Intimacy is a touchy topic for most of us, but it becomes especially tricky in relationships involving PTSD, TBI, and assorted illnesses and injuries. Some barriers to intimacy may include impotency due to depression, medications, or injury, decreased libido, low testosterone, or on the other side of the spectrum an increased sex drive or “hypersexuality.” Decreased energy and libido in caregivers due to stress and fatigue from the demands of caregiving, along with health issues associated with caregiving also play a role. Lack of day to day hugging and kissing and other affection due to isolating behaviors of PTSD, pornography addictions, infidelity (both may be related to seeking an adrenaline rush, or trying to feel “alive”). Caregivers also report that lack of regular affection make it difficult for them to be sexually intimate with their spouse who feels like a stranger and have related the interactions to feeling as if they are being raped.
So it’s no small thing when an intimate moment arises in our house. In fact, it’s something that only occurs every 9-12 months and is normally an isolated event. The other night my husband pulled me close and whispered that he loved me and missed me. At first, I was hesitant. “Just lie close to me. Hold my hand.” My heart and my head struggled to catch up. In his eyes I saw HIM and in his voice I heard HIM. This man next to me was my husband—the one I remember from the years before war ravaged his body and mind.
Yet I was scared, unsure. I had to work to keep my brain focused on who he was at that moment, instead of letting uncertainty and discomfort take over. It feels odd to find my husband a stranger, his touch foreign. These are normally the times where I may need to “check out” and make mental grocery or to-do lists, when I just cannot relax. But this time, as I lay with my head on his shoulder and listened to his voice I felt comforted. Loved. Oh, how I've missed you!
In the morning, he was gone. In his place was the regular guy, the one who is distant, and angry. Silent, emotions suppressed. The shell of my husband. I wanted to shake him and scream, “Where did you go?” “It’s not fair!”
I crave a glimpse, an hour, a day when my husband is the man I remember. But when that wish is granted I’m left sad and hurting... Overwhelming loneliness takes over for months where hugs and kisses are few and far between, and perfunctory at best. I build walls to keep my emotions at bay as well. I wonder if it’s better to have a taste from time to time, or none at all.
I will continue to search for the man I love while simultaneously searching to know this new man in my life, hopefully to find a bridge between the two.
Submitted By: Anonymous