As a spouse, I remember when I felt those things, I remember saying those words “This isn’t fair”.
- I remember the endless days of crying, asking who was this person I am married to?
- I remember complaining about the changes in life as well as our relationship.
- I remember feeling the deepest, darkest place I had ever felt in my lifetime, and thinking there was no way out and nowhere to run to.
- I also remember the thoughts of “How do I save him… and us… and how do I save myself?”
I will also be the first to admit that at times some of those feelings do return for a brief moment, depending on the situation at hand. Those are all a part of grieving, part of the process that comes with the changes in life, and a part of you yourself changing.
Those things can also cause a person to become “stuck”. Just because you are a spouse/partner or family member does not mean you can’t or won’t experience becoming stuck, just like one with PTSD can experience.
I was shocked to learn how stuck I was!
But I learned a lot through those stages that seemed so unbearable. They also made me the person I am today! And that’s not patting myself on the back because I am only one person, and I am human just like the next person, and I’m not perfect.
I was stuck, once. I did not even realise it. I was in such a grieving and dwelling stage due to all of the changes, the unknowns, everything we lost, desperately trying to figure out what changed in Craig and why along with everything else we were experiencing.
But then something changed…
Years back now, I had a Vietnam Veteran Spouse get blunt with me. She said in a very blunt way,
Bec, get over your pity party!”
Oh, I got mad, I was appalled that someone would say that to me with everything we were going through, with the hurt I felt, with how lost I was in what was happening. I thought how could someone be so cold-hearted towards me?
Then the next thing I knew the anger turned into crying.
I thought to myself, why am I crying? Why aren’t I still mad at her for what she said to me and how she said it? Why do all of a sudden I feel different now? Today, I can sit here and tell you why.
Because she told me that out of concern and love!
It took another spouse telling me in a blunt way, for me to realize I was stuck. And it was one of the most important things that changed my life, my husband’s life, as well as our family’s lives. I was given a serious push forward, that was needed!
Every single person has the right to cry, to scream, to get mad, to feel that life is unfair. But you cannot allow yourself to get stuck there. You have to feel, grieve, process, but then you have to take steps forward. If you don’t, the days ahead of you are going to become overwhelming and possibly unbearable.
I get asked, literally every day, “Bec, How do you do it? How do you keep going, maintain a positive attitude, and stay healthy even with everything you and Craig continue to go through? How do you take care of everything? How do you balance this life and your family?”
The answer is actually rather simple. I learned how to prevent myself from becoming stuck…
- I make the time to process things, I have support people I trust and can vent to when I need to. Notice the term “complain” turned to “vent”? There is an important difference. Complaining brings becoming stuck and brings an unbalance, venting helps you find ways to move forward and also brings forward others that want to help because you are trying instead of complaining, and they can give opinions that may help or may just be an ear to listen.
- I cry when I need to and allow myself to experience the feelings or emotions I have at the moment then know to move forward.
- I learned and accepted that I am only human and not a superhero who can save the world.
- I remember to see the positive things in life, I use humour when appropriate, and I learned to make the best of each day no matter what it brings. Tomorrow is never promised, a very hard fact of life that you cannot forget.
- I am feet planted firmly that if there is a “why” to something… I’m going to look for an answer and/or find a solution or what will work best for the situation.
- I learned to take care of myself mentally and physically, which is a must do!
- I learned coping skills and techniques, and I practice them daily whether they are needed or not because they help me maintain a personal balance which leads to maintaining a family balance.
- I learned that I, like everyone else, do have limits and where to draw the line when those limits come… boundaries are healthy for everyone.
I also learned that if I need help, it’s okay to ask for it!
I also had to learn and accept that nothing happens overnight; there is not a quick fix to anything, but patience, trying, learning, and giving things time… can bring huge positive changes.
These things don’t make me or you any less of a person. They make us stronger!
Helpless, Hopeless, and “This isn’t fair”? Sure, every single one of us will feel those things and that way at some point in time, maybe more than once as life changes. This life contains PTSD and everything that comes with it, and no, it’s not fair… to anyone, and it’s sure not fair to the person who has PTSD either. They did not ask for PTSD. It’s not easy, every single day may bring a new challenge or many new ones, some days will make your head spin.
What you do or choose to do, how you choose to view things, those will be what bring changes. I will not sit here and tell anyone to “Get over your pity party”, but I will tell you what can help you, to prevent becoming stuck.
A Spouse’s Story PTSD