PTSD, TBI, Sex and Relationships

Posted: January 23, 2014 in Coming Home, Families After War, Healing from War, Post War Life, PTSD, Sex & Relationships

You came back different. Changed. You can’t really describe  it, but you’re not yourself. Not who you used to be. You’re angry. Blow up at stupid shit. Lack other emotions. Feel numb. Tired. Disinterested in stuff that used to be interesting. Tense. Sleepless. Have nightmares that scare the hell out of you. Forget shit. Can’t focus. You miss your buddies. Miss the war. Miss the ones you lost. Miss feeling like you used to feel. Before.

He came home. Different. Instead of you being able to step back and let him take over sharing the household, childcare and financial responsibilities, you have to take care of him now, too. He’s angry. Silent, except when he’s mad. He can’t remember shit. Seems unmotivated. And distant. He’s up all night; keeps you up all night. Spends more time on the sofa than in bed. Keeps loaded guns around the house. Is edgy. Drinks too much. Seems obsessed with weapons and war. Wakes up sweating from nightmares. Says he loves you, doesn’t act like it.

Sex? Ha, not the same.

You lose interest in the midst of it, your body’s just not working the way it used to. And god damn it, you’re young. You’re supposed to be a sex machine at this age, right? She doesn’t understand. This isn’t by choice. You’d give anything to be the best lover she will ever have. Doesn’t she know it hurts like hell to disappoint her? You know she has expectations. She’s young, too. And your worst fear is that she’ll get her needs met somewhere else. But you can’t help the way you feel now. The way your body won’t respond, won’t let go, won’t. Just won’t.

He says he still loves you, but when it comes to sex, you’re not so sure. When it does happen, it’s too fast. His mind seems elsewhere. Or he just can’t get it up. When you do manage to get him in the mood, shave your legs, slither into lingerie… you wait. Minutes turn to half hour, turn to one hour, turn to 4:38am. He hits the bed, zonks out. You cry yourself to sleep. It has to be you. You’re not attractive enough. You’re not good enough. He doesn’t want you anymore. He. doesn’t. want.you.anymore. It slices to your soul.

She used to look at you differently. Like you were a man, not some exasperating child. She has no clue you are barely holding it together. How dark your thoughts get. How you wonder if you just might snap. How you imagine killing again and how good that would feel right now. She tries to be supportive when she’s not exhausted from the kids. But she’s angry, too. Why can’t she understand that you don’t want to be this way? You’re not some child, even though TBI fucked up your brain and now you can’t do half the stuff you once did. Why doesn’t she understand how humiliating that is? She reminds you constantly of what you need to do, when, where, checking, double-checking. When you don’t remember, she gets frustrated. As if you could remember if you just tried harder. Why can’t she realize that the part of your brain that’s supposed to remember is gone. Fucking gone. Trying harder isn’t an option. It’s never going to be an option. This TBI shit isn’t going away. It’s who you are now. And underneath it all are deeper wounds…

He’s more like a child these days than the man you married. You can’t trust that he’ll be able to handle taking care of the kids alone. What if he forgets something important? Like that the baby’s in the bath? Or the stove is on? Or that he is even supposed to be watching the kids? You are so tired. So fucking tired. You’re more caregiver than wife. More mother than lover. And he just sits there, in that chair, unmoving for hours, cleaning his guns. Lost in a world that you know hurts him. You know you’re supposed to be patient, kind, understanding. Not lose it. Remember that he’s a warrior. A wounded one. A hero of our country. You’re supposed to realize that he can’t fucking remember, because it’s the TBI, not him. It’s the PTSD, not him. But you forget. And it is him. This is who he is now. Who are you supposed to be?

He can’t do the things you used to enjoy doing together. He panics in crowds. Hates being around your friends and family. You make excuses for him. People are starting to wonder. He keeps to himself. Overreacts. Blows up at the kids. You’re walking on eggshells, trying to keep him calm, trying to keep the kids calm, trying not to fall apart from it all. Will you ever get relief from this pressure you’re under?

Doesn’t she know you miss “you” too? That no one ever prepared you for this. That all the training in the world never prepared you for this life now. That most of the time you are barely here. That you never wanted to be a burden to her. That you hate knowing she’s carrying all of the load. That you never thought PTSD/TBI would mean this. Half alive. Half dead. A warrior at heart. Always. A body that says you’ll never have the life of a warrior again. Sometimes you wonder if she’d be better off without you. Because, well, she would be better off without you. Free. Not having to be your brain. Not having to put up with your shit. She’d be better off, but what would you be?

Doesn’t he know you miss “you” too? That no one ever prepared you for this. That all the experience during deployments, all the fear, all the worry, all the prayers, all the promises you made to God if He would just bring you home, never prepared you for this? That most of the time you’re not sure where you are anymore? That you’re stressed to your limit. That while he no longer has the stress of combat, your battle has never ended? You went from fear and being brave — so brave– handling it all, the kids, the house, the finances, work, the mortgage, family, Christmas, birthdays, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, month after month, year after year… alone…and it has never stopped. He came home and the war came with him. And all this time you’ve been strong. Holding it inside. Putting on a brave face. Because you had to. And falling apart wasn’t an option. Because you couldn’t breathe while he was gone. And somewhere deep inside you, in the pounds you’ve gained, the ache in your back, the band around your chest…it’s all still there. Fear. And now, grief.

Grief? You think about them all the time. How one moment they were there, the next gone, and you had to keep going. Shove it all aside. There was no time for grieving. They’re gone. These brothers. The ones who knew you better than anyone else. The ones you would have died for. Except you lived. Did you do enough? If you had just… why them? Why not you? You’ll never know. You see the faces of the dead. You close your eyes. They’re there. You miss them.

You watch her. She’s so beautiful. Such a great mother to your kids. You don’t know how she does it all. How she puts up with you. You wish you could tell her. You wish you could feel beyond the consuming rage. You wish you could make her know that you’re just lost and broken and you don’t know what to do. That all this time you’ve been strong. Holding it inside. Putting on a brave face. Because you had to. And falling apart wasn’t an option. Because you couldn’t breathe while you were gone. And somewhere deep inside you, in the pounds you’ve gained, the ache in your back, the band around your chest…it’s all still there. Fear. And now, grief.

You watch him. He’s so beautiful. Such a good daddy to your kids. You don’t know how he manages. How he puts up with the hell that PTSD and TBI put him through. You wish you could tell him. You wish you could feel beyond this tightness in your chest, this fear that life will always be this hard and that you won’t be strong enough. You wish you could make him know that you’re just lost and broken and you don’t know what to do.

I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know what to do.

###

And so here you are. Run over by the energy of war. Fighting each other because there is no enemy to fight now, only fear and self-doubt and shame and uncertainty.  Expecting life, expecting yourselves, to pick up where you left off and continue on. Only he’s changed. Only she’s changed. You’re relating to each other based on the last version you knew of each other. And it doesn’t work. He’s changed. She’s changed.

So where do you go from here?

You start by looking at yourself and determine what you have do have control over and what you don’t. Then you decide that for the things you have control over, you will own your power to make choices.

(You remember, too, that the only thing we ever truly control is our perspective. And you give grace to the reality that PTSD and TBI make choosing a perspective more challenging.)

You start by looking at your relationship today and decide, together, that you are not each others’ enemy. That, if you are going to make it, you’re going to have to be on the same team. Standing side-by-side, looking out at the world, together. Even if that means the one with PTSD can’t do more than what he’s doing now. Even if that means the one without goes to the PTSD support group.

You start by accepting what is, now. You grieve the loss of the hope and belief that the permanent changes will go away, as you focus on the good and beauty and joy that remains.

You start by stepping back to realize the extent of what you have each been through. That means you realize the layers of fear, grief, exhaustion, and the depth of emotion that is held within each of you and you find a way to start gently releasing it. Write. Paint. Journal. Cry. If you can’t talk to each other about the parts you want each other to know, message each other, write each other a letter.

You start by realizing you will never fully know the parts of each other that are hurt the most. His combat. Her homefront.

You start by recognizing that you are each grieving. And you give yourselves permission to grieve.

You start by deciding to be gentle with yourself and kind to each other.

You start by accepting that your roles have changed. And you find ways to give each other space and time to do the things that nurture you independently.

You start by choosing to believe that Love is stronger than Death. That Love is stronger than life with PTSD. That Love is stronger than life with TBI. You choose to believe that you will be given the strength you need, in the moment  you need it, and not a moment before.

You start by shrinking the big scary future down to the sizeable now of today.

And you reach out for support. You band together with those who are walking the same path and you let them become your family, your source of strength, the ones who fill in the gaps and help remind you that you are stronger than you think you are. That you can do this. That when the struggles are thoughts and beliefs, thoughts and beliefs can be changed. That when you just need to cry, you can cry. That when you have a hell of  day, that tomorrow can be better.

And sometimes, you start by understanding that not every marriage has the foundation to bear the weight of war. And if that happens and your heart breaks, you are not to blame. There is nothing, nothing in this world that proves that human beings should be stronger than the destructive weight of war. Sometimes, a marriage just won’t be.

And all you can do then is make life-giving choices. And remember that as much as it hurts to lose someone you love to war, it doesn’t mean that you are unlovable. Another love can find you still.

Comments
  1. Im so glad I came across this blog and especially this post. Im struggling with my husband right now. Im trying to understand him but he shuts me out.

    • I’m glad it resonated with you. Many of the warriors I know don’t want their wives to know what they carry inside. They want to protect them. If you want to message me on FB or email me, I’d be happy to talk with you privately.

    • IDK says:

      Man. I cried through that. I haven’t been married yet. I’ve feared bringing my war into a relationship. I feel like I am that man you described minus the guns. Thankfully, I don’t keep any near.

      Can a love find me with my PTSD, with my illness induced TBI (the atrack having come from the inside, possibly effects from externl attacks, too)???

      Who would want to live with me as I am? It seems like at least half of the time I don’t want to. How can I expect another as a would, could, or will be lover? Must I first resolve more fully my own identity as different than I wanted and expected; become more accepting of who I am, now???

      This is another place where I have little control, as love seems to find people before the reverse is true, at least love from one or more others in different ways. But, how do I handle this, should I actually approach or let love approach me? Both, I guess, ideally, for practice if not more…And send fear out the door?

      Even in friendships I find myself struggling. That hadn’t been a problem without classically active PTSD; or a serious chronic illness that sometimes I’m certain WILL go away as quickly as it pounced; that at other times, I fear will not, as most M.D. holders seem to believe, Knowing that Anything Is Possible, And that “doctors” aren’t always right.
      .
      I Do Not want to be a burden to anyone.
      I do want to love and be loved. Why is it So F—ing hard? Maybe it just is.

      I am not unlovable. God, help me to believe this more deeply than I now know how…

      • L. says:

        IDK, at this time I don’t see that anyone has commented on your post, and I find that bewildering.

        I may not know you, but I believe that for each of us, there is someone out there that can and will love us. I believe this so definitively that no matter what crippling circumstances or personal hell I have been through, I continue on, waiting for the right Love.

        Don’t settle for less. Don’t allow yourself to be ‘just fine’ with someone who shows you a little attention, just because you feel grateful to them for giving you any shred of affection. Don’t buy into the lie that all you are worth is fragments of someone’s love. Don’t accept less than all of someone, because it is what you deserve. It’s what I deserve. It’s what each human under the face of the sun deserves and should have.

        Fear is a part of life, and love itself seems especially terrifying. The chasing of it, the starvation for it, the complete desperation that each of us have to be loved. Don’t worry about the fear––sometimes it’s a good thing.

        You cannot completely resolve who you are, because we all change constantly as circumstances dictate. I’m sure you’ve noticed that while dealing with your TBI/PTSD. So trying to achieve a ‘Final Person’ before allowing yourself the freedom to be loved is literally impossible. You will never be a final being. Allow someone to love your work in progress, and love their’s in return.

        Yes. Become more accepting of yourself. Someone can and will love you. You are not unloveable. You. Are. Not. Unloveable.

        You are NOT unloveable.

        You are not a burden. To hell with the people that may have made you think this. When someone truly loves another person, they accept them as they are. They cherish the opportunity to help navigate the scars of the soul and mind. They will look at your situation and feel humbled that you’ve allowed them the chance to help you through your pain.

        You are not unloveable.

      • Beautifully true words… I reach out privately through email to those who comment. Thank YOU for sharing this insight and your hope and light here. Your words touched me personally as well. Big hug to you!!

      • DIGI says:

        Screws you up more when the one who promised God that they will be there for you walk out the door when you need them the most, such as when you are literally fighting for your life(cancer). I don’t have the option to have firearms/weapons laying around my place like I use to because my child now has to go through her own battle against PTSD which only makes things worse since I have to constantly worry about my child and I definitely don’t want him/her to go through the same thing that I have to. I would love to take on her burden so that he/she can be happy again and have a childhood as he/she shouldn’t have to go through this BS. It sucks being alone but I have accepted the fact that I will never know what it’s like to have some love me (besides family) as I have never experienced it and now I’m damaged goods. It’s been 9 years since I have been in a relationship and over 3 years since I’ve had any type of serial activities, not sure why females no longer like me and the only thing that I can think of is because I’m damaged goods and who wants to start a relationship with someone like me. Life also loves to kick me while I’m down because life doesn’t want me to catch a break, I swear life is trying to break me and the only reason it hasn’t because I have a child that needs me and needs me to be strong for myself and him/her. I don’t have any one to talk to about this and I’m alone in this world, I only get to see my child every other weekend and my so called friends have all turned their backs on me and the ones that didn’t don’t live close to me so I have isolated myself from the world which only makes it harder to find someone

        I do like this post ad it can give people an insight as to some of the things that I have to deal with everyday as I will never speak about the things that I will never talk about even if I wanted to, I would rather suffer behind a mask.

      • Digi, thank you for sharing this. I am happy to talk with you if you wish and offer any support I can to you. Please email me at brittareque@gmail.com if you wish.

      • Amy says:

        Hugs. No one us unlovable. Remember that you deserve to be loved and to have love.

      • S. says:

        There is someone out there that will love you the way you are, and will stand by your side and help you. Don’t lose faith! Mine came to me a year and a half ago and I thank God for him every day! He talks to me about things that are bothering him, as much as he can, and he asked me to go with him to the Drs. We face everything together as A team. Everyone has their own battles/issues, NO ONE is perfect!! Best of luck in finding the one for you and God bless.

      • Steve says:

        It took me awhile, and we struggle sometimes but love did eventually find me. And yes it was post combat, ptsd, tbi, chronic pain, lots of Dr appointments, lots of anger, but still we love and are planning to get married. So there is hope.

      • So encouraging to hear that! Thank you!

      • SEN says:

        IDK,
        I am a woman that has never had any dealings with the military, but I am in love with a man that served a couple tours in Afghanistan as a medic. He has PTSD, and perhaps more that he hasn’t shared with me yet. He often states that he is not worthy of my love, that he doesn’t deserve me, that he can’t take care of me the way he should, etc. When he has his nightmares at 2 am, or 3 am or 4 am, I’m right there. I stay close, I hold him, I listen, and I love him. I don’t have any answers for you, but there are women out there that can love the entire man – the hero, and the wounded warrior – as I do with my partner. Be patient with yourself, be forgiving of yourself, love will find you when you least expect it. It found me, it found my partner, and what we have is better than anything I’ve ever had, even when his darkness grabs him, we hold on and find the light together.

      • I am so grateful that you are “the response to the deepest prayer” in this medic’s life…many blessings to you and thank you also for responding to IDK’s post. Much love, Britta

    • Reader says:

      To purpleflower1212:

      Re. your husband shutting you out: As strange as it may seem, he may be trying to protect you, and himself from facing the feelings held inside which do, and seem to threaten to, overwhelm yet more still, just the idea of which Very possibly seems unbearable.

      Supposing he believes that he can handle it while it’s inside, but fears that it may be too painful to share with you: “Hasn’t she been through enough without hearing about what I’ve been through?” “I can barely deal with life facing what I did, how cruel it would be and feel to bring her into all of this.”
      “I don’t want to let anyone know this, but I’m afraid, I’m afraid that if I open up, I may start to cry, unable to stop. I don’t want to lose my mind, feeling like I’m still ‘there’ All of the time. Things are hard enough as is!”

      Those are just some possible thought trains plowing down his neuronal railways right now. I don’t know. But, I’d be willing to bet, that he believes you’re better off ‘left out’ of his pain, not realizing that you’re in it anyway, at least at the time you wrote in.

      On this site, on Amazon.com, probably Kindle, etc., you can find access to the book, Close To Home, by Britta Reque-Dragicevic (Yes, the writer if this blog).
      Perhaps you, perhaps he, will each get a copy. There are sections after ea. Chapter to write down your thoughts and feelings, possibly things you and he could dare to let each other see, with the provisos, if honestly said: “I will not judge you. If I do, we can work together to change that. I will be as honest as I can. I want you to know who I now am.”

      I’ll be praying for you and all of the lives you and he will touch together and separately. Wishing you both nothing but the best. R.

  2. Collin Everson says:

    Great post… As I am the returning husband in this story and to read my life and relationship summed into one short page saddens me. Ive lost my wife being that empty shell of a person upon returning home. And inside as much as I desire to be different and not have PTSD my destructive behavior and lifestyle continues to stand in the way. Ive lost my way and just wish she could read this to understand how I feel each and every day thru the writings of this article.

    • Collin, could you share it with her? You are not alone in this. If I can be of any support to you, please email me or reach out through Facebook. I’d be happy to talk with you privately.

    • Reader says:

      Hi there, Collin, sad feeling, returning husband.
      I find myself responding to the replies here, probably to try to help myself as much as you. With the first, I didn’t see that Britta had replied, which she always does… Anyway, this time I read her response first to see if there was something I might add. Though, if you’ve reached out to her, you’re in good hands, I do trust.

      Not knowing if you have or not, I’d recommend it. Either way, I would like to respond too, agreeing that giving or sending her this &/or the links to it, along with your hopes for her to understand that it wasn’t she who’s been your problem, but the war you could not help but bring home, and your lack of preparations for making the transition back — I really hope that our DoD will get a clue and decide to make such preparations a mandatory part of Military Service and leaving it honorably — You were responding as a fellow member of the One Human Race, as any sane human would, with a great deal of anxiety, stress, all kinds if feelings that you haven’t yet learned to well deal with Yet. Does that sound about right for a person who’s been through what you have, in this case, you?

      I have PTSD, too. So, as alone as you feel, I hope you’ll remember that that feeling us only a feeling. It’s not and never will be a fact, no matter how much you may try to convince yourself otherwise.

      You mentioned destructive behaviors. I’m in a 12 Step Program that helps a about as much as I’m willing to put into it, which can be A Lot! Do you think there may be one or more that you might be a good fit for? Personally, I have a suspicion that PTSD is or can be in fact addictive. There is a group I’ve heard some good things about, called, Emotions Anonymous. In those dealing with substance abuse, in gen. the Only Requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking or using other chemicals (At least in the common 12 Step programs, you don’t have to claim to be addicted). It’s a matter if admitting to oneself that we cannot live our lives without help. I find that kind of cool because that’s a way for me to be reminded that I really am human, and do belong. Besides, the harmful substances and behabiors I was using were preventing me from the healing I’m now more free and able to seek, find, receive and share.

      If not, hell, if so, Any way, it seems to me that finding healthy avenues to express yourself will be imperative to your finding one or more roads to healing. There’s a book avail. here, and through book stores, called, Close To Home, by our Blog writer here. I’m very gradually reading it myself. Your wife or “ex” may want to read it to, if only to better understand what did and did not go on between the two of you once you returned a changed man (capable, by the way, of more change yet, whch will always be true as long as you’re alive)!

      Listen, I’ve never been married, so I don’t know that specific loss personally, though I did go through something like a divorce. There have been and continue to be parts of my life that require change.

      I had addictions that I never realized were addictions until I began to get help for one, and sought out some professional help. Finding a good match with a competent counselor can be a challenge, but it’s worth the hassel, the $ (though some Can be found free of charge) and sometimes frustrations to find someone in which you can trust anything, when you’re ready…

      I’ve done a great deal of healing despite having some current struggles, as people do. If Britta okays it, and you feel so moved, don’t hesitate to email me at rz4rogo@gmail.com. If she doesn’t she can delete the last sentence and this one.

      Wishing you and yours the best! You Are Not Alone In This!!!!!

  3. Househldsix says:

    I’m glad to have come across this post. Sometimes I feel as if I’m the only one experiencing this kind of stuff with my soldier. You have touched on many key points that I struggle with day in and day out with my soldier. Thank you for posting this.

  4. Marty Delgado says:

    Very helpful information. Im a girlfriend trying to understand PTSD and TBI, its hard but still in love and willing to help him find his way. Looking forward to our future with again your helpful information, thank you.

  5. ricky says:

    This hit home.

  6. Will Cherry says:

    Thank you. Thank you so very very much. These words touch me and help when nothing else does.
    I’ve lost two children now. A wife and a fiancé. I got my degree and got into medical school, fought it all as long and hard as I could…but lost that too. I have no social support, barely any finances, and I can no longer see a bright future ahead. I hold on simply so I can see my children grow up in the little glimpses they will allow me. I have held onto hope, but there is so little of it left.

    • You are so welcome. I am going to email you to connect.

    • rz4rogo says:

      What if I’ve lost many to war, before, during, after my “combat years,” which I honestly don’t know for sure have been worse when the gunfire, etc. was going on around me, or as now, flying through my mind as the perspectives I can examine & change?

      What if one of the people I have lost to war is myself? Re-read the above until able to practice this? I’ve asked others to read this and other posts. They asked if I’d written them! What’s that about? Maybe that we do all carry pieces of the Truth, yet often require others to remind our hearts, especially our hearts & souls, more than our conscious minds, though, ideally all will be actively involved in this change of perspective, senses of self/our identities that need the transformative power of re-growing up…helping one another to find pieces of the Truth that lets the Light back into who we are and wish to be rather than fumbling in the dark, needlessly.

      Healing means change, including acceptance of what we cannot… As I read the above article, living alone, my mind initially interpreted the relationship parts to the parts of myself in relation to each other, and it still made good sense.

      Perhaps some others will read what you wrote that way, whether the one(s) “returning” (or, trying to, while present here in body) or those experiencing change in their own minds, hearts, souls, lives as the partner of the one who left, unable to return “the same.”

      As hopeless as facing realities we do not like can Seem & feel, Britta said it, change in our perspectives Is and will remain possible as long as we stay alive, another area where we do have choice.

      I recall seeing video of a wounded warrior, kayaking, discovering that his life was/is far from over while he yet lives. Before finding joy anew, though, he had struggled as though alone, despite being married to a loving and committed wife.

      It was accepting help from the Wounded Warrior Project that he began to feel more alive again, TBI & PTSD still standing by, parts if his life: He was doing what this article suggests, but not alone. Not one of us was made to do this alone, the warring away and at home, or the healing which is beginning if you are here.

      Please don’t go, Nation’s daughter, Nation’s son. Your Service is still Needed. You are still needed, equally so, as is. It is from this very spot that you can and will carry on in the processes of change you and I are growing to open up to, to participate in, together, linked jn spirit, always; our actions affecting each other, all, directly or not.

      It’s so easy to feel alone in this, though we never are or will be. If we never meet face to face, online or in any other classically tangible way, we will always be affecting each other, indeed, the whole world and all, every one, here & Beyond.

      Whether Warfighter in uniform at heart, or a Warfighter who never left the States of “home” in body, but has been and will be connected to War through the experiences of a loved one, we are not alone. Understanding this with the mind is not enough. Not from my perspective. We all need other people. None of us can do this alone. So why keep trying, knowing full well that if we could heal and change without help from others we probably would never have ended up here reading the above.

      Britta Reque-Dragicevic is right, we need one another. You can reach me if you’d like, via rz4rogo@gmail.com.
      None of us needs to do this alone. We can’t. Hasn’t life to this point proven this fact?

      We’re being given a chance here, to consciously choose to connect with others who may just understand us more than we’ve believed could be. I hope you’ll reach out. I’m here to listen, to share experience, strength and hope that I cannot have alone, ready to meet you via email, spirit&/or phone.

      Stay Strong (Not Alone)…

  7. IDK says:

    Man. I cried through that. I haven’t been married yet. I’ve feared bringing my war into a relationship. I feel like I am that man you described minus the guns. Thankfully, I don’t keep any near.

    Can a love find me with my PTSD, with my illness induced TBI (the atrack having come from the inside, possibly effects from externl attacks, too)???

    Who would want to live with me as I am? It seems like at least half of the time I don’t want to. How can I expect another as a would, could, or will be lover? Must I first resolve more fully my own identity as different than I wanted and expected; become more accepting of who I am, now???

    This is another place where I have little control, as love seems to find people before the reverse is true, at least love from one or more others in different ways. But, how do I handle this, should I actually approach or let love approach me? Both, I guess, ideally, for practice if not more…And send fear out the door?

    Even in friendships I find myself struggling. That hadn’t been a problem without classically active PTSD; or a serious chronic illness that sometimes I’m certain WILL go away as quickly as it pounced; that at other times, I fear will not, as most M.D. holders seem to believe, Knowing that Anything Is Possible, And that “doctors” aren’t always right.
    .
    I Do Not want to be a burden to anyone.
    I do want to love and be loved. Why is it So F—ing hard? Maybe it just is.

    I am not unlovable. God, help me to believe this more deeply than I now know how…

  8. LookingForHope says:

    I couldn’t stop crying as I read that. It is my husband and I’s relationship. I’m happy we know what is wrong now, but so incredibly sad that it means there isn’t a quick fix of “just try harder” on both of our parts. I love him so much. I’m glad I found this blog. Before we knew, I thought it was my fault that he didn’t want to be intimate. I had assumed I just wasn’t “doing it” for him anymore. There is so much that this post shed light on for me. I do have a question though. Does it get better? Or will this be our life?

    • I can’t promise you anything (I so wish I could!), what I do know is that being aware of what’s really going on, and if there is an intention from both people to adapt/heal/find new ways of being, with compassion for the Self and Other… relationships can transform. Human beings transform. There is post traumatic growth that can certainly occur if the heart/mind opens and pursues that. I would highly recommend Mark Nepo’s book The Exquisite Risk for you to read… it’s not about relationships per se, but about inner growth and learning to soften into Life. It’s very gentle and perhaps if your husband is open to it, you could read it together and discuss the insights. Please stay in touch and reach out privately at brittareque@gmail.com anytime. Much love to you and your husband!!

    • Am says:

      It can get better. Individual therapy for both and medication along with patience has been fruitful. Couples counseling too. This story was shockingly accurate, brought tears… but it was also a good reminder to keep going and fight negative and hopeless thoughts. And a reminder of how different and difficult the war struggle is compared to non military marriage drama… and that it is ok as long as we keep trying for a better way to do things everyday. In God we trust to give us strength. Blessings to all of u enduring the struggle.

      • Steven Chadduck says:

        I won’t say to avoid medication if it is really necessary, but I would definitely advise that with the vast array of medications available, the side effects of each plus the contraindications for other medications in conjunction with the ones for ptsd is important to educate yourself on what each one does, how it works, what other medications (and foods/juices) can and cannot be taken while using the meds for ptsd. Also understand that there is no definitive guide and what works for one person may or may not work for another, so it becomes a case of trial and error and hit or miss. There’s also another thing to be aware of and watch closely for….extreme changes in personality: I became suicidal and lost some friends due to a massive and drastically adverse effect on my personality. In other words, be cautious, throughly educate yourself, and keep a watchful eye on any side effects/personality/emotional changes. Also if you guys ever need a willing ear I’ll make the time for each of you.
        Sincerely
        Steve chadduck
        Stevechadduck@gmail.com

  9. G.G. says:

    Thankful that this post was still up after so long. I cried through the whole thing. I needed to cry, I think. I tell myself all those right things to do, but it’s some of the hardest things to do when you’re just so damn weary of it all. Idk how/where/when we’ll stop grieving, but I pray we make it through. My heart is with anyone who read this and understood. My light burns from one homefront to another. Find peace my companions and thank you to the writer. You have given me the strength to make it another day.

  10. Amanda HUBBARD says:

    Good lord, I haven’t sobbed like that in a while! What a beautiful post. Though my husband and I are thankfully past this stage of healing, this is almost exactly what our lives were three years ago. Thank you for expressing what I always struggled to say.

  11. Jen says:

    my husband found this and sent it to me (he is away at his Reserves weekend).
    this is absolutely amazing, especially you sharing it with so many who need to read this.
    both sides, the raw emotion and truth.
    and the beauty.
    thank you!! we are in this together and we need to love and support each other.
    reach out!
    not everyone understands it, especially if they have not lived it–on either side.

    I would like to also suggest a resource
    Love Our Vets by Welby O’Brien.
    a hugely helpful book for those who love vets with PTSD

  12. Jim-Beaux says:

    I couldnt talk to my wife after any of my deployments, not because I didnt want to share but because I didnt want her to bear the burden of the demons that were coursing through my waking and sleeping nightmares.

    I thank God that my wife is a stronger person than I am. Her intervention provoked me to seek out the professional intervention that I was so in desperate need of.

    I was angry with no resolution and no target. Mostly, i was angry at myself for not being able to diagnose and treat my own symptoms. I didnt understand the crux of what PTSD and TBI were, thats something that happens to other people. Thats something that happens to weaker people, and I am strong.

    Thank God for my wife who was willing to leave me for her own safety and making me realize that I couldnt diagnose myself, much less cure me.

    • Thank you, Jim, for sharing this. I am also grateful that your wife was strong enough to make a hard decision that helped you realize you had to find a different way. As for not being to share things with your spouse/partner because you want to protect him/her… it’s easy to forget that what you experience so viscerally, in full color/sound/memory … becomes only a story to those who hear it from you… they can share in your pain through empathy, but they will not experience it the same way you do… war belongs to all of us and it is and should be a burden ALL of us help carry. If you wish to talk privately, please do email me at brittareque@gmail.com. I’m happy to talk with you.

  13. Patriotdefence.org trains the Ukrainian military in tactical medicine. We have seen a lot of post-traumatic stress symptomology in Ukrainian soldiers returning home on leave or after demobilization. We would like to translate this article into Ukrainian and post it on our site. Please give permission-it will help hundreds of soldiers understand that what they are experiencing is “normal”. Thanks

  14. Amber says:

    Just started reading your posts. They are very helpful to me as a military spouse. My husband came home in 2008 with TBI, PTSD, and other physical injuries and as you probably know came back a different person. It’s hard for me to understand so your posts really put it all in perspective, thank you!

  15. KD says:

    I’ve just come across your blog and this post. It’s taken me three days to read the whole thing because I sobbed pretty much the entire way through it, making it especially hard to read at times.

    It has really resonated with me, my husband and I have been living this for the last 6 and a half years to some degree or another, with the worst of it coming after he was medically retired two years ago.

    For each of us, the hardest thing was acknowledging something was wrong, we didn’t want to let each other day and I know I felt like I had failed. At the end of last year and after two different rounds of counseling for him we opted to do a PTSD focused couples counseling. It’s been hard and it is a lot of work but we’re committed. There’s such an awful stigma regarding mental health issues and asking for help, especially within the military community. I would encourage anyone dealing with these kind of issues to just ask for help, the resources ARE out there. Do not think for one second you are alone, forget about that BS stigma and worrying what others may think and get yourself help, it can make all the difference in the world. I truly believe it has made a difference in our life together, both individually and as a couple.

    We still deal with a variety of issues, this stuff doesn’t just go away, some days are better than others, some days are worse but because we’ve sought help we’re better equipped at adapting and dealing with the way our lives have changed.

    Thank you for writing such an open and honest post, I will definitely pass it along. For others who may read this I also want to echo the sentiment that there is help out there, please just ask for it!! Don’t think you have to shoulder it alone.

  16. Libbie Tinker says:

    Thank you. you just wrote exactly what we’re experiencing. it helps to know I’m not alone.

  17. James Fletcher says:

    Thank you. Genuinely and sincerely, thank you. I WAS a 12B (combat engineer, main mission = route clearance) in the active duty US Army, in 2011 I returned “home” from my second tour in Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter my son was born (conceived on mid tour leave), followed in short order by the utter and complete collapse of my marriage to a woman I loved dearly. I drank a lot before enlisting, some recreational drug use as well before which came to a halt when I joined… The drinking continued and escalated.

    When I came home the drinking was my crutch. I worked, I was ABLE to work! The best I can describe it, long story short, is that the crutch broke. Me, my wife (Shannon) and our newborn son (Billy) were staying with my retired parents in NC (where I still am), and they correctly foresaw that I was drinking myself to an early grave. I was an angry drunk, got kicked out and went home to CT, while there they pleaded for me to go to rehab. I eventually agreed but said I wanted to do it in NC, Shannon had come back to CT with the baby thinking I’d get help there. I came to NC went to rehab believing she’d return, like she said, when I got out and was doing a bit better. I got out and was shortly thereafter served divorce papers… The long story doesn’t feel shorter I apologize.

    That went through (divorce) I was still drinking but eventually joined AA, where I happened to meet a woman I could relate to on a level I never imagined could be a part of real life. NOW, I’ve been “sober” for approximately 3 years (only single day important to me regarding not drinking is today.. Just my approach), I’ve traded alcohol for a persistent prescription addiction unfortunately, which I am struggling with.
    My point in writing you is both of these wonderful women have undoubtedly felt, maybe word for word, every single thing you wrote. I would give anything for them BOTH to read and understand this article. It touched me and I plan to refer back to it with the God send of a therapist I see now and to show it to my family, my girlfriend and if I’m REALLY lucky maybe even my ex-wife, in the hope it will allow us all to gain a better understanding of the things WE can’t communicate to each other for one reason or another.

    THANK YOU. I am going to add your email to my address book, follow your articles and hopefully I can continue to communicate with you… Fingers crossed, again thank you so much.

    -James Fletcher

    • You are so very welcome. Thank YOU for sharing this so honestly. Yes, please do email me anytime or connect on Facebook. I am happy to be here for you, and your girlfriend and ex-wife, even, if she would like.

  18. Debbie says:

    Who wrote this….? It kinda hurts those who are behind,yes there 2ill be change but why put ore mature doubts in the minds of spouses back here??,

    • I wrote this, Debbie. And it is not to scare people, but to help those who are experiencing this. Not all soldiers who deploy come back with PTSD, but everyone exposed to the energy of war is changed. And these are real issues impacting many, many people. Not being able to express how one feels makes it harder to heal. This article is to help people find the words they cannot say.

  19. Thank you for writing this. I can not even tell you how close to home this hit. For years, I have thought “what is going to be left of me when we get through this?”. I have ‘love wins’ reminders all over the house – in every room, on almost every wall, on the refrigerator. I never want the opportunity to forget that he is the man I love, he just isn’t the same as the man I fell in love with. I asked myself “Can I love THIS man? This version of him?” I found the answer to be absofreakinlutely YES! We just had to start over from day one, getting to know each other in new ways. We go to counseling together which is mostly about him – but she always takes the time to include us as a couple too. I had to learn that he can’t be “cured” and he had to learn that my heart is so broken from what service to his country did to him. We both have guilt – me on behalf of the American people who call these soldiers to service – him on behalf of those who didn’t survive when he did. No one ever promised us a gold brick road. We didn’t expect all the snares, but we’re going to keep on keeping on!

    Thank you again – this was well done and spot on!

  20. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this post. This is the place I find my husband and I currently. It made me cry a little, but also comforted to know we arnt alone. I look forward to reading more of your posts and this article was spot on with my feelings and thoughts.

  21. David Bunnell says:

    So, Soldiers who return from war can not take care of themselves? Cant be trusted? Are not reliable? Are like children? Are dysfunctional?

    • Not at all, David. Soldiers who return from war carry spirit wounds, and PTSD and TBI are prevalent. But that does NOT make you helpless, childish, or dysfunctional. It just makes you wounded. There is no room in this for pity. Only compassion and facing the reality of what war does to the human soul and mind.

      • David Bunnell says:

        I had to make sure. I notice that the way some of this is worded, people can take it that we cant take care of ourselves or others. Yes, we have issues that the normal person can’t comprehend.

        In the Veteran community over the last decade, we have made it a point to raise awareness of psychological hurdles that are associated with war. Since we have social media as a resource, we have taken full advantage of it. Other generations of warriors didn’t have this tool.

        As we make people aware of the side effects of war, we are also being labeled as problematic. Some even take this farther; to live their life being proud they are dysfunctional. As there is a positive, there is a negative. We traded information for confusion.

        A saying has been passed around the Veteran community. We are not broken, just battle tested. This is true to our core.

      • Ah, I totally get your point. Post traumatic growth is a good way to frame it. And yes, you are not broken, you earned every wound you have. You also don’t need to be “fixed” and certainly don’t need to be turned into “civilians”… warfighters answer a spiritual calling that they carry their entire lifetimes. It’s not just a job as so many people think. It’s WHO you are.

  22. Terry says:

    I want diagnosed in 2008 and have struggled since that time. I work very hard to share my feelings with my wife and many times she does not understand. I speak with my VA Md.s, mostly to help me understand the person I have become. It’s not easy, bet neither were my experiences, my injuries, and my “healing”. I’m not healed. I’m only dealing with it all. Thank God for my Wife, she does help to keep me grounded- you can find love while living with PTSD, I did. In both cases I first needed acceptance; I accepted my problems and that she could love my anyway. I hope my contribution, to this conversation, made sense and helped. For each of you reading this response, know you are NOT alone.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this, Terry! It is so uplifting to hear this. Healing is a journey and it’s about growth and transforming into something new. Very grateful you and your wife are on finding your way.

  23. Just another wife says:

    I wish I could to a PTSD support group. Unfortunately I don’t qualify.

  24. Ma says:

    I’m crying, this is all to true! Still feel broken but want to survive and live. There is no way to explain this to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Thank you for putting into words this sad but so true heartbreaking truth.

  25. Kendall says:

    The best article and the best version and summary I could ever read that relates perfectly to my life!

  26. Shannon says:

    My husband suffers with this minus the guns. We have been together for 15 years. He went on 2 tours and he came back a mess. We were engaged at the time. I still no matter what wanted to marry him. I loved him enough to help him through anything. It has been a long 11 years of marriage, but I wouldn’t ever think of leaving him. I am proud of all he has accomplished in his military career. Dealing with the PTSD doesn’t last forever. He still has a few issues, but for the most part the major ones have faded. I continue to love him as I always have. Even when he didn’t want me to. I think proving that I was not leaving is what made the difference.

  27. 123345 says:

    So glad I came across this article. My husband didn’t go to war but instead suffered a tbi and ptsd from a car accident. I read this article with tears in my eyes because it’s so surreal to see these thoughts that are in your head but you’re afraid to acknowledge being put on paper and know that you aren’t the only one thinking these things.

  28. Corrin says:

    So often you read articles such as this pertaining to combat vets from the male perspective… I wonder if there’s any female that has come forward to publish her story on becoming a combat veteran? I struggle and I’ve been home 4 a little over three years. Life is not the same, never has been, never will be. I’m not that same girl that left almost four years ago. When they look at me, that’s who they see. When I look in the mirror, there are days where it feels like I’m staring at a complete stranger.
    Thanks for sharing your story… Maybe one of these days I’ll share mine. Godspeed and God bless.

  29. Beverely Seidel says:

    Same story different couple. Our SOF health awareness group on FB helps to address hidden health issues not being addressed. Yes after 24 years our life is different but good. Quality of life fix what you can and make adjustments for what you can’t. Camp. Fish. Relax. Enjoy

  30. Dawanna says:

    I cried the whole time I read this.

  31. kc says:

    Why do I think #$&* the military when I once loved the military

    • There is a great heartbreak that comes from having given your entire self over to the military, risked your life for it, had loved ones die for it, been hurt and changed because of it and then, you get treated as if you don’t matter. Sacrifice is part of service. But so should be honor and respect for those who serve, and in many cases, the military does not show that respect to veterans.

  32. I am from the Vietnam time line as I spent my time 1967 as I was with the 3/5 Cavalry. I knew things were different when I came home and still today its about the same and its been so many years ago but its still like yesterday. I got married in 1969 and the only thing good out of that was I got two boys as the woman I married was always saying why won’t you change what is wrong with you and even I wish you would go out and find a girl friend…..My time in Vietnam was spent as a Cav Scout and needless to say I saw about everything that could be seen and its still with me today. I was also wounded severely as I had a head wound from a Mortar round that landed on top of my Track and I was looking right at it when it went off. I lost the use of my left eye have shrapnel from the chest up and my Dentist can’t get over all the shrapnel in my face head and teeth area, but I survived only to live in night mares and they pretty much are the same ones over and over. You bet I am jumpy mad and on edge a lot. Now Agent Orange has taken over in some ways as well as the scaring is ugly. I use to go to the VA to the PTSD clinic and all they wanted to do was drug me and I said NO! They evaluated me and the person who did this was oriental and was asking me question and I had a hard tine understanding his English and one of his questions thru me off as he asked did I see many body bags and for that reason he stated I didn’t have PTSD.What a joke as he really didn’t understand how things were done as when one of ours was KIA we covered him with his Poncho and put him on a mesivac chopper and when it was the enemy we would have a Bulldozer dig a big whole and toss them into the ground so not seeing body bags did not tell our story at all. Matter of fact one morning we buried 235 bodies and by the end of the week the entire regiment that attacked us was destroyed and that meant from 900 to 1,300 bodies were put into the ground. The VA is a mess and it also works some times as they ended up removing my colon. I have Glaucoma from head injury I am a one eyed person I pretty much was in an area that was sprayed and insult to injury we were sprayed twice in one day in an area that was infested with the enemy. I have PTSD I can’t hear sh-t and have hearing aids, my head was the size of a basket ball when I came out of a coma so the head injury now is beginning to create problem with the memory CRS = Can’t Remember Shit and thats a bigger problem than anyone knows. I am not writing all of this for sympathy but just to show some of the things that come from war. One great thing that has happened was that II have slowly found 13 other guys I was with in Vietnam over the years and we get together every year if possible and that is what has saved some of us. Try finding people from 1967 is tough as we didn’t have puter s or smart phones as when I started looking I wrote Military Magazines and left messages for any one in the 3/5 Cav at thats how I did it. Yep I almost died that night and as the nurse who was holding my hand when I woke for the first time in the field hospital she said to me “welcome back we didn’t think you were going to make it” yet here I am. Thank for the listen as I have only spoke of a few things as I haven’t gone into some areas as its tough to crawl back out. The guilt syndrome hits hard………

    • Tim, thank you so much for writing this. For sharing your truth and the things you have survived and endured, and continue to survive. It is beyond shameful how your generation was abandoned and hated on when you came home, and disallowed the honor due you for your service. But more so, how you were not allowed to bring your truth to the surface and have others stand with you. I am so grateful you have found your buddies and that you gather each year. If any of you are ever interested in writing your stories, I know a wonderful woman who helps Vietnam veterans write books. Her name is Remy Benoit. Also, Ed Tick, of Soldier’s Heart, leads groups of Vietnam-era vets back to Vietnam on healing retreats every year. Please know you are welcome to email me at brittareque@gmail.com anytime, too. Vietnam vets helped me write my book, Close to Home, and some of their stories and poetry are shared in it.

    • Donna H. says:

      My Marine Vet from Viet Nam era and I would have been married 47 years this year. He was a great guy when we married. Then he went to Nam. When he came back, I didn’t know him. He wasn’t physically damaged, but he was mentally damaged. He was different: angry, mean. After struggling to try to understand him, I divorced him. I couldn’t handle his anger, sometimes aimed at me. And his need for sex, even with anyone wearing a skirt at the time. (We didn’t wear pants or jeans much back then.) I was trying to raise our two children and protect them from his anger. Looking back, I wish there were some kind of training for the wives of returning vets. We should have been told that many of our husbands would not return whole. The guys should have had a debriefing–a week or two–or something to help them get back to the world of their families. One day they were in the war zone, the next home to family. There should have been a program to help the family receive back our service men. We should have had someone to talk to about it. I felt that I was alone in the world. Forty-two years after our divorce, we are now able to talk about what went wrong and what we wish would have been done to help us. We are both married to other people, now, but it helps to let him talk to me about his days in Nam and his struggles after coming home. My current husband of 39 years doesn’t like me talking to my ex-husband, but he doesn’t understand that it helps us both. As long as my ex needs to talk to me about the past, I will listen. He needs to get it out and I need to hear it.

  33. Kelsey says:

    Oh My Gosh!!!! I am dating a wounded warrior with PTSD and also have plenty of family members who have served or are serving in the military, and a bunch of friends in the military or have served. I will say I am also an Therapeutic Riding Instructor with PATH Intl (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) and I teach Vietnam Veterans along with any veteran who wants to learn how to ride and get together with other veterans with the same problems and can help each other heal in their own way. I know people throw the sympathy card out way to often, and that’s not what veterans want. just to be appreciated for their service and move on as best as they can.

    I am NOT trying to toot my own horn by any means. I try to help out any veteran that I can, and if I somehow can not, I refer them to others who will hopefully have better luck than me. I love working with veterans, it warms my soul to the core that I can help them like they help us back home protect us so we don’t have war like it is over seas.

    I love ALL veterans, even if I have not met you or met you yet.

    If anyone wants to email me, feel free anytime. Day or Night. At skeetduchess50@gmail.com

  34. Lost says:

    I only read the first few paragraphs and find that I am the same way. I can’t break the grip it has on me, I feel like I am trapped with no way out.

  35. R. Brown says:

    Thank you for putting to words some of what I go through on a daily basis.

  36. Jeff says:

    Way to write the last paragraph. Sounds like you’re saying that even if you do all of the things above that it still won’t work out. Way to try and give us hope and then pull the rug right out from underneath us.

    • That is not my intention, Jeff. There are many people who have already lost marriages and relationships and the reality is that sometimes staying married just isn’t what happens. Sometimes it’s not the right course of action for one or both people. No one can tell anyone else whether or not a relationship is right for them. My point is that IF a relationship/marriage ends or already has, it’s not something to feel guilty over. We are all only human. We can choose to have compassion for one another even if that means the relationship/marriage is no longer the right path.

  37. Ryan says:

    Thank you for giving me a new perspective

  38. Thi says:

    Good read. It’s so hard to practice patience when all you want to do is try and understand without pushing but they don’t give you much to go from. I have been in a long distance relationship for over a year now and it’s a struggle to get anything out of him but he is worth every bump that might come along. From a man that was the first to say I love you to suddenly stop saying it just to currently admit it takes a conscious effort to feel certain emotions because he left them in Afganistan -I feel so bad knowing that he thinks he doesn’t deserve to be loved when everyone in his life have much love and respect for him …we know he deserves great things. I won’t give up trying my best to show/tell him how I feel regardless if he can’t verbalize it-I know actions speak volumes. If there is any advice or chat groups or blogs that I may access to help be a better partner by being supportive for him or even others that deal with similarities, can someone please link me.

  39. Lisa says:

    This sounds exactly like my son and daughter-in-law, it’s heartbreaking. My son needs help but we keep hitting a brick wall. He won’t open up and won’t seek help even with the encouragement of loved ones. Please what can we do? He has a loving wife and two beautiful children that need him.

    • First, share this site with him. Mostly likely, he feels as if no one can possibly understand and he doesn’t know how to express what he’s feeling. Hopefully, he will find a reflection of what he’s going through in the articles here. Sometimes people don’t admit to themselves they need help because they don’t know how to solve it. I don’t know your son, but I hope he will understand that he’s not alone, and there is support for him. If you want to talk privately, please email me at brittareque@gmail.com.

  40. […] Source: PTSD, TBI, Sex and Relationships […]

  41. Mike says:

    This me first time back from Iraq, back home, Dec 04

  42. Lance says:

    Outstanding. This may help my wife understand that I’m not a fuck up on purpose.

  43. Barbara says:

    I live this as a mom of a combat vet with TBI/PTSD…

  44. Dw says:

    I love the way you write both sides of the story. This is the inside of thousands of relationships.
    The man I married is not the man I live with today and he hasn’t been for four years. At this point I am bitter and resentful. I’ve never given so much. I’ve never sacrificed so much. Never loved someone so much. The list goes on and now it’s all coming to an end. I feel like nine years of my life and everything that happened was for nothing. Now I am about to be a “prior” military wife and get to be treated as if I never existed to the military. I know that there are so many military members, retirees and veterans that are being treated so poorly by the VA that deserve more, but, there are those of us in the background experiencing the consequences of war as well. I still miss the love of my life.

    “And sometimes, you start by understanding that not every marriage has the foundation to bear the weight of war. And if that happens and your heart breaks, you are not to blame. There is nothing, nothing in this world that proves that human beings should be stronger than the destructive weight of war. Sometimes, a marriage just won’t be.”

    So true. So true.

    • Thank you for so sharing this so poignantly. It is deeply sad. There is no sugarcoating what you have lost and sacrificed. I however do not believe (or I refuse to believe) that it was for nothing. Love is love. How you love this man has changed and will change, but love is never wasted. None of it has been wasted. All nine years are part of the fabric of your lives and your Story of this lifetime. Just because something has changed doesn’t mean what came before is now invalid.

      You have your own trauma to heal, your own sense of “who am I now?” to explore and discover. You also have true and very real grief to move through as you process what war has cost you. Please know that if I can be of any support to you, you are welcome to email me privately at brittareque@gmail.com. Sometimes you just need someone to vent to. Much love to you both. – Britta

  45. Michelle says:

    Wow very powerful, my Son a Marine vet has had many problems since coming home a married man with two beautiful children and a supporting wife, we as a family do our best to support and help with this never ending battle he has and the gilt and since of loss he carries with him, we love him and feel the loss this war took from the man inside, God bless all the veterans who suffer this and the families that have to understand what they faced and seen and help without pushing them deeper in. Thank you for the open eyed message from a teared Father who loves His Son

    • You are so welcome. I’m so glad your son has you for a parent. You will be in my prayers and please do not hesitate to contact me privately if I can be of further support. Much love to you, your son, and your family!

  46. J.B. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I have fallen in love with a combat veteran, and reading about PTSD and TBI and their effects on life and relationships have really helped me to understand him a little more. I have also watched combat videos on YouTube that soldiers have shared who were fighting where he was. That has opened my eyes as well. The dance of his emotions and memories have been unsettling and surprising at times, and I know that I will never truly understand what he has been through. I do know, though, that I want to actively love him and to meet his needs in the best way that can. It’s comforting to read your blog because I have lived some of these things (his avoidance or distance, his blank stares when I know he’s somewhere else, his anger at unexpected moments (but never at me), his angry verbal explosions in traffic, his sudden mood changes, his disinterest in sex at times, his drinking too much at times, and then his heartfelt apologies and sincere attempts to have nice dates and fun together). It’s not easy, but he’s worth the struggle. We are rapidly becoming best friends as well as lovers. He’s so sincere and sweet and open, and he’s so easy to talk to and to relate to in other ways. He is honest with me. We spend days together, just the two of us, and we often just play music and dance around the kitchen or talk about life in general. Dating in public is hard for him because the slightest thing will bring the war back, and I don’t know when or how it will happen. He’s talking about going back into treatment, and I fully support him. Reading blogs and books about combat veterans and relationships have been comforting and eye opening for me as well. I know that I need to be strong and to not take his behavior personally. This relationship is like no other, but I love him so much I can’t let go of him. He is not his PTSD or his TBI. He is a man who is one of the kindest, wittiest, brightest, most sincere, and most talented people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I can’t predict the future, but we both want to give it our all as much as we can. Thank you for giving me some clarity and comfort today. I know that I am not alone, and that our relationship can work if we love each other first and take it one day at a time.

  47. Terri says:

    This was the best article that I’ve came across

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