconditionally, without regret. The reasons (logically you're not there reasons) to forget you are everywhere but I trust in what I felt even if it was one sided. Even if it was all a lie. 

I once argued with my mother (whom you know is crazy) why did I even bother with you if I knew you were "broken" and I said "if that was the reason to not talk to you what reason did I have for men to want to talk to me with my imperfections. We all have baggage and I felt that I understood yours given many years of my life spent near a military base. That world, that environment.

There were many things you said or texted me over the time we were together that would hint towards the political climate today in the US. However, I would put aside those, what I would call, "weird things" as a result of the injuries you stated occurred to your head. Or maybe I was the gullible one and ate up all of the stories you told me about your experiences in the military. Whatever the story, I fell for you. 

So as I begin this next chapter in my life, I continue to wish you the best also. 

Love always, 

Laven29


This blog post is part of The Love Letter Campaign... a project started by FamilyOfaVet.com to encourage those who love a hero to write a letter sharing their story (where they started, what they've faced together, and why their love endures). It's not just for spouses, but also for parents, siblings, caregivers, and friends. It's about telling the "rest" of our stories... stories that continue despite PTSD, TBI, and the challenges of life after combat. To share your love letter or find out more about the campaign, visit http://www.familyofavet.com/love_letters.html.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Love Letter Campaign ~ Never To Be Forgotten Bill



Dear Bill

You will never be forgotten 

Over the years I have wondered about you, if you are ok?

Our paths crossed whilst staying at Sawtell Caravan Park August 2006

We spotted each other and stopped for a chat

You told me you lived alone out the back of the never never, (WA) and you were once a soldier, here for a reunion with the Long Tan Vietnam Vets 

You seemed to want to chat, I listened quietly and respectfully to your stories of war, despair and depression, to experiences you had at Long Tan, felt your need to unburden, felt your need for someone to care, someone to care enough!

Unexpectedly you asked me to join you that night for a dinner dance at the Sawtell RSL Club...

Always up for a challenge and an adventure, I graciously accepted...

We laughed and danced, joy was on your precious face....

A few of the veterans told me they had never seen you look so happy, had not seen you dance before nor enjoy yourself so much, they seemed pleased and spoke to me affectionately....

After a time you respectfully and politely excused yourself, said you had to leave as you had some naughty plans and I was a 'nice girl'

Away you went as I chuckled to myself and thought
"What a lovely honest man, hope he enjoys himself, he certainly deserves to"

It was an honor Bill when you asked me to attend the Memorial Service.
During the service I looked upon the faces of those who were once young and full of hope, now worn and full of despair, men who were proud to serve their country!

I was invited to join the family of vets for breakfast, this was an absolute delight as I had won a meat tray at the local Bowls Club,
couldn't wait to share....

This was the opportunity to talk to the wives of the hurt, damaged and trying to cope.

As I spoke to the women over breakfast, I listened too to their stories, the love and despair and sense of loss they had for the men they had married, men who returned from Vietnam changed for ever more.

As a civilian, I did learn many things from the Vietnam Vets, this I consider a privilege, a part of my heart belongs to you Bill, to these men and their families

On a final note

I consider Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith, MC SG the finest of Australian men, he fought on for the recognition of his soldiers, he fought the good fight after the war, at the age of 83 he fought on and won!

Let us all take a leaf out of Harry's book, a great commander, a true inspiration; age is no barrier

Harry spoke out and it was done!!

Warmest wishes

Love; Light

Roz Young...


This blog post is part of The Love Letter Campaign... a project started by FamilyOfaVet.com to encourage those who love a hero to write a letter sharing their story (where they started, what they've faced together, and why their love endures). It's not just for spouses, but also for parents, siblings, caregivers, and friends. It's about telling the "rest" of our stories... stories that continue despite PTSD, TBI, and the challenges of life after combat. To share your love letter or find out more about the campaign, visit http://www.familyofavet.com/love_letters.html.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Love Letter Campaign ~ Too Much Pain




My stepson, JCS, was never a great human being.  He was selfish all the time.  but, actually, he became less selfish when he joined the army rangers.  He wanted elite.  but, what he got was seeing little girls crying for a bottle of water.  And he, who never gave anything to anyone, found himself giving all his supplies to children in Afghanistan.  When he came home, he cried telling me one of the bottles had broken on the ground.  I could never respect him more.  There are many more stories...all broken....but, I can not share anymore...except to say, he could not live with himself after that.  He committed suicide by cop.  Something five years before he told me he might do.  I talked him down: that day.  But, he kept his promise to himself and five years later laid his life down.  May he rest in peace.


Submitted By: Stepmom

This blog post is part of The Love Letter Campaign... a project started by FamilyOfaVet.com to encourage those who love a hero to write a letter sharing their story (where they started, what they've faced together, and why their love endures). It's not just for spouses, but also for parents, siblings, caregivers, and friends. It's about telling the "rest" of our stories... stories that continue despite PTSD, TBI, and the challenges of life after combat. To share your love letter or find out more about the campaign, visit http://www.familyofavet.com/love_letters.html.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Love Letter Campaign ~ You Are My Everything




Dear everything,

I don't know how to express the love I have for you very well, but I'm going to try. I love how we first met. You were just that quiet young looking girl that seemed to need some one to talk to. We got along so well, sharing our ideas and even disagreeing over a few. No matter what, every morning you sat next to me, and gave me one of those awesome smiles that I fell in love with.

I love your stubborn determination. Through all of our troubles, hardships, and challenges, you've always been our rock. When I need a hug, you've always been there with open arms. When I did something dumb, it was you who called me out on it. I love and need that so much.

I love your passions. I may not share them, or even understand them completely, but I love that you have them. You make me want to have passions again, to feel passionate about things again. You teach me things and show me different perspectives that I'd never have otherwise. 

I love that through all the pain and hurt I've caused, you're still willing to give me a chance. I am doing everything I can to show you that I will change and that you really are my everything.

Submitted By: A Work in Progress

This blog post is part of The Love Letter Campaign... a project started by FamilyOfaVet.com to encourage those who love a hero to write a letter sharing their story (where they started, what they've faced together, and why their love endures). It's not just for spouses, but also for parents, siblings, caregivers, and friends. It's about telling the "rest" of our stories... stories that continue despite PTSD, TBI, and the challenges of life after combat. To share your love letter or find out more about the campaign, visit http://www.familyofavet.com/love_letters.html.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Love Letter Campaign ~ Our Story Started with a Stir and a Sip






You, you're amazing you have that thing about you it makes me love you even more, I'm not sure if its your brown hazel eyes or your amazing smile, No Wait, it has to be the way your one dimple shows and the other is to shy no its not that its your beautiful scars I love Nope still not it I cant seem to figure out what it is, maybe its the way you make me laugh or the way you say my name, or maybe its those moments we share, those nights you hold me so close or the late night talks about random things, maybe its in the way you seem shy about the smallest things, maybe its just in the way you correct me when I'm wrong or help me when I'm doing the wrong things, Maybe just maybe its your way of talking like a comedian to make me laugh, maybe its when were watching movies and I have to play with your stuffs, I'm still trying to figure this one out still not sure which moment I fell in love with you, is it the way you make me laugh until my tummy hurts? Or the way you try and make me succeed, is it the way you see so much in me when I see just a little? Maybe its in that moment we met and you smiled, our story started with a stir and a sip, maybe its in the way you love the little things I do for you, or the Little things you do for me Your Touch it has to be that, so soft and tender it makes me shiver all over, maybe its the way you look when you sleep so Peaceful and adorable, it could be those moments when you just do something so amazing that I cant help but stare, I just don't know Maybe its because I'm so much me when I'm around you the moment I fell in love with you When When When Is it the moment you said you love my eyes or the moment you kissed me deeply, was it the moment you adored me or the moment you said I'm cute, maybe its the moment you smiled at me that made me go crazy inside, Maybe it was in the way you laughed or gave a random smile for no reason I'm still trying to figure this one out I wont lie when I met you I was too shy to talk to you, only because you're this little ball of perfect person, me on the other hand not so much I don't know what it is you do, but I cant seem to help myself but to love you, something you do that I cannot describe, you make me love you more every day, I want to be all that you need, I cant help but to love you, I cant.  I have never wanted someone so much in my life, every time I try and let go I find myself falling more in love with you, sometimes just by the way you smile the way you laugh even a simple joke you make makes me fall in love with you all over again. You mean so much to me and I cant describe what it is you do, but your that one person I can count on that one person I am willing to do anything for if you want a bagel that is made in the USA, I would fly to the USA, buy that bagel you want fly back and make sure you enjoy it, I would do it without even thinking twice, your simply amazing in everything you do, I cant seem to want to lose the love I love the most. 

Was it the way you wanted to see me happy? Or the way you try so hard? It could also be in the way you move your foot when your sleeping or the way you talk in your sleep, sometimes I sit in silent trying to figure out how it is I came to love you, the silent thoughts of you make me smile and blush, the thoughts of you take up most of my days, your amazing touch when I close my eyes, your amazing smile when I stare at you, your amazing laugh, your amazing eyes the amazing you Nobody is going to love you like I do, it hurts knowing I cant make you mine, even though I want to be the one making you happy every day.  Your amazing mind, your ability to never give up, the way you analyse everything you do, the way you try so hard that makes your mind beautiful, sometimes I want to be in your mind just to know your thoughts or just to know what makes you happy.


I'm falling for your eyes but they don't know me yet, this feels like falling in love, you're my safety and I just want to be your lady, this feeling I cant forget I'm in love now.  
Forgive me for saying this but I could make you the happiest person alive if you gave me the chance to try, I could give my all to you, I could make my life fit into yours, I want to have you that's all, all of you.  I've known you for so long but long enough but yet I feel like I have known you for many years.  If I could I would make more sense to how I feel about you, but there is something I cant figure out about you.

Submitted By: Saby


This blog post is part of The Love Letter Campaign... a project started by FamilyOfaVet.com to encourage those who love a hero to write a letter sharing their story (where they started, what they've faced together, and why their love endures). It's not just for spouses, but also for parents, siblings, caregivers, and friends. It's about telling the "rest" of our stories... stories that continue despite PTSD, TBI, and the challenges of life after combat. To share your love letter or find out more about the campaign, visit http://www.familyofavet.com/love_letters.html.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Falling Apart (and finding a way through... again)

If you've kept up with FOV (Family Of a Vet) in the last year you might have noticed that things have been conspicuously quiet in the last 8-12 months.
Something I - Brannan, founder of FOV - but more than that the chick who sort of eats, sleeps, and breathes this work and mission because somehow, amazingly and thankfully, this mission/passion/calling found me almost a decade ago and has become the most amazing adventure I could have never imagined - feel guilty about sort of 24x7 right now.
I'm not sure I could catch you up completely on our personal life - the rather chaotic mess of daily survival - that the hubby, kiddo, and I are currently trying to nudge our way through (and have been for well... probably more than a year at this point).

The short list: 
Our finally-found-deeply-liked-actually-could-get-the-hubby-to-listen primary doc at the VA retired and was replaced by a complete idiot (I don't use those words lightly and am not typically a "personal attacks" type of chick, but ohhhhhhhh my) who then so very helpfully told my dear husband who regularly has major paranoia about the VA trying to kill him via his Meds that leads to a constant battle to get him to take anything consistently that he (the hubby) was probably right that he shouldn't take his Meds. (I do think the doctor actually meant that no one should overtake medications... But well, noooooot how it "translated").
My mom, the person who sort of was the "fixer" in my world... who somehow, inexplicably managed to reach into tough times and soften them in ways I didn't fully notice ... took her trip to heaven after a lengthy battle with cancer.
My own somewhat under control neurological condition suddenly became a mess of anything but "controlled” and has netted me several surgeries, hospital "vacays", and a daily mess of trying to think clearly through ... Well... Almost anything.
Our amazing, incredible kiddo is approaching the "tweens" and has been struggling with depression and figuring out her way in the world amidst our... Uhm... Less than conventional world. 
The hubby's wonderful, amazing Vietnam friend - sort of our own personal mentor in this messy life after combat - died unexpectedly.
Shilo, my hero's so smart, so sweet, so perfect service dog developed a sort of major disorder. And with the hubby's struggles, my own sooooo less than able to manage all the moving parts challenges, and all the other chaos at the moment, we can't seem to get her well. We aren't consistent enough, we aren't on "top" of things enough. And so, because we love her, we are letting her go - back to the incredible organization she came from (and her trainer who will help her get well and then find her another family to help).
I could actually keep adding to that list for a few thousand more words, but you get the point. 
Basically, almost every piece that was in place that helped us manage this after-combat life has vanished in the last 12 or so months.
And I had so much more ... Well... EVERYTHING when I first started getting those pieces in place 9 years ago. But now I find myself in those quiet, dark moments struggling to see a way through... a way to get the hubby back on his feet, get myself physically well, nudge the kiddo forward on the path in front of her, and all the other endless broken pieces that seem to be endlessly swirling out of control at the moment. 
But the long and short of it... Of these lives we lead... Is that I don't have a choice.
I have to fight-pray-will-struggle-beg our way through. I have to stand, figure out how to put the "falling apart" back together again, and keep moving until I believe that's possible.
I know many of you will read this and completely get exactly what I'm saying. For us and for the heroes and kiddo's we live, combat never ends. Sure it looks different... Our battlefields and the wars we wage on them change almost as quickly as we conquer them. 
But loss is not an option. It's not in us, and if it ever was these lives quickly build a "never give up, never stop" thread into the fabric of who we are. And so, we fight. We fall apart. And we fight again.
Heroes and families - the literally thousands of them that I have met or talked to in my years in this work - are some of the most inspiring-unseen-unbelievable-amazing people any could know. But unfortunately for those of us in these "trenches" those qualities are far too often refined under strains and hardships we never imagined enduring yet somehow still have to find a way through.
And we will. I will. We all will. Somehow. Always. <3