Two husbands, One man (part 2)

She was frightened to the core. The only relief she felt was in knowing that PTSD was wreaking havoc on him, her marriage and her family. The signs were there, but how will he react when she brings up what she has learned?

When he has a moment, the kind of moment that sends him off into a rage, brings out the man that is hard to love, he no longer hears what anyone says. He either lashes out with his sharp toungue or retreats and becomes recluse and distant.

It’s not a wonder he doesn’t know there is a problem. In his years in the Army, words were drilled into them like: “man up,” “if you’re broke your weak,” “mental illness is an excuse,” and many more. She could barely get him to see a doctor when he was sick.

This time had to be different. She had to make him see that something was just not right (saying something is wrong sounds so bad), that he needed to look into the possibility, and that their future together depended on it.

Today would have to be the day. She would have to be brave, but firm. She had to do this the right way if she was going to get through to him.

He had come home from work, eaten his dinner, and relaxed with a drink watching tv in the living room. She had bathed the kids and they were playing in their rooms. She must have his undivided attention. The kids were a distraction and a stressor for him, so with them occupied, she took her perfect opportunity.

She sat down next to him, and with a warm, calm smile asked him if they could talk for a few minutes. Her voice was a bit shaky, so he knew this was important whatever she had to say. He turned down the volume on the tv and accommodated her. There were no signs of tension, no sign of apprehension.

Fear still streaking through her soul, she was after all jeopardizing the life she knew and once she put it out there, there was no going back. She looked him directly in the eyes and said: “I know that you love me and our babies with all of your heart, but I have noticed that the children seem to aggravate you very easily. You also mentioned a while back that you were having trouble sleeping as well.” There were many more symptoms he was displaying but she didn’t want to overwhelm him by pointing everything he did wrong. He looked at her and apprehensively agreed with a “yeah, maybe.”

The answer was not a no. She needed him to agree, say yes. She had already started, she had to continue to navigate his emotional minefield. “I ran across an article today that caught my attention because some of the things that you are going through are very similar to the symptoms of something called Post Traumatic Stress.” She avoided the four letters all over the news that were associated with those taboo things a ‘good’ Soldiers didn’t talk about Army: PTSD. Before he could argue or react, she pressed on “and I don’t really know everything that you had to go through while you were deployed, but this is something I need you should explore.”

He was listening, but still no yes. She could see in his body language that he was getting uncomfortable with the conversation. Now, she had to finish what she needed to say. “I love you, and I will be here for you, but only if you agree to talk to your provider, call one of the hotlines, or reach out to some kind of professional. You are mean when you get upset. Your children love you, but are afraid of you. I can only do so much to protect you from all of the things that aggravate and anger you. You need help, or I can not be with you.”

There she said it. Her life would be forever changed. Either he was going to agree to help, to start the conversation, or their life together would be severed. She would have to do what was right for her, and for their children.

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