Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blog Name Change...

We had a great day together yesterday. Went to one of my best friends annual backyard BBQs and then to the bay to celebrate my cousins 11th Birthday. Everything went fairly smooth. D was reasonably helpful.

So this morning in the shower I got to thinking that maybe I should be taking a more positive approach to this blogging thing. Instead of me being "not sure" of what the heck is going on in my life and where it's headed, maybe we should just be on the "road to recovery". That way when I sign on to vent my frustrations of the day I am looking at is as a mere bump in the road, but still moving in the right direction.

My dad was always "the glass is half full" kind of a person and I was the complete opposite. I am not nearly as dramatic about my misfortunes as my older sister, but none the less it takes me a bit to brush them off and keep going.

D had ALWAYS been the "it's no big deal" type. Not necessarily optimistic, but more along the lines of...someone somewhere in the world has it worse than you so stop complaining. I've always somewhat admired his lack of fear for the future, although it has driven me crazy on numerous occasions. I wish I could just not care sometimes.

So here we are today on the Road to Recovery. It may be the infinitely long road, but each day we will at least be getting closer and closer. I'm sure there will be days, weeks, months we find ourselves lost. And may have even taken a wrong turn or two, but given some time I am hopeful we will find our way back.

Our family has always loved taking road trips together. I'm hoping I can really get D in the car for this one. Figuratively, it may be the trip of a lifetime, but perhaps the most eventful and rewarding of all.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sleep Issue

I don't know how many times I have heard, "I'm not tired" and a few minutes later glance over at D who is sound asleep. It used to happen a lot in the car. He would graze "the bumps", I would silently freak out, but calmly ask if I could drive. The answer was always a very strong I even dare question him? One day coming home from the beach he even went-so-far as to blame it on the Jeep. Really? I drove it the day before out to Palm Desert (3 hours away) and it was fine. Now the alignment was so bad it was causing D to swerve. I convinced (looking back probably not so nicely) him to pull over at the next exit and we switched seats.

Sometimes there are days he goes without sleeping at all. When I was working this happened on a weekly basis. He would come to bed with me, toss and turn, return downstairs, and 8-ish hours later softly wake me so I could get ready for work. Most sleepless nights he did at least one thing for the family...clean the kitchen, sweep the downstairs, wash the car. This made it hard for me to feel okay about getting angry. I was appreciative he did something, which didn't happen often. But I was pissed he was awake all night. Especially because I wasn't home during the day to make sure everything was taken care of...mainly C and J.

Between the stress at my job and the stress of not knowing what was going on at home (or knowing and worrying) I quit my job and sent D back into the work force. He had been frequenting this "shop" for some time and was offered a position. He loves the people and loves the industry so it's a perfect match. He hadn't had any sleepless nights for 6 weeks! He did on occasion come to bed late, but he always made it. Until last night. I heard J fussing in her room and the next thing I knew she was standing at my side of the bed. I looked over my shoulder at D's side and it was empty. I thought, "shit, figures it was too good to be true" and pulled J into bed with me.

I don't ever know what triggers the sleeplessness. I don't know if he falls asleep and then has a nightmare and can't go back to sleep. I don't know if he never falls asleep in the first place. All I know is that I don't like sleeping in bed alone. And I don't particularly like having a 3 year old's foot jabbed in my side because a warm body is sometimes better than nobody. So after no sleep last night, and I'm sure many catnaps throughout the day, D is finally asleep...on the couch, five minutes after I asked him if we should go to bed. His reply, "no, why should we?"

The sleep thing drives me crazy.

After many sleepless nights in row or when the weekend arrives he sleeps the full day away. But because he swept, threw in a load of laundry, and washed some dishes during the week he "earned" the right to sleep until noon on Saturday. Like I didn't do crap all week and wouldn't LOVE to sleep in. But breakfast is to be made, dogs need to be let out to go potty, and it's near impossible to convince C and J that it is okay to play nice with each other for an hour so Mommy can sleep in with Daddy...just once.

Where I found my inspiration...

We were having an especially rough night after an especially rough week. I went searching around for help, for answers and I came across this Blog. The story hit home and I felt compelled to comment. I never thought the comment would be read, let alone understood by anyone else. So here it is my first official unofficial Blog post.

PASP - Combat PTSD HQ: PTSD is a Demon: First It Invades the Veteran, the...: "Reader's comment on August 1, 2010 from the article Combat Veterans Bring the Monster of War Home: The Story of SGT Travis Triggs For the li..."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Is it time to call it quits?

I did my research. I read articles and medical journals about PTSD and TBI, watched documentaries, and searched the internet for answers. With a background in psychology, more specifically behavior analysis, I thought I knew how to help. I reinforced behaviors that I wanted to see more of and ignored the ones I wanted to extinguish. I was patient and forgiving. I was insightful and giving. I held my tongue when I wanted to yell because that's what he needed. I corrected the kids behaviors before hey would upset him. I walked every second of every day on eggshells.

We were not communicating well. I bought us each a journal that we could write our thoughts in. We couldn't get angry at each other for anything that was written in the journal. That was the "safe zone". A place we could express ourselves to one and other without worry. I wrote in the journal consistently...D never touched it.

I worried all alone: about money, about the kids, about D's anger. My family didn't understand and was very judgmental. A few of my girlfriends tried to listen, but it was near impossible to explain what I was feeling or what I struggled through day after day.

One of my best friends is in a very similar situation as I am. We talk and share stories. I always walk away feeling like in some ways she has it so much worse than I do. But I am frustrated with all the same crap over and over. Through all our struggling D keeps trying, but for some reason can never get it right. Am I being selfish? Are my standards to high? Should I just suck it up and accept it for what it is? Or do I call it quits and move on?

I spend the days he's at work wishing he were home. He comes home in the evening and I can't wait for the new work day to begin. I wish the work week would go quickly so we can have family time on the weekend. The weekend arrives and is waaaay too long. I've finally had enough and take the kids out of town for a break. The first morning I wake up and want nothing more than to be home. I come home early and wonder why the hell I didn't stay away for the entire 3 days. I am so hopeful, which should be a great thing, but have realized that with hope comes consistent disappointment.

The first year he was home was a breeze. He was different...but home, so I think I overlooked many of his new quirks. But since that time it has been the same crazy cycle for 3 years. I am patient, encouraging, and optimistic. Then can't hold it together all by myself and lose it...yell, cry, claim I am done doing this. I somehow manage to pull myself back together for another few months, only to breakdown again. At what point am I really through? Right now I'm at a hopeful point. I am reading through blogs and I'm amazed at the number of women who are driving down the same bumpy ass road I am. When I had done all my research before I skipped over the blogs because there was no research behind them. There was no scientific data supporting their claim or their stories. Now I know, it's these women who live it every second of every day who are the true source of knowledge. How they cope. Where they find strength.

For now I will continue to hang in there, but in a few months I will again be asking myself, "is it time to call it quits?"

Our history...

I'm not sure where to start with this. I guess a little history may be helpful.

D and I met in middle school. We grew up in the same neighborhood with the same friends and went to the same church. Our lives were so very similar is was scary.

But we walked 2 very different paths through high school and into our young 20s. While D was causing trouble, breaking the law, and getting kicked out of school, I traveled with my soccer team and managed to make it to school on most days. It was my Senior year in high school that D and I stopped hanging out and talking. We wouldn't speak for the next 7 years.

At 18 I had my son, C. Thankfully my dad made me go to college and my mom helped raise C. I am truly fortunate for the love of my parents. My life consisted of C, work, and school. I didn't have a social life. I didn't have many friends I shared my worries with. I didn't date. I was completely focused on making a future for myself and C.

D had married a high school sweetheart and graduated from boot camp in April 2003. He was deployed to Korea and shortly after to Iraq.

It was January 2006 that I found D on Myspace and sent him a message. He was coming home from Iraq and would be in the states for his birthday. Our first phone call in February was loooong. D talked and rambled for the entire 6 hours we were on the phone. I listened. I had missed a lot in past 7 years. I missed his friendship.

To make a long story short...things went very well for us and we had our daughter, J, in Colorado in April 2007. That same summer we moved back home to San Diego as D was medically separated from the Army with PTSD and TBI. It was here that we exited off the smooth highway of life as we once knew it and hit the rocky, pot hole ridden road we continue to drive on today.