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