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?"