The PTSD Collective Lea Farrow

The Woman I Have Become in the Face of PTSD

People tell me I look happy.

And although they don’t see the tears that flow when I am well hidden beneath the steaming shower or behind the heavy bedcovers, I know I still have space for happiness. But it looks nothing like it used to.

Happiness is no longer a long-awaited holiday, or an updated piece of furniture for the house, or even a new pair of shoes. Since my husband’s PTSD became a constant reminder of the unpredictability of life, I have been forced to search for my happiness in other places.

Good food on the table every day. Friends who give me their ear when I want it, and their hand if I need it. A family that supports me, and loves me unconditionally. A warm house, and space to just breathe. An opportunity to share my stories, and to reach others with my words. My three children, healthy and happy.

This is my new happy.

So even though my husband’s PTSD can rain down on us for days on end, I know where to look now to find my peace. And I know that a glimmer of happiness can be found, even on the darkest days.

 

People tell me I’m so capable.

And I can understand why. Jobs get done, life moves on, the world keeps turning. Do they honestly believe that, put in my situation, they would crumble under the pressure?

My routine is my secret weapon. When PTSD spins everything else out of control – when my husband rages with anger, or intoxication takes him away, in body or mind, or another relapse means an admission to the ward at short notice – I turn to my routine and my children to ground me.

A cup of tea brings me back to myself, and a text from a friend about her kids coming over to play. Lunch boxes still need to be packed. School buses still need to be caught. Clothes still need to be washed. Dinner still needs to be made. Teeth still need to be brushed. And bedtime stories still need to be read.

I am capable, because without my routine and without a layer of normal I would be lost. And if I am lost, would I ever be able to find my way back?

 

People tell me I’ve become so resilient.

But what does that actually mean? Have I become so accustomed to the behaviours of my husband’s PTSD that I have gradually adapted my life around them? Or have I hardened against the anger and the unpredictable episodes? Nothing can touch me now.

But I know that I am still touched. And I still have a constant knot of anxiety twisting deep inside.

Part of me accepts that his actions and behaviours are no reflection on me. But why do I feel so ashamed? Why do I still feel responsible for what he chooses to do, or not do? The worry can be overwhelming. And the shame, suffocating.

I am not resilient. Or am I resilient simply because I acknowledge the pain, and it hasn’t broken me yet?

 

People tell me how strong I am.

And this one gets me every time. Every single time. I may smile and I may nod, but I also look away, even though I know no one can see the fog inside my head.

Does adversity build strength, or does it simply reveal it? I’m still not sure.

Am I strong because no one can see the little girl deep within who never imagined that her marriage would look like this? Or am I strong because no one will ever be able to read the dark thoughts inside my mind?

Even now, telling you openly and honestly about my life, there are still some words I can never put down on this page.

So if I am strong, in the face of PTSD, then it’s because it’s the only choice I have.

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. This is such a fantastic post not to mention website. Thank you for putting yourself out there for the rest of us so we can know we’re not alone.

    • Thank you, Cat. It began as my own therapy, to share my stories, but now I can see how much my words can help others out there travelling a similar journey. Take care.

  2. I am 3 years into this journey of PTSD/TBI from my husbands near death on duty accident that has landed us in this world of PTSD & Traumatic Brain Injury. It seems to be more difficult lately and I am not sure if I am just getting so tired of this or what. It seems that I am blamed for everything and I am losing myself, my self esteem and my self worth. I am withdrawing inside so much that I do not even know who I am any more. My husband is not able to give any support emotionally or physically as he is so broken himself. We continue to see doctors for surgeries from his injuries and he continues with all kinds of therapies. It just seems like it will never get better. I know you are into this journey more years and I so appreciate your posts as it reminds us we are not alone and that I need to shift my thoughts to simple joys. Thank you again for writing as I have no one to share with and if I did they would not even understand what I am going through, thinking or feeling. I guess you only get it once you are in the club of PTSD, until you are, you cannot even relate.

    • My heart goes out to you, it’s such a tough journey to be on. It sounds like your husband has a long road ahead, trying to find the right therapy and treatment options. But you also need to be looking after you. Your comment sounds like you’re beginning to lose yourself, and I know how that feels. It took me a long time to realise that looking after myself, and finding my own professional help, was not actually a selfish thing to to – it was a necessary thing to do or our whole world would have fallen apart. To be the best support for your husband, take care of you first.

  3. Pingback: Who have you become in the face of #PTSD? |

  4. I am so grateful for your website. Knowing you are not alone validates what is happening. That it’s not just me. Reading what you write is just like you are looking over my shoulder. Thank you

    • Thank you for your kind comment. It definitely helps to share and connect with others who truly understand the journey you’re on, though I’m sorry that so many people have to know the same life. Take care.

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